Preps Talk

Catholic League, DuPage Valley featured on Friday's High School Lites

Catholic League, DuPage Valley featured on Friday's High School Lites

High School Lites has games all over the Chicagoland area this week as we feature some quality matchups. A ranked matchup in the Catholic League and a clash of top teams in the DuPage Valley and Upstate Eight - River headline the games to watch for on the show this week. 

Catch a new edition of High School Lites at 11 p.m. Friday night on NBC Sports Chicago.

No. 13 DePaul Prep at No. 10 St. Rita, 6:00 p.m. -- A rematch of the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic quarterfinals that saw St. Rita win big, this one is an important Catholic League Blue contest this time around. DePaul Prep (11-3, 1-0) finished fourth at Hinsdale Central as they look to bounce back on the road. Junior Perry Cowan has played well in stretches but she'll look to get back on track after a sluggish tournament. The Mustangs (9-7, 1-0) made a huge run to win the tournament at Hinsdale Central as they took down Westinghouse, Maine South, DePaul Prep and Bolingbrook. Jordan Matthews has played well this season and the big men for St. Rita are starting to get better. 

Lincoln-Way Central at Thornton, 6:00 p.m. -- An interesting battle in the South Suburban Red in this one. Lincoln-Way Central (8-6, 1-1) was the winner of the Maine East Holiday Tournament with an impressive four-win week. Thornton (6-6, 2-1) is coming off of a solid showing at the Big Dipper as they took third place with a win over previously-ranked Romeoville. 

Larkin at St. Charles North, 7:00 p.m. -- Two unbeatens in the Upstate Eight River clash in this one. Larkin (8-4, 4-0) has been ranked most of this season until some losses at the loaded Proviso West Holiday Tournament. Senior big man Jalen Shaw is a player to watch in this one. St. Charles North (9-5, 3-0) had a solid showing at Pontiac with wins over Bloom and Benet and losses to Simeon and Bloomington. 

St. Charles East at No. 25 Batavia, 6:00 p.m. --  Staying in the Upstate Eight River, Batavia hosts St. Charles East. The Bulldogs (11-3, 3-1) placed third at the Jack Tosh Holiday Classic, winning four games and making their debut in the Preps Power Rankings. St. Charles East (9-5, 2-2) is a tough opponent with a talented senior in forward Justin Hardy, an All-Area candidate. 
Plainfield North at Oswego East, 6:30 p.m. -- These two teams are trying to make a move in the Southwest Prairie. Plainfield North (7-6, 2-2) is coming off of the consolation title at Pontiac after knocking off Peoria Manuel, Bloom and Warren. Oswego East (8-5, 1-3) won the East Aurora Holiday Tournament as they've won five straight games. 

Wheaton Academy at Riverside-Brookfield, 7:00 p.m. -- Important game in the Metro Suburban Blue as the top two teams face off. Wheaton Academy (8-3, 4-1) has won two straight games as the team has played balanced ball lately. Riverside-Brookfield (7-7, 4-1) closed out the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament with two straight wins after dropping their first two games. 

No. 14 Conant at Barrington, 7:00 p.m. -- Good game in the Mid-Suburban West as Conant travels to Barrington. The Cougars (11-4, 2-1) are coming off of a big win in the Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament as senior center Ryan Davis is a huge Player of the Year candidate. Barrington (10-3, 2-1) placed second at the Hinkle Holiday Classic at Jacobs as they picked up four wins in the process. This could wind up being a key game in a crowded Mid-Suburban West that includes Palatine and Fremd.

No. 23 Wheaton Warrenville South at Naperville Central, 7:30 p.m. -- The DuPage Valley features a few teams at the top with these two being among a group fighting for first place. The Tigers (10-2, 4-0) are currently in first place as they dropped some tough games at the State Farm Holiday Classic to Normal and a triple overtime loss to Joliet Central. Wheaton Warrenville South will grind out games as they look to keep opponents in the 30s. Naperville Central (10-2, 3-1) has already matched last season's win total after winning a holiday tournament at DeKalb. Senior center Ben Wolf is a player to watch as he's among the area's best big men. 

Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

Shepard @ Oak Forest, 7 p.m. -- Our Viewers' Choice heads to the South Suburban as these two teams matchup in a crossover. Shepard (8-4, 3-1) is atop the Red division and went 2-1 at the Kankakee Holiday Tournament, closing out with a win over Reavis. Oak Forest (8-5, 2-2) is trying to stay in the mix in the Blue Division along with teams like Hillcrest, T.F. North and Lemont. 

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.

Three new teams enter latest Preps Power Rankings

Three new teams enter latest Preps Power Rankings

Three new teams enter the picture in the Preps Power Rankings this week as some shakeups occured due to a lot of ranked matchups. While many of the top teams remain the same, a lot of changes went down towards the back end of the rankings this week.

1. Simeon (17-3, 7-0) (1) -- The Wolverines made quick work out of Vocational and Brooks to maintain its conference lead. Big week ahead for Simeon as they play Dunbar, No. 3 Curie and head to Baltimore to face Polytechnic (MD). 

2. Orr (16-3, 7-0) (2) -- Orr took down North Lawndale and Westinghouse during the week to remain unbeaten in conference play. The Spartans face Marshall before hosting Vashon (MO) at their own shootout on Saturday. 

3. Curie (17-2, 7-0) (3) -- The Condors had another strong week, beating Hyde Park, Vocational and North Lawndale. Curie has another busy week as they play Brooks, Simeon and North Chicago. 

4. Whitney Young (17-4, 6-1) (4) -- Whitney Young handled a very tough week, taking down Uplift, North Lawndale and Bloomington. The Dolphins get another week of quality opponents as they play Westinghouse and Chaminade (MO). 

5. Bolingbrook (15-2, 4-0) (5) -- Huge week for Bolingbrook as they followed up a win over Morgan Park with wins over Joliet Central and Homewood-Flossmoor. The Raiders play Joliet West and Lincoln-Way East this week. 

6. Morgan Park (15-7, 6-2) (6) -- Adam Miller looked like a potential star as the sophomore made nine three-pointers in a Morgan Park win over Fenwick. The Mustangs have been without Ayo Dosunmu and Tamell Pearson but still look like a top team. The Mustangs face Harlan and St. Frances (MD) this week. 

7. Niles North (18-2, 4-2) (10) -- Blowout win for the Vikings over crosstown rival Niles West as they get another conference game against Glenbrook South during the week.

8. Fenwick (14-6, 5-0) (8) --  Fenwick lost to Public League powers Simeon and Morgan Park but they remained unbeaten in the Catholic League with an overtime win over St. Rita. The Friars get a huge conference game this week when they take on DePaul Prep.

9. Marist (18-2, 3-1) (9) -- The RedHawks beat Brother Rice for a quality win before falling to Benet in overtime. Still looking like a major contender, Marist face Joliet Catholic this week.

10. Marian Catholic (14-3, 2-2) (12) -- The Spartans took down Notre Dame in ESCC play as they prepare to play St. Patrick during the upcoming week. 

11. DePaul (18-4, 3-1) (13) -- DePaul Prep continues to pick up quality wins as they beat St. Joseph and Evanston during the weekend. The Rams have a huge Catholic League game against Fenwick during the week.

12. Loyola (17-3, 4-1) (14) -- Loyola held off St. Ignatius for a close win as they played in the first high school game at Wintrust Arena. The Ramblers play De La Salle and Detroit (Jesuit) this week. 

13. Evanston (14-4, 5-1) (11) -- The Wildkits needed overtime to outlast Glenbrook South before falling to DePaul Prep. Evanston has another busy week ahead as they play Maine South and Geneva. 

14. Oak Park-River Forest (14-4, 5-0) (15) -- The Huskies bounced back with a conference win over Hinsdale Central as they've easily looked like the best team in the West Suburban this season. OPRF plays Proviso West and Lyons this week. 

15. Hillcrest (16-4, 8-0) (16) -- Making quick work of Tinley Park in South Suburban play, the Hawks remain undefeated in the league. Hillcrest gets T.F. South and Homewood-Flossmoor next week. 

16. Lincoln Park (14-5, 6-2) (8) -- Lincoln Park dropped a conference game to Farragut and won a close game against Marshall as they prepare to face La Lumiere (IN), one of the premier high school teams in the country. 

17. New Trier (14-3, 4-1) (21) -- The Trevians had the week off after Monday as they try to regroup to face Niles West and St. Viator during the week. New Trier is still right in the mix in the CSL South race.

18. Benet (15-4, 3-1) (24) -- Fresh off of winning a Martin Luther King event at Wheaton Warrenville South, the Redwings took down Marist in overtime in ESCC play. Benet has Nazareth coming up in ESCC play this week.

19. West Aurora (14-4, 5-0) (25) -- Another solid week for West Aurora as they took down Bartlett in conference play before rolling past a talented Romeoville team. The Blackhawks have Glenbard East this week before facing Willowbrook at the Batavia Night of Hoops. 

20. Joliet Central (15-3, 8-0) (18) -- Tough loss for Joliet Central as they fell to a red-hot Bolingbrook team. The Steelmen came back with a double-digit win over crosstown rival Joliet West. Joliet Central hosts Romeoville in a huge Southwest Prairie clash of unbeatens this week while also playing Lincoln-Way East this weekend. 

21. Wheaton Warrenville South (16-4, 7-1) (NR) -- Impressive DuPage Valley Conference win for the Tigers over Naperville North as they are tied for first in the league. Wheaton Warrenville South has a road game at Wheaton North before taking on Lake Park in conference play this week.

22. North Lawndale (13-7, 3-4) (17) -- Tough week for the Phoenix as they dropped three games to top-5 teams. North Lawndale played Orr to the limit in a four-point loss before losing to Whitney Young in overtime. Curie also got the best of the Phoenix with a weekend clash. North Lawndale gets another tough game against Uplift this week.

23. Naperville North (15-2, 7-1) -- The Huskies dropped a DuPage Valley Conference clash against Wheaton Warrenville South as the league continues to be one of the toughest to win in the suburbs. Naperville North has winnable game coming up this week against Metea Valley as they try to stay with the Tigers. 

24. St. Viator (16-4, 4-0) (NR) -- With four consecutive double-digit wins and the only unbeaten conference record in the loaded ESCC, the Lions re-enter the Power Rankings. St. Viator has plenty of quality wins this season, including Marian Catholic, Benet, Prospect, Conant and Libertyville. 

25. Aurora Christian (16-0, 6-0) (NR) -- The area's only remaining unbeaten team, Aurora Christian joins the Power Rankings after a solid win over Mooseheart during the week. Our Team of the Week last week, senior Jake Wolfe leads Aurora Christian as the Lipscomb commit is an All-Area candidate.