Preps Talk

Edgy Tim: Illinois Player of the Year candidates (so far)

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim: Illinois Player of the Year candidates (so far)

We have played six weeks on the high school football schedule. It's still a bit early, but who are the early candidates for IHSA Football Player of the Year? With a month-plus of football under our belts, it's time to start identifying which names are deserving of a mention heading into Week 7 games. 

(I also discussed this on camera at NBC Sports Chicago's studios Wednesday afternoon)

So where to begin? Let's start outside of Chicagoland. 

East St Louis (6-0) and head coach Darren Sunkett has a roster loaded with talent. It includes over a dozen names drawing serious recruiting attention and scholarship offers this fall. But in my mind, junior QB Tyler Macon (1,856 yards passing) is the leading candidate for the Flyers so far in 2019. Macon, who a season ago was more of a game manager with potential and physical tools, has transformed into a more of a mature, patient quarterback with a tremendous arm and touch. 

The Springfield area always has talent. Start with Class 6A's top-ranked Glenwood Titans (6-0) and its multi-sport, multi-year starting QB Luke Lehnen. This senior has led the Titans to a perfect record so far this season; he has the Chatham community feeling like it's 1998 all over again (Glenwood won its only IHSA state football title that season). Not to be outdone, nearby Rochester (6-0) knows all about winning. Senior QB Clay Bruno (1,688 yards passing 21 TDs) has been on fire so far in 2019. Glenwood hosts Rochester on Oct. 25. Springfield sophomore QB Rashad Rochelle has been a huge presence in big games. This includes last week's 54-42 win over Sacred Heart-Griffin. 

Also don't overlook a handful of other standout performers in Central Illinois including Peoria (5-1) senior QB Gabe Hernandez and Normal West (5-1) senior QB Carson Camp, who is commited to South Dakota.

Getting closer to the Windy City, the Chicagoland area has several worthy names to watch. 

Lincoln-Way East (6-0) is the state's top ranked 8A team. The Griffins have received a huge season from senior A.J. Henning (Michigan). Henning has played wide receiver, running back and also has played at quarterback. He has been an big impact, big play performer for coach Rob Zvonar and company. 

Several quarterbacks are also in the discussion. Nazareth Academy (6-0) junior QB JJ McCarthy (Michigan) is the state's top quarterback prospect and one of a handful of Roadrunners worthy of consideration. Neuqua Valley (5-1) has also relied on senior QB Mark Gronowski (South Dakota State). His overall game has reached new heights; his overall recruiting profile continues to grow as well. Hersey's (6-0) offense is averaging almost 50 points per game. Senior QB Jordan Hansen will remind you a bit of another Jordan --as in former Mount Carmel/NIU star and current Mount Carmel head coach QB Jordan Lynch-- with Hansen's identical ability to be a punishing runner and very impressive passer, much like Lynch in his playing days. 

Has anyone meant as much to his team and his school community as Willowbrook (5-1) senior QB/S Sam Tumilty? Tumilty continues to post big numbers week in and week out. He never leaves the field and keeps leading the Warriors football program to a new level of respect. 

How about some smaller enrollment names to consider? Take Coal City senior RB Dan Jezik. He's been a huge factor in getting the Coalers to new heights in Class 4A. How about IC Catholic Prep's senior QB/S Danny Cronin? St. Francis (5-1) and head coach Bob McMillen has the Spartans on a roll. No one has been as valuable as junior QB Tommy Rittenhouse. He's paid dividends --with his arms and feet-- for the Spartans so far this fall. 

However, the Player of the Year honor is always much more than just a quarterback-only award. 

Mount Carmel junior RB/LB Kenenna Odeluga is a quiet, low-key type of kid off the field. He is the Caravan's main threat in the run game on offense while also being an impact player on defense-- a unit that's allowed just 55 points in 2019. Chicago's southern suburbs has one of the Midwest's most sought-after running backs in Hillcrest (6-0) junior Mar'Kiese Irving. Irving keeps impressing everyone who has seen him in person this season. He already has several Power Five scholarship offers under his belt. In the western suburbs, Glenbard West (6-0) is always about the defense. Senior LB Greyson Metz has played as well as any non-offensive players in Chicagoland so far this season. 

Yet what separates some names over others? 

One of my favorite memories so far from this season features Batavia senior RB/LB Quinn Urwiler. After the Bulldogs' opening week loss to East St. Louis, I noticed several Flyer coaches and players seeking out Urwiler after the handshake line. So I asked Flyers' four star-ranked senior S Antonio Johnson why he walked over out of his way to talk to Urwiler. 

"That kid can ball," Johnson said. "We went at him hard and he never backed down. He gave us everything he had and I respect his game for sure."

VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

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NBC Sports Chicago

VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

Who wants it more?              

NBC Sports Chicago and Wintrust present our “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week.” We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland’s top prep sports show, in the hands of passionate high school basketball followers. Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night’s “High School Lites” broadcast at 11:00 p.m. The show also live streams at www.nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive and appears in the MyTeams app.  High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago. 

This week, we're going to get a taste of the Chicago Public League/White division. Which game should we attend for High School Lites?

Mather at Foreman, 5:00 p.m.

Jones at Wells, 5:00 p.m.

Perspectives-MSA at Raby, 6:30 p.m.

To participate, our fans are encouraged to do the following:

**Follow our NBC Sports Chicago preps Twitter page: @NBCSPreps.

**Note the pinned tweet that is atop the feed.

**Vote for the game you want NBC Sports Chicago to cover Friday night.

**Spread the word!

The poll will start promptly at 12:00 p.m. Monday. We will make an announcement with the official results on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week,” along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights, all season long.

Bloom is new No. 1 in latest boys basketball Preps Power Rankings

Bloom is new No. 1 in latest boys basketball Preps Power Rankings

The latest Preps Power Rankings see some shakeups thanks to the previous No. 1 team losing and some top-25 matchups.

The new No. 1 is Bloom as they continue to look like the best team in the state early this season. The rest of the Power Rankings saw minimal shakeup, with only three new teams -- two of which were in the preseason rankings.

1. Bloom (7-0, 2-0) (2) -- The Blazing Trojans continue a strong start with a blowout win at the Chicago Elite Classic over Pace and two Southland wins over Kankakee and Thornridge. Balanced efforts and multiple guys taking over is a huge early storyline with Bloom.

2. Bogan (7-0, 2-0) (6) -- Placing themselves firmly in the No. 1 discussion with a home win over Morgan Park, this is another tough Bogan team that can win in multiple ways. The Bengals get tested with league games against Corliss and No. 8 Simeon. 

3. Morgan Park (3-1, 1-1) (1) -- The Mustangs fell to No. 2 Bogan in league play before bouncing back with an overtime win over Christian Brothers in the Chicago Elite Classic. Junior Brandon Weston continues a strong start while senior Adam Miller remains the area's biggest game changer offensively.

4. Whitney Young (2-2, 2-0) (3) -- The Dolphins fell to Duncanville with a late-game collapse in the Chicago Elite Classic but they knocked off Farragut and Marshall in the Public League. Whitney Young traveling to No. 11 Lincoln Park will be one of the marquee games to watch this week. 

5. Curie (4-0, 2-0) (4) -- Going 2-0 in Public League play and winning at the prestigious Marshall County Hoop Fest, the Condors continue a strong start. Curie gets two major local tests this week with No. 3 Morgan Park and No. 22 Hillcrest. 

6. Stevenson (5-0) (5) -- Solid win on the road for the Patriots over Westinghouse. Stevenson will get tested three times this week as they face Libertyville, Zion-Benton and OPRF. 

7. Evanston (6-0, 1-0) (13) -- Firmly placing themselves in the top ten with a win over Notre Dame, Wildkits were very impressive. Juniors Blake Peters and Jaylin Gibson are the headliners but Evanston has plenty of other dangerous options.

8. Simeon (1-1, 1-0) (7) -- The Wolverines started the season with a balanced effort to knock off Lindblom before falling to St. Frances in the Chicago Elite Classic. Simeon will battle No. 2 Bogan in a huge Public League clash this week.

9. Marian Catholic (5-1, 1-0) (9) -- The Spartans won by double digits in both games, taking down Marist and Normal West. The ESCC's top spot is on the line when Marian Catholic plays Notre Dame on Tuesday. 

10. Loyola (6-0, 2-0) (10) -- Loyola went unscathed in the Catholic League with wins over Leo and Montini. The Ramblers get a major battle with No. 13 Notre Dame this week in non-conference play. 

11. Lincoln Park (6-1, 2-0) (11) -- The Lions battled to three wins as they held off Westinghouse and Kenwood on back-to-back days. Lincoln Park gets major tests during the week with league games against No. 17 Orr and No. 4 Whitney Young.

12. Lake Park (6-0, 1-0) (12) -- Nice week for the Lancers with a conference win over Batavia and an additional victory over Rockford Lutheran. Lake Park faces Larkin and Wheaton North this week.

13. Notre Dame (6-1) (8) -- A setback for Notre Dame with a loss to Evanston in the Chicago Elite Classic. A very talented team that is still figuring out how to play together, the Dons have a very high ceiling.

14. Thornton (5-0, 2-0) (14) -- Nice week for the Wildcats with wins over Rich South and Crete-Monee. Junior Brandon Hall continues to look like a potential standout player. Huge matchup with No. 1 Bloom with the Southland's top spot on the line this week.

15. DePaul Prep (5-1, 2-0) (16) -- Defense was the major story for the Rams this week in two blowout wins in Catholic League play. DePaul Prep plays Mount Carmel and Providence in league play this week.

16.  Homewood-Flossmoor (5-1) (17) -- Two double-digit wins for Homewood-Flossmoor this week as the Vikings are playing well. They play Lincoln-Way Central this week before a big clash with Simeon looms.  

17. Orr (2-1) (18) -- Opening the season this week, the Spartans claimed a solid road win at Danville, a win over Farragut and a loss to Texas powerhouse Duncanville. The Spartans are getting solid early production from senior Demarius Splunge.

18. Bolingbrook (3-1) (19) -- Kai Evans continues a strong start as the Raiders ran past Lincoln-Way West. Bolingbrook has a busy week with four games on the schedule -- including a trip to Iowa for two games.  

19. Glenbrook South (6-0, 1-0) (20) -- After two more challenges, the Titans remain unbeaten. Nice wins during the week against Hersey and in overtime against New Trier has Glenbrook South flying high. 

20. Mundelein (6-0) (21) -- The Mustangs weren't challenged much this week with two double-digit wins. Mundelein gets two North Suburban home games this week against Lake Forest and Waukegan.

21. Fenwick (5-1, 2-0) (23) -- The evolution of sophomore guard Trey Pettigrew continues for the Friars. Opposing teams now have to worry about slowing down Bryce Hopkins first and stopping Pettigrew as well. Nice win over OPRF in the Chicago Elite Classic.

22. Hillcrest (3-2, 1-0) (24) -- Quality win for the Hawks taking down a talented Oak Lawn team on the road. The return of junior guard Mar'Kiese Irving is a big addition that gives the Hawks additional perimeter scoring. 

23. Niles North (6-1, 1-0) (NR) -- An impressive week for the Vikings with wins over Deerfield and Joliet West. They're back in the Power Rankings after dropping out only a week as senior Aquan Smart continues to be an All-Area candidate.

24. St. Charles North (6-1, 1-0) (NR) -- Three wins during the week has the North Stars back in the top 25. St. Charles North had solid wins over DeKalb and Wheaton North.

25. Hinsdale South (6-0, 1-0) (NR) -- The Hornets haven't been tested much to this point but Aaron Tims and Billy Durkin are off to solid starts. Big matchup against Willowbrook during the week.