CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O'Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we'll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.
School: West Aurora
Head Coach: Nate Eimer
Assistant Coaches: Tony Melchiori, Joe Howell, Mike Runge, Bob Fowler, Charlie Graves, Nate Banks, Ron Murphy and Alex Shaw
How they fared in 2016: 9-1 (5-0 Upstate 8 Valley Conference), made the Class 8A state playoffs and lost to eventual state champion Maine South in opening round action.
[MORE: 47 Days to Kickoff: Glenbrook North]
2017 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 25 – @ Yorkville
Sept. 1 – vs Waukegan
Sept. 8 – @ East Aurora
Sept. 15 - vs Glenbard East
Sept. 22 - @ South Elgin
Sept. 29 – vs Huntley
Oct. 6 - vs West Chicago
Oct. 13 - @ Bartlett
Oct. 21- @ Geneva
Biggest storyline: Can the Blackhawks keep its program-changing momentum going from last season?
Names to watch this season: Senior RB/DB JaQuan Buchanan and Senior OL Owen Thomas
Biggest holes to fill: The Blackhawks will need to replace some big game-breaker types with the graduation of the Cross twins (Daquan and Davion) from a season ago.
EDGY's Early Take: West Aurora has been one of the more-impressive turnaround stories in Chicagoland over the past handful of seasons. While the Blackhawks have a few questions heading into 2017, they also have a stable of talented kids at the school and a football program on the right path. Look for the Blackhawks to challenge for a top 25-30 spot in several preseason polls.
Chicago De La Salle senior linebacker Joe Bonds (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) and soon-to-be NIU Huskie will have zero problems fitting into the "The Hard Way" mantra once he reports to DeKalb this summer.
I had a chance to catch up with Bonds and his teammates at the sixth annual Franklin Middle School Dodgeball Tournament in Wheaton. Proceeds from the event benefited the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Cammy Can, Jack’s Army and Franklin Middle School.
Bonds, a three-star inside linebacker is one of several Chicagoland headline names who comprised of a very strong NIU recruiting 2018 class.
Bonds, who signed with the Huskies over offers from multiple FBS level schools, looks ahead and discusses his soon to be transition from De La Salle to college football and more.
A state champion will be crowned Saturday at the United Center, when Loyola Academy Gold plays Stevenson for the Boys Red Division State Championship.
Here are some of the storylines we’re watching ahead of the game.
1. Coaching connection: These two coaches have known each other for more than 20 years. Loyola head coach D.J. LaVarre coached against Stevenson head coach Tom Wood when Wood played youth hockey. LaVarre also knows Tom’s dad, Jim, who is the former head coach at Stevenson. Currently the coach Stevenson’s JV 2 team, Jim won the AHAI high school coach of the year in 2007.
2. Fun rewards for players of the game: At Stevenson, the player of the game is awarded a hard hat. At Loyola, it’s a championship belt.
3. International influence: Stevenson’s goalie, Elias Sandholm, is a transfer student from Sweden and has the highest save percentage in school history, .951. He made the all-state team and the Chicago Showcase team.
4. Next man up: In net for Loyola will most likely be Hugh Brady, a senior who stepped up when Thomas Moran went down with a hip injury. Brady has played 47 games and has a .945 save percentage.
5. A drought will be snapped: Stevenson has never won a state championship. Loyola is looking for its first since 1996.
Puck drop is at 3 p.m., with the girls’ state championship game, Glenbrook vs. New Trier, starting at 11:30 a.m.
One more fun note: Team USA gold medalist and Palos Heights native Kendall Coyne will drop the ceremonial puck prior to both games.