Preps Talk

High School Lites semifinal football capsules and picks


High School Lites semifinal football capsules and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA playoffs' semifinal round edition of High School Lites, Saturday at 11:00 p.m. Who wins the Revenge Bowl in Frankfort between Maine South and Lincoln-Way East?  Can Loyola travel well and beat Edwardsville? Can Mount Carmel keep rolling in the postseason and defeat Lake Zurich? Also, can the Chicago Public League make a statement, with Phillips and Raby both making it to the IHSA state finals next weekend in DeKalb?

All games Saturday. Rankings shown reflect class seeds.

Class 8A

#5 Maine South (11-1) at #1 Lincoln-Way East (12-0), 6:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lincoln-Way East defeated Maine South 28-26 back in Week 5 as the Griffins defense held Maine South running back Fotis Kokosioulis to just 17 yards rushing. Look for South to make some adjustments on offense this time around. The Hawks' offense remains one of the state's most dangerous attacks.  Can the East defense keep the Maine South offense in check? Can the Lincoln-Way East offense, led by senior QB Brendan Morrissey, run the football consistently again against the Maine South defense? Revenge factor for both teams here since East beat the Hawks back in Week 2 while Maine South ended the Griffins season at East last season. Will weather/wind be a factor?

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 24 Maine South 21

Loyola Academy (11-1) at Edwardsville (9-3), 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Loyola will take the 289-mile drive to Edwardsville to take on a Tigers team that has been on fire ever since starting the season 0-3. Edwardsville, under head coach Matt Martin, features a young, but speedy offensive skills group led by junior QB Kendall Abdur-Rahman and freshman RB Justin Johnson. Loyola has received a big season from QB Quinn Boyle and several key backups in an injury-plagued season. Last week at Marist, the Ramblers received a breakout performance from RB Trevor Cabanban. Can Loyola continue to win in the postseason as the injuries keep mounting? Can Edwardsville run the football consistently against one of the state's top defenses? Also, can the Ramblers defense avoid giving up the big play against an Edwardsville team that's lived by the big play allseason?

EDGY's Pick: Loyola 28 Edwardsville 21

Class 7A

Benet Academy (9-3) vs. Batavia (11-1) at Benedictine University, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Benet Academy got another big game from their defense unit in last week's 14-10 win over Lincoln-Way Central. Batavia trailed 10-0 at the half to Lincoln-Way West, but took full advantage of eight West turnovers for the 20-10 come-from-behind win. Both Batavia and Benet Academy play great defense, while their offenses want to establish the run. That said, both are capable of a play-action passing game. Can the Benet Academy defense lock down QB Riley Cooper and the Batavia offense? Can the Batavia defense, led by senior safety Michael Niemiec and a strong front seven, derail Redwings' RB Ben Hickey and QB Colin Gillespie? Last possession wins?

EDGY's Pick: Batavia 14 Benet Academy 13

Mt. Carmel (9-3) at Lake Zurich (12-0), 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Mount Carmel came out on fire in last week's 21-18 win over East St. Louis. QB Rad Premovic was sharp running the Caravan's veer option game while the defense, paced by senior OL/DL Jeremy Cooper, had a strong performance as well. Lake Zurich walloped St. Rita last week 49-17. The Bears offense was rolling behind senior QB Evan Lewandowski and senior RB/LB Joey Stutzman. Can the Lake Zurich defense contain the Caravan's veer option game? Can the Mount Carmel defense tame a Lake Zurich offense that's capable of both the run and the pass? How healthy is Mt. Carmel heading into this game? 

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 31 Mount Carmel 21

Class 6A

Prairie Ridge (12-0) at Hoffman Estates (10-2), 4:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Prairie Ridge will hit the road this week and will rely on its option game led by senior QB Samson Evans (Iowa). They have a big, physical offensive line led by OL/DL Jeff Jenkins (Iowa) and a speedy defense led by senior LB Joe Perhats. Hoffman Estates has a ton of skills and speed. QB Austin Coalson will look to WR/LB Jaylan Alexander (Purdue), WR/DB Jayvon Blissert and WR/DB Trevon Hall to carry the load. Can the Hoffman Estates defense slow down the Wolves' option game? Can the Prairie Ridge defense contain the speedy Hawks offensive skills?

EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 31 Hoffman Estates 27

Nazareth Academy (11-1) at Providence Catholic (8-4), 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Nazareth Academy pulled off a big 20-17 win on the road last Saturday on Sacred Heart-Griffin's field. The Roadrunners' defense put the brakes on a very strong Cyclones running game. Nazareth's offense has been a strength all season, led by QB Bobby Grimes, RB/DB Devin Blakely and a deep core of receivers. Last week, Providence Catholic was able to wear down St. Laurence 49-24 as the Celtics again got a big game from its read option offense, led by RB De'Shon Gavin (WIU) and QB Cade Kalinowski. Can Providence run the football against the Nazareth defense? Can the Celtics' defense defend and contain the multiple weapons in the Nazareth offense?

EDGY's Pick: Providence Catholic 29 Nazareth Academy 28

Class 5A

Phillips (12-0) at Sterling (12-0), 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Last week, Phillips relied on their defense to set the tone. Then, the offense went to the air behind QB J'Bore Gibbs and company. It resulted in a 15-3 win over Lemont. The Wildcats feature college-level talent all over the field. Keep an eye on RB/LB Craig Elmore, WR/DB Fabian McCray, TE Jaleel Billingsly, DE Terrance Taylor (Toledo) and DT Queneil Morrissey (NIU). Sterling has a potent ground game, led by RB Nyrell Sullivan and a good-sized, athletic line. It's led by senior OL/DL Tyler Willman. QB Trey Morse is also a very capable passer and has several top targets. Can Sterling's line play match up well against the Phillips' fronts? If the Phillips defense takes away the run, can Sterling throw their way to DeKalb? And, if the Sterling defense takes away the Phillips running game can they throw their way to DeKalb? 

EDGY's Pick: Phillips 30 Sterling 21

Class 4A

Morris (10-2) vs. Raby (11-1) at Chicago's Hanson Stadium, 4:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Morris and head coach Alan Thorson will rely on the power running game with RB Kam Dransfeldt and an offensive line that averages nearly 260 pounds per man. Raby and head coach D'Angelo DeReef might have one of the most fun teams to watch in the postseason. The Raiders offenses thrives off the big play. They're led by QB Tyshun Turnipseed, RB DQ Smith and a stable of receivers and backs with speed. Can the Raby defense take away the Redskins' power run game? Can the Morris defense cover the Raiders receivers and prevent giving up the big play?

EDGY's Pick: Morris 28 Raby 27

Class 3A

IC Catholic (11-1) at Byron (12-0), 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Immaculate Conception and head coach Bill Krefft are back, knocking on the state final door once again. The Knights have rolled behind a balanced offensive attack that features RB Lazerick Eatman, WR Khali Saunders and QB CJ West. The defense has been strong with LB Khalil Saunders and LB Kevin Cooke. Byron offense can run the football. Look for a lot of those plays from head coach Jeff Boyer. RBs Nolan Bielskis and Ricky Messling lead the Tigers Wing-T offense. Can Byron keep the football away from the IC offense? Can IC control tempo and force Byron into a higher scoring affair?

EDGY's Pick: Immaculate Conception 28 Byron 14

Recruiting news and notes: Glenbard West WR commits to Cincinnati


Recruiting news and notes: Glenbard West WR commits to Cincinnati

Glenbard West senior three-star ranked wide receiver Alec Pierce (6-foot-3, 191 pounds) made a weekend official visit to the University of Cincinnati and on Monday night gave the Bearcats his verbal commitment. Pierce is also planning to sign a Letter of Intent on December 20th, the first day of the new early signing period.

"I had a great official visit to Cincinnati and I decided that I was ready to commit," Pierce said. "The visit really sold me on Cincinnati in several ways. I liked the school and the city, plus I also got along great with the coaches and the players. I really liked it all."

Pierce, who had scholarship offers from 16 different FBS and FCS level schools is part of a strong Chicagoland recruit haul for the Bearcats Class of 2018. Pierce joins Lyons Township three-star QB Ben Bryant, Chicago Mount Carmel two-star OL Jeremy Cooper and Simeon three-star wide receiver Jayshon Johnson. Pierce is also the 21st overall known verbal commitment for Cincinnati in the Class of 2018.

Oswego (IL) East senior two-star defensive back recruit Antwain Walker (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) made a weekend official visit to Northern Illinois University. Walker, who reopened his recruiting process after mutually agreeing to decommit from Illinois last week came away highly impressed with the NIU Huskies after his weekend visit.

"I just enjoyed hanging out with the players and the coaches along with the other recruits," Walker said. "I was really impressed with all of the people I met at NIU. The players and the coaches are just really good people with great personalities and it's impressive how tight the coaches are with the players. NIU also has a really good recruiting class and I already know a lot of those guys like Leon (Payne), Charles (Robinson), and Justin (Hall). They are all trying to get me to commit and they are also a really good bunch of guys."

Walker, who is on track to graduate from Oswego East later this month is also still hoping to make a college choice very soon.

"Western Michigan is still interested and so is Purdue. I don't have any other official visits set just yet. I'm just going to see how things go this week but I definitely have a lot more to think about after my NIU visit. I really had a great time."

Former Mount Carmel and current IMG Academy senior four-star offensive center recruit Verdis Brown (6-foot-4, 290 pounds) is planning to announce his college decision on Dec. 22 at Robert A. Black elementary school in Chicago. Brown, who has offers from multiple Power 5 schools made fall official visits to Florida State, Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri.

Lake Park junior offensive linemen Patrick Panasiuk (6-foot-3, 290 pounds) should be a very familiar name to those who follow football recruiting. Panasiuk, who is the younger brother of former Lake Park standouts and current Michigan State defensive linemen Mike Panasiuk and Jacub Panasiuk is also starting to draw increased recruiting interest this winter.

"I've stayed in touch with Michigan State along with Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ball State and Northern Illinois. Indiana," Patrick Panasiuk said. "Ball State and NIU made in school visits over the past few weeks. The feedback from the college coaches so far has been pretty positive. The coaches said they liked my junior tape and that they like how I play with a lot of aggressiveness."

So could Panasiuk, who played offensive tackle for the Lancers and head coach Chris Roll last season wind up playing on the defensive line along with his two older brothers?

"I played on the offensive line because my team needed me to play there. I'm totally open to play anywhere the coaches ask me to play and that includes the defensive line."

Viewers' Choice: Vote for High School Lites game coverage


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 High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. the following Saturday. This week, we will see "Red" -- as in the Chicago Public League Red North/West conference. Which game is most worthy for our cameras? 

Westinghouse at Farragut, 5:00 p.m.

Marshall at Uplift, 6:30 p.m.

North Lawndale at Prosser, 6:30 p.m.

Poll opens Monday at 12 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.