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High School Lites / Playoff Semifinal Preview

NBC Sports Chicago

High School Lites / Playoff Semifinal Preview

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Semifinal Saturday IHSA State Playoff edition of High School Lites, Saturday at 11:00 p.m. Can Marist get payback for it's Week 1 loss to neighborhood rival Brother Rice? Can Loyola beat Lincoln-Way East and stun the IHSA football world? Does the Drive end for Batavia at Nazareth Academy or can the Bulldogs get back top the 7A state title game? Who's running game wins out between Cary-Grove and Notre Dame? And can the Crete-Magical Mystery Tour continue onto the biggest stage or will Richards take a bite out of the Warriors on Saturday?

Class 8A

Brother Rice at Marist, 1:00 p.m. #SENDEDGY

EDGY's Take: This neighborhood rivalry is about as intense as they come. It's a rematch from the opening week when Brother Rice defeated Marist 20-16. Rice head coach Brian Badke will rely on senior QB John Bean, who's a major threat with running and passing abilities. Bean has several key targets, including RB Jessi Plunkett and WR Dylan Summers. The Crusaders defense has been strong all season and was able to pitch a 20-0 shutout in last week's win over Warren Township. Marist and head coach Ron Dawczak will also rely on a talented quarterback, All-State selection Mike Markett. He's a major threat with both the pass and the run and will get the football into the hands of RB Billy Skalitzky and WR Jadon Thompson as much as possible. The RedHawks defense also played well in their 21-7 win over H-F last Saturday. LB Jake Duerr is a key name to watch. Can the Rice defense contain Mike Markett? Can the Marist defense contain John Bean? Look for a very tight game here and a possible "last possession wins" type of finish. 

EDGY's Pick: Brother Rice 21 Marist 20

Lincoln-Way East at Loyola, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Loyola Academy and head coach John Holocek have been able to prove everyone wrong this postseason. They posted an impressive 17-0 shutout over Maine South last Saturday. The Ramblers will rely on a much improved offense, led by QB Jack Fallon and an experienced skills group, featuring WR Rory Boos, WR Artie Collins and RB Trevor Cabanban. The Loyola defense is led by All-State S Jake Gonzales (Penn), LB Armoni Dixon, DL Edward Eastman and Conor Hough. The Lincoln-Way East Griffins, coached by Rob Zvonar, have been the state's top ranked team all season long; no one has come close to beating them. Their offense is led by QB Jake Baltz (Illinois State), who has a wealth of talented skill position players including WR AJ Henning, RB Devon Williams, WR Matt Judd and WR/TE Jackson Ritter. It's a balanced and explosive unit. On defense, the Griffins has also been strong. Keep an eye on DL Dylan Shelton, LB Danny Scianna and LB Gus Christensen. Can Loyola force Lincoln-Way East to play for four quarters for the first time all season?

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 28 Loyola 14

Class 7A

Batavia at Nazareth, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Batavia and head coach Dennis Piron ended up needing overtime to beat Willowbrook in last week's quarterfinal. The Bulldogs gave up a 24-7 third quarter lead. Their offense is balanced and led by QB Jack Meyers (1,844 yards passing 20 TDs) and RB Art Taylor (1,125 yards rushing, nine TDs). Batavia's defense is also a strength. Watch for LB Michael Jansey Jr. (Northwestern), junior LB/RB Quinn Urwiler and senior LB Luke Weerts (North Dakota State) to make plays. Nazareth head coach Tim Racki saw his Roadrunners down early 14-0 to Simeon last Saturday but then came back with a vengeance. They hung on for a thrilling 34-27 win at Gately Stadium. The Nazz offense starts with sophomore QB JJ McCarthy and features several key play makers including WR/DB Michael Love and WR/DB Diamond Evans. Bottom line: the Nazareth offense is simply as explosive as any team remaining in the semifinal round. Can the Batavia defense get a pass rush and slow down Nazareth's spread offense? Can the Roadrunner defense limit Batavia's touches?

EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 27 Batavia 17

Mt. Carmel at St. Charles North, 1:00 p.m. 

EDGY's Take: First year head coach Jordan Lynch guided his Caravan to an impressive 29-19 win over East St. Louis last Saturday. Mount Carmel got a big game from QB Rad Premovic. St. Charles North is in the semifinal round for the first time in school history. Coach Rob Pomazak's North Stars got a 21-10 win over Dukane conference rival Wheaton South last Saturday. Mount Carmel wants to establish the shotgun run/pass option offense with Premovic. He will look towards a deep backfield, led by RB Kyle Davis, RB Demetrius Rias and WR/DB Matt Lenti. St. Charles North has gotten a big season from sophomore QB Kyler Borwn and sophomore RB Nick Demarco. Senior WR/S Tyler Nubin (Minnesota) is the top overall player for North on either side of the football. Can the North Stars slow down the Caravan's balanced offensive attack? Can the Mount Carmel defense contain North's big play potential?

EDGY's Pick: Mount Carmel 28 St. Charles North 17

Class 6A

Cary-Grove at Notre Dame, 3:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Cary-Grove was able to beat Phillips last Saturday 34-24. Coach Brad Seaburg's Trojans got several key contributions in all three phases of the game. This week, they will look to establish the power option game -first and foremost- with FB Blake Skol, RB Danny Daigle and a nice mix of run and pass from QB Ben McDonald. C-G's All-State senior OL/DL Addison West (Western Michigan) has also been a big key all season for the Trojans. Notre Dame is coached by a mainstay in the IHSA, Mike Hennessey. He will give the football early and often to senior RB Ty Gavin. The Dons' remaining offensive skills are also a strength. They're led by sophomore QB Anthony Sayles. The ND defense has been strong all season/postseason. Keep an eye on LB Anthony Ranallo and DL Michael Tobias. Can the Notre Dame defense shut down the Cary-Grove option game? Can Notre Dame run the football against the Cary defense? 

EDGY's Pick: Cary Grove 27 Notre Dame 21

Richards at Crete-Monee, 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Head coach Tony Sheehan has one of his more talented Richards teams on both sides of the ball. On offense, it starts with QB Marquel Porter along with Iowa commit ATH Sebastian Castro. Watch for junior RB LeShon Williams and senior WR/DB Walter Riley to make plays as well. Richards also has talent and size on both the offensive and defensive lines. Crete-Monee, under head coach John Konecki, has stunned the 6A field beating a 6 seed (Bloomington) a 3 seed (Glenwood) and a 2 seed (Washington) to advance to Saturday's semifinal round. The Warriors also have a ton of talent and speed. Their offense will throw a lot of different looks and rotate in several versatile personnel. Keep an eye on QB Trayvon Rudolph and RB/DB Ronald Carroll Jr. WR Ricky Johnson is a deep ball threat. Can the Richards offense get out of  the gates quickly this week? Can the Crete-Monee offense make the Richards defense work overtime, having them on their heels with several different looks?

EDGY's Pick: Richards 28 Crete-Monee 27 

Class 5A

Montini at Sterling, Sat. 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Montini had little issue beating Evergreen Park last Saturday. Coach Mike Bukovsky's Broncos feature a balanced, shotgun spread offensive attack. The unit is led by junior QB Deontay Bell, sophomore QB Robert Brazziel and senior RB Nick Fedanzo. Junior WR Nate Muersch and senior WR Scott West are playmakers as well. Montini also has size and strength up front on both the offensive and defensive lines-- they're one of the most battle tested teams left in the state playoff field coming out of the CCL Blue. Sterling and head coach Job Schlemmer are in the state semifinal round for the first time in school history. The Golden Warriors have balance on offense, led by QB Cooper Willman and All-State RB/LB Isaiah Ryan. Sterling also has a stable of quality backs and receivers. Can Sterling match up on both sides of the football against Montini for four quarters? Can Montini win on the road?

EDGY's Pick: Montini 31 Sterling 21

Hillcrest at Joliet Catholic, 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Hillcrest has been on a roll all season long. Coach Morgan Weaver's Hawks will travel a little bit west on I-80 on Saturday and take on Joliet Catholic at Joliet Memorial Stadium. The Hawks boast speed and explosiveness on both sides of the football. Look for senior QB Monte Garrett, sophomore RB Mar'kiese Irving and several quality backs and receivers to make plays. Hillcrest's defense also has talent. The group is led by senior DB/WR Corey Crooms and senior DE/TE Cam Mattox. Joliet Catholic, with head coach Jake Jaworski at the helm, are back in familiar territory in the state playoffs--playing deep into November. They will give the football early and often to All-State senior RB Keenan Hailey (2,323 yards rushing), who runs behind a big and very physical offensive line. The JCA defense has also been solid all season long. Keep an eye on senior LB Max Briscoe along with All State DB Kurt Weis. Can the Hillcrest defense figure out Joliet Catholic's double-wing running game? Can the JCA defense slow down and limit the Hillcrest big play ability?

EDGY's Pick: Joliet Catholic 35 Hillcrest 29

Class 4A

Richmond-Burton at IC Catholic, 4:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Richmond-Burton and veteran first year head coach Mike Noll has made quite a splash this season after having coached at McHenry and Glenbrook South for several years. The Rockets have relied on a strong running game and defense led by FB/LB Mike Kaufman, junior RB Dalton Wood and sophomore QB Jacob Huber. The Rockets defense has allowed just 88 points all season. IC Preps and head coach Bill Krefft was "success factored" up to Class 4A after winning back-to-back Class 3A state titles in 2016 and 2017. The Knights haven't skipped a beat so far this fall. The Knights offense has good balance. QB Khali Saunders (1,798 yards of total offense, 20 TDs) is a terrific athlete capable of beating teams with the pass and run. Sophomore RB Kyle Franklin (1,961 yards rushing 32 TD's) has been a big key as well. The Knights defense also has been a force. Keep an eye on senior LB/WR Khalil Saunders (Purdue), junior LB Kevin Cooke and senior OL/DL Ricky Mysliwiec. Can Richmond Burton's defense slow down the multi-faceted IC offense?
EDGY's Pick: IC 32 Richmond Burton 20

Rochester at Bishop McNamara, 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Rochester, with head coach Derek Leonard, is in search of their eighth Class 4A state title over the past nine seasons; however, they have a big challenge awaiting on Saturday in the likes of Bishop McNamara. The Rockets offense remains as power-packed as ever. They will play two quarterbacks: junior Clay Bruno (2,158 yards passing, 24 touchdowns) and senior Brock Mackiney (565 yards passing, nine touchdowns). Both have multiple weapons to use in WR Cade Eddington (908 yards receiving, nine touchdowns), WR Riley Lewis (898 yards receiving 11 touchdowns) and junior RB David Yoggerst (816 yards rushing, 11 touchdowns). Bishop McNamara, also a perennial force in the IHSA playoffs, is led by Hall of Fame head coach Rich Zinnani. He has some key names to watch: QB junior Tyler Heller, senior RB Tyshon King and junior OL Isaac Ruder. Can Rochester win on the road in Kankakee? Could weather conditions play a factor on Saturday? Can the Fightin Irish defense slow down the Rochester offense?

EDGY's Pick: Rochester 27 Bishop McNamara 24

Class 3A

Byron at Herscher, 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Byron will hit the road on Saturday and travel across the state. Coach Jeff Boyer's Tigers has a potent ground game. Keep an eye on RB Drake Snodgrass (1,428 yards, 15 touchdowns), RB Isaac Stickler (1,220, 17 touchdowns) and FB Ricky Messling (991 yards, 20 touchdowns). Head coach Dan Wetzel's Tigers have impresses as the #15. The Tigers have been on a roll this postseason, led by a strong offense. QB Carter Hendrix, RB Matt Dorsey are names to watch. This team is pretty battle-tested coming out of the Interstate 8 Large conference. Can the Herscher defense slow down the power running Byron offense? Can the Herscher offense get some long drives going and finish with points against the Byron defense?

EDGY's Pick: Byron 28 Herscher 21

74 Days To Kickoff: Metea Valley

74 Days To Kickoff: Metea Valley 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 Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Metea Valley 

Head coach: John Parpet Jr.

Assistant coaches: Defensive coordinator - Erik Kramer, Asst. coach - Russ Lorenz, Asst. coach - Albert Zika, Asst. coach - Evan Goodman

How they fared in 2018: 1-8 (0-4 DuPage Valley Conference). Metea Valley failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoffs

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs. Wheaton Warrenville South
Sept. 6 @ Lake Park 
Sept. 13 @ Belleville East
Sept. 20 @ Naperville Central
Sept. 27 vs. De Kalb
Oct. 4 @ Naperville North
Oct. 11 vs. Neuqua Valley
Oct. 18 @ Waubonsie Valley  
Oct. 25 vs. Neuqua Valley

[MORE: 93 Days to Kickoff: Oswego East]

Biggest storyline: Can the Mustangs get off to a good start under first year head coach John Parpet Jr.?

Names to watch this season: TE/DE Austin Frederick (Sr.) and TE/LB John Belskis (Sr.) 

Biggest holes to fill: The Mustangs will need to replace seven graduated starters on the defensive side of the football for the 2019 season.

EDGY's Early Take: Metea Valley and first year head coach John Parpet Jr. will look to get the Mustangs program on the winning side of the slate after posting back-to-back 1-8 seasons. They will rely on an experienced core of senior multi-year starters. If the underclassmen group can develop sooner rather than later, this program has the potential for a breakout. The regular season schedule in the DuPage Valley conference is always stacked; they need to get off to a good early start.

75 Days to Kickoff: St. Ignatius

75 Days to Kickoff: St. Ignatius 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 Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: St. Ignatius College Prep

Head coach: Matt Miller

Assistant coaches: Charlie Dowdl, Alex Carric, Dan Bunne, Mike Mille, David Hidalg, Michael Whela, Doug Bartlet, Bill Stritzel and Ben Wade

How they fared in 2018: 6-5 (3-1 CCL Red Conference). St. Ignatius made the Class 6A state playoff field and lost to Notre Dame in opening round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Lindblom
Sept. 6 @ Ridgewood
Sept. 13 @ Benet Academy
Sept. 20 @ Marmion Academy
Sept. 27 vs Loyola
Oct. 4 vs Joliet Catholic
Oct. 11 vs Marian Central Catholic
Oct. 18 @ Marian Catholic
Oct. 25 vs Fenwick

[MORE: 84 Days to Kickoff - Marmion Academy]

Biggest storyline: The schedule. Can the Wolfpack get back to the state playoffs? The upgraded/combined ESCC-CCL regular season schedule should be intriguing.

Names to watch this season: LB Declan Callahan (Sr.), OL/DL Mofolarin Walter-Johnson (Sr.), LB/DE Elijah Williams (Sr.)  

Biggest holes to fill: The Wolfpack graduated nine starters this past spring on the offensive side of the football. 

EDGY's Early Take: St. Ignatius has had a strong run of late, having made the IHSA state playoffs in the past four seasons. They won seven games in 2018, five via the shutout and they gave Loyola all they could handle. But the combination of the ESCC/CCL conferences has undoubtedly ramped up the Wolfpacks' schedule this fall. It features games with the likes of Benet, JCA, Loyola and Marian Central Catholic. If St. Ignatius can reload a bit (on offense in particular), they will have a good chance to compete for a fifth straight IHSA state playoff appearance.