Preps Talk

5 lower seeds you don't want to see in Round 1 of IHSA playoffs

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5 lower seeds you don't want to see in Round 1 of IHSA playoffs

Here are five lower-seeded teams in Classes 8A thru 4A that shouldn’t be overlooked heading into this weekend's first round of the IHSA state football playoffs.

Class 8A

No. 23 seed Palatine (6-3): First-year head coach Corey Olson had an up-and-down regular season. But don't let the Pirates’ record fool you. Palatine lost to three state playoff teams in Stevenson (14-7 in Week 1), Maine South (17-14 in Week 4) and Barrington (26-24 in Week 6). The combined record of all three opponents was a stout 23-4. Palatine will rely on senior QB DJ Angelaccio, senior WR Johnny O'Shea and senior WR Jack Orlando. The defense is led by senior LB Cortez Hogans (NIU), senior DE Bryant Smith and versatile senior DB Jake Moertl.

Class 7A

No. 29 seed Glenbard North (5-4): Yes, the Panthers struggled at times this season. Yes, they needed to beat Neuqua Valley last Friday just to make the 7A playoff field. That said, when this team is on they can hang with anyone and everyone in their class. The Panthers have gotten a big season from senior RB/LB Jayleen Fitzpatrick, senior QB Lee Rady and a veteran offensive line anchored by senior Jose Vazquez. GBN’s defense is the program’s calling card. Their secondary, featuring senior Tyrik Henderson (Minnesota), is just one of several names to watch on the defense.

Class 6A

No. 13 seed Providence Catholic (5-4): The Celtics also stumbled to the finish line in regular season play, losing their last two games. But Providence, whose four losses came to opponents with a combined 30-6 record (East St. Louis, Missouri’s Vianney Prep, Loyola Academy and Mount Carmel) are undoubtedly playoff tested. Their running game, featuring senior RB De'Shon Gavin (Western Illinois) and their big, experienced offensive line are included in their many strengths. Providence Catholic, who plays mainly 8A/7A level competition most of the regular season, will have an old-school battle in the opening round against Richards (7-2). Should Providence win that game, the Emerald Isle could go on a deep run.

Class 5A

No. 14 seed Marian Central Catholic (5-4): Head coach Mike Maloney's sideline at times resembled more of a MASH unit than a playoff-ready team. The Hurricanes have survived that storm of injuries and could be primed for a nice run in 5A. Marian Central Catholic has gotten some key names back to the lineup including former QB Gavin Scott, who has been moved to running back. The Hurricanes are also battle-tested coming off an East Suburban Catholic Conference schedule.

Class 4A

No. 14 seed Geneseo: The Maple Leafs are one of the state's traditional power football programs. They have struggled at times but were able to upset state-ranked Morris 21-17 to become playoff eligible. Geneseo also played a tough schedule and posted losses to bigger enrollment playoff names Quincy (6-3), Sterling (9-0), Rochelle (6-3) and Kaneland (6-3). Geneseo is a power running offense built for playoff football. Keep an eye on senior RB Drew Rapps and junior RB Zac Olson. 

1-on-1 with Antioch quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis

1-on-1 with Antioch quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis

Need proof that the college football recruiting process is evaluating and offering players younger than ever before? All you need to do is ask Antioch quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis (6-foot-3, 185 pounds).

Kaliakmanis, who as a freshman was Carmel's starting quarterback before transferring to his home school district after the fall semester, recently landed his first verbal scholarship from Syracuse. Kaliakmanis, who is also on several college recruiting radar screens this winter, was easily one of the stronger performers in a loaded quarterback field at the recently held EDGYTIM MLK Underclassmen Showcase, powered by EFT Football Academy. 

I caught up with Kaliakmanis and discussed how Syracuse gave him his first scholarship, his recent transfer to Antioch and much more. 

The latest AP preps boys and girls basketball poll

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The latest AP preps boys and girls basketball poll

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school basketball teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters:

BOYS

Class 4A

School                                        W-L       PTS               PRV

1. Simeon (12)                          17-3      128              1

2. Curie  (1)                              17-2       118               2

3. Whitney Young                     17-4       96                 4

4. Belleville West                     17-2       94                 3

5. Danville                               15-2       79                  5

6. Bolingbrook                         15-2       48                  10

7. Niles North                          18-2       34                  T7

8. Moline                                 16-4       33                  9

9. Normal Community            16-4       18                  6

(tie) Bloomington                    14-6       18                  NR

Others receiving votes: Evanston Township 14, Marist 10, Normal West 7, Loyola 6, Rockford Jefferson 4, Quincy 3, Benet Academy 3, Fenwick 1, New Trier 1

Class 3A

School                                                               W-L        PTS       PRV

1. Morgan Park (10)                                       15-7        117       1

2. Springfield Southeast (1)                            14-2        96         5

(tie) Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights)        14-3        96         3

4. Hillcrest                                                       16-4        76         4

5. Springfield Lanphier (1)                              14-2        75         2

6. DePaul College Prep                                   18-4        65         7

7. Alton Marquette                                         20-0        58         6

8. Centralia                                                     14-2        36         8

9. North Lawndale                                          13-7        15         9

10. Burlington Central                                    17-2        11         NR

Others receiving votes: Champaign Central 3, Bogan 3, Lincoln 2, Mahomet-Seymour 2, Carbondale 2, Benton 2, Tolono Unity 1

Class 2A

School                                                     W-L        PTS       PRV

1. Orr (12)                                             16-3       120       1

2. Winnebago                                        16-1       103       4

3. Pinckneyville                                    19-2        88         2

4. Eldorado                                           20-0        75         6

5. Warsaw West Hancock                    20-1       72          3

6. Williamsville                                    15-1        56         7

7. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley                18-2       50          5

8. Leo                                                   13-5       34          8

9. Monticello                                        12-1       21          9

10. Bureau Valley                                18-2       15          10

Others receiving votes: Bloomington Central Catholic 8, St. Joseph-Ogden 6, Farmington 5, Teutopolis 4, Momence 3

Class 1A

School                                                   W-L       PTS        PRV

1. Aurora Christian (10)                       16-0     118         1

2. Colfax Ridgeview (2)                       18-2      110         2

3. Annawan                                          16-2      83          T4

4. East Dubuque                                   16-2      77          3

5. DePue                                               18-1      76          T4

6. Sterling Newman                             17-3      65          6

7. Payson Seymour                              17-1      53           7

8. Quest Academy                               17-4      35           8

9. Milford                                             14-3      20          10

10. New Berlin                                     16-4      9            NR

Others receiving votes: Winchester-West Central 8, Cissna Park 3, Newark 2, Cairo 1

GIRLS

Class 4A

School                                                      W-L              PTS    PRV

1. Edwardsville (9)                                  19-0             99     1 

2. Rockford Boylan (1)                            21-0             88     2 

3. Montini                                               23-2             78     3 

4. Rock Island                                          17-7             67     T4

5. Maine West                                        21-1             66     T4

6. Geneva                                                17-3             44     7 

7. Lincoln-Way East                                21-3             32     6 

8. Benet                                                   19-3             26     8 

9. Normal Community                            18-5             11     9 

10. Marist                                               16-4             10     NR

Others receiving votes: Mother McAuley 8, Springfield 6, Bolingbrook 5, Whitney Young 4, Bradley-Bourbonnais 3, Danville 2, Loyola 1

Class 3A

School                                                  W-L     PTS    PRV

1. Morton (6)                                      23-1     96     1 

2. Richwoods (4)                                 22-1     94     2 

3. Glenbard South                               18-2     67     4 

4. Kaneland                                         19-2     61     5 

5. Bethalto Civic Memorial                19-2     55     3 

6. Nazareth                                         20-2     51     6 

7. Effingham                                       17-1     35     7 

8. Charleston                                       18-1     30     9 

9. Breese Central                                19-3     24     NR

10. Bloomington Central Catholic      18-4     22     10

Others receiving votes: Evergreen Park 11, Burlington Central 3, Bishop McNamara 1

Class 2A

School                                                   W-L     PTS   PRV

1. Harrisburg  (11)                              23-0    110   1 

2. Illini West (Carthage)                     23-2     95    2 

3. Watseka                                          23-1     85    3 

4. Eureka                                             19-3     77    T6

5. Oakwood                                         22-2     50    T6

6. Pleasant Plains                                19-2     45    8 

7. Monticello                                       15-2     43    5 

8. Teutopolis                                       20-3     39    4 

9. Payson Western                              20-4     29    10

10. Chicago Marshall                          14-6     11    NR

Others receiving votes: Harvest Christian Academy 8, Sesser-Valier 7, Tuscola 2, St. Joseph-Ogden 2, Farmington 1, Paxton-Buckley-Loda 1

Class 1A

School                                                  W-L     PTS   PRV

1. Annawan (9)                                    25-0     96    1 

2. Danville Schlarman                         22-1     81    2 

3. Lebanon                                         20-0     72    3 

4. Jacksonville Routt                           19-4     58    6 

5. Shiloh                                              20-4     43    7 

6. Lewistown                                       21-4     41    5 

7. Lanark Eastland                              19-4     39    4 

8. Stockton                                          19-2     34    10

9. East Dubuque                                  18-3     15    NR

10. Princeville                                     23-4     11    8 

Others receiving votes: Aurora Christian 10, Colfax Ridgeview 9, DePue 7, Newark 5, Winchester 5, Walther Lutheran 4, Milford 4, Sterling Newman 3, Altamont 3, Bushnell-Prairie City 2, Cissna Park 2, Centralia Christ Our Rock 2, Aquin 2, Galena 1, Okawville 1