Preps Talk

2015 preps player of the year: Sam Brodner

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2015 preps player of the year: Sam Brodner

It's not always how you start, but how you finish.

Glenbard West senior running back Sam Brodner finished as well as any player in Illinois this season. He has been named the 2015 Illinois Player of the Year by EDGYTIM/Rivals.com.

Brodner wrapped up his senior season last Saturday on the stage at Northern Illinois University in fine fashion, hoisting the Class 7A state championship trophy. Brodner ended the 2015 season with 298 carries, 1,959 yards and 40 touchdowns over 14 games — terrific stats for the year. But it's what the numbers don't tell you that sets Brodner apart from a small but very worthy field of candidates.

[RELATED - EDGY: IHSA State Final Blowouts?]

Everyone knew Sam Brodner was going to carry the football. Everyone. And that's not a slight to the Hilltoppers' other weapons on offense. But when it came down to crunch time, everyone knew who was getting the football.

Sam Brodner is simply a throwback type of player. All season long, he showed the ability to handle a heavy workload while also running with power. Brodner would, more often than not, cause contact and punishment as opposed to most runners who take punishment and try to avoid contact.

However, he was much more than a "bull in a China shop" style of runner. Brodner has speed, exceptional feet and balance. And he just never seems to go down after the first tackle. His overall mix of speed, quickness, power, balance and toughness was just unmatched in 2015.

Brodner, who was recruited as a running back and is verbally committed to Vanderbilt, could have also been one of the state's best inside linebackers this season. He'll be the first to admit that, at 5-foot-11, 215 pounds, he doesn't exactly look like your typical college running back. Brodner also heard from several college coaches and recruiting experts after his junior season, saying that his future could be on defense.

This past offseason, he went to work on re-learning a linebacker position that he hadn't played since his freshman year at Glenbard West. Brodner worked this past spring with Boom Midwest and was easily one of the most physical, most intense and best linebackers I saw all winter and spring. How physical was he in 7-on-7s? Just watching Brodner manhandle anything and anyone who dared to cut across his area made the 7-on-7 circuit fun to watch.

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

That said, in the end, it's all about the running back position for Brodner. To me, he is the modern-day version of former Joliet Catholic/Purdue/NFL running back Mike Alstott, a comparison not taken lightly since I've lived in the Joliet area for many years. Like Alstott, everyone knew that Brodner was going to get the football.

When Glenbard West needed to kill the clock, needed a scoring drive in a tight game or just needed a first down this year, Brodner got the football.

He wasn't always flashy. Others had better stats or more scholarship offers. But in crunch time, he became the Sam Brodner we have come to know.

90 Days to Kickoff: Warren

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NBC

90 Days to Kickoff: Warren

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: Warren Township

Head coach: Bryan McNulty

Assistant coaches: Jim Voutiritsas, Brandon Schild, Justin Van Schaik, Tayler Erbach and Mark Mika

How they fared in 2017: 7-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Warren Township made the IHSA 8A playoff field. The Blue Devils defeated Bolingbrook then lost to Maine South in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule

Aug. 24 vs Barrington

Aug. 31 @ Glenbard North

Sept. 7 vs Waukegan

Sept. 14 vs Libertyville

Sept. 21 @ Lake Forest

Sept. 28 @ Zion-Benton

Oct. 5 vs Lake Zurich

Oct. 12 vs Stevenson

Oct. 19 @ Mundelein

Biggest storyline: Can The Blue Devils make it back-to-back postseason appearances and challenge for the North Suburban Conference title?

Names to watch this season: DL Zack Pelland, DT Willis Singleton and RB Martin Walker

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Devils will need to find a new pass/catch tandem to replace graduated QB Ian Schilling and a strong group in the skills department, led by WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame).  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blue Devils had a nice 2017 season. After starting seven sophomores on the varsity level a year ago, head coach Bryan McNulty has the rare combination of youth and experience this fall. The defense will be a definite strength going into the season. The offense will rely on the running game, which features four starting offensive linemen back in the fold along with senior RB Martin Walker. If the passing game can come along, this team can once again challenge in the North Suburban Conference race and also in the overall 8A picture. 

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.