A crop of talent-rich, experienced teams will shine under the lights this fall. Lakeville North, which emerged as a legitimate contender last year, is no longer under the radar. The Panthers are a clear favorite but will have to be at their best to fend off all comers.

APPLE VALLEY EAGLES

Coach: Mike Fritze

2011 record: 1-8

• A speedy group of veteran starters -- including eight seniors -- should help, but the Eagles have a ways to go to get out of the cellar.

BLOOMINGTON JEFFERSON JAGUARS

Coach: Tim Carlson

2011 record: 1-8

• With a new coach, will there be new results? For the Jaguars to get over the one-win hump, they'll rely on a smart returning quarterback and loads of experience on defense.

BLOOMINGTON KENNEDY EAGLES

Coach: Dick Weinberger

2011 record: 4-6

• The Eagles were able to dig out of an early 0-3 hole last year and win three of the next five games. To avoid needing another comeback, they will need to pull off an upset in the early going.

BURNSVILLE BLAZE

Coach: Tyler Krebs

2011 record: 2-7

• A second year for Krebs means the systems should be improved on both sides of the ball. The team still lacks depth and experience but will look to be a spoiler.

EAGAN WILDCATS

Coach: Rick Sutton

2011 record: 6-5

• Two 6-2, 250-pound ends anchor a three-man defensive front and should be a force to reckon with. But will it be enough to make up for an inexperienced offense?

EASTVIEW LIGHTNING

Coach: Kelly Sherwin

2011 record: 5-6

• A good mix of depth, size and speed should allow the Lightning to rebound from its rare sub-.500 season. Eastview always finds ways to win.

LAKEVILLE NORTH PANTHERS

Coach: Brian Vossen

2011 record: 10-1

• The Panthers are missing a few pieces from last year's "O-Show," but the monster defense -- with nine returning starters -- should more than make up for it. Beastly linebackers and defensive ends are the signature for a team with huge expectations.

LAKEVILLE SOUTH COUGARS

Coach: Larry Thompson

2011 record: 7-3

• The young Cougars, reeling emotionally after a teammate was paralyzed in a summer swimming accident, have early games against predicted conference front-runners and a trip to Edina. Watch out for the run game lined up behind a veteran front.

PRIOR LAKE LAKERS

Coach: Matt Gegenheimer

2011 record: 8-4

• The Lakers should be one of the most improved teams in the metro after last year's state tournament run and a strong showing in summer passing leagues. The offense benefits from three returning linemen.

ROSEMOUNT IRISH

Coach: Jeff Erdmann

2011 record: 5-4

• Could be in the mix, but a chief concern is the youthful roster. Rosemount features just five regulars from last year's team that allowed 77 points over the final two games.

BRIAN STENSAAS