Preps Talk

High School Lites IHSA state finals preview: Class 1A-4A

High School Lites IHSA state finals preview: Class 1A-4A

CSN Chicago (CSN), the television home of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) State Championships, will be airing live coverage of the 2016 IHSA Football State Championships on Friday, November 25 and Saturday, November 26 from Memorial Stadium in Champaign. In addition, every IHSA Football State Championship telecast on CSN, including surrounding pre/postgame coverage, will be streamed LIVE on CSNChicago.com and will be made available via the NBC Sports app on tablets and smart phones. Highlights and postgame reaction from all eight games will be presented in a special state championship edition of High School Lites, Saturday at 10 p.m., immediately following the 8A title game.

Class 1A

Forreston (13-0) vs. Decatur St. Teresa (12-1), Friday, 10 a.m.

EDGY's Take: Forreston and head coach Dennis Diduch will run the football right at St. Teresa via the Cardinals’ no-huddle, Wing-T offense. All-State junior running back AJ Christensen (1,109 yards rushing 17 TDs) is the headliner in the backfield, but he is one of several quality backs that the Cardinals will use. The Forreston defense has allowed just 68 points all season and their secondary has been a big key to success in the postseason. St. Teresa and first year head coach Mark Ramsey might be new to the school, but he has over 30 years of coaching experience. He brings along a veteran staff as well. The Bulldogs want to get standout sophomore All-State running back/safety Jacardi Wright (2,485 yards rushing 39 TDs) the ball often. Senior quarterback Ryan Fyke (126-of-207 passing for 2,074 yards and 25 TD's) is more than capable of keeping the opposing defense honest. St. Teresa senior All-State lineman Sam Lugenbill leads a very strong linemen group on both sides of the football. Best matchup to watch? The Forreston offensive line against the St. Teresa defensive line.

EDGY's Pick: Forreston 34, St. Teresa 27 

Class 2A

Deer Creek-Mackinaw (12-1) vs. Maroa-Forsyth (12-1), Friday, 1 p.m.

EDGY's Take: These two teams run completely different styles of football, especially on offense. Dee-Mack and head coach Job Linboom want to run the no-huddle power running attack. Look for All-State fullback Jared Reese (1,951 yards rushing 29 TD's) to get several touches. Dee-Mack will also rely on big, experienced offensive and defensive lines. Keep an eye on junior All-State lineman Hunter Mull. On the other sideline will be head coach Josh Jostens and the Maroa-Forsyth Trojans — and they’re quite familiar with the state finals (five other appearances since 2006 with two titles). The Trojans will run a high-tempo spread offense. Quarterback Tyler Ray (149-for-233 passing, 2,293 yards 32 TDs) is a key and also keep an eye on running backs Jaxson Nelson (1,119 yards rushing 15 TDs) and Deondre Gregory (772 yards rushing 8 TD). The Maroa-Forsyth defense is speed-based, relied on by a very strong and experienced core of linebackers including senior Wes Livingood. Can the Maroa defense get the football back from the Dee-Mack offense? Can the Dee-Mack defense slow down the Trojans’ high flying offense?

EDGY's Pick: Dee Mack 28, Maroa-Forsyth 27

[RELATED: CSN to carry live coverage of the 2016 IHSA Football State Championships Nov. 25 & 26]

Class 3A

IC Catholic (13-0) vs. Carlinville (12-1), Friday, 4 p.m.

EDGY's Take: IC Catholic and head coach Bill Krefft are seeking their third state football title. The Knights offense has been exceptional all season behind senior quarterback Luke Ricobene (134-of-200 passing for 2,247 yards and 27 touchdowns) and running back/defensive back Jordan Rowell (2,025 yards rushing 34 TDs). The Knights also possess a very good offensive linemen group led by senior Jimmy Kenneally and senior Robert Vitek. Carlinville and head coach Chad Easterday will try to capture the school's first state title after placing second in state twice (1978 and 1993). The Cavaliers will give the football to All-State running back Jacob Dixon (2,995 yards rushing 45 touchdowns) early and often. The play-action passing game is very capable with quarterback Adam Walton (113-of-187 passing for 1,660 yards 17 TD's). Can the Cavs’ defense slow down the IC offense? Can the Knights handle Carlinville’s speed?

EDGY's Pick: IC Catholic 41, Carlinville 20

Class 4A

Johnsburg (13-0) vs. Rochester (12-1), Friday, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Johnsburg was able to take full advantage of several Phillips turnovers for a thrilling, 23-20, semifinal win last Friday. The Skyhawks, coached by Dan DeBoeuf, will make their first state title game appearance in school history. All-State running back Alex Peete (2,295 yards 37 touchdowns) will get a lot of looks. Senior lineman Joe Moore (6-foot-3, 260 pounds), an Air Force verbal commitment, is a name to watch along with junior quarterback/linebacker Riley Buchanan (1,556 yards passing 18 TDs). Rochester and head coach Derek Leonard has the Rockets playing in their sixth 4A state title game over the past seven years. They feature a wide open spread passing game led by senior quarterbacks Nik Baker (2,418 yards passing 28 touchdowns) and Josh Grant (1,177 yards passing 21 touchdowns). Keep an eye on the Cox twins: wide receiver/defensive back Avante Cox (68 catches for 998 yards 19 TD's) and Deante Cox (6-foot-0, 170 pounds). A downfield target will be 6-foot-6 senior WR Collin Stallworth (47 catches 1, 078 yards 14 TDs). Can the Johnsburg defense contain Rochester’s big play offense? Can the Rochester defense slow down Johnsburg’s running game?

EDGY's Pick: Rochester 35, Johnsburg 17

Saturday's slate of games:

Class 5A: Vernon Hills vs. Peoria, 10 a.m.
Class 6A: Prairie Ridge vs. Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin, 1 p.m.
Class 7A: Plainfield North vs. East St. Louis, 4 p.m.
Class 8A: Loyola vs. Maine South, 7 p.m.

35 Days to Kickoff: Oak Forest

35 Days to Kickoff: Oak Forest

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: Oak Forest

Head coach: Brian McDonough

How they fared in 2017: 4-5 (3-3 South Suburban Conference). Oak Forest failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Pekin
Aug. 31 @ Niles Notre Dame
Sept. 7 @ T.F. South
Sept. 14 @ Hillcrest
Sept. 21 @ Eisenhower
Sept. 28 vs T.F. North
Oct. 5 vs Tinley Park
Oct. 12 @ Bremen
Oct. 19 vs Lemont

Biggest storyline: Can the Bengals get back into the IHSA state playoffs this season?

Names to watch this season: LB Anthony Kluk and OL/DL Julian Ramirez

Biggest holes to fill: The Bengals will need to reload on both sides of the football especially on offense with the graduation losses of several starters including QB Tyler Morrison and RB Waitari Wilson.

EDGY's Early Take: It was a rare season for the Bengals in 2017, having missed the IHSA state playoff field for the first time since 1999. Look for Oak Forest to rely on its defense while a newer group on offense develops. The Bengals and veteran head coach Brian McDonough will need to get out to a good early start with a front-loaded regular season schedule. 

36 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard North

36 Days to Kickoff: Glenbard North

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: Glenbard North

Head coach: Ryan Wilkens

Assistant coaches: Rich Smelko, John Cassidy, Bruce Donash, John Pullia, Tom Gudella, Kudret Kamabari and Matt Ng

How they fared in 2017: 5-5 (4-4 DuPage Valley Conference). Glenbard North made the Class 7A state playoff field and lost to Batavia in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Neuqua Valley

Aug. 31 vs Warren Township

Sept. 7 @ St. Charles East

Sept. 14 vs Batavia

Sept. 21 @ Wheaton North

Sept. 28 @ Lake Park

Oct. 5 vs St. Charles North

Oct. 12 vs Wheaton Warrenville South

Oct. 19 @ Geneva

[MORE: 50 Days to Kickoff - Neuqua Valley]

Biggest storyline: The Panthers have a new conference home. Can the Panthers reload and fare well in the DuKane Conference?

Names to watch this season: LB Michael Wellman and FB Jake Wilson

Biggest holes to fill: The Panthers will need several players to step up on offense with just one returning starter back from a season ago-- senior FB Jake Wilson.

EDGY's Early Take: Glenbard North says farewell to the DuPage Valley conference and says hello to all things DuKane. The Panthers will undoubtedly be a younger team in 2018. While some of the star power has graduated, head coach Ryan Wilkins will once again focus on establishing a strong, fast and physical running game. Getting off to a good start against a loaded schedule will be a big key for Glenbard North this season.