Preps Talk

EDGY: Who will be the top team in 2016?

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EDGY: Who will be the top team in 2016?

At this time last year I truly had no question who would be the top team in Illinois heading into the preseason.

Homewood-Flossmoor had a ton of returning starters from its 2014 Class 8A title game appearance, and the Vikings became the preseason consensus pick. While the Vikings lost to the eventual top-ranked team Loyola Academy, 34-28, in the quarterfinals, very few would argue that they didn't belong in the top tier of teams in 2015.

So who gets the bulls as the top-ranked team going into 2016? It might not be quite as clear as it was in 2015.

[MORE PREPS: Recruiting News and Notes - Sam Brodner reopens recruiting process]

Let's start with Loyola. Head coach John Holocek's Ramblers welcome back just five starters from last year's title-winning team, but don't let the overall number of returning starters fool you. Loyola has talent on all levels. If the Ramblers have proven anything over the past 6-7 seasons, they don't rebuild. They just reload.

But Loyola won't be the only Chicago Catholic League school in the mix as Brother Rice and Mount Carmel will challenge all foes in 2016. Providence Catholic and St. Rita welcome back several returning starters from a season ago. St. Laurence returns 14 starters and Montini Catholic will bring back five starters on offense, including standout running back Prince Walker.

How about Phillips? The feel good story of the 2015 season, which saw the Wildcats capture the first state football title in Chicago Public League history. They will reload as well. The Wildcats already have several underclassmen from last year's team on the college recruiting radar. Expect Phillips to challenge for another title. 

[MORE PREPS: O'Sullivan decommits from Cincinnati, pledges to Syracuse]

One of the most interesting stories heading into the 2016 season will be the Lincoln-Way schools. With the closing of Lincoln-Way North at the end of the school year, which remaining Lincoln-Way school (or head coach for that matter) will benefit the most from the merging of North? My money is on Lincoln-Way East and head coach Rob Zvonar, who will inherit even more numbers and talent heading into next season.

Homewood-Flossmoor? The Vikings will be hit hard by graduation losses this spring. That said, no one seems to have as much talent, numbers and flat-out athletes in Chicagoland than Craig Buzea's bunch. 

Nazareth Academy? Lots of talent has passed through the halls in La Grange Park over the past two seasons. The Roadrunners feature back-to-back titles and the 2016 team will welcome back several key starters.

The DuPage Valley conference? Pick a team that wins the league title (really any team) to be honest. Whoever survives the DVC schedule is automatically playoff tested and I would focus on the likes of the two Valley schools (Waubonsie and Neuqua), along with Naperville Central and Glenbard North.

[MORE PREPS: Edgy's Recruiting News - Two Land of Lincoln players pick Florida Atlantic

Palatine was under the radar until the 2015 postseason, but that won't happen next season as the Pirates will bring back a ton, including quarterback Zach Oles.

Other very worthy names to watch include the two top dogs in the Fox Valley Conference: Cary-Grove and Prairie Ridge. The Trojans return running back/linebacker Ty Pennington, while the Wolves have two more years with quarterback Samson Evans running the option attack. 

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

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247 Sports

New Trier's Duke Olges gives Northwestern verbal commitment

New Trier junior three-star ranked athlete Duke Olges (6-foot-5, 260 pounds) gave Northwestern his verbal commitment last Sunday yet waited until Friday morning to make his decision public via his Twitter page.

Olges, who was recruited by the Wildcats as a defensive tackle, felt pressure to make a decision since the Wildcats already had one defensive tackle verbal commitment in Clear Springs Texas Jason Gold while another defensive tackle with an offer was making an on campus visit later that day.

“I didn’t know if it was the right decision, to be honest. It was impulse more than anything,” Olges told WildcatsReport.com's publisher Louis Vaccher. “But what comforted me is after having a couple days to think about it, I felt a sigh of relief. It would have hurt me too much to let that scholarship go. As much as I wanted to go and visit other schools, losing that scholarship would have hurt more than anything else.”

Olges is now the 10th known verbal commitment in the Wildcats Class of 2019  and the second in state pledge along with Bolingbrook junior DB Cameron Mitchell. 

Olges, who was holding 26 scholarship offers this spring, was planning to make summer visits to Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Virginia and Duke before giving the Wildcats his verbal commitment. 

92 Days to Kickoff: St. Edward

92 Days to Kickoff: St. Edward

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: St. Edward

Head coach: Mike Rolando

Assistant coaches: Steve McShane, Scot Brockner, Eloy Diaz, Mike Childers, Mike Holte, Tim Wood, Zack McQueen and Andrew Yarwood

How they fared in 2017: 5-4 (2-3 Metro Suburban Blue Conference). St. Edward failed to make the 2017 IHSA state playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Tinley Park

Aug. 31 @ Wheaton Academy

Sept. 7 @ Hope Academy

Sept. 14 vs Elmwood Park

Sept. 21 @ Guerin Prep

Sept. 28 @ Chicago Christian

Oct. 5 vs IC Catholic Prep

Oct. 12 vs Fenton

Oct. 19 vs Ridgewood

[MORE: 93 Days to Kickoff: Westr Aurora

Biggest storyline: Can the Green Wave reload and replace several multi-year starters lost to graduation this spring?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Nick Wright and WR/DB Sidney Muhammed

Biggest holes to fill: Replacing standout quarterback Dylan Mlinarich will likely be one of the bigger projects for the 'Wave.

EDGY's Early Take: The Green Wave just missed out on the 2017 playoff because of low playoff points and will need to reload come August. Only two starters are back on both sides of the football. Look for St. Edward to get the football into the hands of RB Nick Wright quite a bit. WR Sidney Muhammed will also be another experienced play maker this fall.