Preps Talk

High School Lites IHSA state finals preview: Class 5A-8A

High School Lites IHSA state finals preview: Class 5A-8A

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 5A

Vernon Hills (10-3) vs. Peoria (12-1), Saturday, 10:00 a.m.

EDGY's Take: Vernon Hills and head coach Bill Bellecomo has the Cougars in their first-ever state football title game. Vernon Hills has gotten to Champaign led by their defense and a balanced offensive attack. The offense is led by senior QB Kyle Hull (1,512 yards 15 touchdowns) and versatile senior RB/DB Drew Winegardner. The Cougars defense is spearheaded by senior ILB Andrew "Chick" Smith (152 tackles). Peoria and head coach Tim Thornton is also seeking the Lions first-ever state football title on Saturday. The Lions shotgun read option offense is led by junior QB Coran Taylor (2,864 yards of total offense 34 touchdowns), junior RB Geno Hess (2,597 yards 42 touchdowns) and a talented and deep group in the offensive skills department. The Lions offensive and defensive line play has been impressive all season long. They’re led by three star-ranked OL/DL Kendrick Green (6-foot-4, 279 yards) plus junior D-1 recruit Marques Cox (6-foot-5, 292 pounds). Can the Vernon Hills defense continue to work its magic against one state's most potent offenses? Can the Peoria defense slow down the Cougars’ balanced offense? 

EDGY's Pick: Peoria 35 Vernon Hills 20

Class 6A

Prairie Ridge (13-0) vs. Sacred Heart-Griffin (13-0), Saturday, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Prairie Ridge and head coach Chris Schremp is in search of the school's second state football title. The Wolves will look to run the football and play smash-mouth football behind junior QB Samson Evans (1,870 yards rushing 38 TDs) and senior FB Manny Ebirim (134 carries for 971 yards 10 TDs). Prairie Ridge can also play strong defense. Keep an eye on junior OL/DL Jeff Jenkins, ILB Jacob Ommen and senior DB Peter Berg. Sacred Heart Griffin, under Hall of Fame head coach Ken Leonard, has been rolling up huge points all season long. The Cyclones offense is led by junior TB Tremayne Lee-- one of a very deep group of backs. Senior QB Tim Brenneisen (120 of 185 passes for 2,436 yards and 23 TDs) has also been solid all season. The Cyclones also rely heavily on its big, senior-laden offensive line (they average 6-foot-4, 279 pounds). Can the Prairie Ridge defense slow down the Cyclones offense/running game? Can anyone slow down and contain PR's QB Samson Evans?                                                       

EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 38 SHG 31

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

Class 7A

Plainfield North (11-2) vs. East St. Louis, (13-0), Saturday, 4:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Plainfield North was able to beat Fenwick 18-17 in overtime last Saturday to advance to Memorial Stadium. North hadn't even won a state playoff game until this year. The Tigers feature a balanced attack on offense along with an overall speedy team on both sides of the football. The offense is led by junior QB Brady Miller (139 of 235 passes for 1,868 yards 20 TDs)  along with senior RB Ty Hoosman (1,675 yards rushing 26 TDs) and senior WR Connor Peplow (50 catches for4 783 yards 7 TDs). Plainfield North's defense has been strong all season long. Keep an eye out on senior LBs JJ Frey and Will Stoll. OL/DL Ari Ekowa is a force as well. East St. Louis and head coach Darren Sunkett are looking to capture the school's eighth overall state football title. The Flyers have speed on both sides of the football, led by senior QB Rey Estes (Missouri) along with four star-ranked senior WR Jeff Thomas and junior RB Jarrell Anderson (1,306 yards rushing 21 TDs). The East St. Louis defense has also been a strength all season and is led by senior LB James Knight, senior OL/DL Lemontre Harvey plus junior DL Terrion Williams. Can the East St. Louis offense run past the Plainfield North defense? Can the Tigers’ offense dent the Flyers’ defense?

EDGY's Pick: East St. Louis 22 Plainfield North 14

Class 8A

Loyola Academy (13-0) vs. Maine South (10-3), Saturday, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The state's top-ranked team all season long, Loyola Academy, will be looking to bring a second straight Class 8A state football title --and third overall—to Wilmette. The Ramblers offense was on point in last week's 42-13 win over Glenbard West. Senior QB Tommy Herion (165 of 267 passes for 2,115 yards and 18 TDs) will look to his main targets: senior WR David Terrell Jr. (55 catches for 886 yards 7 TD's) and senior WR/ATH Jake Marwede (Duke). Loyola can --and will-- run the football. They’ll do it with RB Kyle Rock (1,128 yards 18 TD's) and a big, strong and veteran offensive line. Maine South can also light up the scoreboard with senior QB Nick Leongas (155 of 257 passes for 2,787 yards 27 TDs/1,040 yards rushing 11 TDs) along with junior RB Fotis Kokosioulis (1,358 yards rushing 21 TDs) plus a deep group of receivers. The Hawks defense has been of the bend-but-not-break variety. Keep an eye on senior DL/OL Kevin Jarvis (Michigan State). Can the Maine South defense slow down the Loyola offense? Can the Loyola defense slow down the Maine South offense?

EDGY's Pick: Loyola 41 Maine South 35

Friday's slate of games:

Class 1A: Forreston vs. Decatur St. Teresa, 10 a.m.

Class 2A: Deer Creek-Mackinaw vs. Maroa-Forsyth, 1 p.m.

Class 3A: IC Catholic vs. Carlinville, 4 p.m.

Class 4A: Johnsburg vs. Rochester, 7 p.m.

Edgy's recruiting news and notes: LWE's Dzioban commits to Miami (OH)

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USA TODAY

Edgy's recruiting news and notes: LWE's Dzioban commits to Miami (OH)

Lincoln-Way East junior kicker Dominic Dzioban (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) added a recent scholarship offer from Miami of Ohio and has since given the Redhawks and head coach Chuck Martin his verbal commitment. 

"I just had a great visit on Saturday to Miami of Ohio and I was able to get every question I had about the school and the program answered on Saturday," Dzioban said. "When I was first offered by Miami (Ohio) I had no idea what they had to offer or what they are all about. Miami (Ohio) has a historic campus and they also offer an amazing education. It seems like every facility at Miami (Ohio) is brand new and Oxford is just a great small college town. Miami (Ohio) really offers everything I was looking for in a school and having a chance to go to Miami on a full scholarship is a huge opportunity I couldn't pass by at all."

Lake Forest sophomore linebacker Cal Uihlein (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) was able to add his first offer recently from the Wisconsin Badgers, and Uihlein also made a visit to the University of Wisconsin this past Saturday. 

"I had a great visit to Wisconsin on Saturday," Uihlein said. "It wasn't a usual recruiting type of visit, it was much more low key and I was able to just see everything behind the scenes including seeing the team scrimmage. I was able to get a good feel for the team and the coaches after the scrimmage. I was also able to talk with some of the coaches at Wisconsin including head coach Paul Chryst and linebacker coaches. Everyone at Wisconsin seems very excited about me and it was just good to get to know them a bit better. I was able to just basically see the stadium and I didn't get to see too much of the facilities or the campus. I'll definitely head back again to Wisconsin soon and see more of the school and the facilities and overall it was a great visit."

Warren Township junior three star ranked defensive tackle Willis Singleton Jr. (6-foot-2, 285 pounds) was able to add an offer from the University of Illinois last Saturday while on a visit to watch the Fighting Illini's spring game. 

"I was hoping that an offer (from Illinois) was coming but I still had no idea," Singleton Jr. said. "I know that Illinois is on the rise and have added some really strong players from my recruiting class. My Dad also went to Illinois and just telling him over the phone that Illinois had offered me was an amazing felling and experience."

Singleton Jr. also said that "Illinois is definitely on the top of the spectrum. My recruitment is open, but there are definitely one of the top schools because of how they went about things with me on the visit."

Bolingbrook sophomore safety Justin Walters (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) has also seen more and more schools take notice of him this spring. Walters is currently holding six FBS level offers and growing by the day. 

"I have six scholarship offers now," Walters said. "I have offers from Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Army, Iowa, Iowa State and now Minnesota. Minnesota is my latest offer and they offered me a few weeks ago."

Walters has also been hitting the road and visiting a few schools this spring and plans to see even more soon.

"I've made visits already to Iowa and Iowa St and Wisconsin. I also visited Northwestern awhile ago. I'm also planning to visit Michigan State sometime this spring."

Breaking: Northwestern adds another in-state pledge

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Breaking: Northwestern adds another in-state pledge

It didn't take Wheaton North junior outside linebacker Xander Mueller (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) long to give the Northwestern coaching staff his verbal commitment today. Mueller — whose older brother (junior linebacker Erik Mueller) is already on the Wildcats roster — attended the Wildcats final spring practice today. He picked up a scholarship offer and then gave head coach Pat Fitzgerald his verbal commitment on the spot. 

"I didn't expect it (adding a Northwestern offer) and I was very surprised," Mueller said. "Northwestern is the place for me because of the incredible academics, the location, having my brother already on the team and the amazing coaching staff and football program. I'm super happy."

Mueller is the second in-state name for the Wildcats and the seventh known verbal commitment for the Northwestern Class of 2020. Mueller joins Lake Zurich tight end Hunter Welcing (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) as the Wildcats in state commitments so far in the 2020 class. 

Mueller was also the Wildcats second overall verbal commitment today as Groveport (Ohio) Madison three star ranked offensive guard TeRah Edwards (6-foot-3, 295 pounds) also committed to the Wildcats after today's final spring practice.