Preps Talk

High School Lites opening round football capsules and picks


High School Lites opening round football capsules and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA playoffs' opening round edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Who wins the battle between Notre Dame and Minooka on the Reservation?  Can Warren Township find a way to upset Bolingbrook on the road? Who wins the battle of spectacular defenses when Glenbard North takes on Batavia? And finally, can Providence Catholic stun Richards in Oak Lawn? Or will the Bulldogs take a bite out of the Celtics?

Numbers in parentheses reflect class seeding.

Class 8A

(18) Notre Dame @ (15) Minooka, 7:00 p.m. 

EDGY's Take: Head coaches Mike Hennessey (Notre Dame) and Terry McCombs (Minooka) will bring a combined 70-plus years of coaching experience to the field on Friday night. Notre Dame (7-2) wants to run the football early and often with junior RB Ty Gavin. Minooka (7-2) will utilize its running game with RB Owen Kapple. QB Zach Gassner is more than capable with the play-action passing game. Can Minooka's speedy defense contain Notre Dame's RB Ty Gavin? 

EDGY's Pick: Minooka 21 Notre Dame 17

(21) Warren Township @ (12) Bolingbrook, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Warren Township (6-3), coached by Bryan McNulty, features a strong passing attack and a strong defense. Keep an eye on QB Ian Schilling, WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame) and RB Martin Walker Jr. Bolingbrook (7-2) and head coach John Ivlow also boasts a strong offense, but will senior QB Anthony Vespo be available after a Week 9 injury? The Raiders still feature a strong running game with junior RB Quentin Pringle and Anthony Williams Jr. The Raiders also feature an athlete-filled defense which includes DT Deshaun Mallory. What's the matchup to watch? Warren's receivers against Bolingbrook secondary: a classic strength-versus-strength showdown.

EDGY's Pick: Bolingbrook 26 Warren Township 21

Class 7A

(29) Glenbard North @ (4) Batavia, 6:00 p.m. 

EDGY's Take: Glenbard North (5-4) needed a Week 9 win over Neuqua Valley to make the state playoff field. The Panthers' calling card has been their defense. Their offense will look to run the football with senior RB/LB Jayleen Fitzpatrick. QB Lee Rady also played well in the win over Neuqua Valley. As for Batavia (8-1), they're looking to bounce back after a Week 9 loss to rival St. Charles North. The Bulldogs are balanced on offense, featuring QB Riley Cooper. They also have a tough-as-nails defense which includes junior LB Michael Jansey and LB/DL Luke Weerts. Whose defense blinks first? 

EDGY's Pick: Batavia 14 Glenbard North 13

(28) Alton @ (5) Lincoln Park, 6:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Alton (5-4) makes the over-300 mile one-way trek to Lane Stadium on Friday to take on Chicago Big Shoulders conference champion Lincoln Park (8-1). Alton will be paced on offense by RB Darrell Smith and QB Kevin Caldwell. The Cardinals defense has also played well all season. Lincoln Park will counter with a strong offense led by senior QB Jacob Dowell and senior RB Tavares Bean. Can Alton avoid "bus lag" and get out of the gates strong? Has Lincoln Park been as battle-tested as Alton?

EDGY's Pick: Alton 27 Lincoln Park 20

(17) Benet @ (16) Maine West, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Benet Academy (6-3) has been dealing with a rash of injuries this season, but coach Pat New and company have won three out of its last four games. Their players to watch include sophomore QB Colin Gillespie and senior LB Devin Petersen. Coach Jason Kradman's Maine West Warriors (7-2) are back in the state playoffs for the first time since 2002. West will rely on RB/LB Jake Bellizi and senior TE/DE Matt Hentgen. Keep an eye on the offensive/defensive line play. Can the Warriors win in the trenches against Benet?

EDGY's Pick: Benet Academy 28 Maine West 17

(19) Andrew @ (14) Plainfield North, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Andrew (6-3) is in the state playoffs after last season's 1-8 campaign. Head coach Adam Lewandowski's T-Bolt offense will be guided by QB Jack Condon and RB Tai Gannaban. Plainfield North (7-2) is looking to make another deep playoff run after losing in the 7A state final game to East St. Louis. The Tigers will rely on senior QB Brady Miller and a defense that's loaded with speed. Can the Plainfield North defense contain the T-Bolts' running game? Can the Andrew defense deflate the Plainfield North passing game?

EDGY's Pick: Plainfield North 27 Andrew 21

[MORE: High School Lites Podcast: Who's on upset alert?]

Class 6A

(13) Providence @ (4) Richards, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This playoff matchup reminds many of the days when Hall of Fame head coaches Gary Korhonen (Richards) and Matt Senffner (Providence Catholic) roamed the sidelines. The Celtics and Bulldogs locked horns in several memorable playoff games. This year, Mark Coglianese's Providence crew relies on a strong running game featuring RB De'Shon Gavin (WIU). The team comes in with a 5-4 record, but they're battle-tested. Richards (7-2) is coached by Tony Sheehan. They'll want to run the football with RB Derek Flowers. Junior QB/S Sebastian Castro is a two-way starter and a big key for the Bulldogs this season. Can either team gain control the line of scrimmage? 

EDGY's Pick: Providence Catholic 31 Richards 28

Class 5A

(10) Kaneland @ (7) Lindblom, 4:00 p.m. 

EDGY's Take: Coach Patrick Ryan of Kaneland (6-3) has a battle-tested team, hailing from the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference. Their offense is led by QB Jack Douglas and RB Jonathon Alstott. Lindblom (8-1) has a ton of speed on both sides of the football including senior WR CJ Rutherford and senior WR/DB Joshua Bufkin. How well can coach Justin Pressley's Eagles fare outside of the Chicago Public League? Can the Kaneland defense stay with the speedy Eagles offense?

EDGY's Pick: Kaneland 28 Lindblom 21

(13) Peoria @ (4) Hillcrest, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Peoria (6-3), the defending Class 5A state champs, has one of the top offenses in the state. They are led by senior QB Coran Taylor (Illinois) and senior RB Geno Hess (SEMO). Keep an eye on senior OL Marques Cox. Hillcrest (7-2) and head coach Maurice Weaver can also move the football on offense behind QB Rocky Griffin and WR/DB Corey Crooms. The Hawks defense has been very solid all season. Can the Hillcrest defense slow down the Lions "basketball-on-grass" offense? 

EDGY's Pick: Hillcrest 40 Peoria 28

Recruiting news and notes: Simeon's Alante Brown verbally commits to Miami of Ohio


Recruiting news and notes: Simeon's Alante Brown verbally commits to Miami of Ohio

Simeon junior quarterback Alante Brown (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) earlier this week decided to give Miami of Ohio his verbal commitment. Brown, who narrowed down his Top 4 schools to the Redhawks along with NIU, Western Michigan and Toledo pointed towards a few key reasons he gave Miami of Ohio his commitment.

"I was able to see everything that Miami has to offer," Brown said. "They offer a great education and very strong overall academics. The football program is heading in the right direction plus they already have a younger team. I'm hoping to help bring in even more kids in my class and I've already started to work on a few guys from here about Miami."

West Aurora sophomore defensive tackle Denver Warren (6-foot-3, 300 pounds) has been one of the top recruit names to watch in the Class of 202 in Illinois. Warren, who has scholarship offers from the likes of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State and Iowa State made a recent visit to Illinois.

"I had a good visit to Illinois," according to Warren. "They have a great overall energy and I just liked it. Illinois also has a strong brotherhood between the players and the coaches. The coaching staff at Illinois is pretty amazing. It was my first time ever at Illinois and I liked the facilities and the stadium. Illinois is also pretty close to home. I just came away impressed with the bond between the players and the coaches at Illinois."

Warren is also planning to transfer at the end of the spring semester to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. 

"It's a great opportunity and I want to go and get better and take my game to the highest level. My Mom and I have looked really hard at everything and I made my final decision and talked to my coaches about it. I'm going to visit IMG Academy on May 10th and 11th and I'll go back to register for school on July 14th."

St. Charles North junior three-star ranked defensive back Tyler Nubin (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) made a verbal commitment to Minnesota Thursday morning.

"I had a really good visit to Minnesota," Nubin said. "I spent the day with Coach (PJ) Fleck and the defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae. Their coaching staff is just unbelievable and the facilities are top notch."

Nubin held 16 scholarship offers this spring, including six offers from the Big Ten conference.  

Momence junior three-star ranked athlete Jason Bargy (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) has drawn nine Power 5 scholarship offers so far this spring and made a recent visit to Illinois.

"I wanted to see the tempo and how the coaches get after the players," Bargy told Orange and's Doug Buschon. "How the guys interact with each other. "

Bargy, who doesn't plan to announce any Top schools list is planning to make a college decision "over the next few months." 

Recruiting news and notes: Phillips' Joseph Thompson commits to Iowa State


Recruiting news and notes: Phillips' Joseph Thompson commits to Iowa State

Phillips junior three-star ranked defensive back Joseph Thompson (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) decided to give Iowa State his early verbal commitment after making a recent on campus visit to Ames, Iowa.

"I know that Iowa State is where I want to be so I committed," according to Thompson. "I just didn't want to wait and waste my time and other coaches time so I decided to commit. I'm planning to also enroll early at Iowa State."

Thompson chose Iowa State after considering offers from the likes of Illinois, NIU, Western Michigan and Southern Miss.

Nazareth Academy freshman quarterback JJ McCarthy (6-foot-0, 174 pounds) who added his first FBS scholarship offer last summer when Iowa State extended a verbal scholarship offer made a second on campus visit recently to Iowa State and filled us in on his impressions.

"It was really good (at Iowa State)," McCarthy said. "I got to meet new QB coach (Joel Gordon) and he's awesome. Iowa State's coaching staff really stands out to me along with the overall family environment. Everyone knows everyone at Iowa State and everyone gets along. I love the way they communicate with the team and players. They also do one heck of a job recruiting."

So what has McCarthy been focusing in on this offseason?

"I've been focusing on developing the relationships with my teammates so they know I'm willing to run through a wall for them," he said. "I'm also focusing on getting bigger and stronger and working out five days a week. I'm up to 174 pounds now so it's been working. I've also been working in the film room, developing my mind as a quarterback for varsity football."

Crystal Lake South four-star ranked offensive tackle recruit Trevor Keegan (6-foot-6, 315 pounds) has been more focused on his baseball season so far this spring but Keegan is still paying attention to his football recruiting as well.

"I'm going to visit Notre Dame today (Thursday)," Keegan said. "I think this is the fourth or fifth time I've visited Notre Dame now. I've also been getting some new contact lately from both USC and UCLA."

Keegan, who has offers from multiple Power 5 programs from across the country this spring is also hoping to narrow down his list of favorite schools sometime soon.

"I don't have any top schools list yet," he said. "I'm gonna try to put together a Top 15 schools list sometime soon."

Oak Lawn Richards junior three-star ranked safety Sebastian Castro (6-foot-1, 198 pounds) has been looking harder at his offers and options while making spring campus visits.

"I'm definitely getting a bit more serious with everything," Castro said. "I'm starting to break things down and look harder at the academic side along with the football side on my visits."

Castro, who made a recent return visit to Iowa came away impressed with the Hawkeyes. 

"I made a visit a few weeks ago to Iowa," he said. "I liked it a lot and I've been to Iowa three times so I pretty much know what to expect when I visit them. Iowa is just impressing me more and more. I can just see myself fitting into the culture."

Castro is also schedule to make a third visit to Minnesota this Saturday and hopes to get out to visit Iowa State later this spring.