Preps Talk

72 Days To Kickoff: West Aurora

72 Days To Kickoff: West Aurora

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 Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: West Aurora

Head coach: Nate Eimer

Assistant coaches: Tony Melchiori (DC), Patrick Stremel (LB), Bob Fowler (DL), Charlie Graves (DB), Tim Phelps (OL/DL), Mike Runge (OL), Ron Murphy (QB), Alex Shaw (WR) and Joe Howell (RB).

How they fared in 2018: 9-2 (8-1 Upstate Eight Conference). West Aurora made the 8A state football playoff and beat South Elgin in the opening round. They lost to Edwardsville in second round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Plainfield South
Sept. 6 @ Plainfield East
Sept. 13 vs Joliet Central
Sept. 20 @ Romeoville
Sept. 27 @ Yorkville
Oct. 4 vs Oswego
Oct. 11 vs. Plainfield North
Oct. 18 @ Minooka  
Oct. 25 vs Oswego East

[MORE: 93 Days to Kickoff - Oswego East]

Biggest storyline: A new home in the Southwest Prairie Conference. Can the Blackhawks fare well and keep up their winning ways with a step up in competition?

Names to watch this season: QB Will Tammaru (Sr.) and DE Matt Johnson (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Blackhawks will welcome back 13 returning starters (seven offense, six defense) and feature several multi-year starters. Standout defensive lineman Denver Warren has transferred to Brother Rice. How will roster depth play a role? Overall numbers can be better for every high school program-- including West Aurora.
 
EDGY's Early Take: Coach Nate Eimer's Blackhawks depart the Upstate Eight and enter the Southwest Prairie. The program has had great success the last four seasons (all playoff berths), with 30 wins to their credit. The program had 30 wins total between 2005-14. West Aurora is pretty stacked with talent and is expected to challenge the upper tier of the newly-realigned league. They look to get back into the state playoff field for the fifth straight season and make a deeper run come November.
 

Warren's Willis Singleton Jr. commits to Iowa State

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Rivals

Warren's Willis Singleton Jr. commits to Iowa State

Warren Township 3-star ranked senior defensive tackle Willis Singleton Jr. (6-foot-2, 285 pounds) announced his college decision today and gave Iowa State his verbal commitment. Singleton Jr. who ended up with 20 scholarship offers this summer discussed his decision.

"Iowa State was my first Power 5 offer," Singleton Jr. said. "We kept just building up our relationship and it just became bigger and bigger. I was able to pick up some big Power 5 offers late (including Illinois and Michigan State) but it was never about the name or the hype for me. It's always been about the relationships for me and I have that with Iowa State."

Singleton Jr. was able to visit the Ames, Iowa, school multiple times before. That familiarity with the coaches and the players was also a big factor in his decision.

"Isaiah Lee (current Iowa State and former Nazareth Academy defensive linemen) was a big help for me with just getting it straight from him on everything at Iowa State and I've known Isaiah for awhile now," Singleton Jr. said. "I've spent a lot of time at Iowa State around the coaches and the players and more than once I was there more than 24 hours just getting to know them. I just felt like Iowa State was the place for me in my heart in the end and Iowa State is the place for me."

Singleton Jr. had narrowed down his final list of schools to the Cyclones along with Illinois, Michigan State, Cincinnati and Louisville.

46 Days to Kickoff: Downers Grove North

46 Days to Kickoff: Downers Grove North

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 Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Downers Grove North

Head coach: Joe Horeni

Assistant coaches: Keith Litchenberg, Bill Kleckner, Terry Kent, Chad Isaacason, Josh Croci, Todd Cassens, Chris Guerreri, Mike Franzese, Kyle Briscoe, Greg Purnell, Pat Fleming and Max Gilbert

How they fared in 2018: 4-5 (2-4 West Suburban Silver Conference) Downers North failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoff field.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Buffalo Grove

Sept. 6 vs Addison Trail

Sept. 13 vs York

Sept. 20 @ Proviso West

Sept. 27 @ Hinsdale Central

Oct. 4 vs Glenbard West

Oct. 11 @ OPRF

Oct. 18 vs Lyons Township

Oct. 25 @ Downers Grove South

Biggest storyline: The Trojans missed a winning season (and possibly a playoff berth) in a heartbreaking loss to York in last year’s season finale. Can the motivated Trojans get over the top this season and into the IHSA state playoff field?
 

Names to watch this season: QB Drew Cassens (Sr.) and S Mark Dennison (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Trojans welcome back 13 returning starters (six offense, seven defense) this season, but they will be a bit inexperienced on the defensive line this fall. 

EDGY's Early Take: Downers Grove North came within a few plays of making the IHSA state football playoffs last season, which included close losses to OPRF (21-14) and York (14-7). The Trojans, guided by head coach Joe Horeni, welcome back several key names from the 2018 season including senior QB Drew Cassens. A big key for the Trojans this season will be getting off to a good start before hitting a very tough middle portion of the regular season schedule.