High School Lites

High School Lites Podcast: Bracket fever? Time to visit the bracketologist

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High School Lites Podcast: Bracket fever? Time to visit the bracketologist

Which teams are on the right side of the IHSA playoff bubble? What seems to be the magic number for playoff points? Shaw Media’s Steve Soucie, our resident bracketologist, puts the IHSA football playoffs in perspective. He is joined by hosts Joe Collins, Jared Storck and “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran.

For some teams, a win puts them in the playoffs. For others, it’s win…and hope that a few other teams across the state help shape the standings in their favor. All this, plus a look at the Week 9 High School Lites rundown and much more.

High School Lites Week 8 football capsules and picks

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High School Lites Week 8 football capsules and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 8 edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11 p.m. Who wins the Southwest Prairie showdown when Minooka travels up Ridge Road to take on Oswego East? Can Jacobs pull off the upset at Prairie Ridge? Who wins the Mid-Suburban East battle when Hersey travels to Rolling Meadows? And can Loyola Academy go on the road and beat Providence Catholic on the Emerald Isle?

Minooka at Oswego East, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Minooka (6-1, 6-1), coached by Terry McCombs, has gotten the Indians off to their best start in years. They’re paced by a steady running game featuting RB Owen Kappel and QB Zach Gessner. They also have a stingy, hard-hitting defense. Tyson LeBlanc’s Oswego East (6-1, 6-1) squad has some serious athletes to watch. Keep an eye on Illinois verbal commit senior WR/DB Antwain Walker, RB Ian Kroemer and junior QB/S Justin Clark. Note that Clark missed last week's win over Plainfield Central with an injury. So Oswego East is now on its third quarterback this fall — converted junior RB Jordan Williams. Can Oswego East get healthy by Friday? Can the Minooka defense continue to lock down the Wolves’ offense?

EDGY's Pick: Minooka 17, Oswego East 14

Maine West at Highland Park, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Maine West (6-1, 3-0) qualified for the IHSA state playoff field last Friday for the first time since 2002. Coach Jason Kradman and company feature a strong offense with RB Jake Bellizzi and TE/QB Matt Kentgen. Highland Park (4-3, 3-0) struggled early in the season against a killer nonconference schedule; that said, they have now won four straight games. Highland Park will look to junior QB John Sakos and junior WR/S Giancarlo Volpentesta. Last possession wins? 

EDGY's Pick: Maine West 28, Highland Park 27

Jacobs at (2) Prairie Ridge, 7:15 p.m.

EDGY's Take:  Jacobs (5-2, 4-2) and veteran head coach Bill Mitz has the Golden Eagles playing well. Their leaders include QB Anthony Williams, FB Stephen Kavanaugh and a very strong offensive line anchored by senior Jimmy Wormsley (SIU commit). Prairie Ridge (7-0, 6-0) have been rolling along, but the main storyline is will Superman play this week? Prairie Ridge senior QB Samson Evans (Iowa) sat out with an injury in last Friday's win over Hampshire 55-14. Prairie Ridge will continue to focus on its running game with senior RB Zach Gulbransen and RB Jackson Willis. Can Jacobs beat Prairie Ridge if Superman doesn't dress again this week?

EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 34, Jacobs 21

(24) St. Rita at Brother Rice, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: St. Rita (5-2, 1-2) will look to improve their overall IHSA playoff seeding with a win over the Crusaders on Friday night. Coach Todd Kuska has benefitted from a nice backfield combination of seniors Jake Zlyman and Chris Childers (Indiana State). Brother Rice (2-5/0-2) will look to finish out the regular season on a strong note. Keep an eye on senior OL Nick Marozas (Indiana) and with senior DB Arthur Veal. Can the Crusaders defense slow down the St. Rita running game? 

EDGY's Pick: St. Rita 37, Brother Rice 20

Hersey at Rolling Meadows, 7:30 p.m. **#SendEdgy**

EDGY's Take: Hersey (6-1, 3-0) has been a big turnaround story this fall after posting a 3-6 record a season ago. Head coach Joe Pardun will look to senior QB Owen Goldsberry and RB Luke Cecala to get points on the board. Rolling Meadows (6-1, 3-0) just keeps on winning. The Mustangs, coached by Matt Mishler, also feature a strong running game. They’re led by RB Tim Szylak and a strong offensive line. The defensive line has stepped up as well. Can Rolling Meadows slow down the Hersey run game? And can the Hersey defense contain Meadows’ speedster Szylak?

EDGY's Pick: Hersey 35, Rolling Meadows 32

(7) Loyola at (20) Providence, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Loyola Academy (6-1, 2-0) and head coach John Holocek feature QB Quinn Boyle and an always-tough defense. Can they win on the road this week at Providence? The Celtics (5-2, 2-0) lost their first two games of the season but have recovered nicely. They’ve posted five straight wins behind senior RB De'Shon Gavin (WIU commit) and a very strong defense led by senior LB Mariano Sori-Marin (Minnesota). Can the Loyola defense slow down the Providence running game this week? Can the Providence defense find an answer for Boyle? 

EDGY's Pick: Loyola 27, Providence Catholic 21

(17) Lyons Township at (14) Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lyons Township (6-1, 3-1) features one of Chicagoland's top quarterbacks in senior Ben Bryant (Cincinnati). The Lions also feature a big, experienced offensive and defensive line. Hinsdale Central (5-2, 4-1) and head coach Dan Hartman also have a ton of weapons on offense with senior TE Matt Bjorson (Indiana), RB Luke Skokna and senior athlete Garrett Oakey. The Red Devils played last week without junior QB Matt Rush. Can Central’s offense get back into high gear this week? Can the Lyons’ offense consistently finish drives with points? This one could be a potential thriller. 

EDGY's Pick: Hinsdale Central 34, Lyons Township 31

VIEWERS' CHOICE: (3) Maine South at New Trier, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Defending 8A state champion Maine South (6-1, 3-0) is near the top of the polls once again behind the always-explosive offense and stingy defense. Keep an eye on senior RB Fotis Kokosioulis (NIU), senior QB John O'Sullivan and a strong core of receivers. Coach Brian Doll’s New Trier Trevians (5-2, 3-0) have survived various key injuries this fall. They will look to their balanced offensive game plan with QB Carson Ochsenhirt and RB Brian Sitzer. Junior TE/LB Luke Olges is a force on both sides of the ball for the Trevians. Can lightning strike twice for New Trier? Will they shock Maine South for the second straight season? 

EDGY's Pick: Maine South 35, New Trier 28

High School Lites Podcast: Why it’s time to get excited about the IHSA football playoffs

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High School Lites Podcast: Why it’s time to get excited about the IHSA football playoffs

October is the most fascinating month on the sports calendar — all of the major sports overlap in some capacity. Illinois’ high school football schedule peaks in its own way around the middle of the month: pairing show night.

Joe Collins, Jared Storck, “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran and IHSA broadcaster Dave Bernhard reflect on why this time of year is so special on the high school football landscape. Also, the panel explores key storylines in each of the classes and predict possible matchups. All this, plus a look at the Week 8 rundown and much more.