Preps Talk

68 Days to Kickoff: West Aurora

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68 Days to Kickoff: West Aurora

School: West Aurora

Head coach: Nate Eimer

Assistant Coaches: Tony Melchiori, Bob Fowler, Jeff Knapp, Ron Murphy, Nate Banks, Joe Howell, Mike Powers

How they fared in 2014: 4-5 (4-3 Upstate 8 Valley Conference); The Blackhawks failed to make the state playoff field.

[COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: St. Ignatius]

Biggest storyline in 2015: Could this season be a playoff season for West Aurora?

Names to Watch: RB/S Drake Spears- Illinois verbal commit will be asked to once again lead. RB/LB DaQuan Cross- junior will be the next D1 level caliber recruit for West Aurora.

Biggest holes to fill: The Blackhawks will need to replace four graduated starters on the offensive line.

EDGY's Early Take: With a deep group of skills returning, if the Blackhawks can find answers on the offensive line they have a real chance to make the IHSA state playoff field for the first time since 1994. 

37 Days to Kickoff: Schaumburg

37 Days to Kickoff: Schaumburg

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: Schaumburg

Head coach: Mark Stilling

Assistant coaches: Anthony Belmont, Fran Cassidy, Adam Strauch, Nick Torresso, Nick Anselmo, Juwaan Richard, Leo Clark, Joe Kowalski, Chris Rafah, Jake Hughes, Justin Teschner and John Fidler

How they fared in 2017: 5-5 (2-3 Mid-Suburban West Conference). Schaumburg made the Class 8A state playoff field and lost to Lake Zurich in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ St. Charles North
Sept. 1 @ Wheeling
Sept. 7 @ Niles North
Sept. 14 vs Highland Park
Sept. 21 vs Hoffman Estates
Sept. 28 vs Conant
Oct. 5 @ Palatine
Oct. 12 vs Barrington
Oct. 19 @ Fremd

Biggest storyline: After three seasons of hovering around the .500 mark, are the Saxons ready to make a strong run to win the Mid-Suburban West in 2018?

Names to watch this season: WR/DB Heze Trotter and RB Mike Digiola

Biggest holes to fill: The Saxons will need to replace four starting offensive linemen lost to graduation from last season.

EDGY's Early Take: The Saxons will welcome back several returning starters (especially in the offensive skills department) from last year's state playoff team (five offense, seven defense) and could very well be the conference's most experienced team this fall. If the Saxons can find some answers up front on the offensive line they have a very good shot at getting back to the 8A state playoffs along with challenging for a conference title this season.

Motivated Markese Jacobs seeks national acclaim before senior year at Uplift

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USA TODAY

Motivated Markese Jacobs seeks national acclaim before senior year at Uplift

NORTH AUGUSTA, SC. -- Markese Jacobs doesn't have to impress college coaches during the July live evaluation period since he's already committed to Kansas. But the Uplift rising senior point guard is still motivated to make a strong impression during his final summer on the grassroots circuit.

Playing with a healthy and rejuvenated Mac Irvin Fire roster that includes Morgan Park's Adam Miller and former city players like Terrance Shannon (Lincoln Park) and Kahlil Whitney (Solorio), Jacobs is running an offense with a lot of talent around him the next few weeks. His ultimate goal is to make waves with national talent evaluators to improve his stock and overall ranking.

"We're extra motivated because we didn't get to play with each other fully healthy. We were missing guys some sessions. Some players weren't playing. Now our thing is, now that we're healthy, let's finish strong and accomplish what we want to accomplish," Jacobs said.

"My goal is to at least get top 50. They've got me in the 90s and 100s and I feel disrespected. My whole thing is coming out strong and breaking the top 50."

Since Jacobs doesn't have to worry about collecting scholarship offers since he's been pledged to the Jayhawks for over a year, he is focused instead of making sure that his point guard ability continues to grow. Jacobs also wants to continue to improve his perimeter shooting since defenses will collapse on him regularly next season.

"I have to show that I'm not only an athlete. I can play defense, score the ball and get the ball to my teammates," Jacobs said.

"Over these next couple months, my whole thing is getting off the dribble and hitting open shots. Going into my high school season, pretty much everybody in Chicago is going to be gunning for me. I'm going to get double teamed and stuff like that. So the opportunities that I get, I have to make the best of them."

Jacobs is encouraged by how things are going at Uplift entering next season -- especially now that he is a team leader. In the past, Markese could rely on leadership from his older brother Demarius, or Toraze Dobbs. Now, those guys have graduated and it's his time to shine as a team leader for the Titans.

"It's actually very different. I have to be the one talking now. I can't take a couple plays off like I normally can. So now, it's just, I have to come with it every game," Jacobs said.

Uplift will continue to develop its Class 2A rivalry with conference opponent Orr as both teams always feel like they're on a collision course during the postseason. This season, Jacobs has made it clear that a state title is his goal as he feels as though Class 2A is underrated in Illinois. 

"I'm trying to win state. That's my only goal. City is going to be what city is going to be. But my whole thing is winning state,' Jacobs said.

"Two A is actually pretty tough because it's the same two teams every time: us and Orr. For us, it's about finishing once we get to that game. We do pretty good up until that game, and then we fold. So my thing is just finishing and playing all the way through."