Preps Talk

Five IHSA football programs on the rise in 2016

Five IHSA football programs on the rise in 2016

It seems like every season we see (at least) a handful of teams who seem to come out of nowhere to become playoff-worthy teams. Here are five teams who could become Cinderella stories for the 2016 IHSA football season, which kicks off this Friday.

Naperville North (2-7 in 2015): The Huskies and head coach Sean Drendel have been stuck in second gear the past two seasons, posting two straight 2-7 records after a 5-5 state playoff appearance in 2013. North returns 17 starters (seven offense, 10 defense) this season. They have talent and a new offensive system led by former St. Francis head coach Mike Fitzgerald, who is now the Huskies offensive coordinator. It's never easy winning in the DuPage Valley; however, the Huskies look to be in position for a breakout season.

Bremen (1-8 in 2015): The Braves have had down years the past two seasons (2-7 in 2014 and 1-8 in 2015). That said, head coach Dan Stell and company could be on the verge of a breakout this fall. 18 starters will be back on the field in Midlothian. And there is some real talent in place, with junior OL/DL Chris Clark and a ton of experienced offensive skills players to boot.

[MORE: Edgy Tim has football previews for 100 area schools]

Fenwick (3-6 in 2015): Head coach Gene Nudo decided to go young in 2015. Will that experience pay off this season? The Friars bring back 19 returning starters, which includes the entire starting offense from 2015. Keep an eye on senior quarterback (and basketball standout) Jacob Keller along with junior WR Mike O'Laughlin. The 2016 schedule for Fenwick is -once again- brutally tough, yet this team is much better prepared for a rough ride.

Wheeling (4-5 in 2015): The Wildcats dropped their first five games in 2015. But the strong finish -wins in their last four games- has turned a few heads.. The Wildcats, with veteran Hall of Fame head coach Brent Pearlman at the helm, will look to get back to the state playoffs this season behind 16 returning starters (seven offense, nine defense) including senior QB Jalen Dennis and senior RB Jason Shannon. Getting off to a good start in non-conference play again is vital for Wheeling.

Zion-Benton (3-6 in 2015): The Zee-Bees always had trouble getting wins in the then-North Suburban Lake (now realigned as the North Suburban 8) but the 2016 Z-B squad could surprise. Head coach Bob Moynahan brings back 13 starters (eight offense, five defense) including four starting offensive linemen and a ton of speed and skills on both sides of the football. Again, the schedule is brutal (Stevenson/Lake Zurich/Libertyville/Warren Township/Lake Forest), but I see this team having the potential to challenge for that fifth magical win this season.

NBC Sports Chicago to air "IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show" on October 20

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NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago to air "IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show" on October 20

Bloomington, IL/Chicago, IL (October 17, 2018) -- The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football Playoff Pairing Show returns to NBC Sports Chicago for its eighth season in 2018. NBC Sports Chicago – THE Home of the #AuthenticFan – will air the show live on NBC Sports Chicago+ on Saturday, October 20 from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM CT. Viewers are urged to visit NBC Sports Chicago’s “Channel Finder” page (NBCSportsChicago.com/channel-finder) for exact NBC Sports Chicago+ channel locations in their area.

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show, which will reveal the brackets and first round match-ups of all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes, can also be viewed via Live stream beginning at 8:00 PM on Saturday at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive, on Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago), and will also be accessible for viewing to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers via the brand new MyTeams by NBC Sports app (NOTE: MyTeams is available on iOS and Android devices, at no cost, to fans anywhere in the U.S. and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store).

"The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show' continues to be one of the most highly-anticipated events in the state of Illinois and we couldn't be prouder to once again showcase two-straight hours of live, interactive coverage across all platforms on Saturday night," said Kevin Cross, Vice President of Content for NBC Sports Chicago.  

NBC Sports Chicago anchor Leila Rahimi hosts the show and will be joined by a panel of experts on-set, including long-time IHSA TV announcer Dave Bernhard and Illinois high school football bracketologist Steve Soucie. IHSA TV veteran Camron Smith will breakdown each class with media members from around the state, including NBC Sports Chicago prep football expert “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran. Viewers are encouraged to interact with the show and ask questions to be answered during the program by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #IHSAbrackets

The program will once again feature highlights, coaches interviews and media analysis from all over the state. In addition, NBC Sports Chicago will be gathering teams & fan reaction moments throughout the “Land of Lincoln” on Saturday from numerous school playoff pairing parties taking place that evening.

“This is one of the most anticipated nights of the year on the IHSA calendar,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Student-athletes, coaches and communities around the state have put their hearts into the last nine weeks, and for 256 teams, it’s an amazing chance to celebrate their accomplishments, while looking ahead to the path to the IHSA Football State Finals. We appreciate the time and effort that our partners at NBC Sports Chicago put into making this night so special.”

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show kicks off NBC Sports Chicago’s playoff coverage of IHSA Football, which culminates with all eight state title games being televised and streamed by NBC Sports Chicago on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23-24), live from Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign.

IHSA Preps Football AP Poll: Week 9

IHSA Preps Football AP Poll: Week 9

Here are the latest rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters:

Class 8A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Lincoln-Way East (9) 8-0 98 1
2. Maine South 7-1 87 2
3. Marist (1) 7-1 79 3
4. Oswego 8-0 74 4
5. Homewood-Flossmoor 7-1 60 5
6. Bolingbrook 7-1 43 7
7. Naperville Central 6-2 25 8
8. Warren 7-1 23 NR
9. Glenbard West 6-2 21 6
10. Hinsdale Central 6-2 15 10

Others receiving votes:  Oswego East 8, Oak Park-River Forest 5, Neuqua Valley 4, Edwardsville 3, Plainfield South 3, West Aurora 2.

Class 7A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Batavia (6) 8-0 102 1
2. Brother Rice (2) 8-0 96 2
3. East St. Louis (3) 6-2 81 3
4. Nazareth  7-1 77 T-4
5. Mt. Carmel 7-1 64 T-4
6. Simeon 8-0 63 6
7. Hononegah 8-0 43 7
8. Normal Community 7-1 31 8
9. Glenbard East 8-0 23 NR
10. St. Charles North 6-2 7 10

Others receiving votes: Rolling Meadows 6, Belleville West 4, Moline 4, Wheaton Warrenville South 2, Lincoln-Way West 1, Hoffman Estates 1.

Class 6A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Cary-Grove (7)  8-0 106 T-1
2. Richards (4) 8-0 102 T-1
3. Willowbrook 8-0 76 3
4. Phillips 6-2 73 5
5. Glenwood 8-0 62 6
6. Prairie Ridge 6-2 48 4
7. Niles Notre Dame 7-1 47 7
8. Normal West 7-1 38 8
9. DeKalb 7-1 33 9
10.  Providence 5-3 8 10


Others receiving votes: Sacred Heart-Griffin 8, Kenwood 3, Bloomington 1.

Class 5A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Washington (9) 8-0 107 1
2. Montini (1) 8-0 98 2
3. Sterling (1) 8-0 89 3
4.  Hillcrest 8-0 75 4
5.  Highland 8-0 63 5
6. Antioch 8-0 58 6
7. Decatur MacArthur 6-2 39 8
8. Metamora 7-1 31 7
9.  Payton 8-0 21 10
10.  Kaneland 6-2 14 NR

Others receiving votes: Marion 4, Sycamore 3, St. Francis 2, Carbondale 1.


Class 4A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. IC Catholic (12) 8-0 147 1
2. Rochester (3) 7-1 136 2
3. Rockford Boylan 7-1 111 4
4. Taylorville 8-0 109 3
5. Cahokia 7-1 76 6
6.  Coal City 7-1 69 5
7.  Richmond-Burton 7-1 50 7
8. Columbia 7-1 48 8
9. Pontiac 7-1 42 9
10. Marengo 6-2 23 NR

Others receiving votes: Freeburg 4, Breese Mater Dei 3, Fairbury Prairie Central 3, Urban Prep Charter/Bronzeville 2, Herrin 1, Murphysboro 1.
 

Class 3A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Byron (6) 8-0 144 1
2. Bishop McNamara (7) 7-1 137 2
3. Carlinville (2) 8-0 130 3
4. Monticello (1) 8-0 125 4
5. Farmington 8-0 96 5
6. Williamsville 7-1 78 6
7. Lisle 8-0 55 7
8. Beardstown 7-1 44 9
9. West Frankfort 7-1 30 10
10. Paris 8-0 22 NR

Others receiving votes: Fairfield 9, Anna-Jonesboro 2, Monmouth-Roseville 2, North Boone 1, Rock Island Alleman 1, Vandalia 1, Breese Central 1, Dunbar 1, Elmwood-Brimfield 1.

Class 2A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Maroa-Forsyth (10) 8-0 145 1
2. Orion (4) 8-0 133 2
3. Decatur St. Teresa (1) 8-0 118 3
4. Sterling Newman 7-1 98 4
5. Eastland-Pearl City 8-0 93 5
6. Illini West (Carthage) 8-0 72 6
7. Pana  7-1 53 7
8. Hope Academy 6-2 51 8
9. Nashville 7-1 39 10
10. Eldorado 6-2 6 NR

Others receiving votes: Rockridge 5, Knoxville 4, Bismarck-Henning 4, Collins 2, Clifton Central 1, Mercer County 1


Class 1A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley (15) 8-0 168 1
2. Lena-Winslow 7-1 142 2
T-3. Tuscola 7-1 114 3
T-3. Princeville 8-0 114 T-4
5. Ottawa Marquette (1)  8-0 113 T-4
6. Camp Point Central 7-1 75 6
7. Argenta-Oreana 8-0 68 8
8. Concord (Triopia) 7-1 53 7
9. Milledgeville 8-0 39 9
10. Aurora Christian 5-3 19 10

Others receiving votes: Athens 10, Sesser-Valier 6, Madison 5, Fisher 4, Carrollton 2, Red Hill 2, Orr 1.