Payton Thorne

Edgy Tim: Who are the leading candidates for Offensive Player of the Year?

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Edgy Tim: Who are the leading candidates for Offensive Player of the Year?

With four weeks of IHSA football in the books, let's take a look at some of my early candidates for Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Chicagoland area (in no particular order):

Homewood-Flossmoor RB Justin Hall (Sr.): The NIU verbal commit was able to showcase his ability last Friday to a live TV audience in the Vikings' 48-20 win over Bolingbrook (3-1). Hall, who is averaging 9.5 yards per carry so far for the 4-0 Vikings, is able to break tackles, has exceptional speed and remains one of the most versatile (RB/WR/DB/KR/PR) athletes in the state. 

Prairie Ridge QB Samson Evans (Sr.): Evans, who is verbally committed to Iowa, runs the option offense for the 4-0 Wolves. He remains the focal point of every opposing defense this season. Evans is averaging nearly nine yards per carry, an almost unheard-of number for an option-running quarterback. 

Lake Zurich RB/LB Joey Stutzman (Sr.): Stutzman (5-foot-7, 170 pounds) is, pound for pound, one of the toughest players you'll find in Chicagoland this season. Stutzman gives the Bears' offense a big play threat on every carry. He is also a key cog on a nasty defensive unit that has allowed just 16 points in four games.

Loyola Academy QB Quinn Boyle (Sr.): Boyle has quickly developed into the Ramblers' main weapon so far this season and has been very strong leading Loyola's shotgun read-option offense. Boyle's running ability along with his accurate arm has allowed a banged-up Ramblers running attack time to heal up early this season. 

[MORE: Week Five Power Rankings]

Maine South RB Fotis Kokosioulis (Sr.): Kokosioulis has been one of the most productive players in Illinois over the past two-plus seasons for the defending 8A state champion Hawks. Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar, whose team was able to limit Kokosioulis' yards in the Griffins' 28-26 win in Week 2 admitted, "We definitely had to find a way of slowing down number 41 (Kokosioulis) because he's a tremendous high school player."

Lincoln-Way East QB Brendan Morrissey (Sr.): The Griffins are undoubtedly one of Chicagoland's deepest teams. A number of players from their roster could be considered for Player of the Year. But Morrissey, a concerted running back from a season ago, has run the LW-East offense with a mix of poise, confidence and accuracy in the play-action passing game. 

Crete-Monee QB Isaiah Rucker (Sr.): Rucker is the old, savvy veteran of the Warriors offense this season. He's a rare four-year varsity contributor and three-year starter. Rucker has thrown for nearly 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns with a 64 percent completion percentage so far in 2017. He remains Crete's unquestioned leader.

Naperville North QB Drake Davis (Sr.): Davis, who transferred in last spring from 1A Bureau Valley, has been electric since midway through the Huskies' stunning come from behind opening week 53-49 win over Edwardsville. Davis has thrown for 1,212 yards and 14 touchdowns so far this season.

Naperville Central QB Payton Thorne (Jr.): Thorne, who transferred into Naperville Central from Metea Valley this summer, has added a big boost to an already strong Redhawks team. Thorne, who is the son of North Central College head coach Jeff Thorne, has a combined 1,061 yards of total offense and 15 touchdowns through four games.

Phillips RB/LB Craig Elmore (Sr.): The Wildcats' defensive unit has been just as solid as their offensive counterparts so far this fall. Elmore, who plays both running back and linebacker, has played huge roles in big games on both sides of the football. He is gaining the tough yards as well as breaking big runs when needed. 

78 Days To Kickoff: Naperville Central

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78 Days To Kickoff: Naperville Central

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: Naperville Central

Head coach: Mike Stine

Assistant coaches: Mike Ulreich (Assistant Head Coach Defense/Defensive Coordinator), Eric Novak (D-Line), Tim Boecker (Defensive Backs), Marc Anderson (Defensive Backs), Josh McLeod (Linebackers/Rush Ends), Pat Watson (Assistant Head Coach Offense/Offensive Line), Chad Bradley (Quarterbacks), Adam Freed (Running Backs), Phil Allen (Tight Ends/Fullbacks), Cris Crissey (Wide Receivers), Kofi Hughes (Wide Receivers)

How they fared in 2016: 4-5 (4-4 DuPage Valley Conference); the Redhawks failed to qualify for the 2016 IHSA state playoff field.

[MORE: 79 Days To Kickoff: Antioch]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 – @ Glenbard North

Sept. 1 – vs. Neuqua Valley

Sept. 8 – vs. Metea Valley

Sept. 15 - @ Waubonsie Valley

Sept. 22 - vs Wheaton South

Sept. 29 – vs St. Edward (Ohio)

Oct. 6 - vs Naperville North (at North Central College)

Oct. 13 - vs Wheaton North

Oct. 20 - @ Lake Park

Biggest storyline: Can the Redhawks reload and make the IHSA state playoff field this fall?

Names to watch this season: Senior RB AJ Deinhart, Junior OL Luke Hallstrom, Junior QB Payton Thorne.

Biggest holes to fill: The Redhawks will need to replace nine graduated starters from a season ago.

EDGY's early take: The Redhawks will need to reload a little, but this program always seems to have talent and overall numbers on board every year. The addition of junior transfer QB Payton Thorne (Metea Valley) is a real boost. If the new faces on defense can gel, look for Naperville Central to make a run back to the playoffs.

EDGY's recruiting news and notes: Maine South's Kokosiuoulis adds NIU offer

EDGY's recruiting news and notes: Maine South's Kokosiuoulis adds NIU offer

Maine South All-state running back Fotis Kokosioulis (5-foot-8, 165 pounds) made a spring practice visit to NIU on Tuesday morning and wound up adding his first offer from the Huskies.

"(The offer from NIU) was a little bit of a surprise," Kokosioulis, a junior, said. "I really wasn't heavily talking to the coaches at NIU. I just heard from them recently, they invited me up to visit them and they offered."

Kokosioulis, who has also drawn recruiting interest this spring from Army, Indiana State, Colgate and Cornell, also came away impressed with NIU after his Tuesday visit.

"I went to NIU as a freshman for a football camp but outside of that camp this was my first visit as a recruit. I was at NIU early in the morning and watched a spring practice," he said. "I liked the way that they practiced and the facilities are really nice. The coaches at NIU were really nice. I'm just happy to finally get an offer. Now I can think more of what type of school I would like to go to instead of having no options."

Metea Valley sophomore quarterback Payton Thorne (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) made a recent visit to Western Michigan and came away with his first scholarship offer. Thorne, the son of North Central College head coach Jeff Thorne, discussed his first impressions from his visit to the school.

"I visited Western Michigan two weeks ago and it was a really good visit," he said. "WMU offered me a scholarship when I was on the visit. I love the staff at Western Michigan and they also have a nice campus and outstanding facilities. I've also known head coach Tim Lester my whole life, so getting this offer is pretty special."

Thorne has also drawn very early recruiting interest and has made unofficial visits to Minnesota and Penn State. 

De LaSalle junior defensive back Byron Perkins (6-foot-2, 170 pounds) was asked by the Purdue staff to make an unofficial visit on Monday and Perkins came away with his first Big Ten offer from the Boilermakers.

"It's hard to find words to describe the feeling of getting an offer from Purdue," Perkins said. "I visited Purdue two weeks ago and had a great visit. Then Purdue cornerbacks backs coach (Derrick Jackson) wanted me to come back to campus on Monday and that's when they offered me."

Perkins, who is also holding an offer from Louisiana Lafayette, has drawn increased recruiting looks from several schools. 

"I've been in contact with just about the entire Mid American Conference schools along with Iowa, Minnesota, Cincinnati, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State and also Louisville. Several of those coaches have said that they will be in school some time this spring."

Naperville North junior wide receiver Nick Calcagno (6-foot-3, 207 pounds) made a recent spring practice visit to Southern Illinois University and added his first offer from the Salukis.

"I went down to SIU on Saturday for a Junior Day," Calcagno said. "I spent a lot of time talking to SIU wide receivers coach Nick Williams before and after the scrimmage. I was able to take a full tour of the facilities and I was really surprised at how nice everything was at SIU. They have great facilities and a great stadium. I also really liked the campus and it feels great to get my first offer from SIU. I'm hoping to get back for another visit to SIU again soon."

Calcagno has drawn recruiting looks from Iowa State, Western Michigan North Dakota State, North Dakota and Western Illinois.