Preps Talk

A look at all the conference races heating up in high school football

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A look at all the conference races heating up in high school football

Several conference races are starting to heat up. Here are some that you should keep an eye on as we get closer to IHSA state playoffs.

Central Suburban North

Maine West (5-1, 2-0) has been a great story so far, but the Central Suburban North is far from decided. Both Deerfield (3-3, 2-0) and Highland Park (3-3, 2-0) all have a very strong shots, and the winner this Friday between those two will get a leg up. Maine West finishes the regular season at Highland Park and playing host to Deerfield. Maine West also is in need of a sixth win with a pretty low playoff point total (21 playoff points) heading into games this weekend.

Central Suburban South

Maine South (5-1, 2-0) plays host to Glenbrook South (5-1, 2-0) this Friday in Park Ridge, and the winner will take a nice lead for the conference title. Defending conference champ New Trier (4-2, 2-0) is still very much in the picture. The Trevians finish the regular season in Week 8 playing host to Maine South then travel to Glenbrook South in Week 9.

Chicago Catholic League Blue

Loyola (5-1, 2-0) and Providence Catholic (4-2, 2-0) have a lead and square off in Week 9 in New Lenox.

Chicago Catholic League Green

Marmion Academy (5-1, 2-1) just lost in Week 6 to Fenwick (4-2, 1-1). Montini Catholic (4-2, 2-1) lost to Marmion back in Week 5. DeLaSalle (5-1, 1-1) just lost to Montini last Friday. So what does it all mean? It means the Green is still way up for grabs.

Chicago Catholic League White

Both Aurora Christian (4-2, 1-0) and St. Laurence (4-2, 1-0) are in the lead and square off in Week 8 in Aurora.

DuPage Valley

Naperville Central (5-1, 5-0) leads, but keep an eye on Wheaton North (5-1, 4-1) and Neuqua Valley (5-1, 4-1). Several teams, including Naperville North (4-2, 3-2) and Lake Park (3-3, 3-2), could also be factors.

East Suburban Catholic Conference

Marist (6-0, 4-0) plays host to Nazareth Academy (6-0, 4-0) Friday, and the winner will take a big step toward a conference crown. Notre Dame (5-1, 3-1), Benet Academy (4-2, 3-1) and St. Viator (4-2, 3-1) still have a shot at the conference title, as well.

Metro Suburban Blue

Immaculate Conception (5-1, 2-0) and Glenbard South (4-2, 2-0) square off in Week 8 in Elmhurst. Riverside-Brookfield (5-1, 1-1) still has a shot but lost to IC last Friday.

Mid Suburban East

Buffalo Grove (6-0, 2-0), Hersey (5-1, 2-0) and Rolling Meadows (5-1, 2-0) all enter this week on a roll, and the next two weeks will provide answers, including this Friday with Buffalo Grove playing at Hersey.

Mid Suburban West

Barrington (6-0, 2-0) plays host to Hoffman Estates (6-0, 2-0) on Saturday in Barrington, and the winner will have a very good shot at the conference crown. Palatine (3-3, 1-1) still has an outside shot, but the Pirates' loss to Barrington last Thursday didn't help.

North Suburban

Lake Zurich (6-0, 2-0) plays Stevenson (5-1, 2-0) on Friday in Lincolnshire. Warren Township (4-2, 1-1) still has a shot but will need some help, meaning rooting for Stevenson to beat Lake Zurich this Friday.

Northern Lake County

Antioch (6-0, 4-0) travels to Lakes (6-0, 4-0) in a huge conference showdown. North Chicago (5-1, 3-1) is still very much in the picture, and the Warhawks close out the 2017 season Week 8 at Antioch then Week 9 playing host to Lakes.

South Suburban Blue

Lemont (5-1, 3-0) has a lead thanks to its Week 3 win over Hillcrest (5-1, 3-1).

South Suburban Red

Richards (4-2, 3-0) has the lead and already has wins over Shepard (5-1, 3-1) and Eisenhower (5-1, 2-1). Eisenhower plays host to Shepard in Week 8.

Southwest Prairie

When all the dust settles, Oswego (5-1) looks to be in the driver's seat once again with wins already over Minooka (5-1) and Oswego East (5-1).

Southwest Suburban Blue

Lincoln-Way East (6-0, 4-0) will be hard to beat, already with wins over Andrew (5-1, 4-1), Lincoln-Way Central (5-1, 4-1) and Homewood-Flossmoor (5-1, 4-1). The Griffins' biggest test will come in Week 9, when they take on Bolingbrook (5-1, 3-1) in Bolingbrook.

Upstate 8 River

Batavia (6-0, 4-0) has the lead, but a Week 9 showdown with St. Charles North (5-1, 3-0) could wind up being a dandy.

West Suburban Gold

Willowbrook (5-1, 3-0) has a leg up on Hinsdale South (4-2, 3-1), who the Warriors beat back in Week 5. Downers Grove South (3-3, 3-1) could potentially play spoiler, however, with a Week 9 win over Willowbrook.

West Suburban Silver

Hinsdale Central (5-1, 4-0) faces Glenbard West (5-1, 3-0) on Saturday at Duchon Field in Glen Ellyn in a huge conference game. Lyons Township (5-1, 2-1) also has an outside shot for a conference title but needs some help.

2017 AP preps football rankings: Week 8

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USA TODAY

2017 AP preps football rankings: Week 8

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters:

Class 8A

Others receiving votes: Oswego 3, South Elgin 3, St. Charles East 1, Stevenson 1, Minooka 1

Class 7A

Others receiving votes: Hoffman Estates 9, Lincoln Park 3, Rockford Auburn 3, Hersey 2, Willowbrook 2

Class 6A

Others receiving votes: Providence 12, Danville 9, Peoria Central 5, Oak Lawn Richards 2, Montini 2, Riverside-Brookfield 1

Class 5A

Others receiving votes: Rich Central 9, Payton 5, Lindblom 4, Morton 4, Rochelle 2, Chicago (Solorio Academy) 2

Class 4A

Others receiving votes: Rock Island Alleman 9, Coal City 3, Chicago Sullivan 2, Genoa-Kingston 1

Class 3A

Others receiving votes: Wilmington 9, Fairfield 6, Sesser (S.-Valier) 5, Elmwood-Brimfield 1

Class 2A

Others receiving votes: Chicago (Hope) Academy 8, Clifton Central 5, Alton Marquette 3, Fieldcrest 2

Class 1A

Others receiving votes: Stockton 6, Camp Point Central 5, Dakota 5, Fulton 3, Argenta-Oreana 3

Five teams you can't overlook come IHSA playoff time

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Five teams you can't overlook come IHSA playoff time

With the IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show just days away, here are five teams that you need to keep in mind when the brackets are announced. They could cause big matchup problems once the postseason begins. You can catch show live this Saturday night starting at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago+ with live streaming at nbcsportschicago.com/IHSAPairingShow and via the NBC Sports app.

Class 8A

Edwardsville: The Tigers (5-3) got off to a rough start and lost their first three games, including an opening week stunner, 53-49, to Naperville North. It was a game that the Tigers led 42-0 in the second quarter. However, coach Matt Martin and company are riding high with a five-game winning streak. They feature an explosive offense led by junior QB Kendall Abdur-Rahman and a deep group of backs. Keep an eye on freshman RB Justin Johnson. 

Naperville North: The afforementioned Huskies (5-3) have lost two of their last three games but don't be fooled. Naperville North can trade offensive punches with everyone in the 8A field behind QB Drake Davis, WR Nick Calcagno and a deep group of receivers. Senior LB Ryan Marrano leads the Huskie defense. The team has marquee wins over Edwardsville, Wheaton North, Lake Park and Naperville Central.

Class 7A

Mount Carmel: The Caravan (5-3) will wind up starting the state playoffs on the road.  And trust me: every opponent will not be excited to see this tradition-heavy program come to town. Mount Carmel will look towards its running game with QB Alek Thomas (a TCU baseball and football commit) along with a big offensive line led by senior Jeremy Cooper (Cincinnati). 

[MORE: Edgy Tim's Week 9 Power Rankings]

Class 6A

Providence Catholic: The Celtics (5-3) are coming off a tough Week 8 loss to Loyola. Don't let the three losses fool you. The combined record of the three teams Providence lost to is 22-3. Keep an eye on senior RB Deshon Gavin (WIU commit), a big and physical offensive line and a strong group on defense. Providence has won five of its last six games.

Class 5A

Rochelle: It is the last season for Hubs' veteran head coach Kevin Crandall. Rochelle (5-3) will look to run the football early and often. They also have a fast, physical defensive unit. Rochelle's three losses this season come to the likes of Sterling (8-0), Morris (7-1) and Johnsburg (8-0) and this team will be a tough out for every opponent in 5A. Rochelle is 157-95 under Crandall, including three 12-win seasons.