Preps Talk

IHSA: Edgy Tim's candidates for Player of the Year in Illinois

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IHSA: Edgy Tim's candidates for Player of the Year in Illinois

The upcoming IHSA state semifinal games will feature several players I have under serious consideration for Player of the Year in Illinois.

I've been naming a Player of the Year (in one form or another) for nearly 20 years and this year I see a handful of names who have risen towards the top of the list.

Libertyville QB Riley Lees, who is committed to Northwestern as a wide receiver, has been impressive and—at times—as dominating as any player in this state. Lees has rushed for 2,156 yards and 29 touchdowns while also passing for 1,663 yards and 26 touchdowns with just six interceptions. While the numbers are extremely impressive, I've never been a real numbers guy. Lees makes it look easy when its anything from easy. He has a quiet self confidence that you see in the great ones.

Or how about Glenbard West senior RB Sam Brodner? The Vanderbilt commit, who has rushed for 1,332 yards and 40 touchdowns, doesn't have overwhelming stats . But don't tell me that after seeing Sam Brodner take a pitch, turn the corner and run past (or run over) oncoming defenders time and time again that he's not worthy of Player of the Year status.

The same can be said for Nazareth Academy’s do-it-all senior Julian Love (Notre Dame). Love does a little bit of everything for the Roadrunners, including playing receiver, running back, defensive back and kickoff returner. He also performs in the school play (that's also the truth, FYI). The Truth: it seems like a perfect Player of the Year slogan to describe the importance of Julian Love. The overall stats aren't overwhelming. He’s just The Truth (trademark pending).

Others? Don’t tell me that Palatine QB Zach Oles (2,302 yards rushing, 20 TD; 2,063 yards passing, 19 TD) isn't in the hunt. And the same can be said of Marist QB Brendan Skalitzky who has thrown for 3,412 yards 36 passing TD while also adding a mere 893 yards in the ground with eight touchdowns. Skalitzky alone has put up more offense than half the teams in Illinois this season.

[MORE: Saturday on CSN - No. 30 Waubonsie Valley at No. 23 Marist]

What about a few kids giving this quarterback position a "try" for the first time at the varsity level? Take Montini Catholic senior QB Justin Blake. So far, Blake has amassed over 2,300 yards of total offense. And in many cases, he’s played in barely over one half of football thanks to Montini’s success. Phillips senior QB Quayvon Skanes (UConn) decided to move over to quarterback after being a standout receiver last fall. Skanes under center has been as impressive as anyone in Illinois so far this season.

And what about this Evans kid out of Prairie Ridge? It seems this sophomore Samson Evans has a bit more speed than his older offensive linemen brother (Shane Evans/NIU) is also approaching over 3,000 yards of total offense this season for the Wolves. Not too shabby for a sophomore.

And can we just award a lifetime achievement award now to Cary Grove junior FB/LB Ty Pennington? He’s amassed 1,255 yards 21 touchdowns this season—and it seems like he has played for the Trojans since the mid 2000s.

Hinsdale South? The Hornets can share the award between senior QB Sean McCormack and senior RB Marcus Curry, because I don't need stats to tell me the value both kids have for the team. I've seen it up close myself.

Crete-Monee? Take senior ATH Clint Radkovich. Quite simply, he is the best all around football player you most likely haven't heard about yet. But you should, especially if you are a Hinsdale South fan.

So how do you choose? I'm still looking and I have a feeling the next two weeks will play a large role in the final choice.

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

Playoff drama highlights a busy week on High School Lites

High School Lites had a busy show as it was the final week of the regular season for IHSA boys basketball Class 3A and 4A. The Class 1A and 2A playoffs also tipped in boys basketball as the show has some thrilling regional titles that were decided in the final minute. And finally, the girls basketball Class 1A and 2A state semifinals were played on Friday as the state's top teams played in Bloomington.

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

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Richards wrestler Mia Palumbo

Saint Xavier Team of the Week: Simeon boys basketball

Highlights

Marshall shocks Leo in Class 2A regional final

Aurora Christian runs past Harvert Christian for 1A regional title

Buzzer-beater lifts Monticello over Gibson City for regional title

Jacobs goes unbeaten in Fox Valley with win over Dundee-Crown

West Aurora gets by rival East Aurora

Yorkville completes season sweep of DeKalb

Lemont escapes past T.F. North

Marshall needs OT to get past Teutopolis in girls 2A semifinals

Harlan takes down Eureka in 2A semifinals

Stockton runs by Okaw Valley in 1A

Schlarman races by Lebanon

Boys Basketball Playoffs begin on busy week of High School Lites

Boys Basketball Playoffs begin on busy week of High School Lites

High School Lites is down to the final week of the regular season in local high school hoops as the Class 3A and 4A schools finish up conference play. The boys basketball playoffs have also started as the Class 1A and Class 2A regional championships will be played on Friday night.

The girls basketball Class 1A and 2A state semifinals will also be featured. You can catch all of those games on NBC Sports Chicago on Friday beginning at 11 a.m. with the 1A semifinals. High School Lites will air Friday night at 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago

East Aurora at No. 11 West Aurora, 7:00 p.m. -- These two rivals meet for the 225th time. The Blackhawks (20-4, 9-0) won the first matchup by 22 points as they try to finish the season on a 12-game winning streak. 

Jacobs at Dundee-Crown, 7:00 p.m. -- Fox Valley rivals match up as Jacobs tries to go unbeaten in the conference. The Eagles (23-3, 15-0) has been playing very well as they've won 20 of 21 games heading into this one -- including an earlier win against Dundee-Crown. The Chargers (14-11, 10-4) has won seven consecutive games since dropping to the Golden Eagles as they're second in the Fox Valley heading into this one. 

Yorkville at DeKalb, 7:00 p.m. -- The top two teams in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East play in this one. DeKalb (16-11, 11-1) has already clinched a share of the conference title as the team's only league loss has come against Yorkville. The Foxes (17-8, 10-2) knocked off DeKalb at their place on Feb. 3 as they try to win again to get a piece of the division title. 

T.F. North at Lemont, 7:00 p.m. -- Two of the better teams in the South Suburban Blue battle on the eve of the playoffs. Lemont (17-8, 9-3) has picked up three straight wins entering this one. T.F. North (11-9, 9-3) is trying to build some momentum after recent close losses to Hillcrest and T.F. South.

Carmel at No. 10 Benet, 7:30 p.m. -- The ESCC closes out its season with this one. Benet (22-4, 7-1) is coming off a nice road win at Marian Catholic earlier this week. Carmel (17-10, 4-4) knocked off Joliet Catholic during the week as they've been a dangerous team in the ESCC. 

Class 2A Boys Basketball Regional Championships

Leo vs. Marshall, 6 p.m. -- The Lions are the favorites but the Commandos are the host of this regional title game. Leo (20-5, 8-0) has a 13-game winning streak as they won the Catholic League White. Marshall (8-17, 4-5) struggled in the win column but they were a competitive 4-5 in a very deep Public League Red-South. 

Uplift vs. Northridge, 7 p.m. -- This should be an interesting battle as Uplift is playing on the road at Northridge. Uplift (17-9, 6-3) has played an extremely competitive schedule that includes a recent close loss to No. 1 Simeon as Kansas commit Markese Jacobs and senior forward Toraze Dobbs are one of the best combinations in the Class 2A field. Northridge (22-5, 12-0) went unbeaten in the Independent School League this season as they're riding a 13-game winning streak.

Class 1A Boys Basketball Regional Championships 

Aurora Christian vs. Harvest Christian, 7 p.m. -- These two teams play for the third time this season in what should be an interesting regional title game. Aurora Christian (23-1, 10-0) is the host as they only lost to Winnebago this season. The Eagles beat Harvest Christian twice in a six-day span in December. Harvest Christian (18-8, 8-2) finished third in the Northeastern Athletic as they played the second game within two points. 

Class 1A Girls Basketball State Semifinals

Okaw Valley vs. Stockton, 11 a.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Okaw Valley (29-5) is making its first state appearance after winning its first regional title in school history. Stockton (31-2) finished under .500 last season (13-15) and had an amazing turnaround that includes a current 15-game winning streak. 

Lebanon vs. Schlarman, 12:45 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- These two teams have combined for two losses this season as this should be a good one. Lebanon (31-1) just won its first sectional title in school history as they've now moved on to state. Schlarman (31-1) is led by junior Anaya Peoples, a Notre Dame commit and five-star prospect in the Class of 2019. 

Class 2A Girls Basketball State Semifinals

Harlan vs. Eureka, 5:30 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Two red-hot teams play in the first semifinal in Class 2A. Harlan (25-6) is riding a 12-game winning streak as this is its first appearance at state for girls basketball. Eureka (28-3) has a 19-game winning streak as they make their first state appearance since 1988.

Marshall vs. Teutopolis, 7:15 p.m., NBC Sports Chicago -- Two storied programs in the state match up in this one. Marshall (20-7) will be making its 21st state appearance as head coach Dorothy Gaters is one of the most storied coaches in Illinois. Teutopolis is making its 17th appearance at state as the Lady Shoes (28-6) seek their first title since 1995.