Isaiah Lee

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 21 Nazareth Academy

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 21 Nazareth Academy

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25., we unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings.

School: Nazareth Academy

Head coach: Tim Racki

Assistant coaches: Casey Moran, Joe Reynolds, Rudy luna, Brody Budmayr, Jeff Tumpane, Joe Battaglia, Steve Gray, Tom Minogue, Larry White, Jonathon Bittle, Joe Felice

How they fared in 2016: 6-5 (3-4 East Suburban Catholic Conference), made the Class 5A state playoff field, defeated Goode STEM Academy then lost to Vernon Hills in second-round action.

[MORE: CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings - No. 22 Huntley]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 vs. Dunbar

Sept. 1 vs. De La Salle

Sept. 8 vs. Notre Dame

Sept. 15 @ Carmel

Sept. 22 vs. Benet Academy

Sept. 29 vs. Joliet Catholic

Oct. 6 @ Marist

Oct. 13 vs. St. Viator

Oct. 20 @ Marian Catholic

Biggest storyline: Can the young but talented Roadrunners win a state title in 2017?

Names to watch this season: senior OL/DL Isaiah Lee, senior LB Wesley Lones

Biggest holes to fill: The Roadrunners bring back a ton of experience on both sides of the football but they need to develop some depth on both sides of the ball.

EDGY's Early Take: Under Racki, Nazareth Academy will be one of Chicagoland's most talented and loaded teams this fall. If the talent level can come together and play on the same page, the Roadrunners have a great chance at making a deep IHSA state playoff run in 2017.

Edgy's recruiting news and notes: HF's Mario Wright II pledges to Western Kentucky

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RIVALS

Edgy's recruiting news and notes: HF's Mario Wright II pledges to Western Kentucky

Homewood Flossmoor senior inside linebacker Mario Wright II (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) decided earlier this week to end his recruiting process and give Western Kentucky his verbal commitment.

"I'm just really happy and excited about my decision," Wright said. "It came down to Western Kentucky or NIU for me. I just always felt a strong connection with the Western Kentucky coaches and it's also a beautiful place."

So with one teammate (Jeff Griffin) already committed to NIU and another teammate (Justin Hall), did Wright II seriously look at the Huskies and entertain playing together with his teammates at the next level?

"Oh those guys are my boys and we are all good friends, so we definitely talked about playing together in college," he said. "In the end we all are going to do what we feel is best for each of us. They knew that I really liked Western Kentucky. In the end those guys will still be my good friends no matter where we play in college."

Nazareth Academy senior defensive tackle Isaiah Lee (6-foot-2, 280 pounds) landed a late July camp scholarship offer from Iowa State and a few days later gave the Cyclones his verbal commitment after making an unofficial visit to campus.

“Iowa State was just beautiful and the visit really sold me and also sold my Mom," Lee said. "I’ve been out here playing my heart out all summer, doing what coaches tell me to do and killing their commits only for them to tell me that I just moved myself up the depth chart. It was time for me to make a decision and go where I’m wanted at a Power-5 school and that's Iowa State.”

Forreston senior tight end Sam Barkalow (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) also decided on Tuesday night to end his recruiting and committed to Western Illinois University. 

"I just felt that I was ready to make a decision" Barkalow said. "I looked and considered everyone who offered me but I decided to commit to Western Illinois. They have a great coaching staff, chemistry of the team and nice facilities."

Barkalow, who was a standout last season on the Cardinals Class 1A state title team, had drawn steady recruiting interest from Indiana State, Northern Iowa, North Dakota along with Yale and Harvard.

Waubonsie Valley senior defensive back Derric Lee (6-foot-0, 170 pounds) announced via his Twitter account last night that he had given Harvard his verbal commitment.

Lee had added 15 verbal scholarship offers this summer including several Mid American Conference schools (NIU/Ohio/Toledo) plus Army. Air Force and Navy.

93 Days to Kickoff: Nazareth Academy

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93 Days to Kickoff: Nazareth Academy

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Jul. 31, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

Head coach: Tim Racki

Assistant coaches: Casey Moran, Joe Reynolds, Rudy luna, Brody Budmayr, Jeff Tumpane, Joe Battaglia, Steve Gray, Tom Minogue, Larry White, Jonathon Bittle, Joe Felice

How they fared in 2016: 6-5 (3-4 East Suburban Catholic Conference), lost to Vernon Hills in Class 5A second-round action.

[MORE: 94 Days to Kickoff - Oswego Panthers]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 – Dunbar

Sept. 1 – De La Salle

Sept. 8 – Notre Dame

Sept. 15 - @ Carmel

Sept. 22 - Benet Academy

Sept. 29 – Joliet Catholic

Oct. 6 - @ Marist

Oct. 13 - St. Viator

Oct. 20 - @ Marian Catholic

Biggest storyline: Can the underclassmen come of age and lead the Roadrunners back to a state title?

Names to watch this season: Senior OL/DL Isaiah Lee, Senior RB/LB Austin Reifsteck 

Biggest holes to fill: Not much. The Roadrunners welcome back nearly all 22 starters, along with several players who saw significant playing time in 2016.

EDGY's early take: Nazareth Academy played a huge number of underclassmen in 2016, while also struggling with a rash of injuries. The positives from last season? The Roadrunners now feature an experienced and deep team that has a real shot of making a serious run at the East Suburban Catholic Conference title and way beyond in Class 5A.