Providence Catholic

5 lower seeds you don't want to see in Round 1 of IHSA playoffs

glenbard-north-1024.jpg

5 lower seeds you don't want to see in Round 1 of IHSA playoffs

Here are five lower-seeded teams in Classes 8A thru 4A that shouldn’t be overlooked heading into this weekend's first round of the IHSA state football playoffs.

Class 8A

No. 23 seed Palatine (6-3): First-year head coach Corey Olson had an up-and-down regular season. But don't let the Pirates’ record fool you. Palatine lost to three state playoff teams in Stevenson (14-7 in Week 1), Maine South (17-14 in Week 4) and Barrington (26-24 in Week 6). The combined record of all three opponents was a stout 23-4. Palatine will rely on senior QB DJ Angelaccio, senior WR Johnny O'Shea and senior WR Jack Orlando. The defense is led by senior LB Cortez Hogans (NIU), senior DE Bryant Smith and versatile senior DB Jake Moertl.

Class 7A

No. 29 seed Glenbard North (5-4): Yes, the Panthers struggled at times this season. Yes, they needed to beat Neuqua Valley last Friday just to make the 7A playoff field. That said, when this team is on they can hang with anyone and everyone in their class. The Panthers have gotten a big season from senior RB/LB Jayleen Fitzpatrick, senior QB Lee Rady and a veteran offensive line anchored by senior Jose Vazquez. GBN’s defense is the program’s calling card. Their secondary, featuring senior Tyrik Henderson (Minnesota), is just one of several names to watch on the defense.

Class 6A

No. 13 seed Providence Catholic (5-4): The Celtics also stumbled to the finish line in regular season play, losing their last two games. But Providence, whose four losses came to opponents with a combined 30-6 record (East St. Louis, Missouri’s Vianney Prep, Loyola Academy and Mount Carmel) are undoubtedly playoff tested. Their running game, featuring senior RB De'Shon Gavin (Western Illinois) and their big, experienced offensive line are included in their many strengths. Providence Catholic, who plays mainly 8A/7A level competition most of the regular season, will have an old-school battle in the opening round against Richards (7-2). Should Providence win that game, the Emerald Isle could go on a deep run.

Class 5A

No. 14 seed Marian Central Catholic (5-4): Head coach Mike Maloney's sideline at times resembled more of a MASH unit than a playoff-ready team. The Hurricanes have survived that storm of injuries and could be primed for a nice run in 5A. Marian Central Catholic has gotten some key names back to the lineup including former QB Gavin Scott, who has been moved to running back. The Hurricanes are also battle-tested coming off an East Suburban Catholic Conference schedule.

Class 4A

No. 14 seed Geneseo: The Maple Leafs are one of the state's traditional power football programs. They have struggled at times but were able to upset state-ranked Morris 21-17 to become playoff eligible. Geneseo also played a tough schedule and posted losses to bigger enrollment playoff names Quincy (6-3), Sterling (9-0), Rochelle (6-3) and Kaneland (6-3). Geneseo is a power running offense built for playoff football. Keep an eye on senior RB Drew Rapps and junior RB Zac Olson. 

High School Lites Week 8 football capsules and picks

brand_new_lites.jpg

High School Lites Week 8 football capsules and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 8 edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11 p.m. Who wins the Southwest Prairie showdown when Minooka travels up Ridge Road to take on Oswego East? Can Jacobs pull off the upset at Prairie Ridge? Who wins the Mid-Suburban East battle when Hersey travels to Rolling Meadows? And can Loyola Academy go on the road and beat Providence Catholic on the Emerald Isle?

Minooka at Oswego East, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Minooka (6-1, 6-1), coached by Terry McCombs, has gotten the Indians off to their best start in years. They’re paced by a steady running game featuting RB Owen Kappel and QB Zach Gessner. They also have a stingy, hard-hitting defense. Tyson LeBlanc’s Oswego East (6-1, 6-1) squad has some serious athletes to watch. Keep an eye on Illinois verbal commit senior WR/DB Antwain Walker, RB Ian Kroemer and junior QB/S Justin Clark. Note that Clark missed last week's win over Plainfield Central with an injury. So Oswego East is now on its third quarterback this fall — converted junior RB Jordan Williams. Can Oswego East get healthy by Friday? Can the Minooka defense continue to lock down the Wolves’ offense?

EDGY's Pick: Minooka 17, Oswego East 14

Maine West at Highland Park, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Maine West (6-1, 3-0) qualified for the IHSA state playoff field last Friday for the first time since 2002. Coach Jason Kradman and company feature a strong offense with RB Jake Bellizzi and TE/QB Matt Kentgen. Highland Park (4-3, 3-0) struggled early in the season against a killer nonconference schedule; that said, they have now won four straight games. Highland Park will look to junior QB John Sakos and junior WR/S Giancarlo Volpentesta. Last possession wins? 

EDGY's Pick: Maine West 28, Highland Park 27

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

EDGY's Take:  Jacobs (5-2, 4-2) and veteran head coach Bill Mitz has the Golden Eagles playing well. Their leaders include QB Anthony Williams, FB Stephen Kavanaugh and a very strong offensive line anchored by senior Jimmy Wormsley (SIU commit). Prairie Ridge (7-0, 6-0) have been rolling along, but the main storyline is will Superman play this week? Prairie Ridge senior QB Samson Evans (Iowa) sat out with an injury in last Friday's win over Hampshire 55-14. Prairie Ridge will continue to focus on its running game with senior RB Zach Gulbransen and RB Jackson Willis. Can Jacobs beat Prairie Ridge if Superman doesn't dress again this week?

EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 34, Jacobs 21

(24) St. Rita at Brother Rice, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: St. Rita (5-2, 1-2) will look to improve their overall IHSA playoff seeding with a win over the Crusaders on Friday night. Coach Todd Kuska has benefitted from a nice backfield combination of seniors Jake Zlyman and Chris Childers (Indiana State). Brother Rice (2-5/0-2) will look to finish out the regular season on a strong note. Keep an eye on senior OL Nick Marozas (Indiana) and with senior DB Arthur Veal. Can the Crusaders defense slow down the St. Rita running game? 

EDGY's Pick: St. Rita 37, Brother Rice 20

Hersey at Rolling Meadows, 7:30 p.m. **#SendEdgy**

EDGY's Take: Hersey (6-1, 3-0) has been a big turnaround story this fall after posting a 3-6 record a season ago. Head coach Joe Pardun will look to senior QB Owen Goldsberry and RB Luke Cecala to get points on the board. Rolling Meadows (6-1, 3-0) just keeps on winning. The Mustangs, coached by Matt Mishler, also feature a strong running game. They’re led by RB Tim Szylak and a strong offensive line. The defensive line has stepped up as well. Can Rolling Meadows slow down the Hersey run game? And can the Hersey defense contain Meadows’ speedster Szylak?

EDGY's Pick: Hersey 35, Rolling Meadows 32

(7) Loyola at (20) Providence, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Loyola Academy (6-1, 2-0) and head coach John Holocek feature QB Quinn Boyle and an always-tough defense. Can they win on the road this week at Providence? The Celtics (5-2, 2-0) lost their first two games of the season but have recovered nicely. They’ve posted five straight wins behind senior RB De'Shon Gavin (WIU commit) and a very strong defense led by senior LB Mariano Sori-Marin (Minnesota). Can the Loyola defense slow down the Providence running game this week? Can the Providence defense find an answer for Boyle? 

EDGY's Pick: Loyola 27, Providence Catholic 21

(17) Lyons Township at (14) Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lyons Township (6-1, 3-1) features one of Chicagoland's top quarterbacks in senior Ben Bryant (Cincinnati). The Lions also feature a big, experienced offensive and defensive line. Hinsdale Central (5-2, 4-1) and head coach Dan Hartman also have a ton of weapons on offense with senior TE Matt Bjorson (Indiana), RB Luke Skokna and senior athlete Garrett Oakey. The Red Devils played last week without junior QB Matt Rush. Can Central’s offense get back into high gear this week? Can the Lyons’ offense consistently finish drives with points? This one could be a potential thriller. 

EDGY's Pick: Hinsdale Central 34, Lyons Township 31

VIEWERS' CHOICE: (3) Maine South at New Trier, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Defending 8A state champion Maine South (6-1, 3-0) is near the top of the polls once again behind the always-explosive offense and stingy defense. Keep an eye on senior RB Fotis Kokosioulis (NIU), senior QB John O'Sullivan and a strong core of receivers. Coach Brian Doll’s New Trier Trevians (5-2, 3-0) have survived various key injuries this fall. They will look to their balanced offensive game plan with QB Carson Ochsenhirt and RB Brian Sitzer. Junior TE/LB Luke Olges is a force on both sides of the ball for the Trevians. Can lightning strike twice for New Trier? Will they shock Maine South for the second straight season? 

EDGY's Pick: Maine South 35, New Trier 28

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).