Preps Talk

EDGY Thoughts: Potential IHSA State Playoff sleepers

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EDGY Thoughts: Potential IHSA State Playoff sleepers

With the IHSA State Playoff Pairings Show just a little more than a week away, here are a few teams who could be potential sleepers once the brackets are released.

Class 8A

Waubonsie Valley: The Warriors (5-2) still have a bit of work to do before getting into the state playoff field but they should be fine. Waubonsie Valley has quality wins over Naperville Central (6-1) and Glenbard North (5-2), and will most likely fall into the lower-to-mid-20s under the new 1-32 playoff seeding system, which will have them starting on the road in the first round. Regardless, this Warriors team has gotten it done with a very strong defense, and an offense that has been making strides with quarterback Jack ConnoIly and running back Max Ihry.

Stevenson: The defending 8A state champs have dropped a few high-profile games this season (to No. 1 Homewood-Flossmoor and No. 5 Libertyville), but this is a team that is capable of putting it together for a strong postseason run. Quarterback Jack Sorenson (Miami) is a key. The biggest challenge will hinge on the Patriots (5-2) defense. If the Stevenson 'D' can turn it up another gear, be very aware of this team lurking in the weeds.

Class 7A

Glenbard North: The Panthers started off the season 0-2 and most pollsters left them for dead. But head coach Ryan Wilkens went back to work and guided his team to five straight wins. Keep an eye on the Panthers defense, a unit that has been exceptionally salty all season. The running game, with two standout backs in Devion Hodges and Vittorio Tricase, has gotten better each week. When Glenbard North can play lights out defense and consistently run the football, they will win a lot of games.

[MORE PREPS: High School Lites Preview - Week 8]

Class 6A

Hinsdale South: The Hornets (5-2) still have a bit of work to do, and it starts Friday night when they host their neighbor Hinsdale Central (6-1). Hinsdale South is battle tested and they have a very balanced offense led by quarterback Sean McCormack and senior running back Marcus Curry. Athletically, this team can match up well against anyone in 6A.

Class 5A

Sycamore: If the Spartans (4-3) can get consecutive wins the next two weeks (vs. Morris and at Sterling), they have more than enough playoff points to make it as a 5-4 qualifier. Sycamore, who has won three straight games after a 1-3 start, is always battle tested in the Big 12 Northern East Conference. Head coach Joe Ryan also knows how to prepare his team for the postseason.

NBC Sports Chicago's 100 Days to Kickoff

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USA Today

NBC Sports Chicago's 100 Days to Kickoff

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.

In case you missed any of our previews, here is our rundown:

100. De La Salle

99. Crystal Lake South

98. Eisenhower

97. Back of the Yards

96. Jacobs

95. Waubonsie Valley

94. Kaneland

93. West Aurora

93 Days to Kickoff: West Aurora

93 Days to Kickoff: West Aurora

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: West Aurora

Head coach: Nate Eimer

Assistant coaches: Tony Melchiori, DC Bob Fowler, DL Patrick Stremel, LB Charlie Graves, DB Mike Runge, OL Joe Howell, RB Ron Murphy and QB Alex Shaw

How they fared in 2017: 7-3 (4-1 Upstate Eight Valley Conference). West Aurora made the IHSA Class 8A playoff field last season. The Blackhawks lost to Naperville Central 35-14 in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Larkin

Aug. 31 @ West Chicago

Sept. 7 vs Streamwood

Sept. 14 @ Glenbard East

Sept. 21 vs Bartlett

Sept. 28 vs Glenbard South

Oct. 5 @ Elgin

Oct. 12 vs East Aurora

Oct. 19 vs South Elgin

[MORE: 94 Days to Kickoff - Kaneland]

Biggest storyline: Game 11. Can the Blackhawks get back to the IHSA state playoffs for the fourth straight season and then advance past the opening round?

Names to watch this season: QB Will Tammaru, RB/DB JaQuan Buchanan and DT Denver Warren

Biggest holes to fill: The Blackhawks welcome back an impressive 17 starters (nine offense, eight defense) to the mix. However, the group will be a bit inexperienced in some spots on both the offensive and defensive line.  

EDGY's Early Take: The Blackhawks' turnaround under head coach Nate Eimer and staff has been a terrific story to follow. That said, the bar for West Aurora football has also been raised. No longer are they satisfied by just "getting" to state. The Blackhawks welcome back a deep group on both sides of the football led by a potentially high powered, balanced offense. On paper, this team has the makings of being one of the better Blackhawks teams in their history. They will challenge for the Upstate Eight conference title and get another shot at the Class 8A playoff field.