Preps Talk

Edgy Tim's quarterfinal round analysis and picks

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's quarterfinal round analysis and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA quarterfinal round edition of High School Lites, this Saturday at 11:00 p.m. Can Marist beat Loyola twice on the road in the span of a few weeks? Can Minooka stun Brother Rice on Chicago's South Side? Can Batavia get some revenge against Nazareth Academy? Who do you have winning the unofficial Prep Bowl between Phillips and Mount Carmel? Who wins the Fox Valley Super Bowl between Cary Grove and Prairie Ridge?

Class 8A

(23) Marist at (18) Loyola Academy, 12:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This is a rematch from Week 9 as Marist (7-4) defeated Loyola (8-3) 14-6 to earn the Redhawks a playoff bid. Marist head coach Ron Dawczak has relied on senior QB Hayden Mikesell, a steady running game and a big offensive line led by junior Pat Coogan. The Redhawks defense has been strong in the postseason as well. They're led by senior LB Colin Bohanek (EIU). Loyola is coming off a come from behind 28-27 win over Glenbard West. In that game, the Ramblers' running game got on track behind RB Vaughn Pemberton. The passing game remains solid with junior QB J.T. Thomas and his main target WR Matty Mangan. Can Marist beat Loyola twice within a month in Wilmette? 

EDGY's Pick: Loyola 27 Marist 17

(1) Minooka at (24) Brother Rice, 5:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Minooka (11-0), with Hall of Fame head coach John Belskis, will rely on a strong running game to keep the Crusaders offense off the field. Minooka senior QB Seth Lehr is a steady signal caller and leader for the Indians. Senior OL/DL Jacob Shipla and RB Noah Ellens are solid as well. Defensively, keep an eye on junior FB/LB Zach Wingerder, senior DB Ernesto Ramirez and senior DB/WR Steven Gonzales. Brother Rice (7-4) has been able to overcome various injuries while still winning games. Coach Brian Badke and his staff have settled on sophomore QB John Lausch to run the offense while junior RB Willie Shaw has been a major impact player out of the backfield. The 'Rice 'D is also a strength. Watch for senior DL/LB Justin Jefferson, senior DT Denver Warren, senior S Giacomo Iraci and sophomore LB Myles Jones. The best match up is in the trenches: Minooka's O-line against Rice's D-line. 

EDGY's Pick: Minooka 27 Brother Rice 21

Class 7A

(8) Phillips at (1) Mount Carmel, 1:00 p.m. #SENDEDGY

EDGY's Take: The unofficial Prep Bowl takes place on Saturday at Mount Carmel in a game that's been highly anticipated for the past handful of years. Phillips (10-1) will feature QB Antonio Brown to run the Wildcats offense and senior WR/S Ronald Pledger has been a key playmaker for coach Troy McAllister and company. Mount Carmel (11-0) head coach Jordan Lynch features a ball control offense led by junior QB Justin Lynch. Junior RB/LB Kenenna Odeluga has been strong all season long. Senior OL/DL Jalen Grant leads the Caravan offensive and defensive line. Can Phillips get the football back from the Caravan offense on Saturday? Can the Mount Carmel defense avoid giving up the big play against Phillips?
 
EDGY's Pick: Mount Carmel 21 Phillips 14

(7) Batavia at (2) Nazareth, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This is a rematch from last year's 7A semifinal, where Nazareth defeated Batavia 47-28; the Roadrunners wound up winning the state title. Batavia (9-2) is back once again, making a deep November run behind a strong running game led by senior RB Art Taylor and senior RB/LB Quinn Urwiler (North Dakota). The Bulldogs' defense is always fast and physical. Junior LB Matt "Mojo" Weerts is a name to watch along with senior S Sam Barus. Nazareth's offense is centered on Michigan commit J.J. McCarthy. This quarterback's main target has been junior WR Tyler Morris. The Roadrunners 'D also has talent. Keep an eye on junior DE/OL Ryan Keeler, senior LB Marcus Griffin (GVSU), senior ILB Riley Theobald and senior DB Jailon Welch (SIU). Can the Batavia defense slow down and contain the Nazareth spread offense?
  
EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 31 Batavia 28

(5) Willowbrook at (20) Lake Zurich, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Willowbrook (10-1) and head coach Nick Hildreth is in the 7A quarterfinal round for the fourth straight season. A huge part of the Warriors success has been senior QB/DB Sam Tumilty. On offense, he has a nice stable of backs and receivers. Senior Deandre Holliday and RB Ta'Vion Geanes will make plays. Lake Zurich has been playing great defense in the postseason; their offense has been able to generate enough points to keep advancing. Quarterback Jack Moses, senior TE Hunter Welcing (Northwestern), senior WR James Piggott and junior LB Bryan Sanborn are the leaders for the Bears. Can the Lake Zurich defense contain Sam Tumilty on Saturday? Can the Lake Zurich offense get into the end zone a bit more? Should be a good one.

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 14 Willowbrook 13

Class 6A

(6) Cary-Grove at (1) Prairie Ridge, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The annual "Fox Valley Super Bowl" takes things to an even-higher level come Saturday. Cary-Grove lost to rival Prairie Ridge 42-7 back in Week 5 as the Trojans just couldn't get their power run game on track. Cary-Grove will rely on senior FB/LB Blake Skol and senior QB Luke Eleftheriou to move the football and control the clock. Prairie Ridge (10-1) and head coach Chris Schremp will also want to run the football. Can the Wolves' power run game make a statement? The leaders on offense are QB Connor Lydon, FB Kyle Koelblinger and senior RB Blake Brown. Can the Trojans' defense slow down the Prairie Ridge run game? Can the Cary-Grove offensive line have a better showing in this rematch?
 
EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 31 Cary Grove 20

Class 5A

(8) St. Rita at (4) Hillcrest, 3:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: St. Rita (7-4) has been rolling this season. Coach Todd Kuska's crew posted an impressive 32-0 road win last Saturday over Sterling to advance. The Mustangs are getting an All-State caliber season from sophomore RB Kaleb Brown. He's been running behind an offensive line that is always a strength. The Mustangs' defense has been terrific since mid-season. Hillcrest (10-1) head coach Morgan Weaver also has an All-State caliber running back in junior Mar'Kiese Irving, but how healthy will Irving be after leaving in the second quarter in last week's 28-7 win over Fenwick? The Hawks also have playmakers in junior QB Robert Myles and senior RB/DB Darius Dawson. Can Rita's defense slow down the Hillcrest running game and big play potential? Will Mar'Kiese Irving be ready to go on Saturday? 

EDGY's Pick: St. Rita 31 Hillcrest 24

Class 4A

(3) IC Catholic at (2) Richmond-Burton, 3:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: IC Catholic (10-1) is in the midst of another deep postseason run in attempting to defend its 4A state title. Head coach Bill Krefft and the Knights will rely on senior QB Danny Cronin and the big play ability of junior RB Kyle Franklin. This team has strong play on both the offensive and defensive lines. Richmond-Burton (11-0) features veteran head coach Mike Noll. The Rockets are rolling this season behind a big and physical offensive line. FB Dalton Wood is a name to watch along with RB Nick Legnaioli. Don't overlook the air attach. The Rockets are very capable of throwing the football with QB Josh Huber. Can R-B slow down the Knights' balanced offensive attack? Will home field advantage come into play for Richmond-Burton?

EDGY's Pick: IC Catholic 28 Richmond Burton 27

Class 3A

(3) Wilmington at (2) Byron, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Wilmington and Byron are very familiar with each other, having faced off several times the years in the state playoffs. The visiting Wildcats (10-1), with veteran head coach Jeff Reents, will look to run the football. They will rely on RBs Jake Rodewald and Trey Shaw. The latter has been having a very strong postseason. While Wilmington doesn't throw the football a ton, QB Keaton Hopwood was able to show off his passing ability in beating Eureka last Saturday. Byron (10-1) and head coach Jeff Boyer have been on a mission after losing in the 3A state title game last season. The Tigers also want to run the football. RB Isaac Stickler will have his name called often. Same goes for Drake Snodgrass. Senior OL/DL Tyler Elsbury (Iowa) is a force on both sides of the football for the Tigers. Can Wilmington slow down the Byron power run game? Can the Byron defense find the football against the Wilmington offense?

EDGY's Pick: Byron 28 Wilmington 21

Former coach at LaSalle-Peru, Joliet West takes head coaching job at UIC

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USA Today

Former coach at LaSalle-Peru, Joliet West takes head coaching job at UIC

UIC hired its next head coach this week as Luke Yaklich returns home to Illinois to take over the Flames.

There's a lot to like about the 43-year-old Yaklich when it comes to this hire for UIC. A native of Illinois who spent time here as a high school coach at LaSalle-Peru and Joliet West, Yaklich's basketball journey makes him the perfect candidate for UIC at this particular point in time.

Being familiar with the area as a former high school coach and assistant coach at Illinois State will certainly help with recruiting and other facets of the job. But it's Yaklich's ability to take UIC to the next level defensively that makes him the perfect hire.

Yaklich turned into a star assistant coach over the past four seasons. He was often utilized as a defensive coordinator at his various stops. Going from Illinois State, to Michigan, to Texas over the past four seasons, Yaklich was responsible for four consecutive top-25 defenses, according to KenPom.

Although Steve McClain won at least 16 games in each of the past four seasons, the Flames could never reach their ultimate goal of the NCAA tournament. UIC hasn't reached March Madness since 2004. The past four seasons, UIC's best defensive team was only No. 107 in the country. 

McClain's teams had plenty of scoring pop and talent. Getting crucial stops could be difficult for the Flames.

While it may take some time for UIC to jump into the nation's top 50 in defensive efficiency, Yaklich has a successful defensive track record at the mid- and high-major levels.

Illinois State's dominant defense in 2016-17 was No. 19 in the country as the Redbirds just missed the NCAA tournament. Yaklich was then hired away to Michigan. In Ann Arbor, Yaklich helped an offensive-minded program under John Beilein become elite defensively.

The Wolverines advanced to the national title game and Sweet 16 in Yaklich's two seasons. Michigan had the No. 3 defense and No. 2 defense, respectively. 

At Texas, the Longhorns maintained the No. 24 defense in the country this season despite a talent drain that saw freshman center Jaxson Hayes leave for the NBA Draft to be picked in the top ten by the New Orleans Pelicans. 

UIC will need to figure out some other areas if they are to make it back to the NCAA tournament. Yaklich will need to hire a staff familiar with the local recruiting landscape. A sound offensive mind or two wouldn't hurt either.

But the defensive pedigree and player development track record has been there for Yaklich at multiple stops over the past four seasons. Now with a chance to run his own program, Yaklich is an exciting hire for UIC during an offseason in which college basketball's coach carousel isn't seeing a lot of movement. 

Edgy Tim's Recruiting News and Notes

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USA Today

Edgy Tim's Recruiting News and Notes

Oak Park-River Forest junior three star-ranked ATH Jaden McGill (6-foot-0. 185 pounds) added an offer last week from one of his team schools when Michigan State extended him a scholarship offer. 

"The offer from them (Michigan State) means a lot," McGill said. "When I was younger they were a school that me and my friends would always dream about playing for."

McGill was set to make a spring  visit to Michigan State before the Coronavirus pandemic struck and is hoping to make up that planned visit later this spring or early this summer. 

McGill is now holding scholarship offers from Michigan State, Kansas State, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Ball State, Buffalo, Toledo and Kent State.

Oswego junior three star-ranked offensive tackle Otto Hess (6-foot-7, 285 pounds) was able to add his latest offer earlier this week from Arizona. 

"The offer from Arizona is great," Hess said. "It was pretty much unexpected but great since I've always wanted to play and go to school out West."

Hess, who also added an offer from the University of Illinois on Tuesday night, discussed his thoughts from adding an offer from the Arizona Wildcats. 

"I know that Arizona has a great business school. Coach (Kevin) Sumlin has accomplished some great things in his career. I had some limited contact with Arizona but it hasn't been a crazy amount of attention that made me feel like an offer was coming right away."

Marist sophomore offensive tackle recruit Danny "Deuce" McGuire (6-foot-5, 285 pounds) was able to add an offer on Tuesday from Michigan State. 

"I was surprised to get an offer from Michigan State," McGuire said. "I have had a few Michigan State coaches following me on Twitter for a week or so but it wasn't anything out of the ordinary."

McGuire, who is now holding early scholarship offers from Michigan State along with Illinois and Western Michigan is well aware of the Spartans program. 

"Michigan State is one of the top programs in the Big 10 conference. They also send a lot of offensive linemen to the NFL and they have a lot of new coaches from Colorado."

McGuire is now waiting and hoping to make college visits later this spring or early this summer, depending upon when the Corona virus pandemic comes to an end. 

"I'm just hoping that this all gets resolved soon and we can get back to school and hopefully I'll get a chance to visit some colleges in person again soon."

Ottawa Marquette junior tight end recruit Victor Mullen (6-foot-6, 235 pounds) is a name on the rise this early spring. Mullen, who is holding early scholarship offers from Iowa State, Central Florida, Louisville, Appalachian State and Central Michigan has been trying to stay busy during the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. 

"It's been boring so far,"Mullen said. "I have a workout program I got from my trainer and I'm working out along with just watching TV. We started online classes and it's been going well so far."

Mullen has also remained in contact with several college coaches during the NCAA mandated dead period.

"I've stayed in touch with all of the schools who have offered me like Iowa State, Louisville, Appalachian State, Central Michigan and Central Florida. I was planning to make spring visits to Miami of Ohio, Illinois, Toledo and Bowling Green but those have all been canceled. I'm hoping to get back to visit those schools later this spring but for now who knows. I've made visits already to Iowa State, Louisville, Appalachian State, Central Michigan plus Toledo and Iowa."