Preps Talk

High School Lites preview: Week 11

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High School Lites preview: Week 11

It's an important week of high school basketball in the area as High School Lites will have highlights of many key conference showdowns.

Both divisions of the Mid-Suburban League, the Central Suburban North, the SouthWest Suburban Red and the Fox Valley Fox all feature games between the top two teams in the standings. We'll also have highlights from the opening round of the Catholic League Tournament and highlights from the crazy race in the East Suburban Catholic Conference.

This week's Team of the Week is the Whitney Young girls basketball team, as the Dolphins are coming off of yet another city title with a huge win over Morgan Park. Also be on the lookout for a "Getting to Know" feature on Kenwood senior forward Nick Robinson, as he's hoping to lead the Broncos deep into the postseason.

[MASCOT MADNESS: Vote for your favorite high school mascot]

High School Lites airs at 11 p.m. on CSN and streams live on CSNChicago.com. Be sure to also follow us on Twitter @CSNPreps for the latest Friday night score updates.

No. 5 Thornton at Lincoln-Way Central, 6:00 p.m. - The top two teams in the SouthWest Suburban Red do battle as No. 5 Thornton travels to Lincoln-Way Central. The Wildcats (19-1, 10-0) are still unbeaten in the area and are looking to build a dominating conference lead while Lincoln-Way Central (15-6, 6-4) could use a statement win before playoff seedings.

Antioch at Lakes, 7:00 p.m. - The North Suburban Prairie has a group of teams clustered together in the middle and Antioch and Lakes will both try to make a move up the standings on Friday. Antioch (9-13, 4-6) lost at home against Lakes (11-13, 4-6) back in January and will be looking for revenge in this one. Lakes has dropped four straight games entering this one and will look to get back on track.

Prairie Ridge at Grayslake North, 7:00 p.m. - This is a huge game in the Fox Valley Fox as two 20-win teams do battle. Prairie Ridge (20-3, 10-0) is the current conference leader coming off of a solid non-conference win over Waukegan earlier in the week. Grayslake North (20-2, 9-1) will try to avenge a loss to the Wolves earlier this season. Prairie Ridge hasn't lost since the calendar turned to 2016. 

St. Rita at Brother Rice, 7:00 p.m. - The Catholic League Tournament kicks off this week with an intriguing rivalry game as St. Rita travels to Brother Rice. This has been a bit of a rebuilding year for the Mustangs (9-14, 5-4) but they've been playing better recently. Brother Rice (15-9, 6-3) won the first matchup between these two teams with a 55-42 win on Dec. 18.

No. 14 Marian Catholic at St. Patrick, 7:00 p.m. - The race in the East Suburban Catholic Conference is heating up as Marian Catholic (17-5, 4-1) tries to keep pace with Benet and St. Viator. The Spartans had a disappointing home loss to Notre Dame at home last week and will try to win a tough one on the road. St. Patrick (13-10, 4-2) has been one of the better teams in the ESCC as well and they've already knocked off a ranked conference opponent at home this season when they beat Notre Dame.

[MORE PREPS: CSN Preps Boys Basketball Power Rankings]

No. 23 St. Viator at No. 24 Notre Dame, 7:00 p.m. - Two ranked teams collide in the ESCC as St. Viator tries to pick up a key road win at Notre Dame. The Lions are tied in the loss column with Marian Catholic and Benet atop the conference standings and they've been impressive in tight finishes this season. Notre Dame (17-6, 3-3) has been one of the hardest teams in the area to peg as some nights they can play with any team in the state and other nights they come out with a lackluster effort. 

Niles North at No. 20 Deerfield, 7:30 p.m. - The top two teams in the Central Suburban North play again as Deerfield tries to get revenge on Niles North. In the first meeting between these two, the Vikings (19-6, 6-2) picked up an easy win on Jan. 8 in their gym and they've won seven straight games. Deerfield (21-3, 7-1) will look to stay ahead in the conference standings in their home gym as senior Jordan Baum leads a balanced team.

Prospect at Elk Grove, 7:30 p.m. - It's an important Friday night in the Mid-Suburban League as both divisions will have games between the top two teams. In the East Division, Elk Grove (15-9, 3-2) gets a chance to tie Prospect (13-8, 7-1) in the standings. These two teams played on Dec. 18 with the Knights winning, 50-43, at home. Prospect had won five consecutive games before a recent non-conference loss to Lyons.

Conant at Fremd, 7:30 p.m. - In the West Division of the Mid-Suburban League, Fremd will host Conant. The first time these two teams played, Conant (16-5, 8-0) was the 45-38 winner at home on Dec. 18. The Cougars have won seven of their last eight games and are playing very good ball down the stretch. Fremd (17-6, 6-2) also enters this one with a winning streak, as they've won three straight.

High School Lites Preview: Week 9

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NBC Sports Chicago

High School Lites Preview: Week 9

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 9 edition of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Can Perspectives beat Solorio and get a shot at the state playoff field? Can Bolingbrook upset the Big Cobalt Blue Machine at Lincoln-Way East? Can Marist post a perfect ESCC season and beat Benet Academy in Lisle? Can Wheaton North upset Batavia and sneak into the state playoffs with a win? And who wins the CCL Blue championship game? Brother Rice? Montini?

Solorio vs. Perspectives, 3:45 p.m. at Stagg Stadium

EDGY's Take: Both Solorio (5-3, 2-2) and Perspectives (4-4, 0-4) are in must-win mode. They are both seeking a Week 9 win. Solorio is in with a win. Should Perspectives win, both teams will then await their state playoff fate on Saturday night when the IHSA pairings are released. Solorio head coach Bill Ziemba has playmakers in NIU commit WR/DB Messian Travis and with QB Tyrell Williams. Will the Sun Warriors be ready for an equally-hungry Perspectives team? The Warriors, with head coach Terry Jones at the helm, also have talent this season. It includes senior OL/DL Dominic Moore (6-foot-7, 290 pounds). He is one of the state's top uncommitted names. Can the Perspectives defense slow down and contain Solorio's skills department and overall big play ability?

EDGY's Pick: Solorio 28 Perspectives 16 

Dundee-Crown at Huntley, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Dundee-Crown (4-4, 3-4) is looking for their first playoff berth since 2013. A win by the Chargers would get them, at least, in the postseason conversation. Head coach Michael Steinhaus has a strong passing attack this fall led by under-the-radar QB Joshua Raby. TE/DE Justin Prusko is a name to watch as well. Huntley (5-3, 5-2) head coach Matt Zimolzak has also gotten a big season from his quarterback. Chris Raffin and the Red Raiders have several weapons on offense including WR Connor Fitzgerald. Can the Huntley defense get a consistent pass rush against the Dundee-Crown line? Can Dundee-Crown keep their offense on the field and win in a shootout?

EDGY's Pick: Huntley 34 Dundee-Crown 24

Lisle at Coal City, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lisle (8-0, 4-0) is having a terrific season under Hall of Fame head coach Paul Parpet. They are conference champs for the first time since 1981. Coach Parpet will rely on a very productive offense led by QB Jay McGrath and top receiver Jake Kowal. This is an Interstate Eight crossover against Coal City (7-1, 4-0), who will be going to the postseason for the eighth year in a row. Head coach Dan Hutchings has a balanced offensive attack led by junior QB Payton Hutchings, RB Connor Skubc and RB Dan Jezic. On defense, the Coalers defense have allowed just 42 points on the season. Can the Lisle offense consistently move the chains against the Coal City defense?

EDGY's Pick: Coal City 31 Lisle 27

Payton vs Kenwood, 7:15 p.m. at Gately Stadium

EDGY's Take: Payton (8-0, 4-0) and Kenwood (8-0, 4-0) are playing for the Chicago Public League Illini Prairie State conference title. Head coach George Klupchak has his Grizzles rolling behind QB Sage Shindler and RB Damien Goodman. The Payton defense has also been strong all season. Kenwood and head coach Sinque Turner has also an All-State caliber playmaker in senior WR/DB Mark Aitken (NIU). He is joined by a ton of speed on both sides of the football. Last possession wins?
 
EDGY's Pick: Kenwood 35 Payton 21

(16) Bolingbrook at (1) Lincoln-Way East, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lincoln-Way East (8-0, 6-0) hasn't lost a regular season game since September 9, 2016. The 2018 Griffins are --once again-- stacked on both sides of the football. Keep an eye on QB Jack Baltz (Illinois State), RB Devon Williams, WR Jackson Ritter and WR Matt Judd. Bolingbrook (7-1, 5-1) have won four straight after a Week 4 loss to H-F. The Raiders, under head coach John Ivlow, have talent in the backfield with senior RB Anthony Williams Jr. (Michigan State) along with senior RB Quentin Pringle (Eastern Kentucky). The Bolingbrook defense has allowed just 80 points in 2018. Can Bolingbrook run the football consistently against the Lincoln-Way East defense?

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 28 Bolingbrook 20

(4) Marist at Benet, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Marist (7-1, 6-0) has won the East Suburban Catholic Conference. They are looking to finish with a win and earn a high seed in Class 8A. Marist head coach Ron Dawczak has received a huge season from senior QB Mike Markett. He has several weapons including WR Billy Skalitzky and WR Jadon Thompson. The Redhawks defense has been a strength as well. Keep an eye on senior S Kendric Nowling (Easter Michigan). Benet Academy (6-2, 4-2) and head coach Pat New will look towards QB Collin Gillespie and RB Ben Hickey as the keys on offense. The Redwings defense is also a strength. Watch for DL Jacob Snell and DE Jack Benish to make plays. Can the Benet defense limit the amount of Marist offensive touches? 

EDGY's Pick: Marist 34 Benet Academy 21

(2) Batavia at Wheaton North, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Batavia (8-0, 6-0) has locked up the DuKane Conference title, but they still have plenty to play for here including a high seed in the 7A playoff field. That, and a perfect 9-0 regular season, of course. Batavia last earned such a mark in 2015. The Bulldogs and head coach Dennis Piron will rely on a balanced offense with QB Jack Meyers and RB Art Taylor. The defense is anchored by LB Michael Jansey (Northwestern) and LB Luke Weerts (North Dakota State). Wheaton North (4-4, 3-3) and head coach Joe Wardynski are in must-win mode. The Falcons will look to the offense to be a catalyst. The unit is led by RB Antowon Tolbert and QB Nathan Love. On defense, the Falcons will need to slow down a very balanced Batavia offense. Can Wheaton North's defense force Batavia into turnovers? 

EDGY's Pick: Batavia 41 Wheaton North 20

(3) Brother Rice at (17) Montini, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The Chicago Catholic Blue conference championship game features Brother Rice (8-0, 3-0) taking on Montini Catholic (8-0, 3-0). Crusaders head coach Brian Badke features an offense led by QB John Bean, RB Jessi Plunkett and WR Dylan Summers. They have big and physical offensive line as well. On the other side of the ball, Rice's defense has allowed just 52 points all season. Montini Catholic and second year head coach Mike Bukovsky feature a two quarterback system. Deontay Brown and Robert Brazziel have shared the position quite well. RB Nick Fedanzo (Illinois) and WR Nate Muersch are names to watch. The Montini defense has also been strong this season, allowing just 46 points in eight games. Can the Montini defense slow down the Crusaders running game? Can the Rice defense limit the Broncos' multiple offensive weapons?

EDGY's Pick: Brother Rice 21 Montini Catholic 14

Viewers' Choice Game 

Schaumburg at Fremd, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Both Schaumburg (4-4, 1-3) and Fremd (4-4, 3-1) are playing for their IHSA playoff lives. Head coach Lou Sponsel and the Vikings got out of the gates slow (0-3 record) but the Vikings found a spark behind RB-converted-to-QB Nick Rattin. That, along with a big and physical offensive and defensive lines could help reverse a 1-8 season quite nicely should Fremd win. Schaumburg, under head coach Mark Stilling, will be trying to get the Saxons on track. They have dropped three of their last four games. The Saxons have lots of speed and big play potential with senior WR/DB Heze Trotter along with sophomore RB Michael DiGioia. Can the Fremd defense limit the big play ability of Schaumburg?

EDGY's Pick: Fremd 24 Schaumburg 17

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.