Preps Talk

EDGY: 'Playoffs' begin for several 3-4 teams

EDGY: 'Playoffs' begin for several 3-4 teams

While the IHSA football playoffs won't begin for a few weeks, several teams with 3-4 records will be playing for their postseason lives come this weekend. Here are several 3-4 teams who are still fighting to keep their playoff chances intact:

Chicago Public League

Lindblom: The Eagles (3-4/3-1) play in the Illini Heartland conference and trail both Payton (6-1/4-0) and Uplift (5-2/3-1), but still have a shot if they can beat Robeson (2-5) this week. They would have to also win next week in round one of the Prep Bowl playoffs.

Chicago Catholic League

Providence (3-4): The Celtics will need to beat the state's top ranked team, Loyola Academy (7-0), on Saturday in Wilmette-- and then defeat Mount Carmel (4-3). It's a daunting task but the Celtics have been in this spot more than a few times over the years. 

Central Suburban North

Deerfield (3-4): The Warriors host Maine West (4-3) this week and then play at Maine East (1-6) in the regular season finale. If Deerfield can win out the next two weeks they will be 5-4, but they could still be a bit nervous on pairings night given their playoff points status. 

DuPage Valley 

Naperville Central (3-4) plays at Wheaton North on Friday, then host Lake Park (2-5) in Week 9. North (also 3-4) must win this week hosting Naperville Central then also beat Waubonsie Valley (4-3) in Aurora. Who has the best chance of getting to 5-4? I'll say Napervillle Central but it's a very close call here. 

East Suburban Catholic Conference

Marian Central Catholic (3-4) plays at Niles Notre Dame (5-2) then at St. Patrick (4-3). Defending 5A state champion Nazareth battles St. Viator (5-2) at Viator on Friday then host Marian Catholic (1-6) in Week 9. Best chance to get five wins? Nazareth Academy.

Fox Valley Conference

Hampshire (3-4) has its work cut out for them. The Whip-Purs host both McHenry (5-2) and Jacobs (4-3) over the next two weeks. 

Interstate 8 Small

Reed-Custer (3-4): The Comets also have a lot of work to do in hosting Plano (5-2) on Friday, then playing Week 9 in Manteno (4-3).

Kishwaukee River

Woodstock (3-4): The Blue Streaks are on a three game losing streak and now take on rival Woodstock North (5-2) --at North-- on Friday. They will then play at Richmond-Burton (5-2) in Week 9.

[MORE PREPS: High School Lites Football Roundup - Week 7]

Metro Suburban Blue

Fenton (3-4): The Bison play at Wheaton Academy (4-3) then host undefeated 3A state-ranked IC Catholic Prep in Week 9. Ouch.

Mid-Suburban East

The Wheeling Wildcats (3-4) will play Friday at Prospect (3-4), then host Hersey (3-4). Hersey will host Rolling Meadows (7-0) this week. They need to beat the Mustangs before even thinking about Week 9 at Wheeling. Prospect (3-4), besides hosting Wheeling on Friday, will then play at Elk Grove (0-7) in the finale. My best guess on which school has the best chance of winning out and getting to 5-4? Wheeling.

North Suburban

The Zion-Benton Zee-Bees (3-4) have battled all comers this season and play Friday night at Warren Township (3-4). They will then host Libertyville (4-3) in Week 9. Warren Township (3-4) needs a win on Friday hosting Z-B before hosting Stevenson (6-1). Best chance to win out? Zion-Benton.

Northern Illinois Big 12 East

Kaneland (3-4): The Knights travel to Geneseo (5-2) on Friday night, then host Ottawa (1-6) in Week 9. Kaneland has a huge task beating Geneseo on the road, but don't count out them out.

Northern Lake County

Wauconda (3-4) hosts Grant (2-5), then hosts Grayslake Central (1-6) in Week 9. Wauconda has a terrific chance of winning both games. North Chicago (3-4) has a much rougher road as they host Antioch (7-0) on Friday before taking on Lakes (4-3) in Lake Villa in the finale. Best bet to win two straight games? Wauconda.

South Suburban Blue

Tinley Park (3-4): The Titans also have a rough road to five wins. They start off this Friday hosting Lemont (7-0), then play at Richards (5-2) in Week 9.

South Suburban Red

Evergreen Park (3-4) and Oak Lawn (3-4) are both fighting to stay alive. Evergreen Park will take on Hillcrest (5-2) on Friday, then travel to Eisenhower (2-5) in Week 9. Oak Lawn will play Friday at Shepard (4-3) then face Reavis (6-1) in Burbank. Best chance to win out here? Evergreen Park; however, the Mustangs could be sweating it out on pairings night because of lower playoff points. 

Southwest Prairie

Minooka (3-4): The Indians will host Oswego East (6-1) and Plainfield South (4-3) over the next two weeks. They will also likely be missing starting QB Johnny Carnagio. 

Southwest Suburban 

Bolingbrook (3-4) will host Thornwood (4-3) and then travel to Homewood-Flossmoor (7-0). Thornton Township (3-4) might have the toughest two back-to-back games in the state as they host Homewood-Flossmoor (7-0) and then Bradley (7-0). Which team has the best chance to win out? Bolingbrook.

Upstate Eight River

Geneva (3-4): The Vikings are in a rare position, needing to win its final two games just to make the state playoff field. Geneva will host St. Charles North (7-0) this Friday and then travel to West Aurora (7-0). The odds might be stacked against Geneva here...but don't count them out just yet. 

Upstate Eight Valley

The South Elgin Storm (3-4) will face state-ranked Cary-Grove (6-1) on the road Friday night then play East Aurora (1-6) in Week 9. Bartlett (3-4) will play at West Aurora (7-0) on Friday then host Glenbard East (1-6) in Week 9. Best chance to win two straight games? Bartlett. 

West Suburban Gold

Hinsdale South (3-4) will play at district rival Hinsdale Central (7-0) then take on Morton (1-6) on the road in the finale. Addison Trail (3-4) hosts Proviso East (0-7) on Friday then travel to Glenbard West (5-2) in Week 9. Best chance to get to five wins? Hinsdale South.

Edgy Tim's Week 8 analysis and picks

NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's Week 8 analysis and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 9 edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Can Wilmington win on the road at Coal City in this backyard rivalry? Who comes out ahead in the Battle for the Alec Anderson Trophy: Bolingbrook or H-F? Can Prairie Ridge and Cary Grove just start overtime now? Can Nazareth Academy unleash its offense and beat a very strong Notre Dame defense in Niles? And will Friday's Metro Suburban Blue --and Class 4A-- showdown between IC and St. Francis stand as a potential playoff preview between the two?

Wilmington at Coal City, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This Illinois Central Eight conference title game features two nearby rivals who know each other extremely well. It's one of the most anticipated games in southern Will and eastern Grundy counties all season. Wilmington (7-0/5-0), led by veteran head coach Jeff Reents, has the Wildcats playing well this fall behind a power running game led by RB Jake Rodawold and a nice mix of the play-action passing game behind QB Keaton Hopwood. Coach Dan Hutchings and the Coal City Coalers (7-0/5-0) have an experienced and deep roster. THey will also look to establish the running game with RB Dan Jezik. The passing game is also a strength with QB Peyton Hutchings. Can Wilmington contain the Coal City running game and win the battle in the trenches? Will home field be a factor?

EDGY's Pick: Coal City 28 Wilmington 14

(10) Bolingbrook at (6) H-F, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Despite the distance between Bolingbrook (6-1/3-1) and Homewood-Flossmoor (6-1/3-1) this game is undoubtedly one of the biggest rivalry games for each school. They will play for the Alec Anderson Memorial Trophy. Raiders head coach John Ivlow has returned to the triple-option offense with just enough play-action passing game to the tune of great success. The running attack is led by senior QB Deyvn Suggs; the experienced offensive line is led by senior John Williams (Cincinnati). The defense has speed and athleticism, guided by junior LB Tyler Mclaurin and junior S Justin Walters. H-F head coach Craig Buzea features a big and experienced offensive line led by seniors Marcus Harper II (Oregon), Michael Ford and Denzel Bryant. Junior RB Sean Allen is also having a strong season. The Vikings 'D can match just about anyone in the state speed for speed. Junior WR/SB Will Pauling and sophomore LB Malyk Jones are names to watch. Can Bolingbrook run the football against H-F? Can the Vikings' offense pound away at Brook's speedy defense?

EDGY's Pick: Homewood-Flossmoor 21 Bolingbrook 14

(18) Hillcrest at Lemont, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Hillcrest (6-1/4-0) has been playing lights-out football since a close 26-20 Week 1 loss to Brother Rice. Junior RB Mar'Kiese Irving has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the Class of 2021 and has led the way for head coach Morgan Weaver's Hawks this fall. Lemont (6-1/4-0) also dropped a close opening week decision (12-6 to St. Charles East), but they have been on a roll ever since. They have a balanced offense led by QB Luke Bailey and WR Anthony Sambucci (Western Michigan). Can the Lemont defense corral and contain Mar'Kiese Irving? Can the Hawks win on the road? 

EDGY's Pick: Hillcrest 28 Lemont 27

Prairie Ridge at (25) Cary-Grove, 7:00 p.m. #SendEDGY

EDGY's Take: Year in and year out, these two Fox Valley powehouse programs never fail to entertain. Same applies in 2019 where Prairie Ridge (6-1/6-1) and Cary Grove (6-1/6-1)-- expect a very tight, 'last-possession-wins' type of game. Prairie Ridge and head coach Chris Schremp will look to get the Wolves offense balanced and on trackled. The group is led by QB Connor Lydon and a backfield of RB Blake brown, Taidhgin Trost and Carter Evans. Cary-Grove and head coach Brad Seaburg will want to establish the power running attack with RB Blake Skol and QB Luke Eleftheriou. On defense, the Trojans have allowed just 36 points so far on the season. Will the team that limits the overall amount of mistakes win? 

EDGY's Pick: Cary-Grove 28 Prairie Ridge 21 OT

Grant at Grayslake North, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Grant (6-1/4-1) secured the Bulldogs' first state playoff bid since 2012 in last week's win over North Chicago. Head coach Chris Robinson's squad will rely on a stable of quality running backs along with QB Tyler Elfering. On defense, Grant has kept teams at bay all season. The unit is led by senior LB Kyle Rainey. Grayslake North (3-4/2-3) will be in must-win mode this week. The Knights are hoping that their recent offensive explosion over the past few weeks continues Friday night. North is led by QB Nick Fish. Can the Knights' offense put up points against a very strong Grant defense?

EDGY's Pick: Grant 35 Grayslake North 21

Antioch at Lakes, 7:15 p.m. 

EDGY's Take: Antioch (6-1/5-0) has been able to keep winning despite losing standout junior QB Athan Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) for the season to a Week 6 injury. Look for the Sequoits, coached by Brian Glashagel, to get the football into the hands of junior WR Dino Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) along with senior WR Treshawn Watson. Lakes (6-1/4-1), coached by Jordan Elder, was able to bounce back last week with a win over Grayslake Central after losing to Grant. Can the Eagles get starting QB Chris Selig back in the lineup after suffering a Week 6 injury? This is one of the top rivalry games in Chicago's northern suburbs.

EDGY's Pick: Antioch 35 Lakes 34

(5) Stevenson at Warren, 7:20 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Warren (7-0/5-0) is looking to lock up the North Suburban Conference title with a win. Head coach Bryan McNulty's Blue Devils defense remains the big story so far this season. The 'Township defense has allowed just 21 points all season and is led by senior DT Willis Singleton Jr. (Iowa State), junior LB Malachi McNeal and senior LB Juan Delacruz. On offense, Warren is getting a big season from RB Derrick McLaughlin. The experienced offensive line has certainly helped. Stevenson (4-3/4-1) features a first-year head coach in Brent Becker. He has relied on senior RB J.M. Etiene and backup QB Liam Crowley-- who has played well since filling in for the injured Justin Hiller. Can the Patriots' offense move the football consistently --and then score-- against Warren's defense?

EDGY's Pick: Warren Township 28 Stevenson 10

(3) Nazareth at (8) Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Nazareth (6-1/2-0) is coming off a big 39-29 win last Friday over Marist. The Roadrunners are stacked again this fall for head coach Tim Racki. Junior QB J.J. McCarthy (Michigan) is as dangerous as ever. He has a target in sophomore WR Tyler Morris. The 'Naz defense is also very solid. Keep an eye on senior ILB Marcus Griffin (GVSU), junior DE/OT Ryan Keeler and senior LB/FB Riley Theobald. Notre Dame (7-0/2-0), under Hall of Fame head coach Mike Hennessey, has been one of the biggest surprise stories in Chicagoland. The Dons have a tough one-two punch on offense with junior QB Anthony Sayles and senior RB Julian Schurr. LB Anthony Ranallo leads a very tough ND defense. Can the Nazareth offense dent a very strong ND defense? Can the Dons' offense keep the football and win time of possession?

EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 20 Notre Dame 14

I.C. Catholic Prep vs St. Francis at Wheaton College, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: A huge showdown here in the Metro Suburban Blue-- as well as in Class 4A. I.C. (7-0/4-0) has relied on the arm and legs of senior QB/LB Danny Cronin. Junior RB Kyle Franklin remains a game-breaking threat at all times for head coach Bill Krefft and company. Many around St. Francis (6-1/4-0) felt that this team was maybe a year away. But next year is here. Keep an eye on junior QB Tommy Rittenhouse. He's one of the most dangerous dual-threat signal callers in Chicagoland this season. The Spartans also have a stable of talented backs and receivers. Can The St. Francis defense slow down and contain the balanced Knights offense? Can the IC defense get pressure on the St. Francis offense? Am I the only one who thinks this game could be Part 1 of 2 this season? (psst: playoff preview)

EDGY's Pick: I.C. Catholic Prep 34 St. Francis 28

Cinderella stories live on in IHSA football

NBC Sports Chicago

Cinderella stories live on in IHSA football

For the past 24-plus seasons I've been blessed to cover IHSA football from one end of the state to the other. Every year I am able to see some amazing games and programs led by incredible coaches. But for some reason, the underdog/Cinderella stories always seem to stick with me.

One of my favorites stories over the years goes back to the 2016 season. 

I was getting ready to select a Week 9 game to go cover. I've always approached the regular season finale as a bonus playoff football week since so many teams seem to be on the postseason bubble-- a "must-win" to get in. If anything, these win-to-get-in games can either go one way or the other...they are either great, intense games or the opposing team just decided to not show up. 

I struggled to find a Week 9 game to attend. Joe Collins --my editor at NBC Sports Chicago-- suggested, "Hey, what about Larkin at Elgin?"  My initial thought: "So...what about it?" Larkin, under then-head coach Dragan Teonic was 4-4 and needed a win in the regular season finale to have a shot at a state playoff berth. All the Royals needed was a win over then-lowly Elgin (0-8). Why even bother covering this game? I assumed that Larkin would just roll over the Maroons and lock up a state playoff spot and I would be stuck covering a blowout. 

I gave Joe a lot of grief for "highly encouraging" me to check out Larkin at Elgin, with heavy emphasis on "a lot" of grief, yet off I went to Elgin's Memorial Stadium.

Well, turned out that the Maroons, led by head coach Anthony Mason, decided to show up and play. And did they ever. They stunned longtime rival Larkin 26-20 for their first win of the season, got the Town Jug trophy in the process and go the additional bonus of knocking the Royals out of state playoff contention. The game was an intense, hard hitting affaor. It was easily one of the biggest and best crowds I saw all season long. Remember, Elgin hadn't won a game all season long and was outscored 302-92 that season. But for (at least) one night Elgin, was the best team in Elgin. Heck, the way the Maroons played that night they might of been the best team in all of Chicago's western suburbs that Friday evening.

I will always remember the look on then-Larkin head coach Dragan Teonic's face after the loss to Elgin, a combination of shock and sadness. I'm sure the loss bothers Teonic-- even after three years. Teonic, who's since moved onto South Elgin (7-0) and is building the Storm into a power in the Upstate Eight, has had much better days since that fateful night. But it's always the hard losses you'll remember than any of the accomplishments. 

Covering Elgin's win over Larkin taught me a lot that night. Never assume a win. Never underestimate the power of what a group of highly-motivated kids and coaches can do on any given Friday night. And in some cases, you truly can throw out the records between two teams because, at least for one night, the records don't matter. 

So when you see teams like Elgin, East Aurora, Proviso East and LaSalle-Peru just having their own Cinderella moments in 2019, learn to appreciate them whether you're a fan of those schools or not. 

The many people involved from these schools deserve credit with sticking with it and never giving up. The personal struggles that several of these coaches have faced, both personally and professionally, can be overwhelming. In some cases many, many years have come and gone and finally after those years of struggle and sacrifice, they finally have a few minutes in the sun.