Preps Talk

86 Days to Kickoff: St. Francis

86 Days to Kickoff: St. Francis

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: St. Francis

Head coach: Bob McMillen

Assistant coaches: Doug DiFusco, Todd Howard, Ivan Milivojevic, Jared Culver-McGriff, Tivias Caldwell and Marques Stevenson

How they fared in 2018: 8-3 (4-2 Metro Suburban Blue Conference). St. Francis made the 2018 Class 4A state playoff field. They defeated Amundsen then lost to Boylan in second round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Argo
Sept. 6 @ Shepard
Sept. 13 vs Westmont
Sept. 20 vs Wheaton Academy 
Sept. 27 @ Bishop McNamara
Oct. 4 @ Aurora Christian
Oct. 11 @ Riverside-Brookfield
Oct. 18 vs IC Catholic Prep
Oct. 25 vs Aurora Central Catholic

Biggest storyline: St. Francis had a remarkable turnaround, going from 1-8 in 2017 to an eight win team the following year with a playoff spot. Can the Spartans make an even deeper state playoff run in 2019?

Names to watch this season: QB Tommy Rittenhouse (Jr.), OL Connor Schmidt (Sr.), LB Enzo Rendina (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Spartans will need to replace eight graduated starters on the defensive side of the football.

EDGY's Early Take: Outside of the second round loss to Rockford Boylan, the only remaining losses for the 2018 Spartans came to 4A state champion and runner up, IC Catholic Prep and Bishop McNamara, respectively. The St. Francis offense will be a strength going into the season for head coach Bob McMillen. They're led by junior QB Tommy Rittenhouse. If the Spartans can get their defense in order, they have a real shot being a top-ranked team in Class 4A this season.

45 Days to Kickoff: Joliet West

45 Days to Kickoff: Joliet 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: Joliet West

Head coach: Bill Lech

Assistant coaches: Harry Hessling, Seandell Davis, Patrick Lauer, Terry Clarke, Diondrey Hood, Kevin Kusnik, Jeff Peterson, Nick Davis, Peter Nackovic, Dan Tito and Brett Gould

How they fared in 2018: 3-6 (3-6 Southwest Prairie Conference). Joliet West failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoff field.

2019 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Minooka

Sept. 6 vs Oswego

Sept. 13 @ Oswego East

Sept. 20 vs Yorkville

Sept. 27 @ Romeoville

Oct. 4 @ Plainfield East

Oct. 11 vs Joliet Central

Oct. 18 vs Plainfield South

Oct. 25 @ Plainfield Central

Biggest storyline: Can the Tigers make more positive steps as a program as they embark on the newly-realigned Southwest Prairie conference?

Names to watch this season: OL Hunter Brooks (Sr.) and FB/LB Tom Luedke (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Tigers graduated nearly their entire starting offensive skills group from a season ago. Junior RB Trent Howland is the lone returning starter back this fall. 

EDGY's Early Take: Joliet West posted just a 3-6 record in 2018 but that record was a bit misleading on several levels. The Tigers, under then-first year head coach Bill Lech, turned the program around on a lot of levels. Joliet West came within a few plays of potentially winning four of those six losses. If the Tigers can get their offense on track early this season (against a front-loaded schedule against four Southwest Prairie West crossover opponents) they will again challenge for an IHSA state football playoff spot. 

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.