NBC Sports Chicago will have all the action and highlights from Friday and Saturday's IHSA state championship football games from Champaign's Memorial Stadium. Friday's 1A and 2A championships will be on the main channel, while the 3A and 4A contest will be on NBC Sports Chicago Plus. And on Saturday, the 5A and 6A tilts will be provided on the main channel while the evening contests (7A and 8A) will be on the Plus channel. In addition, every championship telecast, including pre/postgame coverage, will be streamed live on NBCSportsChicago.com/IHSA. Highlights and postgame coverage will appear on the final football edition of High School Lites, Saturday at 11:00 p.m.
Forreston vs. Camp Point Central, Friday, 10:00 a.m.
EDGY's Take: Head coach Kyle Zick had quite a first season in charge of the Forreston program after taking over for retired head coach Denny Diduch. The Cardinals will rely heavily on their option running game, led by senior FB Grant Badertscher (968 yards 12 touchdowns), WB Evan Kelsey (904 yards rushing, 15 touchdowns) and WB Dom Christiansen (699 yards rushing, eight touchdowns). The Cardinals offensive line is another area of strength. Camp Point Central, with head coach Brad Dixon, is in the football state championship for the first time in school history. The Panthers will want to establish the double wing running game with RB Cole Williams (1,220 yards rushing, 20 touchdowns), FB Noah Strohkirch (746 yards, nine touchdowns) and RB Chayse Houston (890 yards 12 touchdowns). But look out for QB Eric Jones (1,058 yards passing 15 touchdowns). He is more than capable of leading the play-action passing game when needed. Can either team's defense take away/slow down the opponents running game on Friday?
EDGY's Pick: Forreston 28 Camp Point Central 21
GCMS vs. Maroa-Forsyth, Friday, 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: This highly anticipated rematch from last year's 2A state title game (a GCMS 38-32 win) is shaping up to be a dandy. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley, with head coach Mike Allen at the helm, has a roster loaded with talent again this season. Watch for QB Nathan Garard (1,177 yards passing, 13 touchdowns), RB/LB Jared Trantina (1,533 yards, 31 touchdowns), WR Ryland Holt and TE/DE Bryce Barnes to make plays. Senior OL/DL Hayden Workman is another key for the Falcons. Maroa-Forsyth head coach Josh Jostes has his Trojans back in the state title game for the 10th time in school history. Look for Maroa-Forsyth to rely on a spread passing attack led by junior QB Ian Benner (1,945 yards passing, 22 touchdowns). His top target this fall has been senior WR Kadinn Morris. Junior RB Gavin Clifton (1,086 yards rushing, 23 touchdowns) is a speedy game breaking threat with every touch. Can GCMS derail the Maroa spread passing game? Could GCMS kicker Ben Freehill (50 yard-plus field goal range) be the difference maker? Can the GCMS defense avoid giving up the big play from the Maroa offense?
EDGY's Pick: GCMS 38 Maroa Forsyth 35
Byron vs. Monticello, Friday, 4:00 p.m. (Plus Channel)
EDGY's Take: Byron and head coach Jeff Boyer will bring a punishing brand of football to Memorial Stadium on Friday. The Tigers feature a vicious ground-and-pound offense along with a smothering defense that's allowed just 21 points in four state playoff games. Keep an eye on the Tigers' three headed monster in the backfield with WB Drake Snodgrass (1,480 yards rushing, 15 touchdowns), TB Isaac Stickler (1,323 yard rushing, 17 touchdowns) and RB Ricky Messing (1,053 yards rushing 21 touchdowns). Bryon will also rely on junior OL/DL Tyler Elsbury (6-foot-5, 295 pounds) on both sides of the line. Elsbury is one of the most sought-after Illinois linemen in the Class of 2020. Monticello head coach Cully Welter has the Sages in the state title game for the first time in school history. The team is explosive on offense-- led by QB Braden Snyder (3,131 yards 39 touchdowns). He has some quality targets in WR Asher Bradd (57 catches, 1,088 yards, 10 touchdowns) and WR Devin Graham (45 catches, 947 yards, 13 touchdowns). The Sages offense is also very capable in the run game. The unit is led by RB Alex Bundy (913 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns). Can Monticello's line play match up against a much bigger offensive and defensive line from Byron? Can the Byron run-heavy offense move the football consistently against the Sages defense?
EDGY's Pick: Byron 28 Monticello 21
IC Prep vs. Bishop McNamara, Friday, 7:00 p.m. (Plus Channel)
EDGY's Take: The Class 4A state title game is a rematch from back in Week 4. IC Prep held off Bishop McNamara 21-20 as the Knights won on a last-second, Hail Mary touchdown. Bishop Mac's Hall of Fame head coach, Rich Zinanni, has the Fightin' Irish playing their best football at the right time of the year. They advanced by beating 4A powerhouse Rochester 52-42 last Saturday. The Irish will rely on a balanced offensive attack, led by senior RB Tyshon King (2,242 yards rushing, 47 touchdowns). Junior QB Tyler Hiller's (1,913 yards passing, 21 touchdowns) development this season has been another big key for Bishop Mac's success. Irish senior WR Peyton Gerberding (731 yards receiving, 13 touchdowns) has been Hiller's top target. He's averaging 33 yards per catch this fall. Junior OL Isaac Ruder (6-foot-6, 265 pounds ) is also drawing several FBS-level looks. As for IC Prep, they were "success factored" from Class 3A to Class 4A this playoff season. The Knights have continue to roll despite the move up in competition. Head coach Bill Krefft boasts a roster that is loaded with state title game experience. They're led by senior QB/DB Khali Saunders (1,370 yards passing, 16 touchdowns) and sophomore RB Kyle Franklin (2,151 yards rushing, 35 touchdowns). Senior WR/LB Khalil Saunders (Purdue commit) is a force-- and the Knights also feature a strong offensive and defensive line, anchored by four-year starter Ricky Mysliwiec. Can Bishop McNamara close out the Knights this time around? Can IC avoid the turnover bug that hit them in last Saturday's win over Richmond-Burton? Will IC's state title experience be a factor on Friday night?
EDGY's Pick: Immaculate Conception 28 Bishop McNamara 27 OT
Montini vs. Joliet Catholic, Saturday, 10:00 a.m.
EDGY's Take: Both Montini Catholic and Joliet Catholic have state title game experience against the other over the years. It's safe to say that both programs know each other pretty well. Montini, coached by Mike Bukovsky, has a roster stacked with talent--especially at the quarterback position. Both junior Deontay Bell (1,439 yards of total offense, 18 touchdowns) and sophomore Robert Brazziel (864 yards passing, 14 touchdowns) can carry the load under center. Also, keep an eye on senior RB --and Illinois commit-- Nick Fedanzo (1,235 yards rushing, 16 touchdowns). Junior WR Nate Muersch (471 yards receiving, 10 touchdowns) is a big target at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds). Senior WR Scott West is a Swiss Army knife/versatile player for Montini. Joliet Catholic and head coach Jake Jaworski will rely on the double-wing power running game, led by senior RB Keenan Hailey (2,541 yards, 32 touchdowns) and senior FB Nick Iannantone (1,297 yards, rushing 14 touchdowns). The Hilltoppers offensive line is big and physical. The unit includes senior David Monnot III (Purdue). Can the JCA defense slow down the Montini Catholic spread offense? Can the Broncos defense contain JCA RB Hailey and limit the Hilltoppers big plays in the run game?
EDGY's Pick: Montini Catholic 34 Joliet Catholic 28
Cary-Grove vs. Crete-Monee, Saturday, 1:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: This showdown is a rematch of the 2012 Class 6A state title game that Crete won 33-26. That game featured two current NFL receivers in Crete's Laquan Treadwell (Minnesota Vikings) and Lance Lenoir Jr. (Dallas Cowboys). Warriors head coach John Konecki will bring a very speedy and versatile roster to the table. They always present matchup issues due to their multiple offensive sets and formations. Keep an eye on QB Trayvon Rudolph (1,800 total yards of offense, 24 touchdowns), RB Amari Venerable (869 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns) and RB/LB Ronald Carroll Jr. (669 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns). WR Ricky Johnson (60 catches 1,039 yards, nine touchdowns) is a big play threat at all times. In the trenches, the Warriors line play is anchored by senior Jesus Ambriz (6-foot-4, 270 pounds). Cary-Grove, coached by Brad Seaburg, is looking to capture their second state title. The Trojans will bring a power option offense and a quick/athletic defense to Memorial Stadium. QB Ben McDonald has had a huge senior year. He has been equally effective with the run (1,380 yards rushing, 24 touchdowns) and the pass (1,364 yards, 18 touchdowns) in the traditionally run-heavy Trojans offense. Junior FB Blake Skol (1,337 yards rushing, 20 touchdowns) has been a major contributor, along with RB/S Danny Daigle (673 yards rushing, seven touchdowns). Also, keep an eye on senior WR/TE Quinn Priester and senior OL/DL Addison west (Western Michigan). Can the Cary-Grove defense avoid giving up the big play against Crete? Can the Crete defense find the football then slow down the Cary-Grove veer running game?
EDGY's Pick: Cary-Grove 34 Crete-Monee 31
Nazareth vs. St. Charles North, Saturday, 4:00 p.m. (Plus Channel)
EDGY's Take: Nazareth came up just short in last year's 28-21 Class 6A state title game loss to Prairie Ridge. Coach Tim Racki and the Roadrunners have been "success factored" up to Class 7A this playoff season. Nazareth might have one of the state's most explosive offenses. It's a group led by sophomore QB JJ McCarthy (3,088 yards, 35 touchdowns)-- and he has several quality targets including WR Michael Love (1,087 yards receiving, 18 touchdowns) along with South Dakota State commit WR Diamond Evans (1,112 yards receiving, 12 touchdowns). The running game is a steady success, thanks to an offensive line that averages 6-foot-3, 282 pounds. Coach Rob Pomazak and St. Charles North, who advanced by defeating Mount Carmel, are in the state title game for the first time in school history. The North Stars have received inspiring performances from sophomore QB Kyler Brown (1,715 yards passing, 16 touchdowns) along with sophomore RB Nick Demarco (851 yards rushing, five touchdowns). Both Brown and Demarco have filled in for injured older brothers in senior QB Peyton Brown and senior RB Sam Demarco. Minnesota verbal commit WR/DB Tyler Nubin (1,168 yards of combined offense, 21 touchdowns) can --and will-- play all over the field. He has been a key go-to guy for North all season long. Can the North Stars defense slow down and contain the high-flying Nazareth offense? Can the Nazareth defense get quick stops and get the football back as much as possible against St. Charles North's balanced offensive attack?
EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 34 St. Charles North 26
Brother Rice vs. Loyola, Saturday, 7:00 p.m. (Plus Channel)
EDGY's Take: These two Chicago Catholic League Blue powers meet in Champaign for the Class 8A state title. And it's a rematch from a 35-3 Brother Rice win back in Week Four. It was part of a rare losing skid for Loyola-- where they lost three out of four. Brother Rice, coached by Brian Badke, are back in the state title game for the first time since 1985. The Crusaders have rebounded from a 2-7 season in 2017. Rice's offense is keyed by senior QB John Bean (1,854 yards passing, 823 yards rushing and a combined 32 touchdowns), RB Jessi Plunkett (1,031 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns) and WR Dylan Summers (61 catches 932 yards, 14 touchdowns). Senior OL Evan Kirts (an Illinois commit) leads a strong offensive line. The Rice defense has also been a big strength. Keep an eye on LB Joe Fitzgerald, LB Jack McMahon and DT Justin Jefferson. Loyola and head coach John Holocek has been able to weather a midseason storm where they dealt with various injuries, turnovers and losses. They were 3-3 at one point. But Loyola's calling card has always been defense and it's helped guide them back through the end of the regular season and the playoffs. They're led by senior S Jake Gonzales (Penn) who has started 42 straight games. Keep an eye on senior LB Armoni Dixon and senior LB Mike Kadus. The Loyola offense? Senior QB Jack Fallon (1.210 yards passing, 12 touchdowns) recovered from an early season injury and has been a big key. He has a terrific core of receivers including senior Rory Boos (50 catches for 797 yards receiving, 10 touchdowns) plus senior WR Artie Collins (41 catches for 588 yards and four touchdowns). The running game has improved steadily each week. Watch out for Trevor Cabanban (563 yards rushing, four touchdowns). Can anyone score against the other team's defense on Saturday?
EDGY's Pick: Loyola 21 Brother Rice 14