Preps Talk

Can Simeon capture its third consecutive Public League Playoff title?

Can Simeon capture its third consecutive Public League Playoff title?

The Public League Playoffs begin on Tuesday as Simeon tries to capture its third consecutive title in the event. 

Annually the event is the toughest to win in the state because of the depth of teams and overall star power, the Wolverines could get tested by Class 2A favorite Orr or Class 3A favorite Morgan Park. Unlike the state tournament, Simeon multiple state title contenders from multiple classes loom in order to win a third straight city title.

High School Lites will have highlights of some of Thursday's second round games on Friday's edition of the show as well as highlights from the semifinals the following Friday.

Can anyone beat Simeon?

Based on how the Wolverines have looked this season, they're the heavy favorites to win a third consecutive title in this event. Led by Talen Horton-Tucker, Messiah Jones and Xavier Pinson, Simeon has perhaps its best and deepest team ever under head coach Robert Smith. The Wolverines are ridiculously balanced. So far this season, Simeon hasn't lost to a team from Illinois and all of the Wolverines' wins against Illinois teams have come by double digits. 

It remains to be seen if Simeon can beat No. 2 Orr if they play in the finals. The other strong contenders like Curie, Morgan Park and Whitney Young are going to be tough as well. But Simeon is the heavy favorite to capture another city title entering this event. They're playing at as high of a level as any local team in recent memory.  

Who are the other contenders to know?

Simeon might be the heavy favorite, but they'll need to beat a number of high-profile teams to get there. Defending Class 2A champion Orr would love to get a shot at the city title as they're looking for more respect. The Spartans already have a Proviso West Holiday Tournament title and two wins over Whitney Young, but they lost to Curie earlier this season. Dannie Smith and Raekwon Drake are two of the city's better players and they're a tough cover for anyone. Like Simeon, Orr can also score across all five spots on the floor.

Curie owns great wins over Orr and Morgan Park but they've also lost by double digits twice already to Simeon. Curie still has the scoring punch to beat anyone in the state but they haven't had good luck against the Wolverines so far.  Whitney Young has prepared for this event by playing another ridiculous schedule as the Dolphins have been tested with top opponents from all over the country. The Dolphins have beaten some really good teams like North Lawndale, but they've fallen to Orr twice and don't own a win over another top-five Public League team this season.

Morgan Park is the wild card. The Mustangs have a lot of talent that has started to improve over the season but the team's health remains a major question mark. Sophomore Adam Miller showed that he's capable of taking over a game with his perimeter shooting in the win over Fenwick as he's one of the tournament's most fascinating players to watch.

Who are the other teams to watch?

Besides for the top five teams in the Preps Power Rankings all being from the Public League there are a lot of really good second-tier teams looking to make a move.

Lincoln Park is the team to keep an eye out for thanks to quality wins over Whitney Young, Uplift, Marian Catholic and DePaul Prep. The Lions are on a recent three-game slide, however, as they have to figure things out quickly before an event like this. Bogan has won four consecutive games as they're looking like a potential darkhorse. The Bengals had very close games against Morgan Park and Curie this season as they could be peaking at the right time. North Lawndale lost to Lincoln Park, Whitney Young, Orr and Curie in a span of weeks but they were close in every game. The Phoenix are a team nobody wants to see early in the draw. 

Which White division team is most dangerous?

Although the Red divisions in the Public League split into two super conferences this season, there were also some talented teams in the White division that should be watched. In fact, all four White divisions of the Public League had undefeated teams who won conference. Among those four schools, two are particularly dangerous.

High School Lites recently profiled Lane as our Team of the Week as the Indians are playing well with an 18-5 overall record. Unbeaten in the White-North, Lane gave Lincoln Park a solid game this season and they're confident facing another Red division opponent. The Indians face Harlan in the first round.

Corliss is perhaps the most dangerous team out of the White division because of the presence of Iowa State commit George Conditt. The 6-foot-11 Conditt is a potential game changer at the rim because of his ability to block shots. Corliss also solid guards and the team owns a very good win over Lincoln-Way East. Corliss will get another strong test when they face North Lawndale for its opening matchup.

First Round

Feb. 6, 5 p.m.

Foreman at Orr

Lane at Harlan

Westinghouse at Farragut

Julian at Bogan

Hubbard at Curie

UP-Englewood at Marshall

Dunbar at Kenwood

Collins at Lincoln Park

Longwood at Simeon

Corliss at North Lawndale

Brooks at Hyde Park

Payton at Uplift

Clark at Whitney Young

Crane at Vocational

Von Steuben at Prosser

King at Morgan Park

65 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park

65 Days to Kickoff: Elmwood Park 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: Elmwood Park

Head coach: Dylan Mack

Assistant coaches: Gabe Ostrander, Tim Eberhard, Mario Fiorito, Chad Nardi, Joe Kraft and Dwayne French

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (4-1 Metro Suburban Red Conference), Elmwood Park made the Class 4A state football playoff field. The Tigers lost to Genoa-Kingston in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs St. Joseph

Sept. 1 vs Foreman

Sept. 7 vs Ridgewood

Sept. 14 @ St. Edward

Sept. 21 @ Fenton

Sept. 28 vs Leo

Oct. 5 @ Guerin Prep

Oct. 12 vs Chicago Christian

Oct. 19 vs Bishop McNamara

[MORE: 82 Days to Kickoff - Ridgewood]

Biggest storyline: An encore performance. Can the Tigers make back-to-back playoff appearances this season?

Names to watch this season: FB/DE Luciano Martino and WR/DB Kris Diallo

Biggest holes to fill: The Tigers will need to replace eight graduated starters on defense this fall.

EDGY's Early Take: Elmwood Park head coach Dylan Mack is looking to keep the winning momentum found last season going into 2018. The Tigers will rely on an experienced offense with eight returning starters back in the fold and if the defense can gel sooner rather than later, look for Elmwood Park to once again challenge for another state playoff bid this fall. 

66 Days to Kickoff: Rich Central

66 Days to Kickoff: Rich Central 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: Rich Central

Head coach: Terrell Alexander

Assistant Coaches: Quincy Woods (OC), Vince Brown (OL), Art Schuldt (ST), Les Hampton (DB), Jerrell Bibbs (DB), Steve Henley (DC), Jeff Spikner (WR), Derrick Goard (LB) William Pass (DL) Chuch Robinson (Skills), Guy Smith (RB) and Shawn Mitchell (Skills)

How they fared in 2017: 8-3 (4-1 Southland Conference). Rich Central made the Class 5A state football playoff field. The Olympians defeated Marion then lost to Dunlap in second round.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Hillcrest

Sept. 1 vs Lemont

Sept. 7 @ Kaneland

Sept. 14 vs Rich South

Sept. 21 @ Crete-Monee

Sept. 28 vs Rich East

Oct. 5 vs Kankakee

Oct. 12 vs Bloom Township

Oct. 19 vs Christ the King

[MORE: 67 Days to Kickoff: Hillcrest]

Biggest storyline: The Olympians have reached the IHSA playoffs three consecutive seasons-- the first such streak in Rich Central history. Can they stay on a winning track and make a deeper playoff run this fall?

Names to watch this season: WR/S Mehki Miller (Miami of Ohio) and RB Sean Tyler (Western Michigan)

Biggest holes to fill: The Olympians will need to replace their entire starting offensive line from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Rich Central and head coach Terrell Alexander has brought winning and stability to the Olympians football program.  The 2018 team has some firepower back in the aforementioned Miller and Tyler; however, the development of their underclassmen group this summer will determine just how far this team will go. The ingredients look to be there for another IHSA state playoff caliber team.