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High School Lites Preview: IHSA Semifinals

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High School Lites Preview: IHSA Semifinals

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest IHSA semifinal football playoff games across Chicagoland and beyond on High School Lites, Saturday at 11pm. In Class 8A, can Palatine keep the magic alive and slay another giant in #1 ranked Loyola Academy? Also, in a game that can be seen on CSN Chicago and NBC Live Extra, can Waubonsie Valley advance by beating Marist on Chicago’s South Side? In 7A, can Cary-Grove win a slugfest against Glenbard West in Glen Ellyn? In 6A, can Prairie Ridge win on the road against power Montini Catholic? Catch highlights from games in 3A through 8A on this Saturday IHSA playoff edition of High School Lites.

Class 8A

Loyola (12-0) at Palatine (10-2), 5:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Loyola Academy was able to beat H-F 34-28 last Saturday as the Ramblers put together a 97-yard touchdown drive in the 4th quarter to advance. Loyola will look to its shotgun spread offense led by senior QB Emmett Clifford, senior RB Dara Laja and Northwestern commit WR Eric Eshoo. Palatine has simply played its best football all season in the playoffs. The Pirates needed to rally in last week's 28-24 win over Brother Rice. Palatine will rely heavily on senior QB Zach Oles (2,302 yards rushing, 20 TD; 2,063 yards passing, 19 TD), who is a threat with both the pass and the run at all times. Can the Palatine offense dent a very strong Loyola defense? Can the Loyola offense avoid turnovers and can the Pirates defense force some three and outs?

EDGY's Pick: Loyola Academy 31, Palatine 20

Waubonsie Valley (8-4) at Marist (8-4), 6:00 p.m. on CSN and NBC Live Extra

EDGY's Take: This matchup features two lower seeds who have caught fire at the right time. Waubonsie Valley and veteran head coach Paul Murphy entered the postseason after having lost its last two regular season games and drew a lowly #30 seed. The Warriors have gotten it done behind the running of senior RB Max Irhy and credit the offense in their refusal to give the football back quickly to opposing teams. Their defense is stingy as well. As for Marist? Head coach Pat Dunne has been lighting up the scoreboard once again behind the Redhawks spread passing game. Like Waubonsie Valley, Marist also entered the playoffs on a two game losing streak. For QB Brendan Skalitzky (3,412 yards 36 passing TD's) has been having an All-State caliber season. His main target has been senior RB Darshon McCullough (South Dakota State). Can the Marist defense get the football back from the Waubonsie Valley offense? Could rough weather be a factor here? 

EDGY's Pick: Waubonsie Valley 28, Marist 27

Class 7A

Cary-Grove (11-1) at Glenbard West (12-0), 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: If you like the running game and old school hard-hitting physical football, this is the game for you. Cary-Grove and head coach Brad Seaburg will run their triple option offense as junior FB/LB Ty Pennington (1,255 yards rushing 21 touchdowns) is the featured back. Glenbard West and head coach Chad Hetlet will establish the run first with Vanderbilt commit senior RB Sam Brodner (1,332 yards and 40 touchdowns). They will mix in the play action passing game, led by senior QB Brian Cochrane. Can Cary-Grove run the football consistently against the Glenbard West defense? Can the Glenbard West offense keep the Trojans offense on the sidelines? This game has the makings of being one of the top games statewide on Saturday.

EDGY's Pick: Glenbard West 17 Cary-Grove 14

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Libertyville (12-0) at Bradley-Bourbonnais (9-3), 3:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Libertyville and head coach Mike Jones has been one of the favorites since the preseason to advance deep in the 7A field. So far, so good for the Wildcats. Libertyville senior QB Riley Lees (2,156 rushing yards 29 TD/1,663 passing yard 26 TD) has been one of the most electric players in the state in 2015. Lees runs the Wildcats shotgun read option attack and is a big time threat with the run. He has also proven his underrated passing ability in the postseason. Bradley and head coach Mike Kohl has been terrific so far in the playoffs. The Boilermakers have gotten contributions on offense from both the passing game led by QB Owen Starr and WR Camron Harrell along with the running game led by RB Noah Fritz and RB Donnie Ringo. Can the Boilermakers defense contain Riley Lees? Can Libertyville defend both the pass and run threat from Bradley? Can Libertyville play well on the road?

EDGY's Pick: Libertyville 27, Bradley-Bourbonnais 21

Class 6A

Prairie Ridge (11-1) at Montini, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Prairie Ridge and head coach Chris Schremp is back making a deep postseason run. The Wolves feature a speedy triple option offense that has averaged 46 points per game so far in the playoffs. The Prairie Ridge offense starts with sophomore QB Samson Evans, who has game breaking ability on every carry. RB Nate Griffin is another big time runner for the Wolves.  Montini Catholic and veteran head coach Chris Andriano can also score some points when required. The Broncos attack starts with senior QB Justin Blake, who has amassed over 2,300 yards of total offense. Blake has a ton of weapons including junior RB Prince Walker and senior WR Tyler Millikan. Can the Montini defense slow down the option game from Prairie Ridge? Can Prairie Ridge defend the entire field against the Montini offense? 

EDGY's Pick: Montini Catholic 37, Prairie Ridge 35

Crete-Monee (10-2) at Hinsdale South (9-3), 6:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This matchup features two teams that look very similar on both sides of the football. Crete-Monee and head coach John Konecki is still coming off a stunning 38-35 win over Sacred Heart-Griffin. The Warriors offense is led by senior RB Clint Ratkovich, who will also see snaps under center along with sophomore QB Isiah Rucker.  Crete-Monee has a ton of speed in the offensive skills area, including senior WR Landon Lenoir (SIU), WR Kevin Pate and sophomore RB Xavier Ledet. Hinsdale South and head coach Mike Barry might have one of the state's most balanced and productive offenses. Senior QB Sean McCormack (2,810 passing yards 33 TD) and senior RB Marcus Curry (1,202 yards 15 touchdowns) give the Hornets offense sting, while senior DE Josh King (Michigan State) is the top ranked recruit in Illinois for the Class of 2016. Can Hinsdale South continue to move the ball at will this week like they have all postseason long?

EDGY's Pick: Hinsdale South 38, Crete-Monee 35

Class 5A

Nazareth (10-2) at St. Laurence (10-2), 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Nazareth Academy and head coach Tim Racki look to make a repeat visit to the IHSA state finals after winning the Class 6A state title a season ago. The Roadrunners once again have some impact names to watch. That list includes senior WR/DB Julian Love (Notre Dame), junior RB Ivory Kelly-Martin, senior OL/DL Matt Prendergast (Lehigh) and junior OL/DL Devonte Dunn. St. Laurence and had coach Harold Blackmon has the Vikings in the state semifinals for the first time since 1979. The Vikings’ offense has also been a strength with QB Alex Martinez and RB Fayezon Smart. Can the Vikings defense find an answer for the Roadrunners’ multiple weapons? Can the Roadrunners ‘D slow down the Vikings offense? The key matchup here could be in the trenches on both sides of the ball.

EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 34, St. Laurence 17

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Lincoln-Way West (10-2) at Champaign Central (11-1) 2:00 p.m. at Centennial High School

EDGY's Take: Lincoln Way West and head coach Dave Ernst got a huge game last Saturday from senior RB Gabe Montalvo, with a credit to the oversized Warriors offensive line, in a 40-13 win over Peoria. Lincoln-Way West features three D-1 caliber offensive linemen in senior Justin Witt (NC State), Bryan Brokop (Nebraska) and junior Nate Henry (6-foot-4, 310 pounds). Champaign Central and head coach Nate Albaugh has the Maroons in the state semifinals for the first time in school history. Champaign Central is a run-first offense that can spread the wealth. They feature hard running FB Matt Brown along with QB Walker Stillman and a speedy group of wing backs. Can Champaign Central's defense match-up against the extra large Lincoln-Way West offensive line?  Can the Warriors defense slow down a highly productive Maroons offense

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way West 35, Champaign Central 17

Class 4A

Marengo (12-0) at Phillips (12-0), 5:00 p.m. at Gately Stadium

EDGY's Take: Marengo and head coach Matt Lynch took full advantage of nine Rockford Lutheran fumbles in its 38-28 win last Saturday. Most impressive was the Indians defense, which held the state's all time leading career rusher James Robinson to just 108 yards. The Indians are a pass-heavy team with QB Zach Knobloch and a strong group of offensive skills led by RB Jarren Jackson and WR Cration Nice. Phillips, coached by Tim McAllister, are knocking on the door once again. They’re hoping to make a back-to-back Class 4A state title game appearance with a win on Saturday. The Wildcats are led on offense by senior QB Quayvon Skanes (UConn) plus junior RB Kahmari Mosby and a big and physical line on both sides of the football. Can the Indians throw the football consistently against the Wildcats defense? Can Phillips offense spread the field and make the Marengo defense cover the entire field? Could weather be a big factor?

EDGY's Pick: Phillips 38, Marengo 21

Class 3A

Bishop McNamara (11-1) at IC Catholic Prep (11-1), 4:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This game is a rematch from Week One as Bishop McNamara beat Immaculate Conception 49-32. Bishop McNamara and head coach Rich Zinanni will look towards senior RB Jonathon Ware (Central Michigan) to lead the way. QB Kobe Shutter is also very capable in the play action passing game. Immaculate Conception and head coach Bill Krefft also has a top-flight running back in junior Jordan Rowell, who has been drawing considerable recruiting interest this fall. Can the Fighting Irish beat the Knights for a second time in 2015? Can Immaculate Conception's defense slow down Jonathon Ware this time around? What adjustments can IC make this time around against Bishop Mac?

EDGY's Pick: Bishop McNamara 35, Immaculate Conception 27

Public League champion Simeon remains clear No. 1 in latest Preps Power Rankings

Public League champion Simeon remains clear No. 1 in latest Preps Power Rankings

The Class 1A and 2A regionals begin this week and the regular season is finishing up for every other team in the state. We're getting that much closer to state titles being decided in Peoria. Simeon remains the clear No. 1 in the latest Power Rankings after beating No. 4 Whitney Young and No. 2 Orr by double digits on the way to earning a third straight Public League Playoff title, while a couple of familiar faces are back in the tail end of the rankings.

1. Simeon (25-3, 9-0) (1) -- Simeon stays at No. 1 after winning the Public League Playoffs for the third consecutive year. The Wolverines have now defeated teams No. 2 through No. 6 in the Preps Power Rankings for a 6-0 record on the season in which the average margin of victory has been 14.5 points per game. The clear No. 1 in the state of Illinois, Simeon has the week off before the Class 4A playoffs.

2. Orr (22-4, 9-0) (2) -- Orr put up a good fight but they ultimately fell short to No. 1 Simeon in the Public League Playoff title game. The Spartans did gain revenge on No. 3 Curie, however, with a big semifinal win on Friday. Orr has to forget the title loss ahead of the Class 2A Playoffs that begin this week as the Spartans try to repeat as champions.

3. Curie (23-4, 8-1) (3) -- The Condors have only lost to No. 1 and No. 2 when it comes to in-state losses as they remain one of the most complete and balanced teams in the state. Curie has the week off before the IHSA Playoffs.

4. Whitney Young (22-7, 7-2) (4) -- Whitney Young earned a huge quarterfinal win over Morgan Park before falling to Simeon in the Public League Playoff semifinals. The Dolphins also have the week off before they attempt to repeat as Class 4A champions. 

5. Morgan Park (18-9, 7-2) (5) Disappointing result for the Mustangs as they lost on a buzzer-beater in the Public League Playoffs to Whitney Young. Defending champions in Class 3A, the Mustangs will rest this week before the playoffs begin.

6. Fenwick (18-7, 8-0) (8) -- The Friars earned two wins during the week as they beat Marmion while also getting a huge conference road win at Loyola. Fenwick will battle Taft during the week.

7. New Trier (22-3, 8-1) (9) -- New Trier had one of the best weeks of any team in the area as they picked up wins over Maine South and Evanston. Now the leaders in the rugged CSL South, the Trevians have some more tough games against Niles North and Glenbrook North this week. 

8. Evanston (20-5, 8-2) (6) -- Evanston's red-hot recent play was finally slowed down as they fell to rival New Trier. The Wildkits will try to bounce back when they play Vernon Hills in a Central Suburban crossover this week.

9. Oak Park-River Forest (21-5, 12-0) (11) -- The Huskies finished the West Suburban Silver season unbeaten following wins over York and Proviso West. OPRF gets a great test right before the playoffs when they face Hinsdale South in the West Suburban championship game.

10. Benet (21-4) (6-1) (12) -- Two wins for the Redwings this week when they beat Joliet Catholic and Stevenson. Things aren't easy for Benet this week as they head to Marian Catholic before hosting Carmel in two tough ESCC games. 

11. West Aurora (19-4, 8-0) (13) -- The winning streak is now 11 for the Blackhawks after beating South Elgin. West Aurora will play Bartlett and crosstown rival East Aurora this week as they try to keep the momentum going into the playoffs. 

12. Marist (23-4, 6-2) (15) -- Marist picked up a double-digit win over St. Patrick during the week as they prepare for the Class 4A draw. The RedHawks will have an ESCC game against Marian Central this week. 

13. Niles North (22-4, 5-4) (8) -- The Vikings fell to CSL South rival Maine South and followed that up with an overtime win over a tough Wisconsin team in St. Catherine's. The Vikings get a crack at conference leader New Trier this week before playing Maine West in a tough Central Suburban crossover. 

14. Marian Catholic (20-4, 5-3) (16) -- Three wins for the Spartans during the week as they knocked off Nazareth, Rich Central and Marian Central. Marian Catholic gets a tough test this week when they host Benet in its final ESCC game.

15. Naperville North (23-2, 14-1) (17) -- The Huskies have won eight straight games as they clinched at least a share of the DuPage Valley Conference with a win over Waubonsie Valley this week. Naperville North hosts Wheaton-Warrenville South this week to decide the DVC title.

16. DePaul Prep (20-6, 5-3) (19) -- Picking up a convincing double-digit win over Mount Carmel, the Rams got back on track after the loss to Brother Rice. DePaul Prep will host Montini during the week as they prepare for Class 3A. 

17. Loyola (21-6, 5-3) (10) -- Tough recent stretch for the Ramblers as they fell to St. Joseph and Fenwick to fall out of the Catholic League Blue race. Loyola hosts Steinmetz for a tune-up this week. 

18. Hillcrest (21-5, 13-0) (21) -- Hillcrest survived a tight win over T.F. North before winning convincingly against Oak Forest. The Hawks have the week off as they prep for Class 3A. 

19. Leo (19-5, 8-0) (22) -- Finishing the regular season with a big win over Marmion, the Lions will be one of the area teams to watch in the Class 2A playoffs as they are in the Marshall Regional. 

20. Homewood-Flossmoor (16-6, 7-1) (23) -- Another huge win for Homewood-Flossmoor as the Vikings took down Bolingbrook to keep a lead in the SouthWest Suburban Blue. Homewood-Flossmoor goes on the road this week to battle Sandburg and Lockport. 

21. Hinsdale South (20-5, 10-2) (24) -- The Hornets stayed hot with wins over Addison Trail and Proviso East as they clinched the West Suburban Gold. Hinsdale South has a tough battle against Oak Park-River Forest in the West Suburban championship game this week. 

22. St. Viator (22-5, 8-0) (25) -- The Lions picked up some wins against Carmel and Bartlett. St. Viator will try to close out the ESCC with an undefeated record when they play Nazareth this week. 

23. Bolingbrook (17-6, 5-3) (18) -- Bolingbrook fell out of the SouthWest Suburban Blue conference race when they lost to Homewood-Flossmoor. The Raiders still have some tough games to close out the regular season when they play Lincoln-Way East and Stagg.

24. Maine South (20-7, 6-4) (NR) -- Huge win for Maine South as they knocked off Niles North after losing to New Trier in overtime earlier in the week. The Hawks close out the regular season with a Central Suburban Crossover against Highland Park.

25. Willowbrook (22-5, 9-3) (NR) -- Willowbrook is back in the rankings by earning three double-digit wins over Morton, Leyden and Downers South. The Warriors have only lost to ranked teams like West Aurora and Hinsdale South lately as they've been playing well. 

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

Five top-25 matchups highlight loaded episode of High School Lites

High School Lites had five matchups between top-25 teams on Friday night as the Public League Playoff semifinals and big matchups in the CSL South, Catholic League Blue and SouthWest Suburban Blue took shape.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPreps for the latest news and scores for IHSA basketball.

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Palatine's Eduardo Orozco

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Maine West girls basketball

Highlights

No. 1 Simeon holds off No. 4 Whitney Young

No. 2 Orr gets revenge on No. 3 Curie

No. 9 New Trier takes down No. 6 Evanston

No. 8 Fenwick handles No. 10 Loyola Academy

No. 23 Homewood-Flossmoor rallies past No. 18 Bolingbrook

Oswego East upsets No. 20 Joliet Central

Andrew shuts down Thornridge

Sandburg tops Lockport in OT

Richards runs by Shepard

Maine West captures second straight girls basketball regional title