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 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.

64 Days to Kickoff: T.F. South

64 Days to Kickoff: T.F. South

Head coach: Bob Padjen

Assistant coaches: Trent Jensen, Jesse Kikkert, Jonathan Hill, Doug Smith, Mike Tisza, Rob Shell and Tim Russell

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (3-3 South Suburban Blue Conference), T.F. South made the Class 6A state football playoff field. The Rebels lost to Danville in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Thornwood

Sept. 1 vs Julian

Sept. 7 vs Oak Forest

Sept. 14 @ TF North

Sept. 21 vs Bremen

Sept. 28 @ Reavis

Oct. 5 vs Hillcrest

Oct. 12 @ Lemont

Oct. 19 @ Tinley Park

[MORE: 86 Days to Kickoff - Reavis]

Biggest storyline: T.F. South has advanced to the playoffs 20 times in the past 24 seasons. Can the Rebels get back to the IHSA state playoff field and make more noise this fall?

Names to watch this season: QB Kamron Clayton LB Michael Smith

Biggest holes to fill: The Rebels will need to replace seven starters on each side of the football this fall. 

EDGY's Early Take: T.F. South head coach Bob Padjen was able to keep the Rebels on a winning path in his first season as Rebels head coach after several years serving in an assistant role. South always has talent. If the underclassmen can step up this summer, look for the Rebels to challenge for the top half of the South Suburban Blue conference race. 

Recruiting News and Notes: Wynston Russell verbally commits to Oregon State


Recruiting News and Notes: Wynston Russell verbally commits to Oregon State

Homewood-Flossmoor’s senior three star-ranked defensive back Wynston Russell (5-foot-10, 160 pounds) announced his verbal commitment to Oregon State via his Twitter account.

"I really like the coaches at Oregon State a lot and they played a big role in my decision," Russell said. "Coach Tibs (Tim Tibesar) and head coach (Jonathon) Smith along with the rest of the coaches at Oregon State are a newer staff and they are going to win a lot of games at Oregon State. On my official visit I was able to learn more about the great academic support system in place. The academic support that is offered at Oregon State is great and they also work hard on career planning and placement."

"Everyone on the official visit really bonded last weekend, and the guys already on the team also made us feel like part of the team already. The guys on the team are great guy. I also really liked the campus life at Oregon State. You have plenty of things to do but you can also focus on academics and you don't have a ton of distractions. I just felt very comfortable at Oregon State and that was another big part of my decision. I just felt like I fit in there."

Russell was holding multiple scholarship offers and also considered Wisconsin, Western Michigan and Toledo before giving the Beavers his commitment. 

Chicago Mount Carmel senior offensive guard recruit Marcelo Mendiola (6-foot-5, 290 pounds) impress the University of Cincinnati coaches at a recently-held North Central College satellite camp. A few weeks later Mendiola added a Bearcat offer, visited the campus and then gave Cincinnati his verbal commitment.

"It's (Cincinnati) just a great fit for myself and my family," Mendiola said. "We talked it over and I just have a lot in common with the coaches and the philosophy in the football program at Cincinnati. I looked hard at things like the overall depth chart and I'll have a chance to come in and earn early playing time."

Joliet Catholic senior offensive tackle Dave Monnot III (6-foot-6, 285 pounds) decided to give Purdue his verbal commitment after adding a camp offer from the Boilermakers. Monnot III camped at Purdue last Monday, added a Boilermakers offer last Thursday and immediately gave the Purdue staff his verbal commitment.

"One of the big things that sold me on (Purdue) was the coaching staff," Monnot III said. "I love the way Coach (Dale) Williams coaches. He's an Ohio guy and he's going to hold me accountable if I mess up, and that's something I look for in a coach. The final factor was the players (at Purdue). I didn't get a chance to talk to any of the players while I was there, but at my gym here at home, Rudy's, Evan Panfil used to go there, so I had his number. I gave him a call and asked him about his experience there and he sold me."

Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin senior three star-ranked offensive tackle Nick Broeker (6-foot-5, 290 pounds) decided earlier this week to give Ole Miss his verbal commitment. Broeker, who was holding 18 scholarship offers this summer pointed towards his connection to Ole Miss as one of his reasons on giving the Rebels his commitment.

"Ole Miss just has so much to offer," according to Broeker. "It's a great fit for me in so many ways. They play in the best conference in the nation in the SEC West. My goal has always been to play at the highest possible level in college and you can't find a higher level of college football than the SEC. Ole Miss offers a good education plus I just feel at home. Ole Miss offered and recruited me as an offensive tackle. I looked at several schools and in the end I found myself comparing everyone else to Ole Miss. My family is also really excited about Ole Miss and they also really loved it.