Preps Talk

High School Lites Week 1 football capsules and picks


High School Lites Week 1 football capsules and picks

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the opening kickoff week edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Can Mount Carmel get off to a good start against Taft? Will St. Rita and St. Patrick go down to the wire at Soldier Field? Who wins the annual Fox Valley battle between Prairie Ridge and Cary Grove? And can Marist get payback this season against neighborhood rival Brother Rice after losing to the Crusaders a season ago? Viewers can watch the show on CSN or live stream at

Taft vs. (14) Mount Carmel, 1:00 p.m. at Soldier Field

EDGY's Take: Mount Carmel will look to get off to a good start against Taft in the annual Preseason Prep Bowl Kickoff at Soldier Field, part of three games there on Friday. The Caravan will rely on senior QB Alek Thomas (Texas Tech) plus senior OL/DL Jeremy Cooper (Cincinnati) along with an experienced defense. Taft, coached by John Ysarouchas, welcomes back 14 returning starters (eight offense, six defense). Senior WR/LB Kevin Gniedziejko is a key for the Eagles on both sides of the football. 

EDGY's Pick: Mount Carmel 27, Taft 12

St. Rita vs. St. Patrick, 4:00 p.m. at Soldier Field

EDGY's Take: This matchup will be the second of three Friday at the Preseason Prep Bowl at Soldier Field. St. Rita and head coach Todd Kuska welcomes back 12 returning starters (seven offense, five defense). Keep an eye out for senior RB Chris Childers (Indiana State), senior QB Jake Zlyman and three starting offensive linemen back this fall. New St. Pat's head coach Adam Guerra features nine starters back (five offense, four defense) from last season and keep an eye on senior WR/DB Joey Lombardi and senior RB/DB Joey Solak. 

EDGY's Pick: St. Rita 27, St. Patrick 24

(23) Cary-Grove at (1) Prairie Ridge, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Prairie Ridge enters the 2017 season with extremely high expectations. Senior QB Samson Evans (Iowa) leads the Wolves double-wing offense while senior OL Jeff Jenkins (Iowa) is one of three returning starters on the offensive line. Cary-Grove and head coach Brad Seaburg also bring back a ton of experience up front with five returning starters, including junior OT Addison West and senior OT Brett Groves (SIU). Also keep an eye on Cary-Grove senior RB/DB Max Skol. Can the Trojans defense slow down Samson Evans and the Wolves option game? Can the Wolves defense slow down the Cary-Grove power running game? 

EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 28, Cary-Grove 14

(12) Naperville Central @ (19) Glenbard North, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Naperville Central and head coach Mike Stine received quite a boost when junior QB Payton Thorne and senior WR/DB Jayden Reed both transferred into Central from Metea Valley this past spring. Also, keep an eye on senior RB AJ Deinhart and junior OL Luke Hallstrom for the Redhawks this fall. Glenbard North and head coach Ryan Wilkens lost some key players form a season ago. That said, the Panthers always have talent. Senior DB Tyrik Henderson (Minnesota) is a name to watch. Plus, the Glenbard North offensive line is a strength—led by senior Jose Vazquez. Can the Panthers generate enough offense this fall? Can the Redhawks offense dent a very strong Glenbard North defense?

EDGY's Pick: Naperville Central 17, Glenbard North 14

(7) Lake Zurich @ Fremd, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lake Zurich and first year head coach Luke Mertens takes over a Bears program recovering from an offseason hazing scandal. On the field, the Bears are stacked with 14 returning starters (eight offense, six defense). Keep an eye on senior QB Evan Lewandowski, senior OL Ian Fitzgerald and senior LB Jack Sanborn (Wisconsin). Fremd and head coach Lou Sponsel will rely on the defense early this fall. The unit returns six starters including senior DL Will McCabe (Western Michigan). The Vikings offense has just two returning starters back in senior WR Ben Konopka and senior OL Jake Flemming. Can Lake Zurich run the ball against the Vikings defense?

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 21, Fremd 14

Stevenson @ (10) Palatine, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Stevenson first year head coach Josh Hjorth takes over the Patriots program after serving as a long time assistant coach. The Patriots will rely on an experienced offensive line including senior OL John Maskalunas. The defense is paced by three-year senior starting linebacker Sam Marks.  Palatine also has a first year head coach in Corey Olson. The Pirates welcome back a ton of talent on both sides of the football. Keep an eye on senior LB Cortez Hogans (NIU) along with senior QB DJ Angelaccio plus senior WR Johnny O'Shea and senior WR Jack Orlando. Can the Patriots secondary defend the bigger Palatine receivers? Can the Palatine defense slow down the Stevenson running game?

EDGY's Pick: Palatine 27, Stevenson 21

Brother Rice @ (6) Marist, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The South Side Super Bowl is this week at Marist. Brother Rice and head coach Brian Badke lost some key players to graduation but look for the Crusaders to rely on an experienced and big offensive line led by senior Nick Marozas (Indiana). Marist also saw its longtime head coach (Pat Dunne) step aside to take a job in the private sector. Stepping up is longtime assistant coach Ron Dawczak. Look for the Redhawks to rely on a talented senior class including tight end TJ Ivy (West Virginia), defensive end Gavin McCabe (Indiana), defensive tackle Elijah Teague (Minnesota) plus senior RB Delonte Harrell. Can the Redhawks defense slow down the Crusaders run game? Can Rice defend the entire field against the Redhawks spread?

EDGY's Pick: Marist 31, Brother Rice 30

Warren Township at (20) Barrington, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Warren Township and head coach Bryan McNulty welcomes back 11 starters (six offense, five defense). The Blue Devils’ offensive skills are a strength with senior QB Ian Schilling, senior TE Ryan Short and senior WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame). Barrington and head coach Joe Sanchez welcomes back just six starters. But the Broncos always seem to reload. Keep an eye on senior QB Ray Niro. Can the less-experienced Broncos slow down the Blue Devils’ passing attack?

EDGY's Pick: Barrington 28, Warren Township 21

Viewers’ Choice

Lake Central (IN) @ Lincoln-Way Central, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Last Friday, Lake Central defeated Munster 33-14. Will the Indians have an advantage with a game already under its belt? Expectations are high for Lincoln-Way Central and head coach Jeremy Cordell who will rely on a deep team with 15 returning starters back (nine offense, six defense). Senior RB Matt Pollack is a name to watch along with senior S Peyton Nigro. Can the Knights get out of the gates quickly in Week 1?

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way Central 24, Lake Central 17

Orr finishes No. 1 in final Preps Power Rankings

Orr finishes No. 1 in final Preps Power Rankings

The IHSA boys basketball season is in the books as High School Lites has finished up another season of coverage. This season had plenty of drama until the end for the No. 1 spot as a group of Public League superpowers battled for area dominance. In the end, Class 2A champion Orr is the top team in the area, in a very tough decision over Whitney Young, Simeon and Morgan Park. Here's a look at the final top 25, with some season highlights and memorable moments. 

1. Orr (30-4, 9-0) -- The Spartans finish the season in the top spot as the only team in the area to capture a state, conference and major holiday tournament title this season. A special senior class that cruised to back-to-back Class 2A titles, Orr also won the loaded Public League Red North/West by going unbeaten. They also steamrolled the competition in the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. Orr is also the only team in the area with 30 wins. They beat another 30-win team in the 2A title game this year. Orr had a lot of tremendous accomplishments while beating a lot of good teams. Dannie Smith, Raekwon Drake and Chase Adams all had stellar senior seasons on a deep and loaded team.

2. Whitney Young (28-8, 7-2) -- Peaking in March once again, the Dolphins just missed winning back-to-back state titles in Class 4A with an overtime loss to Belleville West. Knocking off Lincoln Park, Curie, Simeon and Evanston all in a row is a ridiculous postseason accomplishment. Senior Javon Freeman was a Player of the Year candidate and his hot start was one of the big early storylines of the season. Other seniors like Xavier Castaneda, Justin Boyd and Jake Kosakowski made an impact as well. It'll be interesting to see who steps up alongside Myles Baker and Tyler Beard next season. 

3. Simeon (29-4, 9-0) -- Simeon fell short of winning a Class 4A state title after suffering a stunning overtime loss to Whitney Young in the Chicago State Supersectional. The Wolverines were No. 1 nearly the entire season. The loss to the Dolphins was their only IHSA loss of the season. A nationally-ranked juggernaut that at-times played like one of the best teams in the area of the last decade, the back-to-back city champions still won at Pontiac and won the Public League Red South/Central as well. Senior Talen Horton-Tucker morphed into a superstar and Player of the Year favorite while Messiah Jones, Xavier Pinson, Kenny Pittman, Zion Young and Bakari Simmons were also key ingredients. Junior Kejuan Clements could be a breakout star next year as well. 

4. Morgan Park (25-9, 7-2) -- Claiming a second consecutive Class 3A state title, the Mustangs ended the season on a high note as the dominant team in that field. Senior guard Ayo Dosunmu is one of the Player of the Year favorites while senior Cam Burrell had an outstanding season as a double-double machine. Sophomores like Adam Miller and Marcus Watson also emerged as the wave of the future for the program. While the Mustangs had a great end to the season, they had to fight through injuries to Dosunmu and senior center Tamell Pearson -- who missed most of the season with an eye injury. One of the big "What Ifs?" of the 2017-18 season is how good Morgan Park might have been this season with all of its pieces all of the time. 

5. Evanston (27-6, 8-2) -- Exceeding expectations with a Class 4A third-place finish, the Wildkits had a tremendous season. With a balanced team that featured a lot of non-seniors playing big roles, this young Evanston team knocked off many of the area's best teams during the season. Evanston also finished tied atop the loaded CSL South this season. Junior guards Ryan Bost, Jaheim Holden and Lance Jones are all noted talents while senior big man Matt Hall provided a huge presence on the interior. 

6. Marian Catholic (26-6, 5-4) -- Another team to exceed expectations this season was Marian Catholic. The Spartans advanced to state for the first time in capturing a Class 3A third place win. Junior guard Malik Tidwell knocked in a memorable buzzer-beater to win a supersectional and guard Ahron Ulis started to look like a star in the making towards the end of the season. The interior play of Chris White and Alec Dinwiddie was also underrated for this team as they featured a balanced roster. Many of the key pieces of this team are expected back, and this is a close-knit team. Marian Catholic will likely be Class 4A next season as well. 

7. Larkin (24-10, 11-1) -- Larkin had huge expectations this season after making a supersectional last season. They lived up to the hype by making it to Peoria in Class 4A. The duo of Anthony Lynch and Jalen Shaw was one of the best combinations in the area this season and they helped lead the Royals to an Upstate Eight River title. 

8. Curie (26-5, 8-1) -- Curie didn't claim a lot of the team hardware of many of the top 10 teams, but the Condors had some great wins over Orr and Morgan Park during the season. One of the Public League's best teams once again, the Condors also had convincing wins over sectional title teams like North Chicago and North Lawndale. Seniors Treavon and Tyree Martin both had solid careers while Maurice Commander and Marquise Walker had a lot of bright moments during the season.  

9. North Chicago (22-10, 14-0) -- The Warhawks flew under the radar of a lot of people this season. But they went out in convincing fashion after going undefeated in the Northern Lake County conference taking fourth place in Class 3A. Tyrek Cooper and Pierce Coleman led a strong senior group while Ishaun Walker played well in the state playoffs. 

10. Benet (27-5, 8-1) -- Benet had a great season in winning a sectional title in Class 4A. Winners of 18 straight games at one point this season, the Redwings claimed the Wheaton-Warrenville South MLK tournament and Fenwick Thanksgiving events as well. One of the area's best defenses, Benet held 14 opponents to 40 points or less. This unsung group had a solid senior class led by David Buh. 

11. West Aurora (25-5, 10-0) -- A great season for West Aurora as they won 17 straight games themselves at one point. The Blackhawks went unbeaten in winning the Upstate Eight Valley behind a balanced group. Senior Camron Donatlan is one of the area's best overall athletes in recent memory. Jared Crutcher also came on strong at the end of the season. 

12. Lake Zurich (26-8, 9-5) -- The Bears started the preseason in the Power Rankings and fought back in after a Class 4A sectional title and 26-win campaign. One of the area's better shooting teams, the Bears made history with talented players like Ryan Kutsor, Peter DiCerbo and J.R. Cison. 

13. North Lawndale (18-11, 3-6) -- North Lawndale made the most of its Class 3A run by winning a sectional title and falling to Morgan Park in the supersectional at Joliet Central. The Phoenix had a lot of close losses to elite teams during the season that prepared them for the deep Class 3A run as they were led by Demetrius Douglas and David Forrest.   

14. Marist (27-5, 7-2) -- Marist enjoyed another very successful season as a regional champion and one of the best teams in the tough ESCC. The RedHawks had a star in senior guard Morgan Taylor as this team won 27 games during the year. 

15. New Trier (25-6, 8-2) -- One of the biggest teams in the area, the Trevians used their elite size to share the top of the CSL South standings with rival Evanston. New Trier claimed a regional title while also winning some memorable games against conference rivals like the Wildkits and Niles North. Also winners of the Loyola/New Trier Thanksgiving event, New Trier junior Ciaran Brayboy will be a player to track heading into next year. 

16. DePaul Prep (24-7, 5-3) -- The Rams had a nice season as one of the strongest teams in the Catholic League. DePaul Prep came up short of winning a sectional title in Class 3A, but they beat a lot of quality competition during the season. Junior Perry Cowan was one of the area's top players and he could be a star next season. 

17. Bolingbrook (22-7, 7-3) -- Another good season for the Raiders as they nearly won another sectional title in Class 4A. With some of the better guards in the area in Kaleb Thornton, Joseph Yesufu and Tyler Cochran, Bolingbrook knocked off some really good teams, including a win over Morgan Park on Martin Luther King day.  

18. Willowbrook (26-6, 9-3) -- Willowbrook capped a great two-year stretch with the school's first regional title since 2004 and another 20-win campaign. Senior Ethan Schuemer is one of the best players in school history as he leaves as the program's all-time leading scorer. 

19. Niles North (26-5, 6-4) -- Niles North had a great season in the loaded CSL South while also claiming the Wheeling Hardwood Classic in December. The Vikings had a star in Damaria Franklin and other talented weapons like Jamal Stephenson and Drayvon Clayborn. 

20. Loyola Academy (24-7, 5-3) -- One of the area's strongest defensive teams, Loyola Academy had a great season in the Catholic League. Winning a holiday tournament in Naples, Florida, the Ramblers had a very good 10-game winning streak in the middle of the season. 

21. Homewood-Flossmoor (21-7, 9-1) -- The Vikings won the very tough SouthWest Suburban Blue by two games while also winning a regional title in Class 4A. After a decent start, the Vikings also deserve credit for an eight-game winning streak before losing in the playoffs to Marist. 

22. Joliet Central (23-6, 13-1) -- The Southwest Prairie champions had a very strong season before losing in a heartbreaker to Bolingbrook in the sectional semifinals of Class 4A. The Steelmen seemed to find themselves in a lot of memorable overtime games this season, including two against Romeoville, a triple-overtime win over Wheaton-Warrenville South and the double-OT playoff loss to Bolingbrook. 

23. Lincoln Park (19-10, 6-3) -- One of the Public League's biggest surprises this season, the Lions had some huge wins playing in the Red North/West. Taking down Whitney Young, Uplift, North Lawndale, Marian Catholic and Oak Park-River Forest, the Lions had some star power in senior Terrence Shannon.   

24. Lincoln-Way East (23-6, 7-3) -- The Griffins made history by winning the first regional title in school history for boys basketball. Also beating teams like Bolingbrook and Romeoville, Lincoln-Way East was led by very good senior class.

25. Brother Rice (19-11, 4-4) -- The Crusaders had a strong season while playing a solid schedule. Brother Rice had a convincing win over Kenwood for a regional title before putting up a battle with Simeon in the sectional semifinals. Brother Rice was also the runner-up in the 32-team Jack Tosh Holiday Classic. 

De La Salle's Steven Hawthorne talks about growing list of offers

De La Salle's Steven Hawthorne talks about growing list of offers

Why would students from De La Salle, a Chicago high school, take part in a charity dodgeball tournament over 30 miles away in Wheaton? For fun and games, of course. But to also raise funds and awareness for a good cause.

I had a chance to catch up with De La Salle’s three-star ranked junior defensive end Steven Hawthorne (6-foot-4, 220 pounds) at the sixth annual Franklin Middle School Dodgeball Tournament in Wheaton. Proceeds from the event benefitted the Northern Illinois Food Bank, Cammy Can, Jack’s Army and Franklin Middle School. Hawthorne is an upcoming senior who recently added his second Big Ten offer (Nebraska) this offseason. He could be on the verge of a major recruiting breakout this spring.

And Meteors head coach Mike Boehm and company may have picked up their first victory on the season. De La Salle took home a first place finish in their first-ever appearance.

Check out the interview with Steven Hawthorne above.