Preps Talk

57 Days to Kickoff: Huntley

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57 Days to Kickoff: Huntley

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: Huntley

Head coach: Matt Zimolzak

Assistant coaches: Mike Slattery (OC/QB), Doug Millsaps (Asst. QB), Mike Naymola (WR), Joel Bosman (Asst. WR), Zack Borring (Asst. WR), Craig Kastning (RB), Chris Babyar (OL), Mike Doty (Asst. OL), Cliff Pawlak (DB), Paul Reinke (LB), Ben Salomon (DL), Keith Mooney (Asst. DL), Gary Swanson (Strength), Will Benson (Scout Team), Brad Aney (Freshmen HC), John Woo (Freshmen DB), Mike Ginczycki (Freshmen DC/LB), Jeff Beam (Freshmen DL), Gavin Fahey (Freshmen WR), Jim Rago (Freshmen RB), Zach Davidson Freshmen (OC/QB).

How they fared in 2016: 8-4 (6-2 Fox Valley Conference), made the Class 8A state playoff field, defeated Stevenson and Fremd then lost to Loyola Academy in the quarterfinals.

[MORE: 58 Days to Kickoff - St. Viator]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 – @ Jacobs

Sept. 1 – Prairie Ridge

Sept. 8 – @ Dundee Crown

Sept. 15 - Hampshire

Sept. 22 - Cary-Grove

Sept. 29 – @ West Aurora

Oct. 6 - Crystal Lake Central

Oct. 13 - @ Crystal Lake South

Oct. 20- @ McHenry

Biggest storyline: Can the Red Raiders win the Fox Valley Conference and make another deep run?

Names to watch this season: senior QB/DB Eric Mooney, senior LB Charlie Zornow

Biggest holes to fill: The Red Raiders will need to reload on the offensive line with just senior Joey Wilson (6-foot-2, 260 pounds) as the lone returning starter.

EDGY's early take: Huntley took some real positive steps forward in 2016, including big playoff wins against 8A powers Stevenson and Fremd. With Mooney back in the fold, along with good talent returning on both sides of the football, expect another strong FVC and postseason run from the Red Raiders.

Viewers' Choice: Vote for High School Lites game coverage

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Viewers' Choice: Vote for High School Lites game coverage

Who wants it more?

We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland's top prep sports show, in the hands of area basketball fans in our "Viewers' Choice Game of the Week." Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSPreps) crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night's "High School Lites" broadcast at 11 p.m. The show also live streams at NBCSportsChicago.com/watchlive. High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. the following Saturday. This week, we're profiling teams who are jostling for position near the top of their respective conference. Speaking of battling, did we mention three of the team mascots in this week's poll are named "Warriors?" Which game should we attend Friday night?

Bloom at Rich Central, 6:30 p.m.

Crystal Lake South at McHenry, 7:00 p.m.

Maine West at Deerfield, 7:30 p.m.

Poll opens Monday at 12:00 p.m. and closes Thursday at 4 p.m. Here is what fans need to do to vote:

— Follow @NBCSPreps on Twitter.
— Note the "pinned Tweet" atop the @NBCSPreps feed. Vote for the game you want us to cover.
— Spread the word! 

We will make an announcement on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday with the official results of which game will be covered. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the "Viewers' Choice Game of the week," along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights this season.

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

While many top Chicagoland underclassmen took part in the third annual EDGYTIM MLK Underclassmen Showcase powered by EFT Football Academy last week, several others from outside the area participated and made waves of their own. Athletes from Central and Southern Illinois made statements, while others from a dozen states and Canada turned heads as well. 

East St. Louis sophomore safety Antonio Johnson (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) was one of several Flyers who made a very positive impression and made the most of his experience. 

Johnson, who started at wide receiver and safety for the Flyers (10-2 in 2017), is already appearing on several college radar screens. Johnson remains one of several underclassmen to watch for head coach Darren Sunkett over the next few years. 

I caught up with East St. Louis sophomore safety prospect Antonio AJ Johnson at the showcase and discussed his winter plans, his recruiting and why he made the nearly-300 mile trek in the dead of winter to compete at this event.