CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the season premiere of High School Lites, tonight at 11:00 p.m., just after White Sox baseball. The No. 1 team in the @CSNPreps Power Rankings, Homewood-Flossmoor, travels to Downers Grove South to take on the Mustangs. We’ll also spotlight a key rivalry game as Providence hosts Joliet Catholic. Mount Carmel takes on Marist under the lights at Soldier Field. Will Glenbard North or Naperville Central survive the first test in the new DuPage Valley Conference?
St. Rita vs. Malvern Prep (PA), 4:00 p.m. at Soldier Field
EDGY's Take: This game is part of the annual Preseason Prep Bowl at Soldier Field. St. Rita and head coach Todd Kuska will take on the Friars out of Eastern Pennsylvania, who went 7-4 last season and welcome back 12 returning starters. The St. Rita Mustangs will look to reload this season with just seven starters back, including three on offense. Senior offensive lineman Drew Walega and senior linebacker Mike Tiernan are names to watch for St. Rita. Look for the Mustangs to focus on finding some key offensive playmakers in this opening game.
EDGY's Pick: St. Rita 17, Malvern Prep 14
King vs. Whitney Young, 5:00 p.m. at Rockne Stadium
EDGY's Take: King posted an 8-3 record under head coach Lonnie Williams last season, and the Jaguars have a standout name in senior wide receiver Phillip Powell (Western Illinois). Whitney Young is looking to bounce back under veteran head coach Tim Franken after a rare down season in 2014.
EDGY's Pick: King 31, Whitney Young 14
[MORE PREPS: CSN Preps Top 25 Preseason Power Rankings]
No. 2 Mount Carmel vs. Marist, 7:00 p.m. at Soldier Field
EDGY's Take: The Caravan are highly ranked for many good reasons, most importantly the return of senior quarterback Anthony Thompson (NIU) and a deep group of offensive skills players. Marist, under head coach Pat Dunne, might be unranked but they are loaded on the offensive side of the ball. The Redhawks have returning seven starters on offense, including senior quarterback Brendan Skalitzky and senior running back Darshon McCullough (South Dakota State). If the Redhawks defense can slow down the Caravan option/running game then this one could be a much closer game than many may think.
EDGY's Pick: Mount Carmel 24, Marist 21
No. 10 Phillips vs. Fenwick, 7:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Fenwick and head coach Gene Nudo will not care one bit about Phillips and its lofty preseason ranking. The Friars look to reload at some key spots this season, most importantly on the offense line with just senior Joe Calcagno the only returning starter. Phillips and head coach Tim McAllister have a roster loaded with speed and talent, including quarterback Quayvon Skanes (UConn). The Wildcats defense also has plenty of talent, including senior linebacker Amani Jones (Iowa) and senior defensive tackle Amir Watts (several major DI offers). Can Skanes make a smooth transition under center for Phillips? Can Fenwick handle the speed of Phillips?
EDGY's Pick: Phillips 31, Fenwick 21
Romeoville vs. Hinsdale South, 7:00 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Hinsdale South just missed making the @CSNPreps Power Rankings. Hornets head coach Mike Barry's team features the state's top ranked recruit in senior defensive end Josh King. Romeoville has a new head coach in alumn and former Notre Dame/NFL star Oliver Gibson. The Spartans are looking to improve after a 2-7 record in 2014.
EDGY's Pick: Hinsdale South 35, Romeoville 14
[MORE PREPS: Top 5 can't miss games in Chicagoland in 2015]
Crystal Lake South vs. Marian Central Catholic, 7:15 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Marian Central Catholic has a new head coach in former Johnsburg coach Mike Maloney. Look for the Hurricanes to mix in the run a bit more this season, while also throwing the ball as usual. Crystal Lake South and head coach Chuck Ahsmann will look towards his line play, led by senior Kevin Amren (6-foot-3, 280 pounds). The Hurricanes will counter with senior offensive/defensive lineman Gavin Dineen (6-foot-3, 265 pounds).
EDGY's Pick: Marian Central Catholic 27, Crystal Lake South 17
Cary-Grove vs. Prairie Ridge, 7:15 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Both are power programs in the Fox Valley Conference and this crossover game will have a playoff feel. Prairie Ridge welcomes back a ton of starters from last season. Keep an eye on sophomore quarterback Samson Evans and senior fullback Nate Griffin. Cary-Grove and head coach Brad Seaburg will need to reload this season. The Trojans will rely heavily on junior running back/linebacker Ty Pennington. Expect a quick, run heavy game between these two.
EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 21, Cary-Grove 14
No. 12 Providence Catholic vs. No. 13 Joliet Catholic, 7:30 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Joliet Catholic has the upper hand in this great Will County showdown when it comes to experience. The Hilltoppers bring back a ton of experience and talent, especially up front, with senior defensive lineman/tight end Ken Aguirre (6-foot-2, 290 pounds), senior guard/defensive tackle Zeveyon Furcron (6-foot-2, 305 pounds) and senior offensive lineman Tyler Witt (6-foot- 3, 305 pounds). Providence Catholic and head coach Mark Coglianese put away the 2014 Class 7A state title trophy and try to find some replacements in the offensive skills department, with the exception of junior running back Richie Warfield. He's expected to carry a heavier load this fall. Can the young and talented Celtics defense slow down the Hilltoppers ground-and-pound attack?
EDGY's Pick: Providence Catholic 27, JCA 26
[MORE PREPS: The beauty that is high school football season]
No. 14 Montini Catholic vs. No. 18 Maine South, 7:30 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Lots of familiar faces on both sidelines for this terrific opening game. Both Montini Catholic and Maine South run the same offense, and both are expect to do great things this fall. Maine South will look towards three-year starting quarterback Brian Collis, along with senior offensive/defensive lineman Liam O'Sullivan (Cincinnati) and junior guard Kevin Jarvis. Montini Catholic will counter with its explosive offense. Keep an eye on senior quarterback Justin Blake, along with junior running back Prince Walker and a deep group of receivers led by senior Tyler Millikan. Blake, who started at wide receiver last season, brings speed and a serious pass/run option this fall for the Broncos.
EDGY's Pick: Montini Catholic 38, Maine South 31
No. 19 Oswego vs. No. 20 Batavia, 7:30 p.m.
EDGY's Take: Another great non-conference opener. Batavia and head coach Dennis Piron welcome back nine starters (five offense, four defense) and are led by senior quarterback Kyle Niemiec and senior linebacker Colin Thurston. Oswego and head coach Brian Cooney counter with senior quarterback Steven Frank, one of the state's top signal-callers, while also focusing on the rushing attack. Can Oswego's defense get the ball back from the Batavia offense? Can the Batavia defense defend the play=action pass and the deep ball from Oswego?
EDGY's Pick: Oswego 27, Batavia 24
No. 15 Glenbard North vs. No. 5 Naperville Central, 7:30 p.m.
EDGY's Take: The first of a weekly DuPage Valley 'Game of the Week' of sorts is starting this season as the newly realigned DVC (Metea Valley/Neuqua Valley/Waubonsie Valley) features no weeks off whatsoever. Naperville Central brings back experience on offense with senior quarterback Connor Joyce, senior wide receiver Emmanuel Rugamba (Iowa) and three starters on the offensive line. Glenbard North and head coach Ryan Wilkens feature a potent backfield with senior Devion Hodges and junio Vittorio Tricase, while the defense is led by senior defensive lineman Lucas Cherry and senior defensive back Justin Pitts. Can the Redhawks defense slow down the speedy backs from Glenbard North? Can Glenbard North keep the Redhawks offense in check? I see the potential for a close game.
EDGY's Pick: Naperville Central 28, Glenbard North 27 OT
Downers Grove South vs. No. 1 Homewood-Flossmoor, 7:30 p.m.
EDGY's Take: The Vikings, the consensus top-ranked team in Chicagoland, open up the season on the road as they will look to live up to the hype in 2015. The Vikings rely on senior quarterback Bryce Gray, plus senior running backs twins Devonte Harley-Hampton and Deante Harley-Hampton, along with a very quick and physical team on both sides of the ball. Downers Grove South features four-star ranked senior offensive tackle Erik Swenson (Michigan). The Mustangs are also reloading, in particular, in the offensive skills department.
EDGY's Pick: Homewood-Flossmoor 41, Downers Grove South 10
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Saturday's notable games
No. 3 Glenbard West vs. No. 16 Bolingbrook, 1:30 p.m.
No. 4 Simeon vs East St. Louis, 6:00 p.m. at Gately Stadium
Brother Rice at Brother Rice (MI), 2:30 p.m.
South Elgin vs. St. Charles East, 1:30 p.m.