Preps Talk

Whitney Young ready for all challengers after state title run

Whitney Young ready for all challengers after state title run

Defending Class 4A champion Whitney Young showed that they'll still be a major contender in the city and state title race at the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout this weekend as the Dolphins return a lot of the core of last year's title team.

Losing senior Lucas Williamson is going to be tough to replace, but a trio of seniors will be back to help step up and take over for Whitney Young. 

The perimeter group of Javon Freeman, Xavier Castaneda and Justin Boyd should be one of the better groups in the city this season as the first two are both returning double-figure scorers. Boyd missed some of his junior season dealing with an ankle injury but he's one of the premier three-point threats in the Public League as he's coming off of a strong performance in the state title win over Simeon.

Now that Williamson is gone, Freeman could be one of the elite scorers in the state this season while Castaneda will be in the spotlight because the ball will be in his hands. Boyd could also be in position for a breakout season now that he's fully healthy and ready to play.

At Riverside-Brookfield, the Dolphins showed how resilient they are by winning close games against some tough teams like Hillcrest and St. Joseph as they looked like a top five team this preseason.

Whitney Young still needs to figure out who will step up on the interior, but keep an eye out for the Dolphins in Class 4A this season.

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.