Mario Wright

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor

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.

School: Homewood-Flossmoor

Head coach: Craig Buzea

How they fared in 2016: 10-1 (7-0 Southwest Suburban Conference), made the Class 8A state playoff field, defeated Evanston then lost to Glenbard West in second-round action.

[MORE: CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings - No. 10 Palatine]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 vs. Michigan City, Indiana

Sept. 1 @ South Durham, North Carolina

Sept. 8 @ Stagg

Sept. 15 vs. Bolingbrook

Sept. 22 @ Lincoln-Way West

Sept. 28 vs. Lincoln-Way East

Oct. 6 vs. Bradley

Oct. 13 @ Andrew

Oct. 20 @ Sandburg

Biggest storyline: Can the Vikings get deep into the Class 8A state playoffs in 2017?

Names to watch this season: senior RB/DB Justin Hall (NIU), senior DL Jeff Griffin (NIU), senior LB Mario Wright II (Western Kentucky)

Biggest holes to fill: The Vikings will need to fill some important spots including the quarterback position this fall.

EDGY's early take: If any program can reload each year it's the Vikings under Buzea. The Vikings will look towards Hall, who can see action at any number of positions including returner. Griffin moved over from the offensive line, while Wright II is another name to watch along with junior defensive back Wynston Russell, a top Class of 2019 player who transferred in from De La Salle. Homewood-Flossmoor has the overall numbers, talent and depth to once again be a real threat in Class 8A this season.

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

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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.