Preps Talk

High School Lites Preview - Week 2

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NBC Sports Chicago

High School Lites Preview - Week 2

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the season premiere of High School Lites, Friday at 11:00 p.m. Can Nazareth Academy make some early noise in Class 7A and beat Lake Zurich on the road? Can Joliet Catholic repeat its successful formula from last week's win on the road at IC Catholic Prep? Is Naperville Central already in a must-win mode on the road at top-ranked Lincoln-Way East? Can Maine South beat Mount Carmel in Chicago at Gately Stadium? So who do you take in the War on the North Shore? Are you Team Ramblers or Team Trevians? 

(6) Nazareth at (5) Lake Zurich, 7:00pm

EDGY's Take: Nazareth Academy (1-0) got off to a good start last Friday in beating St. Louis-area Lutheran North 20-6. The Roadrunners' roster is very heavy on experience roster. Watch for senior WR/DB Diamond Evans, senior WR/DB Michael Love (Bowling Green) and senior OT Matt Keeler while sophomore QB JJ McCarthy to make waves. McCarthy is one of the top underclassmen signal callers in the state. Lake Zurich and head coach Luke Mertens features one of the state's top defenses, led by senior OLB Luke Dwyer (North Dakota State) and an experienced starting lineup. The Bears have less experience on offense, but they will look to improve behind senior RB/LB Jack Moses and senior QB Matt McGraw. Can the Nazareth offense ding the Lake Zurich defense? Can the Lake Zurich offense come to life this week?

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 21 Nazareth Academy 20


Lincoln Park vs. Kenwood, 7:15pm at Lane Tech

EDGY's Take: Lincoln Park (1-0) had no issues in a Week One win over Noble ITW/Speer 34-0. Coach Vince DeFrancesco's Lions will rely on an experienced defense led by senior LB/WR Dane Romberger and senior WR/DB Jalen Jenkins. Kenwood (1-0) and head coach Sinque Turner pulled off one of the biggest eye-opening Week One wins over Fenwick, 20-9. The Broncos will look towards senior WR/DB Mark Aitken (NIU) and senior QB Denzel Stephens to lead the way this season. Can Lincoln Park measure up against the Kenwood defense? 

EDGY's Pick: Kenwood 28 Lincoln Park 12


Joliet Catholic at IC Catholic Prep, 7:15pm

EDGY's Take: Joliet Catholic (1-0) was able to get a big opening week win, 30-20 over St. Rita. The Hillmen ran the football well-- senior RB Keenan Hailey rushed for 233 yards and three touchdowns. IC Catholic Prep (1-0) walloped Class 4A power Althoff 50-14 in the opener. Sophomore RB Kyle Franklin ran for 207 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Can Joliet Catholic win against the Knights in Elmhurst? Can IC's defense measure up against a very big and physical JCA offensive line?

EDGY's Pick: Joliet Catholic 27 IC 24


Naperville North at (4) Batavia, 7:30pm

EDGY's Take: Naperville North (0-1) allowed Simeon a 30-0 first half lead last Friday but showed some signs of life in the second half. They came up short in a 30-20 loss. The Huskies will need a big performance again from QB Clifford Vickers along with a defense that may have figured it out in the second half of last week's loss. Batavia (1-0) also struggled on offense in last week's 22-15 win over Lemont. The Bulldogs will look to get their passing game in gear behind QB Jack Meyers. The Batavia defense is led by senior LB Michael Jansey Jr. (Northwestern) and senior LB Luke Weerts (North Dakota State). Can the Batavia offense show better this week? Can Naperville North get out of the gates a little stronger as well?

EDGY's Pick: Batavia 28 Naperville North 21


(11) Naperville Central at (1) Lincoln-Way East, 7:30pm

EDGY's Take: Naperville Central (0-1) will look to bounce back after suffering a tough 35-34 loss to Hinsdale Central. The Redhawks posted a 28-7 early third quarter lead but couldn't finish. The Redhawks offense was a positive last Friday, led by senior QB Payton Thorne (Western Michigan). Lincoln-Way East (1-0) had little issue with Crete-Monee with a 41-13 win. The Griffins offense rolled behind senior QB Jack Baltz. Can the Naperville Central defense fix their second half issues from last Friday? Will Lincoln-Way East standout junior WR AJ Henning play this week? 

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 31 Naperville Central 21


Lincoln-Way West at Lincoln-Way Central, 7:30pm

EDGY's Take: The Battle of New Lenox between Lincoln-Way Central (0-1) and Lincoln-Way West (1-0) is always a fun one. It's also a very hard-hitting game. Both schools are separated by just under five miles and know each other quite well. Central is looking for a bounce-back win this week after a tough 17-7 loss to Richards. They feature senior RB Conner McWilliams. Coach Dave Ernst of West went into this season expecting to be a run-heavy team. But QB Greyson Grimm threw four touchdowns passes last week in the Warriors 41-0 win over Racine-Case (WI). Can the Central defense slow down West's balanced offense? 

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way West 27 Lincoln-Way Central 21


(7) Maine South at (15) Mount Carmel, 7:30pm at Gately

EDGY's Take: Coach Dave Inserra expected to see his high-potent Maine South offense (albeit one with less experience) come out of the gates a little slow. But the Hawks, behind Inserra's son (senior QB Bobby Inserra) took control and defeated Glenbard West 35-21 last Friday. Mount Carmel (1-0) got a Week One win last Saturday over Hope Academy, 42-7. Senior QB Rad Premovic highlighted a big day for the new Caravan offense under first year head coach Jordan Lynch. Can the Maine South defense figure out the new-look Mount Carmel offense? Can the Mount Carmel defense derail the Maine South high flying offense?

EDGY's Pick: Maine South 34 Mount Carmel 27


(22) Richards at St. Rita, 7:30pm

EDGY's Take: Richards (1-0) and head coach Tony Sheehan was able to get a nice opening week win over Lincoln-Way Central 17-7. Junior RB Leshon Williams had a big night, along with do-it-all senior athlete Sebastian Castro (Iowa). St. Rita (0-1) wasn't able to slow down the Joliet Catholic running game in last week's loss to the Hilltoppers. The Mustangs defense allowed nearly 370 yards on the ground in the loss. Can Richards move the football against the St. Rita defense? Can St. Rita get their offense in gear and hopefully take some pressure off the defense?  

EDGY's Pick: Richards 22 St. Rita 19


(2) Loyola at (16) New Trier, 7:30pm (#SENDEDGY)

EDGY's Take: The War on the North Shore is back. Loyola had little issue with Rockford (MI) in a 27-7 win last Friday. The Ramblers will rely on their stout defense, led by senior LB Armoni Dixon and senior DB Jake Gonzales (Penn) this season. Their offense has big play potential with WR Noah Jones and WR Rory Boos. New Trier (1-0) beat York 21-13 last Friday behind a big night from RB Brian Sitzer. He ran for 189 yards. Can Loyola's defense take away the Trevians' running game this week and make their offense go more to the air? Can the New Trier defense make Loyola drive the field and earn their points? Can they limit Loyola's big play potential?

EDGY's Pick: Loyola 24 New Trier 17


Glenbard East at Bartlett, 7:30pm

EDGY's Take: John Walters' Glenbard East Rams (1-0) walloped Elgin 47-6 last Friday. QB Brett Bushka ran for three scores and added two passing touchdowns in the win. Bartlett (1-0) and first year head coach Mark Erlenbaugh also started off the season the right way with a convincing 40-0 win over East Aurora. The Hawks will open up their 1.5 million on-campus home field Friday after having to play their home games at Streamwood for 20 years. Can Glenbard East continue to move the football as well this week against the always-strong Bartlett defense? 

EDGY's Pick: Glenbard East 31 Bartlett 21


Viewers' Choice Game 

Curie at Sandburg, 7:30pm

EDGY's Take: Curie (0-1) and first year head coach Arthur Ray ran into a buzzsaw in Week One, losing to Willowbrook 41-0. The Condors will look towards senior RB AJ Sanya to get the Condors back on the right track. Sandburg (1-0) was able to pull out a nice opening win over Lyons Township 27-14. They got a big night from QB Ben Starcevich. Can Curie get the offense (and especially the running game) on track this week? Can Sandburg slow down the Condors and continue to get another win closer to state playoff eligibility?

EDGY's Pick: Sandburg 28 Curie 12

Jerry Sloan, Bulls player and Jazz coaching legend, stayed true to Illinois roots

Jerry Sloan, Bulls player and Jazz coaching legend, stayed true to Illinois roots

There’s country strong. And then there’s Jerry Sloan.

The NBA Hall of Fame player and coach, a tenacious defender and steady offensive threat, became a household name with the Chicago Bulls in the 1970s. Four-time NBA All-Defensive First Team. Two-time NBA-All-Star.

Sloan died Friday after a courageous battle against Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. He was 78.

But it was Sloan’s perseverance as a child and his dedication to the game of basketball —and his home town— 300 miles south of the Windy City that made him a real star.

[MORE: Remember ‘Original Bull’ Jerry Sloan as he lived: tough, humble and honest]

The former Bull, who went on to lead the Utah Jazz to the playoffs in 15 of his 23 seasons there as a head coach, grew up on a farm near McLeansboro, Illinois. The youngest of 10 children, Sloan would routinely wake up in the wee hours to do family chores. He’d then walk two miles to the town’s high school for basketball practice.

The foundation of a hard work ethic and a ferocious competitive nature paved the way for Sloan’s rise to stardom.

Sloan played on several great McLeansboro teams in the late-50s. In his junior season, he helped guide his squad to a 19-6 record for coach Gene Haile. He followed that up with a senior season most kids would dream of: 26 wins, 3 losses. He was named to the All-State team.

He would later guide the Evansville Purple Aces to two Division II national championships. He became known as “the Original Bull” shortly after the startup Bulls franchise drafted him in the 1966 expansion draft. The rest was history—a brilliant 10-year career in Chicago as a player and nearly three more as a head coach on West Madison before becoming a legend in Salt Lake City.

But it was his small-town roots that made Jerry Sloan all the more genuine.

He would return to McLeansboro several times in 1984 —the year he became an assistant with the Utah Jazz— to watch his high school team play. His son, Brian, led the Foxes to the Class A state championship that year, going 35-0 in the process. Brian went on to play for Bobby Knight at Indiana.

Sloan would return frequently to this Southern Illinois town many times during his run with the Jazz— a run where he only finished below .500 once and racked up an astonishing career 1,221 wins. Hamilton County High School, formerly known as McLeansboro, dedicated its gym in Sloan’s honor in Dec. 2012. A road in McLeansboro is now called Jerry Sloan Avenue.

In a statement, a representative from McLeansboro High School said the following:

“Today is a sad day for Hamilton County and the Foxes. Coach Jerry Sloan has passed away. Coach Sloan graduated from McLeansboro High School in 1960 and was always a hometown boy. Whenever he returned he was just one of us. He will be greatly missed. RIP Coach Sloan.”

McLeansboro will always be Sloan Country.

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Michigan recruit J.J. McCarthy to transfer from Nazareth to Florida's IMG Academy

Michigan recruit J.J. McCarthy to transfer from Nazareth to Florida's IMG Academy

J.J. McCarthy, the state’s top-ranked high school quarterback and overall player according to Rivals, is transferring from Nazareth Academy to IMG Academy in Florida.

McCarthy made the announcement on his Twitter page Monday afternoon.

The news sent shock waves throughout the national prep football landscape. McCarthy, committed to play at Michigan, led the Roadrunners to an IHSA 7A second place finish back in November. As a sophomore in 2018, he threw for over 3,200 yards and 36 touchdowns. It culminated in a state title win and a 13-1 season.

The move makes sense for McCarthy, as he will team up with offensive lineman Greg Crippen, a fellow Michigan commit. According to Rivals, McCarthy (6-foot-2, 195 pounds) is ranked as the No. 5 pro-style quarterback and No. 33 overall recruit in the country.

The loss is a huge one for head coach Tim Racki and company at the La Grange Park school. That said, the Roadrunners are one of the dominant programs in IHSA football, compiling a 38-4 record the past three seasons with three state titles in the previous six campaigns.

The big questions: Will other high-caliber Illinois high school athletes follow McCarthy? When will the IHSA commit to a fall sports schedule? What will Illinois high school football look like in the fall? What guidelines will be in place? There are many uncertainties.

What is known: The IHSA chose to cancel the state basketball tournament and all 2020 spring sports due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Illinois is currently in a phased reopening of businesses and other institutions. Florida is ahead of Illinois in respect to some of those aforementioned facilities.

The risk, or perhaps the unknown, was worth it for McCarthy and his family. Will Florida —or other states, including Illinois— even be cleared to play football come August? Will his move be a productive one in retrospect?

Time will tell.