Preps Talk

Edgy Tim's second round postseason analysis and picks

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's second round postseason analysis and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA playoff/second round edition of High School Lites, now on Saturday nights at 11:00 for the remainder of the football season. Last week, Kenwood picked up their first IHSA playoff win since 1986. Can they beat Deerfield on the road this week? Can Crete-Monee step up and beat Providence Catholic at the Emerald Isle? Can Thornton --or anyone else in 7A-- slow down the Roadrunners of Nazareth Academy? And does it get any better in Class 8A than Glenbard West at Loyola? Or Neuqua Valley at Homewood-Flossmoor?

**All games Saturday**

Class 5A

#1 Mt. Zion (10-0) at #9 Joliet Catholic (7-3), 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Mt. Zion will make the nearly-300 mile round trip drive from the Deactur area to Joliet. The Braves, who won the 4A-sized Apollo conference features an explosive offense led by RB/LB Sage Davis and QB Ashton Summers. Joliet Catholic has been rolling behind the always-tough double-wing running attack, led by senior RB Kenyetta Williams and an impressive group of underclassmen in the backfield, namely sophomore Jordan Anderson and junior Ja'Aire Mack. Can the Braves defense find the football and slow down the powerful JCA double wing? 

EDGY's Pick: Joliet Catholic 42 Mt. Zion 21

Class 6A

#7 Kenwood (8-1) at #2 Deerfield (8-2), 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Kenwood head coach Sinque Turner has a very young but talented team this season. Junior QB Kaleb Garner is a name to watch along with RB Lewis Bond and WR Dante Reynolds. Don't sleep on their defense-- a unit that has only given up 48 points through nine games. The talented unit includes senior S Donald Dillon and junior S Myles Mooyoung. Deerfield has been a great story so far this season. Head coach Steve Winiecki's Warriors are riding the arm of senior QB Ryan Nagelbach. Their defense has been a strength all season long, capped off by an impressive 34-0 shutout win over Crystal Lake South last week. Can Kenwood win a suburban road postseason game? Can the Deerfield defense contain Kenwood's speedy backs and receivers?

EDGY's Pick: Deerfield 21 Kenwood 14

#3 Crete-Monee (10-0) at #11 Providence Catholic (7-3), 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Crete-Monee head coach John Konecki is more than familiar with Providence Catholic. The Warriors boast All-State candidate senior QB Travyvon Rudolph (3,003 yards of total offense and 39 touchdowns) along with a stable full of speedy backs and receivers. Providence is coming off a 19-14 win over Normal West. Head coach Mark Coglianese's Celtics feature a balanced offense led by junior QB Kevin Conway, sophomore RB Aaron Vaughn Jr. and a group of big, experienced offensive linemen anchored by senior Jake Renfro (Cincinnati). Can the Crete defensive front match up against the bigger Celtics' offensive line? Can Providence run and keep up Crete's team speed for four quarters?

EDGY's Pick: Crete-Monee 34 Providence Catholic 28

Class 7A

#15 Thornton (8-2) at #2 Nazareth Academy (10-0), 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Thornton Township might be peaking at the right time. Coach Dontrell Jackson and company have won six straight. Watch for QB Derrick Williams, a multi-sport three year varsity starting quarterback, to lead the way for the Wildcats. Nazareth Academy has one of the top signal callers in the Midwest with junior QB JJ McCarthy (Michigan). Sophomore ATH Tyler Morris is as explosive as anyone in the state this season. Coach Tim Racki's Roadrunners defense is also talented. Keep and eye on junior OL/DL Ryan Keeler, senior FB/LB Riley Theobald, senior LB Marcus Griffin (Grand Valley State) and senior DB Jailon Welch (SIU). Can Thornton's defense slow down J.J. McCarthy? Can the 'Nazz defense contain and limit Derrick Williams' big play potential?

EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 41 Thornton 14

#27 Downers Grove North (6-4) at #22 Wheaton-Warrenville South (7-3), 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Downers North always seems to be a 5-4 team entering the postseason. But don't overlook head coach Joe Horeni's Trojans. They always seem to find a way of winning big games and upsetting higher seeded teams. DGN has a run-first offense led by senior QB Drew Cassens. RB Josh Lumpkin is also having a big season. As for Wheaton South and Hall of Fame head coach Ron Muhitch, they walloped Harlem 50-23 in opening round action. The Tigers are more balanced on offense with junior QB Parker Brown, senior RB Jake Arthurs and RB Prince Lankah. Senior WR/K Jack Olsen (Michigan State) is a threat to hit a field goal any time the Tigers cross midfield. Can the Wheaton South defense stuff DGN's power running offense? Can North's defense continue to force turnovers in the postseason?

EDGY's Pick: Wheaton South 21 Downers Grove North 14

#8 Phillips (8-1) vs. #9 Normal Community (8-2) at Gately Stadium, 3:00 pm.

EDGY's Take: Phillips was still buzzing this week after a thrilling, last-second win over Lincoln-Way west. The Wildcats got a big performance from QB Antonio Brown and senior WR/S Ronald Pledger (Western Michigan), who teamed up for the walk-off TD last week. Phillips' offensive and defensive lines are big and physical. Normal Community head coach Jason Drengwitz was able to get his offense in gear in last week's 36-14 win over Reavis. The Ironmen got a big game from QB Aiden Oliver and RB Cam Jackson. Can the Phillips defense slow down the NCHS running game? Can the Ironmen defense limit Phillips' big play capabilities?

EDGY's Pick: Phillips 27 Normal Community 21

Class 8A

#14 Niles Notre Dame (8-2) at #3 Lincoln-Way East (10-0), 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take:  Notre Dame has relied on a lights-out defense and a balanced offense this season. Hall of Fame coach Mike Hennessey's Dons have a junior signal caller in QB Anthony Sayles. Junior RB Julian Schurr and senior LB Anthony Ranallo are also key leaders. Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar's offense is led by do-it-all senior ATH A.J. Henning (Michigan). QB Kyle Quinn is back in the starting lineup after suffering a mid-season injury. LWE is star-studded on defense as well. They have two D-1 defensive ends in Sean McLaughlin (Northwestern) and senior Adrian Wilson (Bowling Green). The remainder of the East defense has speed and brings a blue collar approach and mentality week in and week out. Will Notre Dame's ball control offense keep the East offense on the sidelines? Can the LWE offense strike quicky against the Dons?

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 28 Notre Dame 14

#2 Glenbard West (10-0) at #18 Loyola Academy (7-3), 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This will be a good one. Glenbard West head coach Chad Hetlet, once again, has his team playing exceptional football into November. The Hilltoppers have a run-heavy offense led by a stable of top running backs including Nic Seifert, Joey Richmond and Jalen Moore. But West's calling card has always been the defense and this year is no different. They're led by senior OLB Greyson Metz and the remainder of the Hilltopper 'D has speed to burn. Loyola head coach John Holocek also relies heavily on defense. The offense has been a work in progress from week to week. When Loyola has the football, keep an eye on QB J.T. Thomas, RB Tyler Flores and RB Trevor Cabanban. The remainder of the offensive skills department is solid, including sophomore WR James Kyle and senior WR Matt Mangan. Can West's offense throw the football effectively, if needed? Can the Loyola offense get its running game in gear? 

EDGY's Pick: Glenbard West 21 Loyola 20

#13 Fremd (8-2) at #4 Warren Township (10-0), 6:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Both Fremd and Warren Township have more than a few things in common. This game could be one of the fastest games all weekend. Fremd head coach Lou Sponsel has playmakers in QB Ryan Saxe and several more on defense-- a group that has been suffocating opposing offenses all season long. Warren Township head coach Bryan McNulty leads a run game that is anchored by RB Derrick McLaughlin. But the Blue Devils' calling card is their defense. It is simply one of the best overall units in Chicagoland. Look for senior DT Willis Singleton Jr. (Iowa State) and senior LB Juan Delacruz to make plays. The big storyline: Will anyone score points on Saturday? It'll be tough to do on either side. 

EDGY's Pick: Warren Township 14 Fremd 7

#11 Neuqua Valley (9-1) at #6 Homewood-Flossmoor (9-1), Sat., 6:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Neuqua Valley has a Player of the Year candidate in senior QB Mark Gronowski (South Dakota State). Coach Bill Ellinghaus' Wildcats have plenty of weapons including senior WR Patrich Hoffman and senior WR Sean Larkin (SIU)-- the latter is expected back this week from injury. The linebackers are critical to Neuqua's success. They're led by senior Jack Belskis. H-F head coach Craig Buzea has plenty of firepower on hand as well. On offense, looks for the running game to get established with junior RB Sean Allen (1,654 yards, 20 TDs) running behind big and physical offensive line anchored by senior Marcus Harper II (Oregon). Senior QB Dominic Jones (1,468 yards passing, 17 TDs) is a very capable dual-threat threat. Can the H-F defense corral Mark Gronowski and the Wildcats receivers? Can the Neuqua's defense slow down the Vikings run game?

EDGY's Pick: Neuqua Valley 27 H-F 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."