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.
Head coach: Joe Sanchez
How they fared in 2016: 9-2 (4-1 Mid Suburban West Conference), made the Class 8A state playoff field, defeated Leyden then lost to Maine South in second-round action.
[MORE: CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings - No. 21 Nazareth Academy]
2017 regular season schedule:
Aug. 25 vs. Warren Township
Sept. 1 @ Elk Grove
Sept. 8 @ New Trier
Sept. 15 vs. Glenbrook South
Sept. 22 vs. Fremd
Sept. 28 @ Palatine
Oct. 7 vs. Hoffman Estates
Oct. 13 @ Schaumburg
Oct. 20 vs. Conant
Biggest storyline: Can the Broncos replace several graduated starters from a season ago?
Names to watch this season: senior QB/ATH Raymond Niro, senior WR/DB Alec Andrea
Biggest holes to fill: The Broncos welcome back just a handful of starters, and have to reload on both the offensive and defensive line.
EDGY's early take: Despite the lack of returning starters, the Broncos always find a way to compete under Sanchez. Niro is a speedy game breaker who could see action all over the field. Also, keep an eye on Andrea and senior wide receiver Jake Parsons.
EDGY's Salukis Grade: C+
Southern Illinois fared pretty well in Nick Hill's second recruiting class. The Salukis, no question, made the Southern Illinois area a top priority in this recruiting class, and have been strong in keeping kids within their own footprint. Southern Illinois was able to add seven in-state recruits to their 27-member signing class, along with two post-secondary level players who also call Illinois home. The position emphasis for Hill was upfront on both sides of the football. The Salukis inked eight defensive linemen and five offensive linemen, and also added depth to several spots.
Headliner of the in-state class?
I really like a handful of players here, but both Edwardsville kids in offensive lineman Lucas Davis (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) and defensive lineman Tate Rujawitz (6-foot-4, 305 pounds) stand out from a very strong overall in-state class. Davis will need to add a bit more size and strength, but has a chance to become a long-term answer on the Salukis offensive line. Rujawitz played offensive line then converted over to defensive line last season. Southern Illinois has struggled at times up front on defense, and Rujawitz has the overall game to become a strong addition.
[RELATED: Northern Illinois in-state recruiting class recap]
The one who got away?
Leyden defensive back Jalen Moore (5-foot-10, 155 pounds). Moore, a speedster who also plays wide receiver, was verbally committed to Southern Illinois, but didn't clear admissions. Currently, Moore is verbally committed to NAIA St. Francis in Joliet.
Final thoughts on the Salukis recruiting efforts:
One of the better in-state hires over the past few years has been former Saluki standout Hill as the Southern Illinois head coach. The 31-year-old Hill was an immediate hit with the area fans and alumni, and was able to show some real positives and progress in his first season. Most importantly, the Southern Illinois community has once again become excited for football.
No question, the Southern Illinois football program is in good hands and also trending up. The Class of 2017 undoubtedly adds some much-needed depth and is also a nice compliment to strong back-to-back recruiting classes for the Salukis.