Preps Talk

Smith expects Forte back for training camp

772516.png

Smith expects Forte back for training camp

Jay Cutler said last week that he expected Matt Forte to sign his franchise tag tender offer or conclude a long-term deal with the Bears, meaning that he does not anticipate the running back to miss any games that matter.

Coach Lovie Smith refused to speculate either way on Forte earlier this week and made it clear that the Bears are moving on with the players they have. On Thursday Smith changed direction and, without being asked about Forte, twice volunteered that he was looking forward to having Forte.

Cant wait to get down to training camp, to get a few more of our guys back out there in the mix, Smith said, mentioning, Brian Urlacher, get Matt Forte back out there, those guys.

Later Smith included Forte in his thoughts on the Bears running game for 2012: Were adding Michael Bush to the mix with Matt Forte, Kahlil Bell, Armando Allen, other good football players.

Smith appeared to be making something of a statement to Forte earlier this week. He made a decidedly different one as minicamp concluded on Thursday.

Viewers' Choice: Vote for High School Lites game coverage

hs_lites_nbcs_basketball_social_media.jpg

Viewers' Choice: Vote for High School Lites game coverage

Who wants it more?

We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland's top prep sports show, in the hands of area basketball fans in our "Viewers' Choice Game of the Week." Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the NBC Sports Chicago (@NBCSPreps) crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night's "High School Lites" broadcast at 11 p.m. The show also live streams at NBCSportsChicago.com/watchlive. High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 6:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. the following Saturday. This week, it's all about powerful things coming in smaller packages. We're leaving the 4A schools for another week. It's time for some of the smaller schools to do battle: a West Side duel between Raby and Wells, a 'North vs. South' game with Ellison and Northtown and the Battle of Elmhurst featuring IC Catholic and Timothy Christian. Which game should we cover this week?

Raby at Wells, 5:00 p.m.

Ellison at Northtown, 6:30 p.m.

IC Catholic at Timothy Christian, 7:30 p.m.

Poll opens Tuesday at 12:00 p.m. and closes Thursday at 4 p.m. Here is what fans need to do to vote:

— Follow @NBCSPreps on Twitter.
— Note the "pinned Tweet" atop the @NBCSPreps feed. Vote for the game you want us to cover.
— Spread the word! 

We will make an announcement on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday with the official results of which game will be covered. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the "Viewers' Choice Game of the week," along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights this season.

Five new teams enter the latest Preps Power Rankings

Five new teams enter the latest Preps Power Rankings

The Preps Power Rankings featured some shakeups this week as five new teams enter the mix. With many of the area's top teams facing elite competition during the Martin Luther King weekend, it was a good chance to see where teams stand heading into the home stretch of the regular season. 

1. Simeon (15-3, 5-0) (1) -- The clear No. 1 team in the state right now, the Wolverines picked up another double-digit win over a top-ten team by beating Fenwick on the road. Also losing by two to Montverde Academy, the unbeaten No. 1 team in the country, the Wolverines have impressed basketball analysts all over the country.

2. Orr (14-3, 5-0) (2) -- Orr lost in Michigan but bounced back with a double-digit win over Bloom. The Spartans get a tough road test this week at North Lawndale while they also host Westinghouse in conference play. 

3. Curie (14-2, 5-0) (3) -- The Condors earned two league wins over Bogan and Kenwood last week as Curie has won four consecutive games since falling to Simeon. Curie has three games against Public League opponents this week as they battle Hyde Park, Vocational and North Lawndale. 

4. Whitney Young (14-4, 4-1) (5) -- The Dolphins had a quiet week as they took down Von Steuben. Things pick up for Whitney Young this week as they face Uplift, North Lawndale and Bloomington. 

5. Bolingbrook (13-2, 3-0) (9) -- Huge week for the Raiders as they picked off Stagg in conference play before earning a win over No. 6 Morgan Park. Bolingbrook gets some more challenging games during the week when they play Joliet Central and Homewood-Flossmoor.

6. Morgan Park (12-7, 4-2) (6) -- Morgan Park fell to Bolingbrook in a big showcase game as the Mustangs are still trying to get fully healthy. Nick Irvin's ballclub has two conference games against Dunbar and Brooks before another test against No. 7 Fenwick. 

7. Fenwick (13-5, 4-0) (8) -- The Friars dropped a home contest against Simeon as Fenwick was able to hang with the Wolverines until the fourth quarter. Fenwick gets more tough matchups this week as they host St. Rita in a Catholic League game before taking on No. 6 Morgan Park in a shootout on Saturday. 

8. Lincoln Park (13-4, 5-1) (10) -- The Lions earned a home win over Westinghouse last week as they're still a major factor in the Public League Red North/West. Lincoln Park gets a pair of winnable conference games this week as they face Marshall and Farragut.

9. Marist (17-1, 3-0) (13) -- Impressive ESCC win for Marist as they took down Marian Catholic last week. The Redhawks are playing with a ton of confidence heading into a difficult week that features matchups against two ranked teams in Brother Rice and Benet. 

10. Niles North (17-2, 3-2) (4) -- An up-and-down week for the Vikings as they finally lost for the first time this season by dropping games to New Trier and Maine South. Niles North recovered with four wins over the weekend at their own event as they're one of only a only teams in the state with 17 wins.

11. Evanston (13-3, 4-1) (14) -- Huge overtime road win for Evanston at New Trier last week as the Wildkits remain right in the thick of the Central Suburban South race. Junior Lance Jones stepped up with some clutch plays on both ends of the floor in the win over the Trevians. 

12. Marian Catholic (13-3, 1-2) (11) -- The Spartans lost a tough conference clash with No. 9 Marist in ESCC play but they bounced back with a win over an Iowa opponent at Loras College. Marian Catholic gets a road game at Notre Dame this week as the Dons are coming off a solid win over OPRF. 

13. DePaul Prep (16-4, 2-1) (12) -- Strange week for the Rams as they lost to Loyola in conference play on Friday night, only to beat Loyola for an MLK tournament title on Monday. Also earning a win over Riverside-Brookfield this weekend, DePaul Prep will get another test when they play Evanston this week.

14. Loyola (16-3, 3-1) (17) -- Splitting two games with DePaul Prep over the weekend, the Ramblers won the conference matchup but lost in the championship of the MLK event the two schools help host. Riding a 10-game winning streak before losing on Monday, Loyola remains one of the hotter teams in the area. 

15. Oak Park-River Forest (13-4, 4-0) (7) -- The Huskies had some losses during the week as they dropped tight contests against Notre Dame and Wheaton-Warrenville South. Still the favorite in the West Suburban Silver, OPRF travels to Hinsdale Central this week.

16. Hillcrest (15-4, 7-0) (18) -- Hillcrest has continued to win since the Proviso West Holiday Tournament as they remain one of the best teams in the South suburbs. The Hawks will look to stay unbeaten in the South Suburban Blue when they host Tinley Park this week. 

17. North Lawndale (13-4, 3-2) (15) -- The Phoenix fell to Lincoln Park and a team from Minnesota last week while also earning a win over Von Steuben. This week sees North Lawndale play perhaps the toughest stretch of any team in the area all season. In a four-day span, the Phoenix have to play Orr, Whitney Young and Curie. That brutal stretch will teach us a lot about this team.

18. Joliet Central (14-2, 7-0) (21) -- Riding a four-game winning streak, Joliet Central is playing good ball over the last several weeks. The Steelmen have an important week ahead as they get a crack at No. 5 Bolingbrook while also facing rival Joliet West. 

19. Brother Rice (12-6, 2-2) (22) -- Brother Rice earned a double-digit win over Mount Carmel in Catholic League play last week. The Crusaders get a chance at a top-ten team when they travel to No. 9 Marist this week while they also host De La Salle in league play.

20. Batavia (18-3, 5-1) (23) -- The first team in the area with 18 wins this season, the Bulldogs are red hot, having won eight consecutive games. Winning the Rockford Jefferson tournament was an impressive feat, especially since Batavia knocked off the 17-win hosts on the way to the title. 

21. New Trier (14-3, 4-1) (NR) -- The Trevians enter the mix after an impressive win over Niles North. Although New Trier dropped an overtime heartbreaker to rival Evanston, they recovered nicely with a strong showing at the Rockford Jefferson event, including a beatdown of Larkin.

22. Naperville North (14-1, 6-0) (NR) -- With four consecutive wins, Naperville North is back in the Power Rankings after defeating conference rival and previously-ranked Naperville Central. The Huskies have only lost to No. 20 Batavia this season as they look like the favorite in the DuPage Valley Conference.

23. Romeoville (15-3, 7-0) (NR) -- The Spartans are back in the mix after some double-digits wins since losing during the holidays. Still a threat in the Southwest Prairie, Romeoville will get a big test with a game against No. 25 West Aurora on Saturday night.  

24. Benet (14-4, 2-1) (NR) -- An impressive weekend for the Redwings as they won four games to capture the title at Wheaton-Warrenville South. Benet's offense was more potent than they've shown in the past during Saturday's two wins while they're still able to grind out wins if they need to.

25. West Aurora (12-4, 4-0) (NR) -- The Blackhawks have won four consecutive games since the Pontiac Holiday Tournament with all of those coming by double-digits. A dangerous team with no bad losses, West Aurora remains the favorite in the Upstate Eight Valley.