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High School Lites: IHSA semifinals capsules and picks

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High School Lites: IHSA semifinals capsules and picks

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA semifinal edition of High School Lites, coming your way Saturday night, just after Blackhawks Postgame Live. The show can also be seen Sunday morning at 7:30  and 8:30 a.m. Can Palatine win on the road at Maine South in 8A? Can Plainfield North's defense shut down the Fenwick offense and pull off the upset in Class 7A? Who wins the Class 6A battle between DeKalb and Prairie Ridge? And can Glenbard West beat Loyola Academy at Duchon Field in a game seen live on CSN at 1 p.m.?

Have a team in the IHSA Football State Semifinals? Ask Edgy Tim about the matchup that you're most interested in!

Posted by NBC Sports Chicago on Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Class 8A

No. 1 Loyola (12-0) at No. 20 Glenbard West (10-2), 1 p.m. *Live broadcast on CSN and a live stream available via CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports app*

EDGY's Take: The defending Class 8A state champs (Loyola) travel to take on the defending Class 7A state champs (Glenbard West). Loyola Academy was dominant in beating Huntley last Saturday, 24-0, to advance to the semifinals. The Ramblers saw senior quarterback Tommy Herion leave the Huntley win with an injury and is still questionable for Saturday. Will Herion play? Glenbard West is playing its best football in the postseason as the Hilltoppers offense has found its passing game behind quarterback Cole Brady, along with the always strong Glenbard West running game. Both the Ramblers and the Hilltoppers play terrific defense year in and year out. Could weather conditions play a big factor? I'm expecting a relatively low scoring and physical game.

EDGY's Pick: Glenbard West 21, Loyola 14

No. 3 Palatine (12-0) at No. 26 Maine South (9-3), 1 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Palatine and head coach Rick Splitt just continue to find a way to win as the Pirates defense once again came up big in a 10-6 win over St. Charles East last Saturday to advance to the semifinals. Palatine will continue to rely on junior quarterback DJ Angelaccio who has filled in well for injured standout quarterback Zach Oles, along with a strong group of receivers and backs. Maine South and head coach Dave Inserra bring one of the state's best spread offenses to the table led by senior quarterback Nick Leongas and junior running back Fotis Kokosioulis, and a deep group of offensive skills players. Can the Palatine defense slow down the Maine South wide open offense? Can the Palatine offense trade score for score if needed?

EDGY's Pick: Maine South 27, Palatine 14

Class 7A

No. 16 Plainfield North (10-2) vs No. 4 Fenwick (11-1) at Triton College, 3:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Plainfield North and head coach Tim Kane are having a historic season behind a balanced offensive attack and a defense based on speed. The Tigers will look towards quarterback Brady Miller (1,796 yards 17 TDs) and senior running back Ty Hoosman (1,539 yards 26 TDs), while the Plainfield North defense pursues to the football as well as anyone left in the state playoff field. Fenwick and head coach Gene Nudo have led the Friars behind an experienced team that took its lumps a season ago. Fenwick will look towards its balanced offense led by senior quarterback Jacob Keller, senior running back Conner Lillig and an oversized offensive line. The Friars defense has also been a strength led by senior middle linebacker Brett Moorman. Can Fenwick handle Plainfield North's team speed on both sides of the football? Can Plainfield North handle Fenwick's considerable size advantage on both sides of the ball?

EDGY's Pick: Fenwick 28, Plainfield North 20

No. 2 East St. Louis (12-0) vs. No. 11 Benet Academy (10-2), 2 p.m. at Benedictine University

EDGY's Take: East St. Louis and head coach Darren Sunkett will reload the yellow rockets and head back to Chicagoland for the second straight week after beating Willowbrook, 60-27, last Saturday to advance to the semifinals. The Flyers simply have some of the state's top talent led by senior wide receiver Jeff Thomas, senior quarterback Rey Estes (Missouri) and a deep group of linemen on both sides of the football. Benet Academy and head coach Pat New have an experienced team led by senior three year starting quarterback Jack Sznajder, senior fullback/linebacker Alec McEachern and senior running back Marty Dosen. The Redwings defense has been solid all season long and keep an eye on senior linebacker Ryan Liszka. Can the Redwings contain the East St. Louis overall team speed? Can the Flyers shake off bus lag after what will end up being a two week, 1,100-plus mile round trip adventure?

EDGY's Pick: East St. Louis 35, Benet Academy 21

Class 6A

No. 7 DeKalb (10-2) at No. 1 Prairie Ridge (12-0), 1 p.m.

EDGY's Take: DeKalb and head coach Matt Weckler were able to upset Cary-Grove last Saturday, 35-21, as the Barbs passing attack was again on point. Senior quarterback Derek Kyler has been playing at a high level and his favorite target is NIU commit in senior wide receiver Cole Tucker. The DeKalb defense has also played pretty well this season against several run-heavy teams, including last week at Cary-Grove. Prairie Ridge and head coach Chris Schremp has his Wolves playing at another level in 2016 and beat a very good Lake Forest team, 71-7, last Saturday to advance to the semifinals. Junior quarterback Samson Evans keys the Prairie Ridge option offense and Evans remains one of the state's biggest open field threats. Can the DeKalb defense contain Samson Evans? Can the Wolves defense keep the DeKalb passing game in check? No question, potentially poor weather could have a major impact on this game. 

EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 35, DeKalb 28

No. 13 St. Laurence (9-3) at No. 2 Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (12-0), 2 p.m.

EDGY's Take: St. Laurence and head coach Harold Blackmon are coming off an impressive, 27-20, win last Saturday over Lemont to advance to the semifinals. The Vikings will get the football into the hands of senior running back Fayezon Smart early and often, while senior quarterback Romello Washington is more than capable of keeping the SHG defense in check with the play-action passing game. The Vikings defense has exceptional team speed and will be tested against the Cyclones. SHG and Hall of Fame head coach Ken Leonard will also look to run the football with junior running back Tremayne Lee and an oversized senior-led offensive line. SHG is also more than willing to throw the ball behind senior quarterback Tim Brenneisen. Can the St. Laurence defense take away the SHG running game? Has SHG been truly tested yet this season? 

EDGY's Pick: Sacred Heart-Griffin 42, St. Laurence 41

Class 5A

No. 7 Vernon Hills (9-3) at No. 13 Sycamore (8-4), 2 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Not many outside of say Vernon Hills and Sycamore saw this Class 5A semifinal matchup coming at the start of the IHSA state playoffs. Vernon Hill and head coach Bill Bellecomo have relied on the Cougars defense this postseason which has allowed just eight points in three playoff games. Vernon Hills senior quarterback Kyle Hull is a name to watch for the Cougars. Sycamore and head coach Joe Ryan started off the season at 1-3 but the Spartans have won 7 of its last 8 games and beat No. 1 seed Sterling, 29-22, in overtime to advance to the semifinals. The play of Sycamore senior quarterback Ty Sulaver has been a big key in getting the Spartans into the semifinals. Can the Vernon Hills defense slow down Sycamore this week? Can the Cougars offense generate more production and points if needed?

EDGY's Pick: Sycamore 24, Vernon Hills 14

No. 1 Peoria (11-1) at No. 3 Morris (10-2), 3 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Peoria and head coach Tim Thornton's shotgun run/pass read option offense has been setting the IHSA state playoffs on fire. The Lions  have averaged nearly 62 points per game in the postseason. Keep an eye out for junior quarterback Coran Taylor, junior running back Geno Hess, along with a big and athletic line play featuring three-star ranked offensive/defensive lineman Kendrick Green and junior offensive/defensive lineman Marques Cox. Morris and head coach Alan Thorson have relied on its running game, led by a group of capable backs, including senior Michael Feeney (1,274 yards 8 TDs). Morris' biggest strength all season has been its defense that has locked down most comers and senior linebacker Keagan Sobol is a name to watch. Can Morris derail the Peoria offense? Can the redskins running game win time of possession and keep the Peoria offense on the sidelines? 

EDGY's Pick: Peoria 35, Morris 24

Class 4A

No. 4 Phillips (11-1) at No. 2 Johnsburg (12-0), 7:00 p.m. *Friday*

EDGY's Take: This game will be the third straight IHSA Class 4A showdown between these 4A power programs. Phillips has eliminated Johnsburg from the state playoff field in both 2015 (28-6) and in 2014 (41-0). Phillips and head coach Troy McAllister will look towards junior quarterback J'Bore Gibbs, along with a very deep group of backs and receivers. The Wildcats line play remains a strength led by senior offensive/defensive lineman Chris Elmore (Western Michigan) and senior offensive lineman Johari Branch. Johnsburg and head coach Dan DeBoeuf will give the football to standout senior running back Alex Peete early and often. The Skyhawks line play is led by senior offensive/defensive lineman Joe Moore (Air Force). Can the Johnsburg defense hang with the speedy Phillips backs and receivers? Can the Phillips defense slow down the Skyhawks running game?

EDGY's Pick: Phillips 34, Johnsburg 24

Class 3A

No. 1 Immaculate Conception (12-0) at No. 6 Monticello (12-0), 3 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Immaculate Conception and head coach Bill Krefft have basically steamrolled its way through the 3A playoff field so far. The Knights feature a balanced offense led by senior quarterback Luke Ricobene and senior running back/linebacker Jordan Rowell. The IC defense has allowed just 88 points this season. Monticello and head coach Cullen Welter will throw the football early and often, led by senior quarterback Caleb Hanson (3,109 yards passing 37 TDs), and his top targets have been senior SB Nathan Graham, along with senior wide receiver Isiah Florey. Can the IC defense slow down the Safes passing attack? Can anyone slow down the IC offense?

EDGY's Pick: Immaculate Conception 49, Monticello 34

Class 1A

No. 2 Forreston (12-0) at No. 1 Ottawa Marquette (12-0), 3 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Forreston and head coach Dennis Diduch are in the semifinals out of the NUIC Northwest conference, easily one of the top 1A conferences in Illinois. The Cardinals want to run the football, led by junior running back AJ Christensen, while the Forreston defense has allowed just 61 points this season. Watch out for senior linebacker Noah Gipe. Ottawa Marquette and head coach Tom Jobst are back in the 1A semifinals for the second straight year. The Crusaders will rely on an offense that was run heavy in the regular season, and has also found a passing game with quarterback Logan Komater, while fullback Zach Dyche spearheads the Cru's running game. 

EDGY's Pick: Forreston 27, Ottawa Marquette 22

96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs

96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs

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: Jacobs

Head coach: Bill Mitz

Assistant coaches: Bubba Smith, Mike Warren, Brian Zimmerman, JM Foote, Ryan Arndt and Bob Mackey

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (5-3 Fox Valley Conference). Jacobs made the Class 7A playoff field. The Golden Eagles lost to Lincoln-Way West in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 Hampshire 

Aug. 31 @ Huntley 

Sept. 7 Dundee-Crown 

Sept. 14 @ McHenry 

Sept. 21 Neuqua Valley 

Sept. 28 Prairie Ridge 

Oct. 5 @ Cary-Grove 

Oct. 12 Crystal Lake South 

Oct. 19 @ Crystal Lake Central

Biggest storyline: Can the Golden Eagles move up in the Fox Valley Conference pecking order in 2018?

Names to watch this season: OT Joacheim Price and OL Nick Zonta

Biggest holes to fill: The Golden Eagles will need to replace its entire starting linebacker group from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Year in and year out, Jacobs is always a factor in the rugged Fox Valley Conference (seven playoff appearances in the last eight years). The Golden Eagles return some starters in several key spots. If the underclassmen group can step up this summer, look for Jacobs to challenge for the FVC conference title and a higher seed in 7A come IHSA playoff time. 
 

97 Days to Kickoff: Back of the Yards

97 Days to Kickoff: Back of the Yards

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 @NBCSPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Back of the Yards

Head coach: Sheamus Murphy

Assistant Coaches: Will Johnson, Marty McNamara, Tim McNamara and Nick Teich

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (6-0 CPL Great Lakes Conference). Back of the Yards made the Class 5A state playoff field. They lost to Solorio in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Week 1: @ Kelly

Week 2: vs. Goode

Week 3: @ Brooks

Week 4: vs. Schurz

Week 5: vs. Kenwood

Week 6: vs. North Lawndale

Week 7: @ Steinmetz

Week 8: vs. Payton Prep

Week 9: @ Clark

Biggest storyline: The Bobcats were a true feel-good story last season. Can the Bobcats build on its momentum and success going into the 2018 campaign?

Names to watch this season: OL/Dl Kevin Pacheco, WR/DB Carl McNickles, OL Armando Resendiz

Biggest holes to fill: The Bobcats bring back several returning starters from last season; however, can they find a new signal caller to replace the graduation loss of 2017 standout QB Jeremiah Harris (McKendree College)? 

EDGY's Early Take: One of the top stories from the 2017 season was the rise of this young program. The Bobcats made the IHSA state playoff field in just their third season of varsity football. As for 2018? The expectations have risen for this South Side school. A move to the CPL Illini Prairie State conference ramps up the overall competition level. If the Bobcats can find a steady signal caller, they have solid chance at competing for a potential IHSA state playoff spot come October.