Preps Talk

Two ranked matchups highlight High School Lites

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Two ranked matchups highlight High School Lites

High School Lites has a great show this week as we have two matchups between ranked matchups and a number of other enticing games involving top 25 teams. 

Be sure to catch an all new edition of High School Lites Friday at 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago. 

Thursday

Kenwood at No. 3 Curie, 5:00 p.m. -- These former Red-Central rivals matchup for the only guaranteed time this season in a battle in the Public League Red South-Central. Curie (13-2, 4-0) is coming off of a good win over Bogan as they continue to fight for the conference title with Simeon. Junior Marquise Walker is playing very well lately for the Condors. Kenwood (7-5, 3-2) dropped a game to Simeon earlier this week as they have a tough week in conference play facing two top-three teams. The Broncos are also dangerous enough to make this a tight game.

No. 13 Marist at No. 11 Marian Catholic, 7:00 p.m. -- Key game in the East Suburban Catholic Conference as Marist heads to Marian Catholic. The No. 11 Spartans (12-2, 1-1) have won five consecutive games since losing to Lincoln Park in the Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic. The No. 13 RedHawks (16-1, 2-0) placed third at Centralia as they've won three straight games of their own. With the ESCC being such a tight race, this could wind up being a key game in deciding the winner of the league. 

Friday

Schaumburg at Palatine, 6:00 p.m. -- Palatine tries to stay with the top teams in the Mid-Suburban West as they host Schaumburg. The Pirates (11-6, 3-1) fell to Buffalo Grove in a crossover last week as they try to stick with Barrington atop the MSL West. Schaumburg (5-13, 1-3) hasn't had a great start but they did knock off Hersey for a double-digit win last week. 

Westinghouse at No. 10 Lincoln Park, 6:30 p.m. -- The Public League Red North/West is one of the toughest leagues in the area as Westinghouse heads to Lincoln Park. The Lions (12-4, 4-1) just picked up a big win against North Lawndale as they've recently knocked off some quality opponents. Westinghouse (4-12, 0-4) is trying to end a recent losing streak and earn a conference win as the Warriors have played a really tough schedule so far this season. 

No. 12 DePaul Prep at No. 17 Loyola, 7:00 p.m. -- An important game in the Catholic League Blue involving two of the top teams. Loyola Academy (14-2, 2-1) is hot lately after winning a holiday tournament in Naples and beating St. Viator earlier this week. DePaul Prep (14-3, 2-0) earned a win on the road at St. Rita last week while also taking down Lindblom earlier this week. 

West Aurora at South Elgin, 7:00 p.m. -- The top two teams in the Upstate Eight Valley matchup in this one as West Aurora travels to South Elgin. The Storm (10-3, 2-1) are coming off of a solid showing at DeKalb during Holiday Tournament time as they also held off East Aurora for a conference win last week. West Aurora (10-4, 3-0) has picked up wins over West Chicago and DeKalb since losing to some top teams like Curie and Bloomington at Pontiac. These teams will play again on Feb. 16.

No. 14 Evanston at  New Trier, 7:30 p.m. -- One of the area's best rivalries also doubles as an important Central Suburban South game. New Trier (10-2, 4-0) just knocked off previously-unbeaten conference leader Niles North earlier this week as the Trevians are playing with a ton of confidence. Evanston (12-3, 3-1) rallied to win its final two games at Centralia before beating Niles West last week. 

No. 24 Naperville Central at Naperville North, 7:30 p.m. -- This crosstown rivalry has huge DuPage Valley Conference implications. The No. 24 Redhawks (11-2, 4-1) are coming off of a recent hot stretch that includes wins over Wheaton-Warrenville South and taking the DeKalb Tournament title. Naperville North (13-1, 5-0) only has a loss to Batavia this season as the Huskies are on top of the DVC at the moment. 

Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

North Shore at Francis Parker, 6 p.m. -- Our Viewers' Choice Game of the Week heads to Lincoln Park for this Independent School League matchup. Francis Parker (3-8, 1-2) has a busy week with conference games on back-to-back nights. North Shore (6-5, 2-2) dropped a tough one-point decision to Northridge on Wednesday as they look to remain in the conference picture.

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

1-on-1 with East St. Louis safety Antonio Johnson

While many top Chicagoland underclassmen took part in the third annual EDGYTIM MLK Underclassmen Showcase powered by EFT Football Academy last week, several others from outside the area participated and made waves of their own. Athletes from Central and Southern Illinois made statements, while others from a dozen states and Canada turned heads as well. 

East St. Louis sophomore safety Antonio Johnson (6-foot-2, 185 pounds) was one of several Flyers who made a very positive impression and made the most of his experience. 

Johnson, who started at wide receiver and safety for the Flyers (10-2 in 2017), is already appearing on several college radar screens. Johnson remains one of several underclassmen to watch for head coach Darren Sunkett over the next few years. 

I caught up with East St. Louis sophomore safety prospect Antonio AJ Johnson at the showcase and discussed his winter plans, his recruiting and why he made the nearly-300 mile trek in the dead of winter to compete at this event.

Three new teams enter latest Preps Power Rankings

Three new teams enter latest Preps Power Rankings

Three new teams enter the picture in the Preps Power Rankings this week as some shakeups occured due to a lot of ranked matchups. While many of the top teams remain the same, a lot of changes went down towards the back end of the rankings this week.

1. Simeon (17-3, 7-0) (1) -- The Wolverines made quick work out of Vocational and Brooks to maintain its conference lead. Big week ahead for Simeon as they play Dunbar, No. 3 Curie and head to Baltimore to face Polytechnic (MD). 

2. Orr (16-3, 7-0) (2) -- Orr took down North Lawndale and Westinghouse during the week to remain unbeaten in conference play. The Spartans face Marshall before hosting Vashon (MO) at their own shootout on Saturday. 

3. Curie (17-2, 7-0) (3) -- The Condors had another strong week, beating Hyde Park, Vocational and North Lawndale. Curie has another busy week as they play Brooks, Simeon and North Chicago. 

4. Whitney Young (17-4, 6-1) (4) -- Whitney Young handled a very tough week, taking down Uplift, North Lawndale and Bloomington. The Dolphins get another week of quality opponents as they play Westinghouse and Chaminade (MO). 

5. Bolingbrook (15-2, 4-0) (5) -- Huge week for Bolingbrook as they followed up a win over Morgan Park with wins over Joliet Central and Homewood-Flossmoor. The Raiders play Joliet West and Lincoln-Way East this week. 

6. Morgan Park (15-7, 6-2) (6) -- Adam Miller looked like a potential star as the sophomore made nine three-pointers in a Morgan Park win over Fenwick. The Mustangs have been without Ayo Dosunmu and Tamell Pearson but still look like a top team. The Mustangs face Harlan and St. Frances (MD) this week. 

7. Niles North (18-2, 4-2) (10) -- Blowout win for the Vikings over crosstown rival Niles West as they get another conference game against Glenbrook South during the week.

8. Fenwick (14-6, 5-0) (8) --  Fenwick lost to Public League powers Simeon and Morgan Park but they remained unbeaten in the Catholic League with an overtime win over St. Rita. The Friars get a huge conference game this week when they take on DePaul Prep.

9. Marist (18-2, 3-1) (9) -- The RedHawks beat Brother Rice for a quality win before falling to Benet in overtime. Still looking like a major contender, Marist face Joliet Catholic this week.

10. Marian Catholic (14-3, 2-2) (12) -- The Spartans took down Notre Dame in ESCC play as they prepare to play St. Patrick during the upcoming week. 

11. DePaul (18-4, 3-1) (13) -- DePaul Prep continues to pick up quality wins as they beat St. Joseph and Evanston during the weekend. The Rams have a huge Catholic League game against Fenwick during the week.

12. Loyola (17-3, 4-1) (14) -- Loyola held off St. Ignatius for a close win as they played in the first high school game at Wintrust Arena. The Ramblers play De La Salle and Detroit (Jesuit) this week. 

13. Evanston (14-4, 5-1) (11) -- The Wildkits needed overtime to outlast Glenbrook South before falling to DePaul Prep. Evanston has another busy week ahead as they play Maine South and Geneva. 

14. Oak Park-River Forest (14-4, 5-0) (15) -- The Huskies bounced back with a conference win over Hinsdale Central as they've easily looked like the best team in the West Suburban this season. OPRF plays Proviso West and Lyons this week. 

15. Hillcrest (16-4, 8-0) (16) -- Making quick work of Tinley Park in South Suburban play, the Hawks remain undefeated in the league. Hillcrest gets T.F. South and Homewood-Flossmoor next week. 

16. Lincoln Park (14-5, 6-2) (8) -- Lincoln Park dropped a conference game to Farragut and won a close game against Marshall as they prepare to face La Lumiere (IN), one of the premier high school teams in the country. 

17. New Trier (14-3, 4-1) (21) -- The Trevians had the week off after Monday as they try to regroup to face Niles West and St. Viator during the week. New Trier is still right in the mix in the CSL South race.

18. Benet (15-4, 3-1) (24) -- Fresh off of winning a Martin Luther King event at Wheaton Warrenville South, the Redwings took down Marist in overtime in ESCC play. Benet has Nazareth coming up in ESCC play this week.

19. West Aurora (14-4, 5-0) (25) -- Another solid week for West Aurora as they took down Bartlett in conference play before rolling past a talented Romeoville team. The Blackhawks have Glenbard East this week before facing Willowbrook at the Batavia Night of Hoops. 

20. Joliet Central (15-3, 8-0) (18) -- Tough loss for Joliet Central as they fell to a red-hot Bolingbrook team. The Steelmen came back with a double-digit win over crosstown rival Joliet West. Joliet Central hosts Romeoville in a huge Southwest Prairie clash of unbeatens this week while also playing Lincoln-Way East this weekend. 

21. Wheaton Warrenville South (16-4, 7-1) (NR) -- Impressive DuPage Valley Conference win for the Tigers over Naperville North as they are tied for first in the league. Wheaton Warrenville South has a road game at Wheaton North before taking on Lake Park in conference play this week.

22. North Lawndale (13-7, 3-4) (17) -- Tough week for the Phoenix as they dropped three games to top-5 teams. North Lawndale played Orr to the limit in a four-point loss before losing to Whitney Young in overtime. Curie also got the best of the Phoenix with a weekend clash. North Lawndale gets another tough game against Uplift this week.

23. Naperville North (15-2, 7-1) -- The Huskies dropped a DuPage Valley Conference clash against Wheaton Warrenville South as the league continues to be one of the toughest to win in the suburbs. Naperville North has winnable game coming up this week against Metea Valley as they try to stay with the Tigers. 

24. St. Viator (16-4, 4-0) (NR) -- With four consecutive double-digit wins and the only unbeaten conference record in the loaded ESCC, the Lions re-enter the Power Rankings. St. Viator has plenty of quality wins this season, including Marian Catholic, Benet, Prospect, Conant and Libertyville. 

25. Aurora Christian (16-0, 6-0) (NR) -- The area's only remaining unbeaten team, Aurora Christian joins the Power Rankings after a solid win over Mooseheart during the week. Our Team of the Week last week, senior Jake Wolfe leads Aurora Christian as the Lipscomb commit is an All-Area candidate.