Preps Talk

EDGY: Which under-the-radar coaches are worthy of honors?

EDGY: Which under-the-radar coaches are worthy of honors?

Don't look now, but we're just over three weeks away from crowning eight teams as football state champions in Illinois. And as we approach the end of the season, it's a good time to take stock of other individual awards. Prairie Ridge's Chris Schremp already claimed a title. The IHSA named him "2016-2017 Football Coach of the Year" this week. The award recognizes success on the field and positive work with athletes.

What other Chicagoland IHSA football coaches are worthy of awards this season? Obviously, every team in the IHSA state playoff field can make a strong case for their coach. While we still have a few more weeks of IHSA football left to play, here are some more under-the-radar head coaches for award consideration:

Minooka's Terry McCombs: There were few people (if any) around the Minooka Indians football that had any idea that McCombs, an IHSFCA Hall of Fame coach, would become the program's leader going into this season. McCombs, in his 49th season coaching IHSA football, is a district resident who decided to throw his hat into the ring when the Minooka job opened up. McCombs landed the job and immediately went to work winning over the kids left from a 4-5 team in 2016. Community support quickly followed. Minooka (8-2) travels to take on Barrington this Friday. 
 
Hope Academy's Matt Kelly: His Eagles (8-2) have been a consistent winner and are back in the Class 2A playoffs. Yet Kelly needs to be mentioned here for having to deal with several issues away from the field including having two opponents (St. Francis and Bishop McNamara) decide to forfeit games against Hope. Both schools cited "safety concerns" after an early season shooting incident in the neighborhood surrounding Altgeld Park, the Eagles home field. Kelly, along with the Hope Academy administration, have handled the situation about as well as they could handle it. The Eagles have remained focused at the task at hand. 
 
Raby's D'Angelo Dereef: The Raiders are back in the IHSA state playoffs and have a chance to keep making noise in the 2A field. Raby took some lumps in 2016, posting a 2-7 record. This season, the Raiders have played several underclassmen who are major contributors. The Raiders will hit the road this Saturday and take on Richmond-Burton (7-3). 

[MORE: Edgy Tim's Week 11 Power Rankings]
 
Buffalo Grove's Jeff Vik: The Bison (9-1) have also been able to turn their fortunes around. They went 3-6 in 2016 and the program only cobbled together two winning seasons from 2002 until this fall. Buffalo Grove, who just played in its first IHSA state playoff game in 13 years (a win over Belleville West), will travel this Saturday to take on East St. Louis (8-2). Best part of all for Bison football? They have a nice core of underclassmen starters and could potentially make a return playoff visit in 2018. 
 
Wheaton North's Joe Wardynski: The Falcons (8-2) under Wardynski play old-school football, meaning they will run the football early and often. Then, they suffocate teams with a quick and physical defense. Wardynski, who took the Falcons to the IHSA playoffs in his first six seasons, missed out on the playoffs from 2014-2016. That all changed this year. Any school that survives the 2017 DuPage Valley Conference schedule is a dangerous team to watch from here on out. Wheaton North travels to Batavia (9-1) on Saturday in Class 7A.
 
Other worthy candidates to consider:
 
Bryant McNulty - Warren Township
Joe Pardun - Hersey
Nick Nildreth - Willowbrook
Tim Heyse - Hoffman Estates
Morgan Weaver - Hillcrest
Terrell Alexander - Rich Central
Apostolos Tsiamas - Peotone
Mike Barry - Hinsdale South
 

Power Rankings: #8 - Naperville Central

Power Rankings: #8 - Naperville Central

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Naperville Central

Head coach: Mike Stein

Assistant Coaches: Mike Ulreich: (DC/Inside LB), Tim Boecker (DB) Marc Anderson (DB), Adam Pucylowski (Outside LB), Eric Novak (DL), Pat Watson (OC/OL), Phil Allen (OL), Ryan Clifford (TE/H-backs), Adam Freed (RB), Chad Bradley (QB), Josh McLeod (WR) and Kofi Hughes (WR)

How they fared in 2017: 9-3 (7-1 DuPage Valley Conference). Naperville Central made the 8A state playoff field and defeated West Aurora and Homewood-Flossmoor. In the quarterfinal round, they lost to Maine South. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Hinsdale Central

Aug. 31 @ Lincoln-Way East

Sept. 7 vs Naperville North

Sept. 14 @ St. Matthews (Trinity) Kentucky

Sept. 21 @ Metea Valley

Sept. 28 vs Naperville North at NCC

Oct. 5 vs Neuqua Valley

Oct. 12 vs Waubonsie Valley

Oct. 19 @ Cary-Grove

[MORE: 12 Days to Kickoff - Hinsdale Central]

Biggest storyline: The schedule. Can the Redhawks survive a grueling regular season slate and go deep in the Class 8A playoffs?

Names to watch this season: QB Payton Thorne (Western Michigan) and OG Luke Hallstrom (Air Force)

Biggest holes to fill: The Redhawks will need to reload upfront on both the offensive and defensive line this fall. 

EDGY's Early Take: Welcome to the new-look DuPage Valley, Naperville Central fans. The Redhawks will face a stiff test for all nine weeks of the regular season. It includes back-to-back games against fellow Class 8A state title contenders right out of the gate: Hinsdale Central and Lincoln-Way East. But Naperville Central features one of the state's top quarterbacks in senior Payton Thorne. He has capable targets in senior WR Cade McDonald and senior TE Jared Suchevits. As for the defense, they'll feature senior DB Jack Jopes along with senior LB Matt Oliver. A major plus to help Central's cause: they always have a deep roster and strong overall program numbers year in and year out. 

Power Rankings: #9 - Marist

Power Rankings: #9 - Marist

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Marist

Head coach: Ron Dawczak

Assistant coaches: Matt Shalvis (OC), Pete Gabel (DC), Jim Looney (OL), Joe Watson (OL), Chris Bohanek (WRs), Tony Turek (DL), Rich Watson (DL), Matt Jedrey (LBs) and Brendan Garrett (DBs)

How they fared in 2017: 11-1 (7-0 East Suburban Catholic Conference). Marist made the 8A state playoff field, defeated Oak Park-River Forest and Curie then lost to Loyola Academy in quarterfinal round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Brother Rice
Sept. 1 vs Mishawaka Indiana
Sept 7 @ Niles Notre Dame
Sept. 14 vs St. Viator
Sept. 21 vs Joliet Catholic Academy
Sept. 28 @ Marian Catholic
Oct. 5 @ Nazareth Academy
Oct. 12 vs Marian Central Catholic
Oct. 19 @ Benet Academy

Biggest storyline: Can the Redhawks replace a handful of key starters from last season and keep moving forward in Class 8A?

Names to watch this season: QB Mike Markett and WR Jadon Thompson

Biggest holes to fill: The Redhawks will look to reload in a few key spots this summer, especially up front on the defensive line with the graduation losses of DT Elijah Teague (Minnesota) and DL Gavin McCabe (Indiana). 

EDGY's Early Take: The Redhawks once again look to be loaded on the offense side of the football for the 2018 season. Senior QB Mike Markett is back after a strong 2017 junior campaign and Markett has multiple weapons including highly recruited junior WR Jadon Thompson along with senior WR Billy Skalitzky and senior WR Denny Hogan. While the Redhawks' defense will be missing a few headliners from last season, this is still a unit with seven returning starters back this fall. Keep an eye on senior OLB Kendric Nowling (Eastern Michigan) for the Redhawks this season.