Preps Talk

2015 coach of the year: George Czart

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2015 coach of the year: George Czart

I'll admit it: At the end of the day this was George Czart's award to lose.

Czart, the head coach of Lincoln-Way North, has been named the 2015 EDGYTIM/Rivals.com Illinois High School Coach of the Year.

The Phoenix posted an 11-1 record, including a perfect 7-0 record in the Southwest Suburban Red (a conference that saw one team advance to the Class 5A final in Lincoln-Way West and another make it to the Class 7A semifinal in Bradley). Lincoln-Way North advanced to the quarterfinals for the second time in three seasons.

[MORE PREPS: 2015 preps player of the year - Sam Brodner]

But the biggest storyline statewide — from the start of the season — was the shocking announcement of the closing of Lincoln-Way North back on Aug. 13, three days into football practice and a few weeks away from the start of the regular season.

How in the world could the relatively new Lincoln-Way North suddenly close? The home of the Phoenix, which stands hovering along Harlem Avenue just south of I-80, looks more like a college campus than a high school. This is Lincoln-Way, the same Lincoln-Way that won award after award and all kinds of accolades and praise for how well they handled the district's sudden growth. How can this school district go from award-winning to shuttering a school in just a few short years? The entire Lincoln-Way North community still asks the same questions to this day. And even after the announcement was made, this all seems unreal — even to this day.

Even before the announcement that Lincoln-Way North was going to close its doors forever, Czart and his team were still trying to get past the demons of how the 2014 season ended. The Phoenix led Wheaton-Warrenville South, 10-7, in the 7A opening-round, and had the football with 1:30 left to play. Wheaton-South had no time outs. Czart and North decided to not take the victory formation, instead opting to run the football to kill the clock. North fumbled, Wheaton-South recovered and scored. It led to the eventual,17-10, overtime loss to the Tigers. Needless to say, Czart and his team heard about that loss during the offseason from an upset and irate LWN community.

[MORE PREPS: EDGY - IHSA State Final Blowouts?]

As the team approached the 2015 season, Lincoln-Way North had several built-in excuses and reasons to fold up the tents. From the way the 2014 season ended to the closing of the school after the 2015-2016 school year, the Phoenix could have easily just called it in and no one would have really blamed them.

However, Lincoln-Way North never folded the tents, never quit and never made any excuses.

The 2015 season didn't start off great for the Phoenix. They opened up the year against Richards and trailed, 23-2, at the half, only to rally to win 30-29. From the opening game to the final game in school history, North made a habit of coming from behind and finishing strong. And never quitting.

[MORE PREPS: Final 2015 CSN Preps Football Power Rankings]

Czart weathered the storm this season. He overcame the criticism from 2014, guided his team to an undefeated regular season and conference title, and instilled a never-say-die attitude, even in their final game in school history. With his own near-term future on the line, Czart and the Phoenix just dug in and went to work.

Sounds like a no-brainer as the coach of the year to me.

91 Days to Kickoff: Joliet Catholic

91 Days to Kickoff: Joliet Catholic

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: Joliet Catholic Academy

Head coach: Jake Jaworski

Assistant coaches: Dave Douglas, Cory McLaughlin, Chris Kinsella, Mark Mettille, Jake Ziesmer, Zach Dolph, Josh Greenback and Craig Slowik

How they fared in 2017: 3-6 (2-5 East Suburban Catholic Conference). JCA failed to make the 2017 IHSA state playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs. St. Rita

Aug. 31 @ IC Catholic Prep

Sept. 7 @ St. Viator

Sept. 14 vs. Carmel

Sept. 21 @ Marist

Sept. 28 vs. Benet Academy

Oct. 5 vs. Marian Catholic

Oct. 12 @ Nazareth Academy

Oct. 19 @ Notre Dame

Biggest storyline: Can Joliet Catholic snap a two-year hiatus from the state football playoffs?

Names to watch this season: OT Dave Monnot and RB Kenyetta Williams

Biggest holes to fill: The Hilltoppers will need to reload at the quarterback and wide receiver positions. 

EDGY's Early Take: It's been a rough few seasons at one of the state's best football programs. That said, 2018 has the potential to be the turnaround year the Hilltoppers have been looking for. Second-year head coach Jake Jaworski will feature four big and experienced offensive linemen, led by senior OT Dave Monnot (6-foot-6, 287 pounds). They also have a name to watch in junior-to-be RB Kenyetta Williams. If Joliet Catholic can survive another challenging early season non-conference schedule, they will compete in the always-tough ESCC.

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

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247 Sports

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

New Trier junior three-star ranked athlete Duke Olges (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) gave Northwestern his verbal commitment last Sunday yet waited until Friday morning to make his decision public via his Twitter page.

Olges, who was recruited by the Wildcats as a defensive tackle, felt pressure to make a decision since the Wildcats already had one defensive tackle verbal commitment in Clear Springs Texas Jason Gold while another defensive tackle with an offer was making an on campus visit later that day.

“I didn’t know if it was the right decision, to be honest. It was impulse more than anything,” Olges told WildcatsReport.com's publisher Louis Vaccher. “But what comforted me is after having a couple days to think about it, I felt a sigh of relief. It would have hurt me too much to let that scholarship go. As much as I wanted to go and visit other schools, losing that scholarship would have hurt more than anything else.”

Olges is now the 10th known verbal commitment in the Wildcats Class of 2019  and the second in state pledge along with Bolingbrook junior DB Cameron Mitchell. 

Olges, who was holding 26 scholarship offers this spring, was planning to make summer visits to Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Virginia and Duke before giving the Wildcats his verbal commitment.