Preps Talk

83 Days to Kickoff: Maine West

83 Days to Kickoff: Maine West

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: Maine West

Head coach: Jason Kradman

Assistant coaches: Steve Piha (Def. Coordinator), Mike O'Brill (DBs/ST Coordinator), Tony Manicke (LBs/Head JV Coach), Dan Wilson (OL/Run Game Coord.), Joe Zubeck (LBs/Asst. Head Coach), Ryan Willett (QBs/Pass Game Coord.), Matt Boswell (DL/Def. Run Game Coord.), Kyle Prater (WRs/Pass Game Advisor), Tom Stettner (Specialists), Russ Swenson, Jake DeMars and Alex Corey (Assistants).

How they fared in 2018: 9-2 (5-0 Central Suburban League North). Maine West made the 2018 IHSA Class 7A state playoff field and defeated Benet Academy in opening round action. They lost to Willowbrook in the second round.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Mundelein

Sept. 6 vs. Glenbrook South

Sept. 13 @ Hoffman Estates

Sept. 20 vs. Wheeling

Sept. 27 vs. Deerfield

Oct. 4 @ Niles North

Oct. 11 vs. Maine East

Oct. 18 @ Vernon Hills

Oct. 25 @ Highland Park

Biggest storyline: Maine West is coming off the most successful season in program history. What will they do for an encore? Can the Warriors make a deeper run in the IHSA state playoff field in 2019?

Names to watch this season: QB Danny Kentgen (Sr.), S Jaden Dolphin (Sr.), OL Mark Bartusiak (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Warriors will need to replace the lost production, on both sides of the football, with standout all-state RB/LB Jake Belizzi graduating.

EDGY's Early Take: Maine West has been one of the better success stories in Chicagoland over the past two seasons. Jason Kradman has led the Warriors to back-to-back state playoff appearances. The Warriors welcome back 14 returning starters (seven offense, seven defense) along with a deeper and stronger overall roster compared to years past. Look for the Warriors to have a great chance at defending their CSL North conference title. 

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.