Lake Zurich

Dream on? Some fantasy-like HS matchups could become a reality

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Dream on? Some fantasy-like HS matchups could become a reality

With two more weeks left until the IHSA state playoffs, here are some fun dream matchups to consider.  I would love to see some of these happen-- and in some cases, a few of these actually have a chance to occur.

Homewood-Flossmoor vs East St. Louis: The 8A Vikings, coached by Craig Buzea, have a ton of playmakers. They feature a speedster in NIU-bond senior RB Justin Hall; plus, their speed and athleticism on both sides of the football is eye-catching. As for East St Louis, the Flyers (Class 7A) also have a ton of talent and speed including senior dual-threat QB Christian Perez and a big, very physical offensive line. This would be an excellent back-and-forth game-- a possible 'last possession wins' type of finish.

Marist vs Lincoln-Way East: Both 8A schools could very well see each other on the IHSA playoff road. Coach Rob Zvonar's Griffins feature one of the state's top defensive lines, built around senior Northwestern commit Devin O'Rourke. They also have a strong running game and good overall depth. Marist, under first-year head coach Ron Dawczak, also boasts a fantastic defensive line led by Indiana commit DE Gavin McCabe and Minnesota pledge Elijah Teague. The Redhawks' offense can beat you with the run and the pass. QB Mike Markett, RB Delonte Harrell and a ton of quality receivers are helping Marist rack up nearly 45 points per game. I'd pay to see these two teams compete in any postseason playoff round.

Barrington vs Huntley: It's another matchup that could potentially happen in 8A this postseason. How much fun would it be to see both do-it-all quarterbacks (Barrington's Ray Niro and Huntley's Eric Mooney) battle each other for four quarters?

[MORE: Edgy Tim's Week 8 Power Rankings]

Maine South vs a Rochester/Sacred Heart-Griffin CO-OP team: Since 4A perennial power Rochester and 5A-sized Sacred Heart-Griffin are both smaller than Maine South (from an enrollment standpoint) I'd allow a CO-OP for both schools here. How wild would a combined Leonard Family-led team be? Maine South has great balance on offense with QB John O'Sullivan, NIU commit RB Fotis Kokosioulis and a ton of quality receivers. Team Leonard's offense would undoubtedly be equal to the task. 

Glenbard West vs Loyola: Sort of like Godzilla meets Godzilla? Both Loyola (8A) and Glenbard West (8A/7A bubble team) pride themselves on defense first, but both are pretty diverse on offense as well. How cool would this be: two of the top overall programs in Illinois over the past decade going head to head? We can only hope. 

Lake Zurich vs Prairie Ridge: It's the unstoppable force (6A's Prairie Ridge offense with QB Samson Evans) against the immovable object (The 7A Lake Zurich defense). The matchup between the Bears' offense, which has opened up considerably under first year head coach Luke Mertens, against the Wolves' speedy and hard-hitting defense could potentially be just as impressive. 

Phillips vs Peoria: Peoria (4-3), the defending 5A state champs, seem headed to 6A. Of course, they would have to qualify for the state playoff field first. Phillips, the 3A/4A-sized school voluntarily moved up to 5A for the next two seasons. How would the Wildcats defense contain Peoria's offense, led by Illinois commit QB Coran Taylor and company? 

High School Lites Week 7 football capsules and picks

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High School Lites Week 7 football capsules and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 7 edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Who wins the annual Battle of Naperville when Central's Redhawks take on thier rivals from North? Can Raby find a way to upset Phillips? Who wins the ESCC showdown when Nazareth Academy plays at Marist? Antioch and Lakes also have a ton on the line in a fantastic Northern Lake County conference battle. Watch the show on NBC Sports Chicago or live stream at nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive

Raby at (6) Phillips, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Raby (6-0, 3-0), coached by Deangelo Dereef, has been locking down teams all season. The Raiders' defense has allowed a mere 18 points on the season. The key names on the roster include senior RB Danquis Smith and LB Donovan Baldwin. Phillips (6-0, 3-0) has just rolled along in the CPL Illini Land of Lincoln conference play behind a strong running game and a tough-as-nails defense. Senior QB J'Bore Gibbs (South Dakota State) and senior RB/LB Craig Elmore lead the Wildcats offense. Can Raby's defense slow down the Phillips offense? 

EDGY's Pick: Phillips 37, Raby 12

Woodstock at Johnsburg, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Johnsburg (6-0, 3-0), under head coach Dan DeBoeuf,  has been able to reload this season after advancing to the 4A state title game in 2016. Senior QB Adam Jayko, who was one of the lone Skyhawk holdovers this fall, has been electric. He has thrown for nearly 1,500 yards passing and 21 touchdowns. Woodstock (4-2, 2-1) is coached by Tommy Thompson. He lost starting QB Tanner Heidtke to an injury in last week's 55-16 loss to Burlington Central. Can the Streaks slow down the Skyhawks' passing attack? 

EDGY's Pick: Johnsburg 42, Woodstock 14

Antioch at Lakes, 7:15 p.m.

EDGY's Take:  This is a huge rivalry game in the Northern Lake County conference. Antioch (6-0, 4-0) and head coach Brian Glashagel will feature senior QB Brandon Gallimore and RB Hunter Price. On defense, keep an eye on junior DL Xavier Sanchez. Lakes (6-0, 4-0) and first year head coach Jordan Elder will counter with QB Jake Johnson, RB Ethan Greenfield and senior LB Ryan Selig (Western Michigan). Last possession wins?

EDGY's Pick: Lakes 28, Antioch 27

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

EDGY's Take: Prairie Ridge (6-0, 5-0) has been rolling in Fox Valley Conference play behind Iowa verbal commit QB Samson Evans, senior RB Zach Gulbransen and a quick, stingy defense. Hampshire (1-5/1-4) will rely on the arm of QB Drew Dalby. The Whip-Purs will look to stun the Wolves on Friday.

EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 46, Hampshire 12

(10) Naperville Central vs. Naperville North, 7:30 p.m. at North Central College

EDGY's Take: Naperville Central (5-1, 5-0) is looking to maintain its hold on the DuPage Valley conference as they take on rival Naperville North (4-2, 3-2) at North Central College. Naperville Central is led by junior QB Payton Thorne, senior WR Jayden Reed (Western Michigan), senior RB AJ Deinhart and a steady defense. Naperville North will look towards senior QB Drake Davis to lead the way. He has been pacing the resurgent Huskies' passing attack. Keep an eye on senior WR Nick Calcagno for North as well. Can Naperville North turn this game into a shootout? Can the Naperville Central defense slow down North's passing attack?

EDGY's Pick: Naperville Central 36, Naperville North 35

(15) Nazareth at (4) Marist, 7:30 p.m. **#SendEdgy**

EDGY's Take: Nazareth Academy (6-0, 4-0), coached by Tim Racki, has a very young and talented roster this fall. The Roadrunners feature junior RB/DB Devin Blakely and a deep group in the offensive skills department. The defense is led by senior DL Isaiah Lee (Iowa State). Marist has a first-year head coach in Ron Dawczak. The Redhawks always can score points with junior QB Mike Markett and senior RB Delonte Harrell. The Marist defense is no joke. Keep an eye on senior DE Gavin McCabe (Indiana) and DT Elijah Teague (Minnesota). What's the key match up to watch? The Roadrunners' offensive line against the Redhawks' defensive line. 

EDGY's Pick: Marist 32, Nazareth 17

(5) Lake Zurich at (12) Stevenson, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: First-year head coach Luke Mertens has kept his Lake Zurich Bears at the top of the North Suburban conference behind a strong defense, a powerful running game and a steady dose of effective play-action passing game. Keep an eye on senior RB/LB Joey Stutzman, senior LB Jack Sanborn (Wisconsin) and senior QB Evan Lewansdowski. Stevenson (5-1, 4-0) and first year head coach Josh Hjorth also haven't skipped a beat in 2017. Their offense is led by QB Grayson Kubow and RB Jean-Marc Etienne. Their defense has allowed just 31 total points against teams from Illinois so far this season. Can both teams stop the opponents running game? Will the passing game be forced to take center stage?

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 28, Stevenson 21

VIEWERS' CHOICE: Hyde Park vs Washington, Thursday 4:15 p.m. at Gately

EDGY's Take:  Hyde Park (3-3, 3-1) is still very much in the CPL Chicago Windy City conference title picture but the Thunderbirds need a win on Thursday against Washington (3-3, 1-3). Washington has lost three of its last four games.

EDGY's Pick: Hyde Park 28, Washington 16
 

No coasting allowed: why some football programs schedule to play "up"

No coasting allowed: why some football programs schedule to play "up"

While many IHSA football programs across the state continue to face various scheduling issues, some of the top programs are still finding ways to play the best possible opponents. It's a matter of scheduling "up" and not "down." Here are some Illinois high school programs who are loading up on their respective non-conference schedule:

East St. Louis: The Flyers (1-1) took its first loss of the year on Saturday night to nationally-ranked Evangel Christian 14-6. But don't be fooled by the final result. East St. Louis was able to compete for four quarters against an Eagles team that featured three LSU commits and an overall roster stocked with top underclassmen talent. This matchup was part of the annual Gateway Scholars Football Classic which featured three local teams (Cahokia, Belleville West and East St. Louis) against three of the top out of state programs in the country (New Jersey's Camden and Timber Creek, along with Louisiana's Evangel Christian). The day-long event was packed with fans and featured several local restaurants, a children's play area and a great overall festival atmosphere. 

Unlike so many other Illinois teams who are forced to seek out of state opponents to fill scheduling issues, the Flyers actively seek out nationally-ranked programs to take part in the Classic, a process that begins a year or two in advance. If any school could make a case for actually moving up in the in-state polls after a hard-fought game and loss to a national power, it could very well be the Flyers. I seriously doubt that the Flyers will see another team the rest of the season with as much raw talent and speed on the field than what Evangel Christian brought to Clyde C. Jordan Stadium on Saturday night.

Crete-Monee: You'll be hard-pressed to find another program that stacks its non-conference schedule better than Crete-Monee (1-1) does under head coach John Konecki. The Warriors lost in the opening week to the state's top ranked team in Lincoln-Way East; however, they pulled off (arguably) the program's biggest non-conference regular season win in defeating Brother Rice 33-25 last Friday. The Warriors will get a taste of out-of-state competition this Friday night when they travel to Purdue's Ross Ade Stadium against West Lafayette High School. 

Phillips: The Wildcats (2-0) under head coach Troy McAllister also "play up" when it comes to the non-conference schedule, including this season with wins over 8A power Loyola Academy (1-1) and last Friday in Oak Lawn over 6A power Richards (1-1). Phillips, who has been a low 4A-sized program until petitioning up to play in Class 5A for the next two seasons, has also defeated the likes of Fenwick, Carmel and Naperville North in recent years. Phillips will also get its annual Chicago Public League battle with Simeon this Saturday night at Gately Stadium-- a game that has become a must-see in the CPL.

Providence Catholic: The Celtics (0-2) have played two straight defending state champions to start this season in East St. Louis and St. John Vianney (Missouri), both losses. Providence Catholic has always challenged itself when it comes to the non-conference schedule. In recent years, those early test have paid off while at other times the tough schedule has played a factor in keeping the Celtics out of the state playoff field. Providence Catholic will need to turn up the heat this week hosting CCL Blue rival St. Rita (2-0) in what could be a must-win scenario. 

[MORE: Edgy Tim's Week Three Power Rankings]

Maine South: The defending 8A state champs opened the season at Glenbard West then hosted Lincoln-Way East. And the Hawks (1-1) didn't exactly pump the brakes on the rigid non-conference slate after scheduling those two opponents. Mid-Suburban conference foes are lurking over the next two weeks: Fremd (0-2) and then Palatine (1-1).

Lake Zurich: The Bears (2-0) are another program that doesn't shy away from from competition in non-conference play. They posted good wins over solid football programs in Fremd (0-2) and last Friday over Montini Catholic (1-1).

Lincoln-Way East: The Griffins (2-0) were able to get strong wins over 6A power Crete-Monee and the previous top-ranked team, Maine South. They open up conference play this Friday night in Tinley Park against Andrew (1-1).