Preps Talk

Edgy Tim's Week 3 analysis and picks

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's Week 3 analysis and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 3 edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Several conferences begin play this week. In the South Suburban, can Bremen go to 3-0 for the first time since 2011? Both Reavis and Shepard are undefeated. Who can take the next step and get one step closer to the IHSA playoff field? Both Montini and Mount Carmel square off at new Carey Field on Friday night while we #SENDEDGY to 99th and Pulaski to cover Providence Catholic at Brother Rice. Also who you got in this week's Viewers' Choice Game of the Week, Hinsdale Central or South?

Bremen (2-0) at T.F. North (1-1), 6:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Bremen is off to a strong start this season thanks to an offense that has been averaging 44 points per game in the early going. They're looking for their first 3-0 start since 2011. Coach Dan Stell's crew features senior WR/LB Devonte O'Malley and senior WR Donta Woods. T.F. North and head coach Tristan Stovall suffered a tough opening week loss to state-ranked Homewood-Flossmoor but bounced back nicely in beating Julian last week. The Meteors have talent as well. Keep an eye on senior RB Kendi Young and junior WR Malik Beasley. Can the Bremen offense continue to put up big points against the T.F. North defense?
 
EDGY's Pick: T.F. North 28 Bremen 21

Shepard (2-0) at Reavis (2-0), 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Head coach Tim Zasada has the Rams off and running. Reavis, who is seeking a fifth playoff berth in six years, has posted wins against Hammond Gavit and Steinmetz. Now the schedule kicks into a higher gear as Shepard comes calling. The Astros, coached by John Rone, were able to pull off a last-second 49-46 win last week vs. Wheaton St. Francis in Palos Heights. QB Thomas Smith had a big game. The Astros have several athletes to watch including senior WR/DB Jalen Smith and senior LB Matthew Hightower. Can Reavis dent the Shepard defense? Can the Shepard offense big play the Reavis defense?

EDGY's Pick: Shepard 31 Reavis 20

Kankakee (1-1) at Thornwood (2-0), 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Kankakee, unfer first-year head coach Derek Hart, came up just short in a 27-26 loss to Crete-Monee. The Kays have an experienced group back this season. Junior QB Tyjuane Stewart has been impressive after two weeks in the books and. Look for senior WR Chatavion Spivery to get some targets. Thornwood and head coach Kenneth Smith's team has scored 106 points so far this season and has posted back-to-back shutout wins over district rival Thornridge and Rich South. Can the Thornwood defense continue to play well again against the explosive Kankakee offense?

EDGY's Pick: Kankakee 30 Thornwood 21

(12) Montini (2-0) at (9) Mount Carmel (2-0), 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Montini has posted wins so far this season over Hudson (WI) and Collins. Now it gets a little tougher for head coach Mike Bukovsky and the Broncos. They'll look to an experienced offense to lead the way. They're paced by senior QB Deontay Bell and senior WR Nate Muersch (Miami OH). Senior OL Jeremiah Banks Wall is holding multiple scholarship offers this fall. Mount Carmel is playing its first season Carey Field, the new on-campus facility at 64th and Dante. Head coach Jordan Lynch has another loaded roster that features QB Justin Lynch, senior OL Jalen Grant, junior RB/LB Kenenna Odeluga and a speedy, talented defense. Can Montini raise its game a few notches higher this week? Can Mount Carmel slow down Montini's versatile offensive attack?

EDGY's Pick: Mount Carmel 31 Montini 28

Johnsburg (1-1) at Richmond-Burton (2-0), 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Johnsburg was able to bounce back last week in an 18-6 win over Rochelle after losing a defensive battle, 3-0, against Marian Central. Look for the Skyhawks to have RB Jacob McKinney lead the way on offense. Richmond-Burton walloped Aurora Central Catholic 50-0 last Friday. QB Jacob Huber passed for four touchdowns in just six pass attempts. The Rockets' ground game is also a strength, led by senior RB Dalton Wood. Can the Johnsburg defense slow down the potent R-B offense? Have the Rockets been tested as much as Johnsburg? Despite both being in the Kishwaukee River Conference, this is considered a nonconference game. Both teams will square off again in Week 7.
 
EDGY's Pick: Richmond-Burton 28 Johnsburg 13

Elgin at South Elgin, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This will be the first Friday night home game on the campus of South Elgin High School. The Storm previously played all of its home games (since 2012) on Saturday afternoons. SEHS has been piling up the points this season behind RB Marquise Gillesoie II and QB Ben Karpowitz. The defense has posted back-to-back shutouts against West Chicago and East Aurora. Elgin and head coach Anthony Griffin are 0-2 but don't let the record fool you. The Maroons played well against Glenbard East and Glenbard South. Keep an eye on Elgin QB Jeffery Lomax along with WR Xavier Bonds. Can the Maroons spoil the Storms big night time party?

EDGY's Pick: South Elgin 35 Elgin 21

Taft (1-1) at (11) Phillips (2-0), 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Taft and head coach John Tsarouchas bounced back from a Week 1 loss to Glenbrook North and walloped Brooks 55-6 in their home opener last week. Taft, the defending Public League champs, features junior QB Daniel Loch and senior WR/S Dexter Stigall as key playmakers. Phillips is finally back at home. It's their first game at Mandrake Park this season. The Wildcats posted two strong wins over Detriot's Cass Tech and against St. Mary's (MO). the latter at the East St Louis Scholars' Classic. Phillips has a standout two-way player in Ronald Pledger (Western Michigan); senior RB Anthony Anderson is also having a nice season. Can Taft put a dent in the always hard-nosed and aggressive Phillips defense?

EDGY's Pick: Phillips 40 Taft 12

Maine West (2-0) at Hoffman Estates (1-1), 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take:  The 2-0 Warriors posted a big win last Friday over Glenbrook South 37-13. Senior QB Danny Kentgen has been a big time leader for head coach Jason Kradman. West also has playmakers in senior DE/TE Isaiah Siem-Davis and senior WR/S Jaden Dolphin. Hoffman Estates is looking to bounce back after a tough loss last Friday to Prospect. The Hawks will give the football to junior RB Mehki Williams. Don't overlook QB Jojo Lovelace. He has been strong under center this season. Can the Maine West defense slow down the big-play potential of Hoffman Estates?
 
EDGY's Pick: Maine West 29 Hoffman Estates 28

(24) Providence Catholic (2-0) at (7) Brother Rice (2-0), 7:30 p.m. #SendEDGY

EDGY's Take: Providence and head coach Mark Coglianese expect better things in 2019 after suffering through an injury-plagued 2018 season. So far the Celtics have delivered. They have multiple weapons in junior QB Kevin Conway and sophomore RB Aaron Vaughn. The offensive line, anchored by Cincinnati-bound Jake Renfro, features four starters back from a year ago. Brother Rice graduated 17 starters from last year's Class 8A state title runner-up squad, yet head coach Brian Badke has reloaded the roster quite well. The offense is led by junior QB Ben Somers. Watch for junior RB Willie Shaw to get a lot of calls. On defense, they're led by senior DT Justin Jefferson, senior S Giacomo Iraci (Western Michigan) and junior ILB Myles Jones. Can the Rice defense slow down the multiple weapons of the Providence offense? Can the Celtics get the football back against Rice's grinding offensive attack? 

EDGY's Pick: Brother Rice 30 Providence Catholic 27

Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

(13) Hinsdale Central (2-0) at Hinsdale South (1-1), 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Both teams will battle for The Doings Cup on Friday. Both Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South almost saw the school district shut down both football programs earlier this year, but District 86 voters passed a $130 million dollar referendum, avoiding threatened budget cuts. Red Devils' first year head coach Brian Griffin has received a big season so far from the defense. The unit is led by senior DB Owen Goss (Colgate). The offense also has playmakers in senior WR Braden Contraras and QB Michael Brescia. Hinsdale South, coached by Mike Barry, got into the win column last Friday over Proviso West. Keep an eye on Hornets senior QB Marquese Garrett. Can the Hinsdale South strike quickly with some big plays against the Central defense? Central has won 17 straight in the series. South wants to put that streak to an end ASAP.

EDGY's Pick: Hinsdale Central 27 Hinsdale South 21

Edgy: Too many IHSA football 'Coach of the Year' candidates is a good thing

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Minooka High School

Edgy: Too many IHSA football 'Coach of the Year' candidates is a good thing

The football postseason also brings award season. And picking a winner in each of the various categories is never an easy task. From selecting the Player of the Year to Coach of the Year along with All-Area and All-State teams, fans can (and will) make a case for several quality names that are more than deserving of recognition. 

How does the Coach of the Year candidates look this season? 

It can be a near-impossible task to narrow down to just one name…or even a handful of names. NBC Sports Chicago managing editor Joe Collins and I tried to do just that on Wednesday.

In the not-too-distant past, various newspaper writers and such announced these awards before the end of the state playoffs. Personally, I never understood that on several levels. In my mind, the postseason counts and needs to be taken into consideration for such awards. That said, we always have coaches who do a fantastic job of turning programs around from the previous year. 

Take Joliet West Bill Lech, who led the Tigers to their first conference title in 50 years. He is more than worthy of consideration. The same goes for Erick Middleton at Marian Catholic. He led the Spartans, a team that had not won more than two games in a season since 2011, to a 5-4 regular season and a playoff berth this season. Glenbard North head coach Ryan Wilkens took it on the chin last season in the Panthers’ first season as members of the DuKane Conference. They posted an 0-9 record. All Wilkens did was lead the Panthers to a 7-3 mark in 2019—good for the second-round of the 7A state playoffs. How about Thornwood? Head coach Kenneth Smith guided the T-Birds from a 2-7 team to the state playoffs. The same goes for LaSalle-Peru's Jose Medina or Grant's Chris Robinson, whose teams had terrific turnaround seasons in 2019. 

But somehow, you need to have a metric for separating some of these worthy coaches from the others. For me, that metric is what happens in the playoffs. A deeper postseason run undoubtedly helps to eliminate the logjam for Coach of the Year honors. 

So should head coaches at “power programs” be excluded from Coach of the Year honors? Does having a roster stacked with talent and numbers and depth mean you have done any less of a job in 2019 compared to others? Meaning, the likes of, say, Lincoln-Way East’s Rob Zvonar or H-F’s Craig Buzea shouldn't be under consideration? Do we just expect them to roll the helmets onto the field and expect victories week in and week out? If it was only that easy. 

In Class 8A, we have some fantastic coaches with stories that are still adding chapters. Take Minooka (Who?). I'm willing to bet that more Brother Rice fans have been to Mars than Minooka; however, the Indians are undefeated and looking to advance to the semifinals. They feature a staff filled with Hall of Fame coaches, led by former Downers Grove South Hall of Fame head coach John Belskis. And Hall of Fame coach Terry McCombs, who is a 50-year veteran in the IHSA, is an assistant coach for Belskis. How's that for having a partner who has been there and done that more than a few times?

How about Warren Township head coach Bryan McNulty? The Blue Devils have gone from a second-tier/also-ran football program in the North Suburban conference to a powerhouse in two short seasons. The 2019 squad brings a new meaning to “Fright Fest” in Gurnee these days. 

Another somewhat misguided opinion for some fans is that they feel coaches at private schools shouldn't be considered for any Coach of the Year awards because "they recruit" their roster. So the job that, say, Loyola's John Holecek has done in getting the Ramblers to the level of success they've achieved isn't worthy? Or look at Mount Carmel head coach Jordan Lynch. Is the job he has done this season, leading the undefeated Caravan to a top seed under one of the brightest spotlights week in and week out, not deserving of an award? Nazareth Academy's Tim Racki has propelled the Roadrunners to another deep postseason run. Should we just ignore this? Same goes for Joliet Catholic (Jake Jaworski)  and St. Francis (Bob McMillen)? Or that both Marist and Brother Rice, both of whom came into the postseason with 5-4 records and have since rolled in 8A, don't deserve a mention? Come on. 

What about the Chicago Public League coaches who endured the recent teachers strike. They got their teams ready under the most trying of circumstances. Several of those schools won IHSA playoff games. How can anyone say that Phillips head coach Troy McAllister isn't worthy after leading the Wildcats into the 7A quarterfinals? All they’ve done is compete with a mid 4A-sized enrollment and a dedication to play "up" to 7A just because they want to compete at the highest level possible. How can you not love that in any coach? 

I also include the entire state of Illinois in my Coach of the Year award. Heck, why not make this an even-harder task than it already is? In all seriousness, has anyone been able to get his program to the top and remain at the top more effectively than East St. Louis Darren Sunkett? Has anyone noticed that Glenwood is back and a state-wide power under head coach David Hay? Or that Rochester Derek Leonard just keeps winning games and titles year in and year out and now is locked in to winning the Rockets’ first state title in 5A. Or veteran head coach Dave Bates at Auburn? They just knocked off 2A power Maroa-Forsyth last Saturday and are full steam ahead to the quarterfinals against another power in St. Theresa after going 4-5 in 2018. Pana’s Trevor Higgins has won despite a trying offseason where he lost his four-year-old son in a tragic accident.

I'll make you a deal. Give me another 2-3 weeks and I'll be able to come up with a much clearer picture on the 2019 Coach of the Year award. Until then. let's see how things shake out over these next few remaining weeks of the season and see so many good coaches and stories continue to take shape. 

Preps Basketball Power Rankings No. 13 Lincoln Park

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NBC Sports Chicago

Preps Basketball Power Rankings No. 13 Lincoln Park

School: Lincoln Park

2018-19 record: 23-8 (7-2 Public League Red-North/West)

Postseason results: Lost to Riverside-Brookfield in Class 4A regional finals.

Players to watch: The backcourt of junior guards Ismail Habib and Julio Montes were outstanding last season as they showed poise and scoring ability. Both Habib and Montes are creative off the dribble and capable of knocking down jumpers. Senior big man Romelle Howard has a chance to be a force after some strong showings during the summer.

Why they're in the power rankings: Last season was a successful one for the Lions. They established themselves as a consistent top-25 program with a great returning talent base for the future. With a top returning backcourt, Lincoln Park should remain one of the city's best teams this season.    

Did you know? Playing one of the toughest schedules in the area last season, Lincoln Park managed its first 20-win season in a decade.