1. Sheboygan Lutheran (18-8 last season) — There aren’t many teams in Wisconsin that have been as hot as the Crusaders of late. Who doesn’t remember the Sam Dekker-led romp to the Division 5 state championship two seasons ago? And last year, the team won a regional championship again before falling two games shy of another state tournament berth. The team returns almost everyone from last season’s roster, meaning Lutheran still has lots of gas in its tank and could make a solid run into the playoffs … again.
2. Oostburg (22-3) — Oostburg will miss some of its biggest-performing athletes from last year. But considering the Flying Dutchmen’s staggering consistency over the years — the team has amassed a 202-39 overall record since 2003-04 — it’s practically a given the team will be a Central Lakeshore Conference title contender and a playoff threat once again. The Dutch proved they mean business in their season opener against Plymouth last Saturday, capping a fourth-quarter comeback to beat the Panthers 42-38.
3. Plymouth (17-7) — The Panthers made it to within a game of the state tournament two years ago, and there’s plenty of leftover momentum still blowing in the team’s sails this year. The team will miss some of last year’s leaders, including Cory Unger and Owen Henriksen, but it can still lean on senior Kollin Neils and a bevy of other varsity-experienced veterans.
4. Sheboygan North (20-5) — The Golden Raiders, who catapulted to a tie for third place in the always-top-heavy Fox River Classic Conference last season, won’t have explosive scorer Ethan Guske in their lineup anymore. But Davis Larson showed lots of potential as a freshman last season. And with nearly 600 varsity wins under his belt, coach Tom Desotell appears poised to sculpt another masterpiece season at North.
5. Sheboygan Falls (16-8) — Matt Wilke can score. In a game last week against Chilton, the 6-foot-1 senior drained 43 points (third most in a game in team history). The Falcons have a few other weapons at their disposal, too — Nate Heili, Mike Raeder, Brady Mayer and Joe Van Engen all have solid varsity experience — which should help push Falls back near the top of the Eastern Wisconsin Conference standings.