Preps Talk

Illini LB Brown named finalist for Butkus Award

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Illini LB Brown named finalist for Butkus Award

Jonathan Brown brought a ray of sunshine to an otherwise gloomy Illinois defense on Monday. The junior was announced as one of 12 semi-finalists for the Butkus award for his outstanding play at linebacker this season.
"It's a great honor to be a semifinalist. Hopefully I can keep playing at a high level and win," Brown said with a smile on Monday.
That the Illinois junior has played well enough to be among the semi-finalists this year is rather amazing. For the past few weeks Brown has not been able to perform at his peak because of injury.
Illinois coach Tim Beckman called Browns ability to gut it out and stay on the playing field, courageous.
He hasnt been 100 percent, you can see that on filmbut hes stepped up and tried to do what he is capable of doing to help us win football games, he said.
Brown acknowledged he has been less than his best this year, but expects to be at or near his best in Illinois final five games.
Me personally, Ive been banged up. I havent been as explosive as I can be, he said. Its been a challenge the past couple of weeks, but that doesnt matter anymore. Ive moved past it and Im feeling good right now. Im excited to get back on the field.
Im good to play, thats all that matters to me. This week got me closer to 100 percent. You cant go through the Big Ten season at 100 percent; youll always have a bruise or something. Thats how the game is played, he added.
Brown added that some of his, and the entire defenses, issues (aside from injury) have come as a result of the coaching and personnel changes from last year to this year. He did not use that as an excuse, however, and asserted that the defense would be much improved beginning with Illinois game against Indiana on Saturday.
So far this year Brown has amassed 44 tackles, including 1.5 sacks and 6.5 tackles for a loss. He has forced a fumble and recovered a fumble as well. In the 2011 season Brown had a total of 108 tackles, with six sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss.
The Butkus award, named for Dick Butkus, the legendary Illinois and Chicago Bears linebacker, honors the nations best high school, collegiate and professional linebackers annually. The collegiate winner will be announced on December 4.

VOTE: Viewers' Choice Game Of The Week

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NBC Sports Chicago

VOTE: Viewers' Choice Game Of The Week

Who wants it more?

We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland's top prep sports show, in the hands of area football fans in our "Viewers' Choice Game of the Week." Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night's "High School Lites" broadcast at 11 p.m. — just after Chicago White Sox baseball. The show also live streams at www.nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive. High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday. This week we spotlight some Indiana vs. Illinois border wars:

Gary (West Side) at Woodstock, 7 p.m.

Hammond (HS) at Reavis, 7 p.m.

Hammond (Gavit) at St. Ignatius, 7:30 p.m.  

Poll opens Monday at 12 p.m. and closes Thursday at 4 p.m. Here is what fans need to do to vote:

— Follow @NBCSPreps on Twitter.
— Note the "pinned Tweet" atop the @NBCSPreps feed. Vote for the game you want us to cover.
— Spread the word! 

We will make an announcement on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday with the official results of which game will be covered. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the "Viewers' Choice Game of the week," along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights this season.

Power Rankings: #4 - Batavia

Power Rankings: #4 - Batavia

NBCSportsChicago.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 July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Batavia

Head coach: Dennis Piron

Assistant coaches: Matt Holm, Billy Colamatteo, Sean Anderson, PJ White, Dan Cadena, Adam Lester, Steve Bailey, Alvin Cole, Shane Holl and Gary Urwiler

How they fared in 2017: 13-1 (5-1 Upstate Eight River Conference). Batavia made the 7A state playoff field and defeated Glenbard North, Wheaton North, Lincoln-Way West and Benet Academy. They went on to defeat Lake Zurich in the state title game to capture the 7A state championship.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Lemont

Aug. 31 vs Naperville North

Sept. 7 vs Lake Park

Sept. 14 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 21 vs Wheaton Warrenville South

Sept. 28 vs Geneva

Oct. 5 @ St. Charles East

Oct. 12 vs St. Charles North

Oct. 19 @ Wheaton North

[MORE: 89 Days to Kickoff - St. Charles East]

Biggest storyline: Can the Bulldogs, winners of state titles in 2013 and 2017, get back to state and claim another 7A title?

Names to watch this season: LB Luke Weerts (North Dakota State) and LB Michael Jansey Jr. (Northwestern)

Biggest holes to fill: The Bulldogs will need to replace nine graduated starters from last seasons's state championship squad. 

EDGY's Early Take: The Bulldogs are turning the page from their championship season, which was capped off with a 21-14 OT victory over Lake Zurich in the title game. While the offense will be inexperienced to start the season, the program has never been in better shape under head coach Dennis Piron. The Bulldogs' defense feature two D-1 senior team leaders in Luke Weerts (North Dakota State) and Michael Jansey Jr. (Northwestern). The offense will look to run the football behind two starters back on the offensive line in senior Evan Holden and senior Anthony Glisson. Batavia will also see a ramped-up schedule, thanks to the new DuKane Conference. It will challenge the Bulldogs week in and week out. Bulldogs fans also have an added treat: this season marks the 100th rendition of the Batavia-Geneva rivalry game. If Batavia can get their play-action passing game sorted out they have the tools to make another deep run in 2018.