Preps Talk

EDGY's top high school football stadiums

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NBC Sports Chicago

EDGY's top high school football stadiums

After more than 25 years of coevering IHSA Football from one end of the state to the other, I've had the pleasure of seeing and covering games in some of the best high school football stadiums.

Here is a list, in no specific order, of my five favorite on-campus prep football meccas in the Land of Lincoln.

Roscoe Eades Stadium, Sterling High School: Sterling is home to one of the state's top Class 5A football programs. It is also home to one of the best looking, recently renovated high school football stadiums around. With the Jumbotron, the new turf field, the ample seating, and the neighborhood setting… Roscoe Eades has the feel and look of a college stadium.

Rocky Stadium Public School Stadium, Rock Island High School: Known to many as Rocky Stadium, this 91-years-young jewel undoubtedly takes you back several decades from the moment you walk through the gates. While much of the structure remains intact from its original 1929 design, Rock Island has maintained this facility incredibly well and is in the process of a 1.3 million dollar renovation, which includes new field turf and a new track. Rocky Stadium is also one of the few high school stadiums with seating that circles around the entire field and end zones.

Lane Stadium, Lane Tech High School: This landmark on Chicago’s Northwest Side was on hard times. On a major decline, it was in its peril as the school looked at condemning the structure. It forced Lane Tech’s 2006 graduation ceremony to be moved to UIC. A major renovation came in 2015 and revived one of the great old inner-city stadiums. Several movies and TV shows have been filmed at the historic stadium, and the old-school feel of the bleachers and surrounding brick buildings merge with a great new field and track. Recent upgrades to old time CPL stadiums in Winnemac and Eckersall are also impressive.

Duchon Field, Glenbard West High School: Sure, not much has been added recently from an upgrade standpoint. And yes, the grass field floods way too much. Also, you won't experience any Friday night lights here because Duchon Field has no lights. But playing on a Saturday afternoon in the late fall on the shores of Lake Ellyn with its picturesque background and old-school setting is just too hard to leave off this list. Duchon Field, I just can't ignore you.

Howard Fellows Stadium, LaSalle-Peru High School: Built in a ravine in the mid-1930s, this landmark has another old-school feel. It is simply one of the most unique settings in the state, with the home bleachers rising up in sort of a pyramid style toward the press box. Renovations in the late ‘90s, as well as an ongoing play to add field turf, just add to the strong appeal of this gem.

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Barda Dowling Stadium, Chicago - Mount Carmel High School: Just a year old, this on-campus stadium of the defending 2019 Class 7A state champions plays like a stadium built decades ago. While the seating capacity isn't overwhelming, the stands allow plenty of room, and it feels like the fans are right on top of you. Throw in the modern additions of a digital lighting system, terrific sound and a great entryway into the stadium, and this new/old school stadium is a major winner. I'll give the top five one more year in the spotlight, but Barda Dowling Stadium will be sending one of them home very soon.

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Max Christie selects Michigan State over Duke, several Big Ten schools

Sparty Nation got another reason to flex. And it may have Coach K seeing green.

Max Christie, a five-star shooting guard (Rivals) and the top Illinois player in the Class of 2021, is headed to play for Michigan State and legendary head coach Tom Izzo. The Rolling Meadows High School product made his decision Tuesday in an interview with Fox’s Andy Katz.

“It just felt like it was a place that I was needed and a place I wanted to go to,” Christie said. “I think Coach Izzo and his staff and all my teammates there can push me to be the person I want to be, not just on, but off the court.”

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Christie selected Michigan State —his only official visit— over, namely, Coach Mike Krzyzewski and Duke. Also on his list of potential choices were Villanova, Virginia, Purdue, Ohio State, Northwestern, Illinois and several others. While Christie is excited for Izzo to help improve his game, he also prides himself on his versatility and making an immediate impact.

“I think I can be a great facilitator and a great scorer,” Christie said. “I feel like I can do anything that Coach Izzo or the players need be to do if that means rebounding, pushing the ball, setting up an offense or coming off screens, I feel like I am versatile enough of anything that is asked of me.”

The 6-foot-6 Christie may get another boost on the court a few years down the line, as Class of 2022 phenom Emoni Bates, the top player in the current junior class, committed to play for MSU on June 30. All of this assumes Bates keeps his commitment to East Lansing and doesn’t hop the NBA. Christie remains steadfast in his committed to Michigan State and is not exploring any G-League options at the moment.

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Christie has grabbed headlines in Chicagoland since his freshman year. He has tallied a 50-point game and a triple double and had several clutch moments during his junior season. He is coming off the first 20-win campaign at ‘Meadows in nearly 30 years.

And there’s more Christie magic in the pipeline. Cameron, his younger brother, is one of the quickly-rising sophomores in the area.

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

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USA Today

Illinois high school boys basketball state finals return to Champaign

It’s time to party like it’s 1995 —especially if you’re a high school basketball fan who likes watching the game in the Champaign-Urbana area.

The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) board of directors voted Monday to move the host venue for the boys state basketball finals from Peoria to Champaign’s renovated State Farm Center for the next three seasons.

“We see this as the passing of the torch from Peoria to Champaign-Urbana,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “It is bittersweet because there is incredible passion from high school basketball within these two communities, and both have done so much to elevate the state final experience as hosts. The State Farm Center is one of the best arenas in the country, and we are excited to crown state champions there once again. The timing simply felt right to make a change as the tournament format shifts in 2021."

The boys tournament will run on March 11-13, 2021, March 10-12, 2022 and March 9-11, 2023.

“We are thrilled with today’s news that the Illinois high school boys basketball state finals will return home to the campus of the University of Illinois, Illinois Athletic Director Josh Whitman said in a statement. “We are grateful to the IHSA and its leadership for choosing State Farm Center and Champaign-Urbana to host the state finals.

The boys tournament, which had been located in Champaign for 77 years, moved to Peoria’s Civic Center (Carver Arena) starting in 1996. The girls tournament was also in Champaign until 1992 before moving to Redbird Arena. The girls tournament will remain in Normal.

The Champaign area was steeped in prep basketball glory for generations. The first televised championship came in 1952 when Hebron, a school of 98 students defeated a Quincy school boasting an enrollment over 1,000. Six years later, the first Chicago school —Marshall— won state. In 1972, the tournament was split into Class A (small schools) and AA (large schools). The late Ben Wilson helped Simeon win in a title in Champaign in 1984 while future NBA stars (Kevin Garnett, Melvin Ely) and NFL receivers (Antwaan Randle El and Tai Streets) graced the floor at Assembly Hall during the 1995 tournament.

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The next year was a perfect one for the city of Peoria to grab the reins for the boys tournament. Hometown Manual High School won their third and fourth consecutive state titles in 1996 and 1997. Later, Derrick Rose guided Simeon to back-to-back state titles in 2006 and 2007. A four-class system was instituted for the 2007-08 season. Simeon dominated again from 2010-13 with Jabari Parker in the spotlight.

This year’s basketball tournaments were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.