Preps Talk

Previewing and predicting the IHSA State Football Championship games

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USA TODAY

Previewing and predicting the IHSA State Football Championship games

NBC Sports Chicago will have complete recaps and highlights from this weekend's IHSA State Football Championship games on High School Lites, Saturday at 11 p.m. Can anyone score when Lincoln-Way East takes on Loyola in Class 8A?  So who you got between Batavia and Lake Zurich? Can Nazareth Academy stun the defending Class 6A state champs in Prairie Ridge? Can Phillips bring home another state title trophy and beat Dunlap in 5A? Can Morris derail 4A state power Rochester? Can IC make the Cinderella story come to an end for 16 seeded Pleasant Plains in 3A? Who comes away with a win on Friday between Maroa-Forsyth and GCMS? Will it be the ground and pound Le-Win in 1A or are you more of a balanced offense fan of Tuscola?

Class 8A

Lincoln-Way East (13-0) vs. Loyola Academy (12-1) at DeKalb (Huskie Stadium) Sat., Nov. 25, 7:00 pm

EDGY's Take: Both Lincoln-Way East and Loyola feature two of the state's top defenses along with strong quarterback play. QB Brendan Morrissey (2,458 yards of total offense with 29 combined TD's) leads a balanced offensive attack that also features senior RB Ryan Scianna (696 yards rushing) plus big-play ability from sophomore WR AJ Henning. Loyola has gotten a huge senior year from QB Quinn Boyle (2,695 yards of total offense 27 combined TD's) along with a committee of running backs plus senior WR James Joyce (50 catches for 621 yards 4TD's) and senior WR Rory Boos (37 catches 743 yards 10 TD's). So whose defense rises to the occasion? How healthy is East QB Brendan Morrissey? How healthy is Loyola overall? I fully expect a very tight and one turnover or big play could be a difference maker.

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 17 Loyola 10

Class 7A

Batavia (12-1) vs. Lake Zurich (13-0) at DeKalb (Huskie Stadium)  Sat., Nov. 25, 4:00 pm

EDGY's Take: Batavia and head coach Dennis Piron are in search of the Bulldogs' second state football title on Saturday. The Bulldogs will look toward a balanced offensive attack led by senior QB Riley Cooper (2,001 yards passing 27 touchdowns) along with a steady group of running backs along with a good sized offensive line including senior OT Nolan Eike (Central Michigan). The Batavia defense is also a big reason why they are in DeKalb on Saturday. Keep an eye on senior SS Michael Niemiec (120 tackles) along with junior ILB Luke Weerts plus junior OLB Michael Jansey. Lake Zurich and first year head coach Luke Mertens have been able to steer this football program past last year's hazing scandal and into the state title game led by a revamped offense and the always strong Bears defense. The Bears offense has opened up the passing game behind senior QB Evan Lewandowski (2,572 yards passing 26 TD's) plus a steady dose of the running game led by senior RB/LB Joey Stutzman (1,094 yards rushing 15 TD's) while the Lake Zurich defense has speed. Keep an eye on senior LB Jack Sanborn (Wisconsin commit). Can the Batavia defense lock down the Lake Zurich multi-threat offense? Can the Lake Zurich defense contain Batavia's QB Riley Cooper? 

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 21 Batavia 13

Class 6A

Prairie Ridge (13-0) vs. Nazareth Academy (12-1) at DeKalb (Huskie Stadium) Sat., Nov. 25, 1:00 pm

EDGY's Take: Prairie Ridge is looking to capture its second straight Class 6A state title and the school's third overall football championship on Saturday. The Wolves will put their fate in the hands of Iowa commit senior QB Samson Evans (1,957 yards rushing 36 TD's) along with a ground hugging power option attack. The Prairie Ridge defense has experience and also plenty of speed, and keep an eye on senior OL/DL Jeff Jenkins (Iowa commit) along with senior ILB Jacob Ommen and senior OLB Joe Perhats. Nazareth Academy and head coach Tim Racki has one of Chicagoland's youngest and most talented teams in 2017. The Road Runners will look for senior QB Bobby Grimes to get the ball into the hands of several playmakers including junior RB/DB Devin Blakely plus junior WR/DB Michael Love along with junior WR/S Diamond Evans. Nazareth Academy will also look towards its defense led by senior DT Isaiah Lee (Iowa State) and a unit that has both size and speed. Can the Road Runners defense contain Superman, aka Samson Evans? Can the Prairie Ridge defense match up and defend the multiple weapons from Nazareth on Saturday?

EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 35 Prairie Ridge 34

Class 5A

Chicago (Phillips) (13-0) vs. Dunlap (13-0) at DeKalb (Huskie Stadium) Sat., Nov. 25, 10:00 am

EDGY's Take: Phillips is looking to capture the school's second state football title on Saturday morning. The Wildcats will rely on their running game anchored by senior RB/LB Craig Elmore (1,814 yards rushing 22 TD's)  while the passing game is also a strength, led by QB J'Bore Gibbs (South Dakota State commit) along with a strong group of receivers including senior WR/S Fabian McCray plus junior TE Jahleel Billingsley and junior WR/DB Joseph Thompson. The Phillips defense has a great mix of size upfront, led by senior DT Queneil Morrisson (NIU commit) plus speed on the edges with senior DE Terrance Taylor (Toledo commit) and an athletic group of defensive backs. Dunlap has rolled this season behind a mix of senior RB/DB Luke Bennyhoff (2,092 yards rushing 32 TD's) along with a big play play-action passing game led by QB Myles Burks (1,526 yards passing 17 TD's) plus senior TE/LB Nick Mangieri (Northwestern commit). The Eagles defense has also been a huge key this season and the defensive line is a strength. Keep an eye on junior Josiah Miamen. Can Dunlap keep the Phillips defense off balanced? Can Phillips establish its running game on Saturday against a strong Dunlap defense? 

EDGY's Pick: Phillips 22 Dunlap 17

Class 4A

Morris (11-2) vs. Rochester (13-0) at DeKalb (Huskie Stadium), Fri., Nov. 24, 7:00 pm

EDGY's Take: Morris and head coach Alan Thorson have a strong running game featuring senior RB/LB Kam Dransfeldt (1,679 yards rushing 20 TD's) and is led by a very large offensive line anchored by senior OL Nolan Feeney and senior OT Nathan Korte. The Redskins defense also has good size and speed upfront and will look towards senior team leading  tackler LB Kaden Laurie (118 tackles) plus senior DE/TE Tyler Spiezo. Rochester and head coach Derek Leonard is attempting to win the school's six state football title in seven years on Friday evening. Rochester senior QB Nic Baker (3,678 yards passing 52 TD's) leads a fast-paced Rockets shotgun spread offense that can beat opposing defense with both the run and the pass. The Rockets defense has also been very solid all season so keep an eye on senior LB Stephan McCree (63 solo tackles) plus senior LB/RB Nick Capriotti. Can Morris take the air out of the football, control time of possession and limit the Rochester offense's touches? Can the Morris defense contain the Rochester offense for four quarters?

EDGY's Pick: Rochester 37 Morris 21

Class 3A

 Elmhurst (IC Catholic) (12-1) vs. Pleasant Plains (10-3) at DeKalb (Huskie Stadium), Fri., Nov. 24, 4:00 pm

EDGY's Take: Immaculate Conception and head coach Bill Krefft is looking for a repeat win on Friday for the 3A state title, but the path to DeKalb has been anything but easy. The Knights needed to replace standout QB Luke Ricobene after suffering a season ending injury early in the year. However the Knights reloaded quickly. Keep an eye on senior QB CJ West (1,831 yards passing 24 TD's) along with junior WR/DB Khalil Saunders and with his twin brother WR/LB Khali Saunders plus a strong running attack led by senior RB/DB Lazerick Eatman (1, 277 yards 19 TD's). Pleasant Plains had made IHSA football playoff history already as the first ever No. 16 seed in the current 1 through 16 seeded bracket to make it to the state final game. The Cardinals offense under head coach Bobby Walworth has been as balanced as they come with a strong running game featuring senior RB/LB Nik Samson (1,470 yards rushing  19 TD's) plus senior QB Ben Reinert (2,114 yards passing 25 TD's) has been extremely impressive all season. The Pleasant Plains defense is led by do it all senior LB/TE/P Tristen Tewes (129 tackles) and junior LB Jake Hermes. Can the IC defense contain the Pleasant Plains multiple weapons on offense? Can Pleasant Plains match the overall physicality from the Knights?

EDGY's Pick: Immaculate Conception 35 Pleasant Plains 21

Class 2A

Gibson City (G.C.-Melvin-Sibley) (13-0) vs. Maroa (M.-Forsyth) (12-1) at DeKalb (Huskie Stadium) , Fri., Nov. 24, 1:00 pm

EDGY's Take: GCMS and head coach Mike Allen have relied this season on a strong running game along with a speedy and athletic squad on both sides of the football. The Falcons will hand the football off to either RB Mitch McNutt (1,550 yards rushing 29 TD's) or FB Jared Trantina (828 yards rushing 15 TD's)  while QB Nathan Garard might not throw it a ton, but when he does it's usually for a big gain. The Falcons defense has been outstanding all season long having allowed just 81 points over 13 games. Keep an eye on senior LB Luke Freehill (113 tackles) plus junior DL/LB Josh Bieich for the GCMS defense. Maroa Forsyth and veteran head coach Josh Jobst are back in the state title game for the second straight season and are making their 7th appearance over the past 12 years. The Trojans possess a high octane offense led by sophomore QB Ian Brenner (2,082 yards passing 23 TD's) along with RB Deondre Gregory (1,630 yards rushing 29 TD's) plus with several speedy and sure handed receivers. The Trojans defense is anchored by senior LB Tanner Falk plus  LB Aaron Inda. Can GCMS defense continue to lock down all comers including the Maroa powerful offense on Friday? Can the Maroa defense find an answer for the GCMS one-two punch of McNutt and Trantina?

EDGY's Pick: Maroa Forsyth 27 GCMS 21

Class 1A

 Lena (L.-Winslow) (13-0) vs. Tuscola (13-0) at DeKalb (Huskie Stadium) (map), Fri., Nov. 24, 10:00 am

EDGY's Take: Lena-Winslow and head coach Ric Arand are all about ground and pound on offense while the Panthers defense has been a strength all season long led by an impressive defensive line and back seven. Look for the Panthers to get senior FB/DB Rahveon Valentine (2,025 yards rushing 25 TD's)  involved early and often while sophomore RB/OLB Sean Ormiston and senior RB/LB Gabe Schwartz are also threats running the football. Senior QB Ty Christman (25 of 36 passes for 620 yards and 12 TD's) won't throw it a ton but is more than capable of keeping opposing defenses honest with play action passes. Tuscola is yet another familiar name in the IHSA state playoff field and the Warriors are a much more balanced offensive attack. Junior QB Luke Sluder (2,991 yards of total offense 38 TD's)  is a big time threat with the run and the pass while WR Dalton Hoel (45 catches for 1010 yards and 17 TD's) is Sluder's main target in the passing game. Tuscola also has good size upfront on both sides of the football and is anchored by senior OL/DL Hunter Woodard (6-foot-5, 285 pounds), who is verbally committed to Oklahoma State. Can Le-Win continue to run the football at will? Can the Tuscola defense keep the Le-Win offense on the sidelines and allow it's offense multiple touches?

EDGY's Pick: Lena-Winslow 35 Tuscola 24

High School Lites Basketball Roundup: Week 3

High School Lites Basketball Roundup: Week 3

High School Lites had plenty of action during Week 3 of the basketball season. 

Highlights include a matchup of CSL favorites as Niles North hosted Evanston while other rivalries took place across the Chicagoland area. 

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

Team of the Week: DePaul Prep Boys Basketball

Wintrust Athlete of the Week: Simeon's Messiah Jones

Highlights

No. 6 Niles North takes down No. 19 Evanston

Willowbrook slows down No. 24 Hinsdale South

No. 11 West Aurora needs overtime to stop Glenbard East

No. 13 Fenwick uses buzzer-beater to take down Brother Rice

No. 20 St. Viator collects big conference win over No. 18 Benet

Notre Dame beats Carmel

North Lawndale holds off Prosser

Prospect runs by Buffalo Grove

Batavia knocks off Geneva in boys basketball thriller

Geneva runs past Batavia in girls basketball 

 

 

Evanston vs. Niles North headlines busy night on High School Lites

Evanston vs. Niles North headlines busy night on High School Lites

 

High School Lites has a loaded show on Friday night as we have games from all over the Chicagoland area. Besides for the highlights, we have some great features in store as Simeon's Messiah Jones is this week's Wintrust Athlete of the Week. 

Geneva at Batavia (girls & boys), 5:30 & 7:00 p.m. -- This rivalry doubleheader should be a fun one in the Upstate Eight River. 

For the girls, Batavia (6-4) fell to Bolingbrook but was riding a four-game winning streak before that. They get another tough test in Geneva (8-0) as the Vikings have been dominating competition so far this season.

With the boys, the Vikings (6-2, 1-1) are off to a solid start as junior guard Jack McDonald has been a big presence for Geneva. The Bulldogs (6-1, 2-0) only have a loss against unbeaten Wheaton-Warrenville South as all of their wins have come by double-digits this season. 

No. 11 West Aurora at Glenbard East, 7:00 p.m. -- Two of the top teams in the Upstate Eight Valley collide. The No. 11 Blackhawks (5-1, 1-0) are coming off of a strong comeback win over York. Senior Camron Donatlan is one of the area's top players as he's a four-year varsity player. Glenbard East (5-2, 1-0) had a comeback win of its own against South Elgin with an overtime win last week.

Carmel at Notre Dame, 7:00 p.m. -- After opening losses in conference play, these two teams will try to get back on track in the ESCC. The Corsairs (6-2, 0-1) have won three games this season by three points or less, including a quality win over Waukegan. Notre Dame (3-4, 0-1) has lost three straight games and four of five overall as they look to get back on track. 

No. 24 Hinsdale South at Willowbrook, 7:30 p.m. -- An intriguing battle in the West Suburban Gold in this one. Hinsdale South (7-1, 1-0) has won seven consecutive games after dropping its opener as senior Zion Griffin is having some big games to start the season. Willowbrook (5-1, 1-1) dropped an overtime thriller to Proviso East as they try to stay with the top of the conference. The Warriors cruised past Addison Trail last week. 

No. 19 Evanston at No. 6 Niles North, 7:30 p.m. -- A battle of top 25 teams that could be the best game of the week. The Central Suburban South is a tough league this season and this could be a key game in the standings. The Wildkits (6-1, 2-0) are coming off of strong wins over Maine South and Uplift as junior guard Lance Jones is playing well. The Vikings (7-0, 2-0) have been one of the area's best teams so far as they feature talented players like Damaria Franklin, Dravon Clayborn and Jamal Stephenson. 

Prospect at Buffalo Grove, 7:30 p.m. -- An important matchup in the Mid-Suburban East as two unbeaten teams in the conference face each other. The Bison (5-3, 2-0) feature some talented veterans on a balanced roster as they're coming off of a win over Wheeling. The Knights (5-2, 2-0) lost two games to ranked teams to start the season and then rattled off five straight wins as senior guard David Swedura is off to a good start. 

No. 18 Benet at No. 20 St. Viator, 7:30 p.m. -- The ESCC has another big game on Friday as Benet tries to prove themselves on the road. The Redwings (7-1, 1-0) have been one of the best teams in the area to start the season as they try to pick up a big conference road win. St. Viator (7-1, 1-0) is off to a solid start after a road win at Marian Catholic last week. Another win over a ranked team would be huge for the Lions in this one.

Westmont at Coal City, 6:45 p.m. -- Westmont tries to stay unbeaten in the Interstate Eight for this one. The Sentinels (8-0, 3-0) went undefeated at the Lisle Thanksgiving event before their strong start in conference play. Coal City (5-3, 1-2) has dropped three of its last four games.

Viewers' Choice Game of the Week 

North Lawndale at Prosser, 5 p.m. -- This week's game takes is to the Red North/West as the Phoenix take on Prosser. North Lawndale (6-1, 1-1) had an early slip-up in conference play against Marshall while Prosser (3-2, 1-1) has lost to Orr.