Preps Talk

52 Days to Kickoff: Maine East

52 Days to Kickoff: Maine East

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: Maine East

Head coach: Bob Winkel

Assistant coaches: Cameron Stingily, Jake Winkel, Shawn Kaine, Chris Lipari, Andy Windsch and Jesse Smith

How they fared in 2017: 1-8 (0-5 Central Suburban North Conference). Maine East failed to qualify for the 2017 IHSA state football playoff field. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 25 vs Fenton
Aug. 31 @ Round Lake
Sept. 8 vs Wheeling
Sept. 14 @ Hoffman Estates
Sept. 21 vs Deerfield
Sept. 28 vs Maine West
Oct. 5 vs Glenbrook North
Oct. 12 @ Vernon Hills
Oct. 19 @ Highland Park

Biggest storyline: It's a fresh start in Park Ridge. Can new head coach Bob Winkel lead the Blue Demons to a winning season in 2018?

Names to watch this season: RB Baltazar Cabrales and WR Michael Bobowick

Biggest holes to fill: The Blue Demons will need to replace 16 graduated starters from a season ago. 

EDGY's Early Take: New head coach Bob Winkel will take over the reins of the Maine East program this fall. Winkel, who prepped at Marmion Academy and also played at NIU will try to get the Blue Demons on the winning track. Maine East has made the IHSA state playoffs just once in school history (1977). 

Breaking: RB Williams pledges to Iowa

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Breaking: RB Williams pledges to Iowa

It didn't take very long for Oak Lawn Richards three star ranked junior RB LeShon Williams (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) to give the Iowa Hawkeyes his verbal commitment. Williams, who added a scholarship offer from Iowa yesterday decided this afternoon to commit to the Hawkeyes and announced his college decision via his Twitter account. 

"For me it was really all about the tradition and the culture (at Iowa)," according to Williams. "It's always been a dram of mine to play in the Big 10 conference, so why not play for Iowa and get to play again with one of my old teammates."

Williams, who is holding 16 scholarship offers this spring will join former Richards quarterback/safety Sebastian Castro who is part of the Class of 2019 for the Hawkeyes. Williams is now the 10th known verbal commitment in the Iowa Class of 2020 and is also the third known State of Illinois pledge for Iowa. Williams joins Byron three star ranked OL Tyler Elsbury along with Lena-Winslow three star ranked defensive end Isaiah Bruce as Land of Lincoln commitments. 

Quarterback JJ McCarthy commits to Michigan

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NBC Sports Chicago

Quarterback JJ McCarthy commits to Michigan

Nazareth Academy sophomore quarterback JJ McCarthy (6-foot-2, 180 pounds), who had an All State season in 2018 leading the Roadrunners to the Class 7A state title decided to give the Michigan Wolverines his verbal commitment today while making a return unofficial visit to the Ann Arbor, Michigan, campus.

“I have a list of all the things I need to check off before I make my decision,” McCarthy told Rivals.com's Midwest Recruiting Expert Josh Helmholdt. “It’s a literal piece of paper I have at home, and Michigan checked every single one of those boxes.”

Among the various factors for McCarthy in deciding upon Michigan included location, academics along with preparing him for the next level of football.

“With all the NFL ties Michigan has, especially quarterback-wise with coach (Jim) Harbaugh and coach (Ben) McDaniels, it’s really a no-brainer for me,” McCarthy said. “When I hear ‘Michigan,’ I think of Tom Brady. He’s the greatest of all time and he’s an alum… at my position too.”

McCarthy, who was already holding over 30 verbal scholarship offers including offers from multiple Power 5 programs is the second known verbal commitment in the Michigan Wolverines Class of 2021 joining Stevenson Sterling Heights (Mich.) ranked offensive tackle Giovanni El Hadi.

McCarthy is now the fourth known verbal commitment from the state of Illinois Class of 2021, joining Antioch sophomore QB Athan Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) and his brother Dino Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) and Naperville Central sophomore QB/ATH Sam Jackson (Minnesota).