Preps Talk

Breaking down the best Illinois holiday tournaments

Breaking down the best Illinois holiday tournaments

Since we're hitting late December it means that its time for holiday tournaments to get going. With a lot of talented teams and games happening under one roof, holiday tournaments are popular destinations for fans to see a lot of games during this time of year as we take a look at some of the best tournaments to see in Illinois.

The IHSA has also put together a great list of links for holiday tournaments at their website. You can also follow along with our holiday tournament coverage at CSNChicago.com along with our Twitter handle, @CSNPreps, and High School Lites every Friday night at 11 p.m. on CSN. 

Here's six holiday tournaments you should try to check out in the next few weeks. 

Hinsdale Central Holiday Classic

DATES: Dec. 27-Dec. 30

FAVORITE: Bolingbrook enters the field with a big reputation and a deep and athletic lineup as the Raiders are off to a great start. Senior Nana Akenton is getting All-Area buzz and Bolingbrook has plenty of weapons around him. 

DARK HORSE: Keep an eye out for the winner of the DePaul Prep/Crete-Monee game. Both of those teams can give Stevenson a game if the Patriots also advance and both DePaul and Crete-Monee have Division I talents in Perry Cowan and Dwayne Rose.

NOTES: Since California school Crespi Carmelite captured the title last year in the tournament's first year, the event is still looking to crown its first champion from Illinois. This is an impressive field for a second-year event.

Pontiac Holiday Tournament

DATES: Dec. 28 - Dec. 30

FAVORITE: Curie and Simeon enter this tournament on a collision course to play again in the championship. Since the Condors are the defending Pontiac champions who also won the Class 4A state championship, they're the favorites again here with its senior-laden perimeter. 

DARK HORSE: Benet was off to an unbeaten start before losses to St. Viator and Conant in the last week. The Redwings are always tough in tournament settings and should be a major challenge on Curie's side of the bracket.

NOTES: This team is ridiculously loaded as it includes a staggering five teams in the CSN Preps Power Rankings. That doesn't even include talented downstate programs like Bloomington and Peoria Manual as well as teams with recent losses like Benet and West Aurora.

Proviso West Holiday Tournament

DATES: Dec. 27- Dec. 30

FAVORITE: Morgan Park enters the field with the most talent as junior Ayo Dosunmu could be the best player in the field. Senior Melo Burrell is also having a solid start and the Mustangs have waves of bodies they can throw at people.

DARK HORSE: It seems silly to call Bogan a darkhorse but the Bengals have a chance to disrupt things in this bracket. With losses to Simeon and Morgan Park already, the Bengals have played a tough schedule as they won't be scared at all with a potential game with Fenwick in the second round.

NOTES: Another tremendous field at Proviso West as this has a ton of star power and great teams. Whitney Young, Uplift, St. Joseph, Hillcrest, and Downers North have all been ranked at some point this season as this should be a deep group competing for the title.

Jack Tosh Holiday Tournament at York

DATES: Dec. 26-Dec. 30

FAVORITE: In a field of 32 teams it's always hard to pick a favorite but Conant has the talent, experience and deep playoff run to be a popular pick. Senior guard Jimmy Sotos is arguably the best player in the field at York while the Cougars also have size with Ryan Davis and Michael Downing.

DARK HORSE: Downers South is sitting just outside the CSN Preps Power Rankings after a lofty preseason ranking but they've been on a recent hot stretch, including a solid win over previously beaten Downers North. 

NOTES: St. Patrick and De La Salle are the other ranked teams in this field while Naperville North, St. Ignatius, York and Wheaton North are all intriguing teams in this field. 

State Farm Holiday Tournament at Bloomington

DATES: Dec. 27-Dec. 30

FAVORITE: North Lawndale is one of the premier teams in the city and state this season as the Phoenix have already played a tough schedule that includes losses to Joliet West and Whitney Young. With talented seniors like Carlos Hines (Northern Arizona) and Martrell Barnes, North Lawndale will be tough to beat. 

DARK HORSE: We're not really sure how good Wheaton-Warrenville South is with a 10-0 start but we'll find out with this field. 

NOTES: The State Farm field also includes girls Large and Small School divisions as well as a boys Small School division. 

Wheeling Hardwood Classic

DATES: Dec. 27-Dec. 30

FAVORITE: Fremd sits unbeaten at 9-0 on the season as they're already earned quality wins over Conant and Notre Dame -- who sits in the bottom half of the Wheeling field.

DARK HORSE: They're one of the younger teams in the field but Waukegan (6-3) has a chance to be a major factor thanks to its overall talent. Senior Carson Newsome (Milwaukee) is joined by three talented sophomores to make for an intriguing team.

NOTES: Watch for Libertyville junior Drew Peterson in the top half of the bracket. High-major programs have recently been in to see Peterson and he's the type of talent who can help the Wildcats go on a big run.

34 Days to Kickoff: Bartlett

34 Days to Kickoff: Bartlett

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: Bartlett


Head coach: Mark Erlenbaugh


How they fared in 2017: 2-7 (2-3 Upstate 8 Valley Conference), Bartlett failed to qualify for the 20127 IHSA state football playoff field.
2018 Regular Season Schedule:
Aug. 25 @ East Aurora
Aug. 31 vs Glenbard East
Sept 8 vs Glenbard South
Sept. 14 @ Elgin
Sept. 21 @ West Aurora
Sept. 28 vs West Chicago
Oct. 5 vs Larkin
Oct. 13 @ South Elgin 
Oct. 19 @ Streamwood


Biggest storyline: Can the Hawks soar in the newly realigned Upstate 8 conference?


Names to watch this season: QB Dean Kotsovetis WR Austin Gates


Biggest holes to fill: The Hawks will need to fill in several spots this summer especially upfront on the offensive and defensive lines due to graduation losses.


EDGY's Early Take: Bartlett new head coach Matt Erlenbaugh comes in from Chicago Solorio and takes over the Hawks football program. Look for Bartlett to have a chance to challenge in the newly realigned Upstate 8 schedule. The Hawks schedule this season won't include the likes of several 2017 state playoff teams like Lemont, Prairie Ridge and St. Charles East.

35 Days to Kickoff: Oak Forest

35 Days to Kickoff: Oak Forest

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: Oak Forest

Head coach: Brian McDonough

How they fared in 2017: 4-5 (3-3 South Suburban Conference). Oak Forest failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Pekin
Aug. 31 @ Niles Notre Dame
Sept. 7 @ T.F. South
Sept. 14 @ Hillcrest
Sept. 21 @ Eisenhower
Sept. 28 vs T.F. North
Oct. 5 vs Tinley Park
Oct. 12 @ Bremen
Oct. 19 vs Lemont

Biggest storyline: Can the Bengals get back into the IHSA state playoffs this season?

Names to watch this season: LB Anthony Kluk and OL/DL Julian Ramirez

Biggest holes to fill: The Bengals will need to reload on both sides of the football especially on offense with the graduation losses of several starters including QB Tyler Morrison and RB Waitari Wilson.

EDGY's Early Take: It was a rare season for the Bengals in 2017, having missed the IHSA state playoff field for the first time since 1999. Look for Oak Forest to rely on its defense while a newer group on offense develops. The Bengals and veteran head coach Brian McDonough will need to get out to a good early start with a front-loaded regular season schedule.