Preps Talk

Edgy Tim's Week 7 analysis and picks

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's Week 7 analysis and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 7 edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Can Oswego East go on the road and beat in-town rival Oswego in a key conference showdown? Which team will suffer its first loss of the season: Yorkville or Minooka? Can St. Charles East roll into Batavia and beat the Bulldogs in the shadows of the Batavia water tower? Who wins the huge North Suburban Conference showdown in Lake Zurich as the Bears host an elite 8A team in Warren Township? And will Marist have Nazareth Academy's number once again? Or can the Roadrunners finally beat the Redhawks for the first time since 2015?

Eisenhower at Evergreen Park, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Eisenhower (4-2/2-1) first-year head coach Sheamus Murphy has the Cardinals pointed towards the state playoffs but can they beat Evergreen Park on the road? They've won three of their last four games, including last week's 27-21 thriller over T.F. North. The Cardinals features QB Daniel McLaurin. Evergreen Park (3-3/2-2), coached by Jerry Verde, is coming off a 49-0 shutout win over Argo. Running back Antowan Underdue and signal caller Jack Manso each tallied two TDs in that victory. The Mustangs will need to win two out of its final three games to become playoff eligible. 
 
EDGY's Pick: Eisenhower 27 Evergreen Park 16

Oswego East at (15) Oswego, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Coach Tyson LeBlanc's Wolves of Oswego East (4-2/0-2) have dropped two straight Southwest Prairie West games since geting off to a 4-0 start. East features junior QB Michael Ford and a strong group in the offensive skills department, led by senior WR Keion Battle. Oswego (6-0/2-0) is off and running. Coach Brian Cooney has balance on offense, guided by QB Cole Pradel. The Panthers also have star power in WR/DB Jack Lemke and senior OL/DL Jack Hugunin (NIU). Can East's offensive line stalemate Oswego's speedy defense?

EDGY's Pick: Oswego 28 Oswego East 14

Yorkville at (14) Minooka, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Yorkville (6-0/2-0) has a strong squad this season. They're led by senior QB Josh Beetham, while senior RB Tre Thomas has been effective running the football. Also keep an eye on WR/S Cale Reeder (South Dakota) for head coach Dan McGuire and company. Minooka (6-0/2-0) is coached by John Belskis. They boast a strong running game and a big offensive line. Keep an eye on senior QB Seth Lehr and senior RB Noah Ellens. Senior OL/DL Jacob Shipla is another key player in the trenches for the Indians. Can the Minooka defense keep the Yorkville offense off the field as much as possible Friday night? 

EDGY's Pick: Minooka 28 Yorkville 21

(22) St. Charles East at (7) Batavia, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: St. Charles East (5-1/3-1) is coming off a huge 31-21 win last Friday over rival St. Charles North, Coach Bryce Farquhar's Saints decided to switch up the offense this season, going to more of a spread attack. The charge will be led by QB Nathan Hayes. However, East still will run the football behind a big and physical offensive line, anchored by senior Dylan Barrett (Wisconsin). Coach Dennis Piron has guided Batavia to a 5-1/4-0 start. The Bulldogs also have balance on offense with RB/LB Quinn Urwiler (North Dakota), senior RB Art Taylor and QB Kyle Oroni. Can St. Charles East run the football against Batavia? The matchups in this game are pretty even. I fully expect a close game. 

EDGY's Pick: Batavia 28 St. Charles East 27

Lane Tech at Phillips, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lane Tech (2-4/0-2) has lost four straight games since starting the season with a 2-0 record. Head coach Anthony Fatlin's Indians will now travel to Mandrake Park on the South Side take on Phillips (5-1/2-0). The Wildcats are coming off a tough 14-6 loss last Saturday night to Simeon. Coach Troy McAllister will look to QB Antonio Brown to jump-start the offense. They have a big, physical offensive line. Don't overlook their defense. It has remained a strength this season. 

EDGY's Pick: Phillips 42 Lane Tech 7

(5) Warren at Lake Zurich, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take:  Warren Township (6-0/4-0) has one of the state's top defenses this season. The Blue Devils, coached by Bryan McNulty, have allowed just 18 points all season-- and that includes three shutouts. Warren Township features senior DT Willis Singleton Jr. (Iowa State), senior LB Juan DeLaCruz and junior LB Malachi McNeal. On offense, RB Derrick McLaughlin figures to get a lot of looks. Lake Zurich (4-2/4-0) and first year head coach Ron Planz took a few weeks to get the offense on track. They're rolling now, with QB Jack Moses and RB Jack Dwyer leading the way. The Bears' always-tough defense is led by junior LB Bryan Sanborn. Can Lake Zurich establish the running game against The Township?

EDGY's Pick: Warren Township 21 Lake Zurich 7

York at (19) Willowbrook, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: While York (3-3/2-2) is certainly in need of a win, they may have turned some heads in pushing Hinsdale Central to the limit in a 28-21 loss last Friday. The Dukes feature a playmaker in RB Nick Conroy. Senior OL/DL Josh Mathiasen is also a key contributor on both sides of the football for York this fall. Speaking of playmakers, Willowbrook (5-1/4-0) has one in do-it-all senior QB/S Sam Tumilty. Head coach Nick Hildreth's Warriors have been stout on defense. The unit has allowed just 54 points so far this season. Can the York defense slow down/limit Tumilty?

EDGY's Pick: Willowbrook 28 York 21

(3) Nazareth Academy at Marist, 7:30 p.m. #SendEDGY

EDGY's Take: Nazareth (5-1/2-0) has won five straight games after a season opening loss to St. Louis-area power Cardinal Ritter (6-0). Coach Tim Racki's Roadrunners are led by junior QB J.J. McCarthy (Michigan)-- and he has an arsenal of weapons to rely on this season. Marist (3-3/0-2) is looking to bounce back from last week's 21-14 loss to Mount Carmel. The Redhawks turned the football over four times in the loss. Coach Ron Dawczak has a rotation of quarterbacks with senior Hayden Mikesell and sophomore Dontrelll Jackson Jr. They also have a strong offensive line, led by junior Pat Coogan. Marist has beaten Nazareth Academy three straight seasons by a combined score of 110-28. Can the Redhawks make it four straight? 

EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 28 Marist 21 OT

Rolling Meadows at Prospect, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Another week, another great Mid-Suburban East showdown. Rolling Meadows (6-0/2-0) has received a big season so far from the running game, paced by Chris Divito. Coach Matt Mishler's defense has been forcing turnovers and big plays all season. Senior DE Nate Pedraza (Ball State) has been a key contributor. Prospect (5-1/1-1), under head coach Dan DeBoeuf, are looking to bounce back after a 45-28 loss last Friday to Hersey. The Knights have a big-play offense with QB Gary Moeller, RB Luke Zardzin and WR Matt Meyer at the ready. Can the Prospect defense stop the Rolling Meadows' run game? Can Rolling Meadow's defense get pressure on Prospect's spread offense attack? 

EDGY's Pick: Rolling Meadows 35 Prospect 31

Viewers' Choice Games of the Week

Sullivan vs Kennedy, 4:15 p.m. at Winnemac Stadium

EDGY's Take: This South Side-meets-North Side Chicago Public League crossover features CPL Illini Big Shoulders conference leader Sullivan (3-3/2-0) taking on CPL Chicago Madison Street conference member Kennedy (3-3/3-2). The Tigers have looked impressive in wins over Steinmetz, King and South Shore. Sullivan, coached by Calvin Clark, is seeking an IHSA state playoff for the third consecutive year. The Kennedy Crusaders, coached by Michael Cremins, have won three of their last four games-- the latest, a 44-14 win over Senn. 

EDGY's Pick: Sullivan 27 Kennedy 7

Von Steuben vs Whitney Young @ Rockne Stadium, 4:15 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This is a battle between two Chicago Public League Illini Great Lakes teams seeking to break out and make a late season run towards a state playoff spot. Von Steuben (3-3/1-1) is coached by David Rivera. The Panthers, one of last year's Cinderella stories, are looking to advance to the playoffs for the second time. Whitney Young (3-3/1-1) features a first-year head coach in Daniel Finger. The Dolphins have won three of their last four, with a 36-6 win over CMA-Bronzeville coming last Friday. Both teams started off the season with an 0-2 records and both have played strong as the weeks have progressed.

EDGY's Pick: Von Steuben 21 Whitney Young 14

Five Boys Basketball Conference Races to Watch

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NBC Sports Chicago

Five Boys Basketball Conference Races to Watch

The start of the high school basketball season in Illinois often means a focus on Thanksgiving events, special showcase games and shootouts during the opening weeks of the season.

But conference play, for many leagues, can begin as early as the first week of December. Even though that’s a long way away from the end of the season and deciding conference championships, it’s important to keep an eye on a few leagues that should stand out.

We’ll examine the conference races more in-depth following the holiday tournaments. But here’s five conference races to be mindful of early.

Chicago Public League Red South/Central

The toughest conference in the area preseason, the Red-South/Central is once again loaded with elite teams.

Morgan Park, Curie, Bogan and Simeon remain perennial powerhouses who are all capable of city and state tournament runs. In fact, it wouldn’t be inconceivable if this conference won state titles at the 3A and 4A levels this season.

And the star power is also ridiculous. Mustangs senior guard Adam Miller is a preseason Player of the Year favorite while others like Curie’s Ramean Hinton, Bogan’s Kyndall Davis and Simeon’s Jeremiah Williams are all on the Preseason All-Area team. Juniors like Morgan Park’s Brandon Weston and Simeon’s Ahamad Bynum (DePaul commit) are both high-major prospects as well.

There’s even an emerging Class 2A threat in Corliss as they made it to Peoria last season and return an intriguing group of players.

Although other leagues in the area might be more balanced from top-to-bottom, there is no matching the power at the top of the Red-South/Central.

Chicago Public League Red-North/West

Although the Red-North/West doesn’t look as strong at the top as its southern counterpart there’s an argument to be made that this is a tougher league overall this season.

Whitney Young remains a major threat in the city and state title race as they return Player of the Year co-favorite D.J. Steward, electric point guard Tyler Beard and a talented supporting cast. Gaining national recognition this preseason, the Dolphins are the favorite for this league entering 2019-20.

There should be plenty of tough tests throughout the conference this season that the Dolphins have to contend with.

Orr is the three-time defending Class 2A state champions as the Spartans are always a tough out during league play. Even though Orr is in a smaller class, they’re capable of competing with any team in the state as head coach Lou Adams will have his team prepared to play.

Lincoln Park is also a preseason top-25 team as most of last season’s 20-win team returned. The backcourt of Julio Montes and Ishmail Habib is one of the state’s best and big man Romelle Howard could be a major problem inside.

The Class 3A ranks also has some teams to watch in Westinghouse and Farragut as both of them have a chance to make postseason runs.

Not many conferences can claim to have tough teams in three classes but it speaks to the depth and balance of the Red-North/West as a whole.

Southland

The Southland was already going to be a league to keep tabs on this season thanks to Bloom and Kankakee returning promising teams.

But now that Thornton, Thornwood and Thornridge have joined the Southland it will make for a crowded field of quality teams. How often does a conference add multiple basketball schools coming off of 20-win seasons to the mix?

Bloom is the obvious favorite after winning last season and returning four Division I starters. The Blazing Trojans are good enough to be the best team in the state this season if they’re rolling on all cylinders. The quartet of Martice Mitchell, Keshawn Williams, Donovan Newby and Dante Maddox Jr. is the best senior group of any team in Illinois.

Second place becomes a fascinating race if Bloom maintains its elite status. Kankakee has an abundance of size and talent as the program’s recent success has flown under the radar. Thornton and Thornwood will want to prove themselves in their new league. And Rich East remains a wild card after playing teams like Bloom very close last season. Wouldn’t it be fun to see the Rockets competitive in the conference race in the school’s final season of athletics?

There will be a lot of fascinating Southland games this season as the new teams should inject some additional life into an already strong conference.

Central Suburban League South

It can be almost guaranteed that the CSL South won’t be as strong as last season. A banner season for the league saw an astounding five of six teams win at least 20 games with Evanston placing second in Class 4A.

Although the league will feature plenty of new faces this season, there are still multiple ranked teams — which should make for a fun race for the league title.

It starts with the Wildkits, as Evanston has to replace a strong senior core. Blake Peters and Jaylin Gibson should be up to the task as the junior duo are both Division I prospects. Head coach Mike Ellis has built Evanston into an annual contender as the program is deep with talent.

Niles North and Glenbrook South also both have top-25 caliber squads led by senior stars who made the preseason All-Area team.

The Vikings are almost a lock for 20 wins every year as they’re led by senior Aquan Smart and promising junior Jalen Butler. Dom Martinelli is a sleeper Player of the Year contender for the Titans as he’s coming off of a monster junior season. Glenbrook South has to replace a lot of lost veteran leadership, but Martinelli and his teammates beat some impressive teams during June.

Of course, it would be silly to count New Trier and Maine South completely out. Although both rosters were hit hard by graduation losses, they’ve both been consistently strong programs with good coaching. Even Niles West, last place in the conference last season, made a regional final last season and returns a lot of size.

There won’t be an easy out in any of the CSL South games this season as it remains a very difficult league every single game.

East Suburban Catholic Conference

The race for the ESCC title remains one to watch once again with multiple top-ten teams and tons of talent all over the league.

Marian Catholic gets the nod as the preseason favorite with the return of many players from last season’s strong squad. Point guard Ahron Ulis (Iowa) is perhaps the area’s best true point guard as he’s joined by talented options like Joe Green and Elijah Jones.

Notre Dame is a junior-led team that has the talent to claim the ESCC crown (and/or a state title). Anthony Sayles, Troy D’Amico and Louis Lesmond all have multiple Division I scholarship offers while senior Jason Bergstrom is underrated in his overall abilities.

St. Viator, Benet and Carmel all have top-25 potential at some point this season. St. Viator senior Connor Kochera and Carmel junior Kimahri Wilson are both Division I players. The Redwings can rely on the steady interior presence of all-conference senior big man Colin Crothers.

St. Patrick is the potential wild card in the ESCC race thanks to their abundance of young talent. The Shamrocks have some impressive underclass prospects that showed out this fall as they remain in the conference mix.

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 7 Simeon

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NBC Sports Chicago

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 7 Simeon

School: Simeon

2018-19 record: 20-15 (5-4 Public League Red North/West)

Postseason results: Lost to Curie in Class 4A Supersectionals.

Players to watch: Jeremiah Williams transferred into Simeon from St. Laurence and he's one of the state's top seniors. The 6-foot-4 Williams is a major All-Area candidate this season. Junior guard Ahamad Bynum is a high-major prospect and deluxe scorer who is one of the area's top perimeter shooters. Bynum recently committed to DePaul. 

Why they're in the power rankings: Annually one of best teams in the state, Simeon has go-to scorers, an up-and-coming point guard in Jaylen Drane and intriguing big men like Sincere Callwood. Even though Simeon "struggled" to a 20-15 mark last season, they still came incredibly close to making a Peoria trip and knocking off Curie. It doesn't matter the record or personnel: Simeon is always a major threat. 

Did you know? After winning six IHSA state titles in an eight year span between 2006 and 2013, Simeon has gone six years without a state title.