Preps Talk

High School Lites Preview: Week 1

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High School Lites Preview: Week 1

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

[#DriveVikings: Follow DRIVE all season long on Twitter!]

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.

Beware of the Attack of the Lower Seeds

Beware of the Attack of the Lower Seeds

With the upcoming IHSA football playoff pairings announcement on Saturday night, here are some teams with modest win-loss records who opponents probably wouldn’t want to see in the early rounds of the postseason.

Loyola Academy (5-3): The Ramblers have struggled this season. But head coach John Holocek has, once again, led his team to the state playoff field. So what gives? Loyola has been inconsistent on offense and has turned the football over way too often. The team has also been dealing with various injuries. But the defense (minus a 35-3 loss to Brother Rice) has generally played well this season. If the Ramblers can clean up the turnovers and find a way to get their offense back in a rhythm, this team can undoubtedly surprise some teams along the way in Class 8A. 

Neuqua Valley (5-3): The Wildcats and head coach Bill Ellinghaus have dropped three tight games this season including a last possession, 21-14 decision to DuPage Valley Conference champion Naperville Central two weeks ago. If the Wildcats can continue to get steady production from a balanced offense, led by RB Will Cheviliar and QB John Gronowski, the defense is capable of keeping Neuqua Valley in every game this postseason.

Aurora Christian (5-3): Coach Dave Beebe’s Eagles have lost to three playoff-bound teams this season with a combined 21-3 record (IC Prep, St. Francis and Bishop McNamara). They have a potent spread-passing attack led by sophomore QB Ethan Hampton. Aurora Christian is also slated to wind up in the Class 1A bracket on pairings night. Their dynamic offense and passing game in general could be a tough matchup for opponents in, what usually is, Class 1A North bracket with teams that generally run the ball.

Barrington (5-3): The Broncos, under head coach Joe Sanchez, have also been dealing with a rash of mid-season injuries; that said, it looks like Barrington is getting healthy at the right time. Junior QB Tommy Fitzpatrick is back from injury and is a key catalyst for any Barrington postseason run. Fitzpatrick has weapons in junior WR EJ Darlington and senior RB Michael Curran. 

Lake Zurich (5-3): The Bears made a starting quarterback change last week as Jack Moses took the reins. He promptly led the Bears to a 42-0 win over Mundelein. If the Bears can limit turnovers and continue to get strong production from their offense, the L-Z defense is more than capable of making life very difficult for any higher seeds that they could draw in the 7A state playoff field. 

Edwardsville (5-3): The Tigers hit a rough patch starting the season with a 1-3 record. But they currently boast a four-game winnings streak heading into Friday night’s tilt at Collinsville. Edwardsville is led by senior QB Kendall Abdur Rahman (Notre Dame) and is a gamebreaker every time he touches the football. Sophomore RB Justin Johnson (and the team in general) possesses a ton of speed. There are athletes and playmakers on both sides of the football. 

Here are some more lower seeds who could wreak havoc:

Providence Catholic (5-3): If the Celtics can get their running game going, beware. 

Raby (5-3): The Raiders could be a handful in 4A.

St. Charles East (4-4): The Saints’ power-option game is always tough to defend. 

Joliet Catholic (4-4): IF the Hilltoppers can beat Notre Dame on Friday, they could be a very tough out in 5A.

Crystal Lake South (5-3): A huge offensive line leads the way for the Gators. 

Zion-Benton (4-4): The Zee-Bees can put as much talent on the field than most of their opponents. 

Lemont (4-4): Needs a win Friday over rival Oak Forest. If the offense can keep the chains moving, the Indians’ defense can do the rest. 

Crete-Monee (5-3): They are the Southland conference champs. Their first two losses in 2018? Lincoln-Way East (8-0) and Brother Rice (8-0).

Thornton (4-4): The Wildcats will need to upset Lincoln Way Central Friday. Thornton always has talent.

NBC Sports Chicago to air "IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show" on October 20

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NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago to air "IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show" on October 20

Bloomington, IL/Chicago, IL (October 17, 2018) -- The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football Playoff Pairing Show returns to NBC Sports Chicago for its eighth season in 2018. NBC Sports Chicago – THE Home of the #AuthenticFan – will air the show live on NBC Sports Chicago+ on Saturday, October 20 from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM CT. Viewers are urged to visit NBC Sports Chicago’s “Channel Finder” page (NBCSportsChicago.com/channel-finder) for exact NBC Sports Chicago+ channel locations in their area.

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show, which will reveal the brackets and first round match-ups of all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes, can also be viewed via Live stream beginning at 8:00 PM on Saturday at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive, on Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago), and will also be accessible for viewing to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers via the brand new MyTeams by NBC Sports app (NOTE: MyTeams is available on iOS and Android devices, at no cost, to fans anywhere in the U.S. and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store).

"The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show' continues to be one of the most highly-anticipated events in the state of Illinois and we couldn't be prouder to once again showcase two-straight hours of live, interactive coverage across all platforms on Saturday night," said Kevin Cross, Vice President of Content for NBC Sports Chicago.  

NBC Sports Chicago anchor Leila Rahimi hosts the show and will be joined by a panel of experts on-set, including long-time IHSA TV announcer Dave Bernhard and Illinois high school football bracketologist Steve Soucie. IHSA TV veteran Camron Smith will breakdown each class with media members from around the state, including NBC Sports Chicago prep football expert “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran. Viewers are encouraged to interact with the show and ask questions to be answered during the program by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #IHSAbrackets

The program will once again feature highlights, coaches interviews and media analysis from all over the state. In addition, NBC Sports Chicago will be gathering teams & fan reaction moments throughout the “Land of Lincoln” on Saturday from numerous school playoff pairing parties taking place that evening.

“This is one of the most anticipated nights of the year on the IHSA calendar,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Student-athletes, coaches and communities around the state have put their hearts into the last nine weeks, and for 256 teams, it’s an amazing chance to celebrate their accomplishments, while looking ahead to the path to the IHSA Football State Finals. We appreciate the time and effort that our partners at NBC Sports Chicago put into making this night so special.”

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show kicks off NBC Sports Chicago’s playoff coverage of IHSA Football, which culminates with all eight state title games being televised and streamed by NBC Sports Chicago on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23-24), live from Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign.