Preps Talk

Edgy Tim's Week 8 analysis and picks

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's Week 8 analysis and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 9 edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Can Wilmington win on the road at Coal City in this backyard rivalry? Who comes out ahead in the Battle for the Alec Anderson Trophy: Bolingbrook or H-F? Can Prairie Ridge and Cary Grove just start overtime now? Can Nazareth Academy unleash its offense and beat a very strong Notre Dame defense in Niles? And will Friday's Metro Suburban Blue --and Class 4A-- showdown between IC and St. Francis stand as a potential playoff preview between the two?

Wilmington at Coal City, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This Illinois Central Eight conference title game features two nearby rivals who know each other extremely well. It's one of the most anticipated games in southern Will and eastern Grundy counties all season. Wilmington (7-0/5-0), led by veteran head coach Jeff Reents, has the Wildcats playing well this fall behind a power running game led by RB Jake Rodawold and a nice mix of the play-action passing game behind QB Keaton Hopwood. Coach Dan Hutchings and the Coal City Coalers (7-0/5-0) have an experienced and deep roster. THey will also look to establish the running game with RB Dan Jezik. The passing game is also a strength with QB Peyton Hutchings. Can Wilmington contain the Coal City running game and win the battle in the trenches? Will home field be a factor?

EDGY's Pick: Coal City 28 Wilmington 14

(10) Bolingbrook at (6) H-F, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Despite the distance between Bolingbrook (6-1/3-1) and Homewood-Flossmoor (6-1/3-1) this game is undoubtedly one of the biggest rivalry games for each school. They will play for the Alec Anderson Memorial Trophy. Raiders head coach John Ivlow has returned to the triple-option offense with just enough play-action passing game to the tune of great success. The running attack is led by senior QB Deyvn Suggs; the experienced offensive line is led by senior John Williams (Cincinnati). The defense has speed and athleticism, guided by junior LB Tyler Mclaurin and junior S Justin Walters. H-F head coach Craig Buzea features a big and experienced offensive line led by seniors Marcus Harper II (Oregon), Michael Ford and Denzel Bryant. Junior RB Sean Allen is also having a strong season. The Vikings 'D can match just about anyone in the state speed for speed. Junior WR/SB Will Pauling and sophomore LB Malyk Jones are names to watch. Can Bolingbrook run the football against H-F? Can the Vikings' offense pound away at Brook's speedy defense?

EDGY's Pick: Homewood-Flossmoor 21 Bolingbrook 14

(18) Hillcrest at Lemont, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Hillcrest (6-1/4-0) has been playing lights-out football since a close 26-20 Week 1 loss to Brother Rice. Junior RB Mar'Kiese Irving has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the Class of 2021 and has led the way for head coach Morgan Weaver's Hawks this fall. Lemont (6-1/4-0) also dropped a close opening week decision (12-6 to St. Charles East), but they have been on a roll ever since. They have a balanced offense led by QB Luke Bailey and WR Anthony Sambucci (Western Michigan). Can the Lemont defense corral and contain Mar'Kiese Irving? Can the Hawks win on the road? 

EDGY's Pick: Hillcrest 28 Lemont 27

Prairie Ridge at (25) Cary-Grove, 7:00 p.m. #SendEDGY

EDGY's Take: Year in and year out, these two Fox Valley powehouse programs never fail to entertain. Same applies in 2019 where Prairie Ridge (6-1/6-1) and Cary Grove (6-1/6-1)-- expect a very tight, 'last-possession-wins' type of game. Prairie Ridge and head coach Chris Schremp will look to get the Wolves offense balanced and on trackled. The group is led by QB Connor Lydon and a backfield of RB Blake brown, Taidhgin Trost and Carter Evans. Cary-Grove and head coach Brad Seaburg will want to establish the power running attack with RB Blake Skol and QB Luke Eleftheriou. On defense, the Trojans have allowed just 36 points so far on the season. Will the team that limits the overall amount of mistakes win? 

EDGY's Pick: Cary-Grove 28 Prairie Ridge 21 OT

Grant at Grayslake North, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Grant (6-1/4-1) secured the Bulldogs' first state playoff bid since 2012 in last week's win over North Chicago. Head coach Chris Robinson's squad will rely on a stable of quality running backs along with QB Tyler Elfering. On defense, Grant has kept teams at bay all season. The unit is led by senior LB Kyle Rainey. Grayslake North (3-4/2-3) will be in must-win mode this week. The Knights are hoping that their recent offensive explosion over the past few weeks continues Friday night. North is led by QB Nick Fish. Can the Knights' offense put up points against a very strong Grant defense?

EDGY's Pick: Grant 35 Grayslake North 21

Antioch at Lakes, 7:15 p.m. 

EDGY's Take: Antioch (6-1/5-0) has been able to keep winning despite losing standout junior QB Athan Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) for the season to a Week 6 injury. Look for the Sequoits, coached by Brian Glashagel, to get the football into the hands of junior WR Dino Kaliakmanis (Minnesota) along with senior WR Treshawn Watson. Lakes (6-1/4-1), coached by Jordan Elder, was able to bounce back last week with a win over Grayslake Central after losing to Grant. Can the Eagles get starting QB Chris Selig back in the lineup after suffering a Week 6 injury? This is one of the top rivalry games in Chicago's northern suburbs.

EDGY's Pick: Antioch 35 Lakes 34

(5) Stevenson at Warren, 7:20 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Warren (7-0/5-0) is looking to lock up the North Suburban Conference title with a win. Head coach Bryan McNulty's Blue Devils defense remains the big story so far this season. The 'Township defense has allowed just 21 points all season and is led by senior DT Willis Singleton Jr. (Iowa State), junior LB Malachi McNeal and senior LB Juan Delacruz. On offense, Warren is getting a big season from RB Derrick McLaughlin. The experienced offensive line has certainly helped. Stevenson (4-3/4-1) features a first-year head coach in Brent Becker. He has relied on senior RB J.M. Etiene and backup QB Liam Crowley-- who has played well since filling in for the injured Justin Hiller. Can the Patriots' offense move the football consistently --and then score-- against Warren's defense?

EDGY's Pick: Warren Township 28 Stevenson 10

(3) Nazareth at (8) Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Nazareth (6-1/2-0) is coming off a big 39-29 win last Friday over Marist. The Roadrunners are stacked again this fall for head coach Tim Racki. Junior QB J.J. McCarthy (Michigan) is as dangerous as ever. He has a target in sophomore WR Tyler Morris. The 'Naz defense is also very solid. Keep an eye on senior ILB Marcus Griffin (GVSU), junior DE/OT Ryan Keeler and senior LB/FB Riley Theobald. Notre Dame (7-0/2-0), under Hall of Fame head coach Mike Hennessey, has been one of the biggest surprise stories in Chicagoland. The Dons have a tough one-two punch on offense with junior QB Anthony Sayles and senior RB Julian Schurr. LB Anthony Ranallo leads a very tough ND defense. Can the Nazareth offense dent a very strong ND defense? Can the Dons' offense keep the football and win time of possession?

EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 20 Notre Dame 14

I.C. Catholic Prep vs St. Francis at Wheaton College, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: A huge showdown here in the Metro Suburban Blue-- as well as in Class 4A. I.C. (7-0/4-0) has relied on the arm and legs of senior QB/LB Danny Cronin. Junior RB Kyle Franklin remains a game-breaking threat at all times for head coach Bill Krefft and company. Many around St. Francis (6-1/4-0) felt that this team was maybe a year away. But next year is here. Keep an eye on junior QB Tommy Rittenhouse. He's one of the most dangerous dual-threat signal callers in Chicagoland this season. The Spartans also have a stable of talented backs and receivers. Can The St. Francis defense slow down and contain the balanced Knights offense? Can the IC defense get pressure on the St. Francis offense? Am I the only one who thinks this game could be Part 1 of 2 this season? (psst: playoff preview)

EDGY's Pick: I.C. Catholic Prep 34 St. Francis 28

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.