Preps Talk

High School Lites opening round football capsules and picks


High School Lites opening round football capsules and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA playoffs' opening round edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Who wins the battle between Notre Dame and Minooka on the Reservation?  Can Warren Township find a way to upset Bolingbrook on the road? Who wins the battle of spectacular defenses when Glenbard North takes on Batavia? And finally, can Providence Catholic stun Richards in Oak Lawn? Or will the Bulldogs take a bite out of the Celtics?

Numbers in parentheses reflect class seeding.

Class 8A

(18) Notre Dame @ (15) Minooka, 7:00 p.m. 

EDGY's Take: Head coaches Mike Hennessey (Notre Dame) and Terry McCombs (Minooka) will bring a combined 70-plus years of coaching experience to the field on Friday night. Notre Dame (7-2) wants to run the football early and often with junior RB Ty Gavin. Minooka (7-2) will utilize its running game with RB Owen Kapple. QB Zach Gassner is more than capable with the play-action passing game. Can Minooka's speedy defense contain Notre Dame's RB Ty Gavin? 

EDGY's Pick: Minooka 21 Notre Dame 17

(21) Warren Township @ (12) Bolingbrook, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Warren Township (6-3), coached by Bryan McNulty, features a strong passing attack and a strong defense. Keep an eye on QB Ian Schilling, WR Micah Jones (Notre Dame) and RB Martin Walker Jr. Bolingbrook (7-2) and head coach John Ivlow also boasts a strong offense, but will senior QB Anthony Vespo be available after a Week 9 injury? The Raiders still feature a strong running game with junior RB Quentin Pringle and Anthony Williams Jr. The Raiders also feature an athlete-filled defense which includes DT Deshaun Mallory. What's the matchup to watch? Warren's receivers against Bolingbrook secondary: a classic strength-versus-strength showdown.

EDGY's Pick: Bolingbrook 26 Warren Township 21

Class 7A

(29) Glenbard North @ (4) Batavia, 6:00 p.m. 

EDGY's Take: Glenbard North (5-4) needed a Week 9 win over Neuqua Valley to make the state playoff field. The Panthers' calling card has been their defense. Their offense will look to run the football with senior RB/LB Jayleen Fitzpatrick. QB Lee Rady also played well in the win over Neuqua Valley. As for Batavia (8-1), they're looking to bounce back after a Week 9 loss to rival St. Charles North. The Bulldogs are balanced on offense, featuring QB Riley Cooper. They also have a tough-as-nails defense which includes junior LB Michael Jansey and LB/DL Luke Weerts. Whose defense blinks first? 

EDGY's Pick: Batavia 14 Glenbard North 13

(28) Alton @ (5) Lincoln Park, 6:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Alton (5-4) makes the over-300 mile one-way trek to Lane Stadium on Friday to take on Chicago Big Shoulders conference champion Lincoln Park (8-1). Alton will be paced on offense by RB Darrell Smith and QB Kevin Caldwell. The Cardinals defense has also played well all season. Lincoln Park will counter with a strong offense led by senior QB Jacob Dowell and senior RB Tavares Bean. Can Alton avoid "bus lag" and get out of the gates strong? Has Lincoln Park been as battle-tested as Alton?

EDGY's Pick: Alton 27 Lincoln Park 20

(17) Benet @ (16) Maine West, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Benet Academy (6-3) has been dealing with a rash of injuries this season, but coach Pat New and company have won three out of its last four games. Their players to watch include sophomore QB Colin Gillespie and senior LB Devin Petersen. Coach Jason Kradman's Maine West Warriors (7-2) are back in the state playoffs for the first time since 2002. West will rely on RB/LB Jake Bellizi and senior TE/DE Matt Hentgen. Keep an eye on the offensive/defensive line play. Can the Warriors win in the trenches against Benet?

EDGY's Pick: Benet Academy 28 Maine West 17

(19) Andrew @ (14) Plainfield North, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Andrew (6-3) is in the state playoffs after last season's 1-8 campaign. Head coach Adam Lewandowski's T-Bolt offense will be guided by QB Jack Condon and RB Tai Gannaban. Plainfield North (7-2) is looking to make another deep playoff run after losing in the 7A state final game to East St. Louis. The Tigers will rely on senior QB Brady Miller and a defense that's loaded with speed. Can the Plainfield North defense contain the T-Bolts' running game? Can the Andrew defense deflate the Plainfield North passing game?

EDGY's Pick: Plainfield North 27 Andrew 21

[MORE: High School Lites Podcast: Who's on upset alert?]

Class 6A

(13) Providence @ (4) Richards, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This playoff matchup reminds many of the days when Hall of Fame head coaches Gary Korhonen (Richards) and Matt Senffner (Providence Catholic) roamed the sidelines. The Celtics and Bulldogs locked horns in several memorable playoff games. This year, Mark Coglianese's Providence crew relies on a strong running game featuring RB De'Shon Gavin (WIU). The team comes in with a 5-4 record, but they're battle-tested. Richards (7-2) is coached by Tony Sheehan. They'll want to run the football with RB Derek Flowers. Junior QB/S Sebastian Castro is a two-way starter and a big key for the Bulldogs this season. Can either team gain control the line of scrimmage? 

EDGY's Pick: Providence Catholic 31 Richards 28

Class 5A

(10) Kaneland @ (7) Lindblom, 4:00 p.m. 

EDGY's Take: Coach Patrick Ryan of Kaneland (6-3) has a battle-tested team, hailing from the Northern Illinois Big 12 East conference. Their offense is led by QB Jack Douglas and RB Jonathon Alstott. Lindblom (8-1) has a ton of speed on both sides of the football including senior WR CJ Rutherford and senior WR/DB Joshua Bufkin. How well can coach Justin Pressley's Eagles fare outside of the Chicago Public League? Can the Kaneland defense stay with the speedy Eagles offense?

EDGY's Pick: Kaneland 28 Lindblom 21

(13) Peoria @ (4) Hillcrest, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Peoria (6-3), the defending Class 5A state champs, has one of the top offenses in the state. They are led by senior QB Coran Taylor (Illinois) and senior RB Geno Hess (SEMO). Keep an eye on senior OL Marques Cox. Hillcrest (7-2) and head coach Maurice Weaver can also move the football on offense behind QB Rocky Griffin and WR/DB Corey Crooms. The Hawks defense has been very solid all season. Can the Hillcrest defense slow down the Lions "basketball-on-grass" offense? 

EDGY's Pick: Hillcrest 40 Peoria 28

NBC Sports Chicago kicks off its extensive coverage of the 2018-19 IHSA season

NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago kicks off its extensive coverage of the 2018-19 IHSA season

Season premiere edition of “High School Lites presented by Wintrust” (hosted by Luke Stuckmeyer) debuts this Friday, August 24 at 11:00 PM CT!

NBC Sports Chicago live stream available on NBCSportsChicago/WatchLive or via the NBC Sports app

Batavia Bulldogs, the defending IHSA Class 7A state champion, to be the featured team this year on the network’s exclusive, behind-the-scenes team spotlight segment “DRIVE”

Fans are urged to follow the @NBCSDrive Twitter handle for the latest Batavia scores, analysis and photos, along with 24/7 state-wide IHSA updates via @NBCSPreps

“Edgy” Tim O’Halloran and Scott Phillips return for their sixth seasons as NBC Sports Chicago’s local preps sports experts

Chicago, IL (August 20, 2018) – NBC Sports Chicago – THE home of the #AuthenticFan and the home of Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football & Basketball State Championships – is ready to bring its viewers another action-packed season of expert local preps sports coverage, featuring many of the very best student-athletes in the nation. Note the following highlights/details for the upcoming 2018-19 IHSA preps season on NBC Sports Chicago:

HIGH SCHOOL LITES presented by Wintrust (Season premiere – Friday, August 24 at 11:00 PM CT)

Hosted by Luke Stuckmeyer (@LukeStuckmeyer), High School Lites presented by Wintrust continues to be THE weekly destination for all the thrilling highlights from the area’s biggest preps match-ups, along with post-game interviews featuring the area’s top coaches and players. In addition to in-depth video highlights, High School Lites will profile exemplary student-athletes who are excelling on and off the playing surface in High School Lites’ “Wintrust Athlete of The Week” segment, while distinguished teams will be profiled in the show’s “Team of the Week” segment, presented by St. Xavier University.

Continuing this season, High School Lites will offer fans the chance to get interactive with the show by participating in the “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week.” The wildly popular week-long poll will pit three Chicagoland matchups against one another. Fans are encouraged to vote via the network’s year-round dedicated IHSA Twitter handle @NBCSPreps for the game they want NBC Sports Chicago to cover on Friday night. The winning matchup will be profiled in a special segment in the show. In addition, fans will also be given the opportunity to request the game that “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran (football) and Scott Phillips (basketball) cover each Friday night by utilizing the hashtag #SendEdgy and #FollowPhilips, respectively.

NOTES: Every airing of High School Lites will also be live streamed on or via the NBC Sports app…the show shifts to Saturday nights in November to accommodate IHSA Football playoff match-ups…beginning Friday, November 30, High School Lites shifts its key focus to preps basketball.


In every weekly airing of High School Lites this season, preps fans can look forward to a brand new season of its acclaimed, behind-the-scenes, unprecedented all-access feature series entitled, “DRIVE.” This fall’s featured team will be the Batavia Bulldogs, who are coming off an exciting 7A state championship last season. The Bulldogs, who will play in the brand-new, competitive DuKane conference, feature two standout linebackers who have given their college commitments -- Michael Jansey (Northwestern) and Luke Weerts (North Dakota State). The Bulldogs’ season is a special one, as they will be taking on their longtime rival, the Geneva Vikings, in the 100th rendition of the series. Batavia will be seeking their third state championship in the last six years. Every episode of “DRIVE” will be made available for viewing on immediately following its High School Lites on-air debut.


Veteran Illinois high school football sports writer/recruiting authority “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran (@EDGYTIM) returns for his sixth season as a contributing reporter for High School Lites. O’Halloran’s NBC Sports Chicago Preps Power Rankings (@NBCSPreps), players & coaches profiles, and recruiting updates can be found at  In addition, O’Halloran’s content is also featured on’s partner site, Scott Phillips (@phillipshoops) also returns for his sixth season as a contributing reporter for High School Lites and will take center stage this upcoming basketball season. Phillips is also a key contributor to’s “CollegeBasketballTalk.”


Fans are encouraged to get interactive with our NBC Sports Chicago prep sports experts each Wednesday at 12 NOON CT during football and basketball season. For this upcoming football season, “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran and host Joe Collins break down the important topics on the gridiron and set the table on Friday’s games. In basketball season, Scott Phillips and Collins will chronicle the important news on the basketball court. Each segment will be featured live on either NBC Sports Chicago’s “Facebook” page ( or via Periscope @NBCSPreps.


For the seventh-straight year, NBC Sports Chicago and the IHSA will present the IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show LIVE on Saturday, October 20 at 8:00 PM. Brackets will be unveiled as 256 Illinois teams, from 1A to 8A, will find out their first round opponent. This two-hour show will also be streamed live on and the NBC Sports app.


Fans are urged to visit’s dedicated Preps section ( for the latest Preps Power Rankings, Illinois AP rankings, special segment video features, the latest IHSA news, game highlights and recaps, special mid-week segments previewing the upcoming week’s action featuring detailed analytical breakdowns from “Edgy Tim” O’Halloran and Scott Phillips, and much more.


A reminder, social media fans can follow the network’s @NBCSDrive Twitter handle for the latest Batavia scores, highlights, players & coaches interviews, and analysis. Fans can follow the school’s Twitter handle (@BataviaHS), along with the school’s dedicated football Twitter handle (@BataviaFootball) and utilize the hashtag #DriveBatavia. In addition, @NBCSPreps will provide fans with the latest statewide updates throughout the scholastic year, which will include Power Rankings, scores, analysis, and viewer/reader Twitter photos from game day.

NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago will carry the 2018 IHSA Football State Championships on Thanksgiving weekend featuring live coverage of the 1A-4A title games on Friday, November 23, along with the 5A-8A championship battles on Saturday, November 24.  In addition, NBC Sports Chicago will also carry the IHSA Boys & Girls State Basketball Championships beginning in February of 2019.  Full details will be announced in the coming weeks.

Power Rankings: #3 - Phillips

Power Rankings: #3 - Phillips 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: Phillips

Head coach: Troy McAllister

How they fared in 2017: 14-0 (5-0 CPL Illini Land of Lincoln Conference). Phillips made the 5A state playoff field, defeated Morgan Park, Solorio, Lemont and Sterling. They went on to defeat Dunlap in the state championship game.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 26 @ Pickerington Central (Ohio)

Sept. 1 vs Chaminade (St. Louis) at East St. Louis

Sept. 8 vs Simeon at Gately

Sept. 14 vs Lincoln Park at Mandrake

Sept. 21 vs Morgan Park at Mandrake

Sept. 28 vs Curie at Rockne Stadium

Oct. 6 at Lane Tech

Oct. 12 vs Westinghouse at Mandrake

Oct. 19 vs Raby at Lane Tech

[MORE: 62 Days to Kickoff - Lincoln Park]

Biggest storyline: With the Wildcats moving up to Class 6A, can they claim another state title this November?

Names to watch this season: TE Jahleel Billingsley (Alabama) and WR/S Fabian McCray (Illinois)

Biggest holes to fill: The Wildcats will need to replace quite a bit of offensive production, due to the graduation losses of QB J'Bore Gibbs (South Dakota State) and RB Craig Elmore (Kent State).

EDGY's Early Take: No one can ever accuse Phillips and/or head coach Troy McAllister of avoiding any challenges.  The Wildcats will again play "up" in competition, going from Class 5A to 6A this season. They also will play some national powers in Pickerington Central (Ohio) right out of the gate on live TB. The following week, they take on St. Louis-area power Chaminade. That game will be in East St. Louis at the annual Scholar Classic Showdown. As far as the roster is concerned, Phillips is stacked once again with FBS-level talent. If they feel that they have found answers over the summer at a few key spots, they have all the potential to play with --and beat-- any team in Illinois on any given day, regardless of class.