Preps Talk

97 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park

97 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park

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: Elmwood Park

Head coach: Dylan Mack

Assistant coaches: Gabe Ostrander, Mario Fiorito, Chad Nardi, Tony Sylvester, Eric Lewis and Dwayne French

How they fared in 2018: 8-3 (4-1 Metro Suburban Red). Elmwood Park made the Class 4A state playoff field and beat Back of the Yards. In the second round, they lost to Evergreen Park.

2019 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 30 vs St. Joseph

Sept. 6 vs Lisle

Sept. 13 @ Ridgewood

Sept. 20 vs St. Edward

Sept. 27 vs Westmont

Oct. 4 @ Christ the King

Oct. 11 vs Guerin Prep

Oct. 18 @ Chicago Christian

Oct. 25 @ Bishop McNamara

Biggest storyline: Last year, the Tigers had their best season on the gridiron since 1985’s 12-1 state semifinal team. What will this team do for an encore? Can they go deeper into the state playoffs?

Names to watch this season: Senior quarterback Mike Stranski and wide receiver Keon Grimes

Biggest holes to fill: The Tigers will need to find some new faces to bolster the defensive line and at the linebacker positions.

EDGY's Early Take: It was a banner year in 2018, as Elmwood Park advanced to the their playoffs in consecutive years for the first time in school history. Coach Dylan Mack’s program has some momentum will have a very good chance to make it three state playoff appearances in a row later this fall.

Basketball coaching legend Gene Pingatore dies

Basketball coaching legend Gene Pingatore dies

Legendary high school basketball coach Gene Pingatore—the winningest boys basketball coach in Illinois history—died on Wednesday night at the age of 83.

St. Joseph won two state championships (1999, 2015) under Pingatore, while also capturing six sectional championships during a high point from 1982 to 1988. During his tenure, Pingatore helped produce three McDonald’s All-Americans and led the Chargers to nine state appearances.

On February 11, 2017, Pingatore collected his 1,000th win—his overall record was 1035-383—and is still to this day the only Illinois high school basketball coach with over 900 wins. The legendary coach also helped guide some of the state’s greatest talents along their way to stellar careers. Among Pingatore’s star pupils are Indiana Hoosiers great Daryl Thomas, 2010 John R. Wooden Award winner Evan Turner and NBA Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas.

He was also well known for his important role in the critically acclaimed “Hoop Dreams”, the 1994 documentary that followed high school athletes William Gates and Arthur Agee as they chased their dreams of being NBA players, while also dealing with the socio-economic difficulties of traveling from inner-city Chicago to Westchester, Illinois every day for school. According to the Sun-Times, Pingatore was coaching this past weekend at the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout. 

In his 50 years of coaching at St. Joseph, Pingatore made an indelible mark on many lives and the St. Joseph community at-large.

Lincoln-Way East's AJ Henning commits to Michigan

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NBC Sports Chicago

Lincoln-Way East's AJ Henning commits to Michigan

Lincoln-Way East 4 star ranked running back AJ Henning (5-foot-10, 183 pounds) today gave the University of Michigan his verbal commitment.

"At the end of the day Michigan was just the best overall for me," Henning said. "Michigan has stuck with me in this process for a long time including when I was injured and never backed off. Michigan also recruited me but also  got to know my family well which really made a strong impression on me."

Henning, who narrowed down his final list of schools to Michigan. Georgia, Notre Dame and Penn State new that Michigan was his school after his recent official visit. 

"When I made my official visit to Michigan is when I knew that I found my school. I was able to just get a great feel for the coaches and the guys on the team on my official visits. I just felt that I will be a great fit at Michigan socially, athletically, academically and that I really fit in well with the guys on the team. After my official visit I knew that Michigan was the place I needed to be."

Henning, who ended up selecting Michigan over scholarship offers from 33 FBS schools  is bit thrilled and relived to have announced his college choice.

"It's definitely a relief, but just being able to be recruited and offered scholarships from 33 different schools is a true blessing. I'm just glad I found a home in Michigan."