Preps Talk

Preps: Top 5 can't miss games in Chicagoland of 2015


Preps: Top 5 can't miss games in Chicagoland of 2015

So what are the Top 5 can't miss games in Chicagoland for the upcoming IHSA football season starting this Friday?

Aug. 28: Naperville Central at Glenbard North

Already? The DuPage Valley conference with the addition of the Valley's this fall (Metea Valley/Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley) looks more like an IHSA football version of Survivor. Both Naperville Central and Glenbard North cracked the @CSNPreps Preseason Top 25 Power Rankings, and with wins being at a premium in the new DuPage Valley Conference, every week is a big game and a must win.

Sept. 2: Homewood-Flossmoor at Stevenson

A rematch of the 2014 IHSA 8A state final game which Stevenson beat the Vikings 31-25. The Patriots also beat the Vikings 33-24 in a weather delayed game in Flossmoor. I fully expect another great showdown here.

[DRIVE: HF Vikings Football prepares for upcoming season]

Sept. 11: Providence Catholic vs. Mount Carmel at Gately Stadium

Providence Catholic, the defending 7A state champs, will take on the Caravan in an opening CCL Blue conference game. Providence Catholic didn't just beat Mount Carmel once in 2014, but a playoff victory eliminated the Caravan from the 7A state playoffs, giving the Celtics a second win over the Catholic League power. When was the last time anyone beat Mount Carmel twice in a season? Also, with the Celtics and Caravan's tough early season slate, could this become a must-win for both teams?

Sept. 12: Phillips vs. Simeon at Gately Stadium

What a weekend at Gately Stadium! This Chicago Public League crossover game features easily the two best teams in the CPL over the past few seasons. Both Phillips and Simeon feature a ton of top recruits and talent on the field in this one. Major city bragging rights are also on the line and I fully expect a playoff-type of atmosphere.

Oct. 9: Nazareth Academy vs. Joliet Catholic at Joliet Memorial Stadium

The Hilltoppers gave the Roadrunners its toughest game last season in a 24-21 win. It was simply one of the best regular season games I saw in 2014 and I'm expecting this year's version to be as good as advertised. Fully expect a ton of speed and talent, along with an extremely hard-hitting contest. 

Morgan Park claims back-to-back Class 3A state titles with win over Southeast

Morgan Park claims back-to-back Class 3A state titles with win over Southeast

PEORIA -- Morgan Park head coach Nick Irvin brought his entire team with him to the press conference podium after claiming a second consecutive IHSA Class 3A state championship.

Irvin and the Mustangs have claimed four boys basketball state titles over the past six years. The quotable Irvin is usually only flanked by his starting five.

Even though Morgan Park had a clear star and leader in senior guard and Player of the Year candidate Ayo Dosunmu, the Mustangs needed every member of their roster to make it back to Peoria during an injury-ravaged season.

Morgan Park needed its reinforcements to make it back to the state finals. Dosunmu took care of the rest. The Illinois commit led Morgan Park's back-to-back quest with a Class 3A state title game record 28 points as the Mustangs earned a 71-56 win over Springfield Southeast on Saturday afternoon.

Although Morgan Park won a Class 3A title with Dosunmu on the roster last season, the Illinois commit wasn't able to play much during the final weekend in the state tournament after suffering a injury to his right foot that forced him to be on crutches for most of the weekend.

This time in Peoria, a healthy Dosunmu carried Morgan Park with an impressive game in front of his future head coach, Brad Underwood. Dosunmu's eight-point flurry to end the third quarter -- including a half-court buzzer-beater -- lifted the Mustangs to a 54-45 advantage entering the fourth quarter. From there, Morgan Park maintained a comfortable advantage as Dosunmu and his teammates held off the feisty Spartans.

"I told myself, once I got hurt, that it felt good for my team to win it. But I wanted to come back and be apart of it and actually be on the court," Dosunmu said.

"I just wanted to come back and redeem myself after getting hurt last year. I knew what I could do. I think I stopped the haters from saying that I couldn't win the big game."

Dosunmu did the heavy lifting for Morgan Park in the state title game. But the Mustangs needed all hands on deck during a tumultuous regular season. Morgan Park was viewed in the preseason as one of the major forces in the Chicago Public League. Injuries to seniors like Dosunmu and big man Tamell Pearson, a UAB commit, meant that the Mustangs had to change all of their plans.

Dosunmu missed 10 games with injury this season. Pearson only played in four games the entire season after multiple surgeries on his eye. That meant others like senior Cam Burrell and sophomores Adam Miller and Marcus Watson had to step up their play.

Morgan Park didn't make a lot of noise during conference play in the Public League Red South/Central. They were eliminated during the quarterfinals of the Public League Playoffs by Whitney Young. Morgan Park hadn't lost this much since Irvin's first season on the job 10 years ago.

But there was still the hope that a healthy Morgan Park could figure things out and make another run at a Class 3A state title. Once Dosunmu got rolling, the Mustangs gained a new confidence to claim another trophy.

"Absolutely, the toughest one," Irvin said of the title run. "At the end of the day I knew these guys were loyal to me. I knew they'd run through a brick wall for me. And I just had to get myself level-headed. I'm used to winning and beating everybody -- or close to it. Taking tough losses was a bit of an adjustment."

Morgan Park winning another title this season is a testament to how talented, and deep, the Mustangs have been the last two seasons. Even with teams not at full strength during the state playoffs the past two years, Morgan Park still managed to win back-to-back titles.

With five trips to Peoria in six seasons, and a roster still filled with young talent, Morgan Park should remain a major contender for years to come -- even with Burrell, Dosunmu, Pearson and the senior class moving on to the next level.

Miller has the look of a potential Player of the Year candidate. Watson played with a ton of confidence down the stretch. More promising young players are also in the pipeline in the rest of the program.

“Three-peat. Three-peat; that’s the goal,” Irvin said. “We’re going to come back home to Peoria next season — hopefully. I’m gonna be on Marcus, and Adam and Kyel (Grover) and just see what we can.”

Preps recruiting: Illinois adds first 2019 in-state commitment

247 Sports

Preps recruiting: Illinois adds first 2019 in-state commitment

Bloomington two star ranked tight end Griffin Moore (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) decided to give Illinois and head coach Lovie Smith his early verbal commitment. 

"The coaching staff (at Illinois) has been great to me," Moore said. "I haven't met a coach at Illinois that I don't like yet, plus I've always wanted to play at Illinois. Other recruits are really buying in so I'm trying to help get the football program back to the top."

Illinois has been very aggressive so far in recruiting the 2019 in-state class, having extended 18 verbal scholarship. The Fighting Illini have been very active in attracting the attention of several top names and have drawn positive feedback from several of those offered in-state names so far this winter. 

Moore is the first known in-state commitment and the second known overall in the Fighting Illini Class of 2019. Moore joins Dallas Bishop Dunne four star ranked Marquez Beason (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) in the Illinois 2019 recruiting class. Beason is ranked as the 79th best recruit in the nation according to the latest Rivals 100 Nation Recruit Rankings for the Class of 2019.