Preps Talk

Edgy Tim: Is 2019 the season of good --but not great-- teams?

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim: Is 2019 the season of good --but not great-- teams?

I recently saw a local writer discussing the positive attributes of a Class 8A team and claimed, "________ is a serious contender for an 8A state title this year."
 
I had to chuckle to myself.
 
A message to any 8A football schools with a winning record-- and even a few of you with losing records: Right now, all of you are all serious contenders for a state title. I'm not kidding.
 
Welcome to the "Year of the Good, not the Great."
 
With five weeks of IHSA football under our belts, I can say with a pretty strong conviction that (outside of, say, 5A's East St. Louis Flyers), everyone else has a real shot at winning a state football title in late November.
 
I've been searching high and low for that one dominant team that sets the bar and will be THE team to beat. Outside of the aforementioned Flyers, the playoffs are completely up for grabs.
 
I've seen 20 out of the 25 teams that are currently ranked on the NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings. 13 of those 20 schools are in Class 8A.
 
Regarding 8A, let's start with my top-ranked team in Chicagoland, Lincoln-Way East (5-0). The Griffins have a lot of positives. And after seeing East beat H-F 28-14 last Saturday I definitely feel good about where I have the Griffins for now. Lincoln-Way East has major star power --Michigan commit A.J. Henning tops the list-- and plenty in the skills department. They also boast an impressive offensive line. On defense, they have playmakers in DE Adrain Wilson (Bowling Green), DE Sean McLaughlin (Northwestern) and a ton of speed overall on the roster. Even special teams at East are pretty special with K/P Dominic Dzioban (Miami OH). But I still have some key questions regarding the Griffins' long-term state title run potential: Can LWE's offensive put up enough points in the postseason, especially if they run into someone who can quick-strike/big play their defense? Can the Griffins' passing game lead this team if needed come November? This East team, especially on offense, reminds me a lot of the 2016 state title team...and things worked out just fine for them. But it's still a valid question.  
 
Ironically, the Top 25 is loaded with several 8A undefeated teams. It's the most at this stage of the season I can remember in a long time. That's a good thing, right. Maybe.
 
Warren Township (5-0) might have Chicagoland's top defense. They have already posted three consecutive shutouts. But how battle-tested are the Blue Devils? Hinsdale Central (5-0) has been lights-out defensively. And they've always been a tough out over the years; that said, the West Suburban Silver currently has just three teams with winning records (Hinsdale Central and Glenbard West are 5-0, York at 3-2). Minooka (5-0) and Oswego (5-0) are both ranked in the latest 8A AP poll, but does anyone really know just how good the locked Southwest Prairie West conference truly is this season? Notre Dame (5-0) is rolling. They've posted some very impressive wins (Marist and Providence to name a few). The Dons are one of the better surprise stories this season. Are they ready to make the jump from a 2018 6A playoff team to an 8A state playoff team in 2019?
 
Several other teams with winning records need to be heavily considered in 8A: Loyola (3-2), H-F (4-1), Bolingbrook (4-1), Neuqua Valley (4-1), Barrington (4-1) and Maine South (3-2), among several others. Every school here is well coached, has considerable talent and has various strengths on both sides of the football. But in many cases these schools also have some issues that could prevent them from making a lot of traction once the postseason begins. Has Loyola settled on a quarterback? Is the offense ready to take off? Can Bolingbrook and H-F, both run-first programs, go to the play-action passing game if/when it's needed? Are Neuqua Valley, Loyola and Barrington's "signature games" so far this season be defined as close losses? Is Maine South finally healthy --and can they stay healthy-- as the regular season progresses? Heck, can all of these team catch a break in the health department? 
 
Some years the separation between the upper-echelon schools in the Top 25 Power Rankings can feel like the Great Wall of China. But this year, the separation between, say,  #10 and #25 feels like a small pebble laying in the road.
 
So buckle up. Enjoy the ride. While we might have one or two power programs, we are left with a truly wide-open playoff field. It might be as predictable as trying to set a high school game time to avoid oncoming bad weather 48 hours before kickoff.

High School Lites Week 2 basketball roundup

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

High School Lites Week 2 basketball roundup

High School Lites featured plenty of great basketball action on Friday night as NBC Sports Chicago had highlights of many of the area's top matchups.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @CSNPreps for all of the latest IHSA basketball scores and highlights.

Windy City Legends: Kendrick Nunn

Team of the Week: Catalyst Maria Soccer

Athlete of the Week: Halle Douglass

Friday's scores:

Stevenson 57, Zion-Benton 44

No. 8 Evanston 50, New Trier 40

Homewood-Flossmoor 63, Lincoln-Way Central 31

No. 14 Thornton 58, Rich Central 34

No. 4 Whitney Young 56, No. 11 Lincoln Park 50

Loyola 34, Notre Dame 31

Homewood-Flossmoor 63, Lincoln-Way Central 31

Francis W. Parker 55, Latin 47

GIRLS: Evanston 59, New Trier 33

 

Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

Mather 61, Foreman 57

Catalyst Maria soccer coach Jose Miguel Burgos wins SportsEngine TrueSport Champion Coach Recognition award

Catalyst Maria soccer coach Jose Miguel Burgos wins SportsEngine TrueSport Champion Coach Recognition award

Catalyst Maria soccer coach Jose Miguel Burgos said he’d never been surprised, until the day the school, his players and even family from Chile let him know he won the SportsEngine TrueSport Champion Coach Recognition Award.

“It means a lot to me because of the recognition we have for the kids,” Burgos said. “As I try to think all in, and think about this, I think my initial inclination is to think about them, about the fact that what we’re doing is seen, that their hard work will pay off and those values that I’m trying to instill in them are reaching them. And I’m very humbled about the whole experience.

"I’ve never been thanked publicly and it’s new, but it’s obviously something positive for the community, which the work I do is centered around.”

The school held a ceremony to honor Burgos, whose nomination bested more than 300 others to win. His team at Catalyst Maria won $2,500. Burgos’ friend and former colleague, Joel Farran, nominated him for his countless works in the community. Just some of the acts Burgos was noted for in the nomination include helping facilitate college scholarships for students, building relationships for students who were struggling to find proper housing, reaching out to students on the middle school levels, inviting parents to come together through events like potluck picnics and organizing a tournament for sixth through eighth-grade students as a way to provide a safe and fun environment for local children.

“He puts people first, and he puts people before himself, and he’s all about elevating others,” Farran said. “Whether it’s on the field or off the field, soccer is just one of the ways he does that. But it is the way he knows best. And it’s about creating opportunities — not only on the field — but when you fail on the field, learning to adjust from that and create solutions, but off the field, creating opportunities for scholar-athletes to continue to excel.”

Burgos’ students agree.

“He’s more than just a coach,” soccer player Alondra Gonzalez said. "He’s like another father-figure to me. When it comes to coaching, he does more than beyond. He created a webpage so everyone could see us. He created a ‘Go Fund Me’ [page] so we could have money for our uniforms, like jackets, because we play in the cold, and he wants us to do a lot more than just play and practice almost every day to be better.”

Another student-athlete, Angel Santillan, said Burgos is an “amazing person.”

“He means everything to me,” Santillan said. "Like the sport, it’s just a passion that he does everything for us. It’s a great experience to be coached by Mr. B. He’s just an amazing coach and he does everything for us.”

Three-time Olympian Kara Winger presented Burgos with the award, as a representative of TrueSport.

“Coach Burgos is clearly taking the time and effort to make a difference in these kids’ lives,” Winger said. “I was very blessed to have amazing coaches growing up who taught me how to be not only the best athlete I could be, but to be the best person I could be, and it’s clearly his mission here at Catalyst Maria schools, so TrueSport is so excited to honor him with the Champion Coach Award.”

Burgos, who was visibly moved by the surprise celebration, said he appreciated his work being recognized.

“I know there’s a lot of joy when you give, when you simply give without thinking about what’s going to happen next,” he said. “I do it because it’s the way that I continue to grow; it keeps me alive. I think we humans are here on Earth to take care of each other, to respect each other, to love each other, to cheer each other up. And those are values that I defend, and I have defended always.

"And now that I’m here, and I see that they are recognized, it validates what I knew. It will ultimately — if you are kind to people, if you’re loving, this is what happens. And it’s wonderful to see it for myself.”