Preps Talk

High School Lites Preview - Week 2

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

5 Days to Kickoff: Batavia

5 Days to Kickoff: Batavia 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: Batavia

Head coach: Dennis Piron

Assistant coaches: Matt Holm, Billy Colamatteo, Sean Anderson, P.J. White, Dan Cadena, Adam Lester, Adam Kolowski, Mike Theriault, Zac Roberts and Erin Finucane

How they fared in 2018: 12-1 (7-0 DuKane Conference). Batavia made the Class 7A state playoff field and defeated Granite City, Moline and Willowbrook. They advanced to the semifinals where they lost to Nazareth Academy.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 31 vs East St. Louis
Sept. 6 @ Naperville North
Sept. 13 @ Lake Park
Sept. 20 vs Glenbard North
Sept. 27 @ Wheaton South
Oct. 4 @ Geneva
Oct. 11 vs St. Charles East
Oct. 18 @ St. Charles North
Oct. 25 vs Wheaton North

[MORE: 64 Days to Kickoff - Geneva

Biggest storyline: Batavia has won a minimum of 12 games four times since 2011 (two state titles: 2013, 2017). They were within striking distance of another title game appearance last season. Can Batavia reload and make it to DeKalb in November?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Quinn Urwiler (Sr., North Dakota) and ILB Matt "Mojo" Weerts (Jr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Bulldogs welcome back nine returning starters (four offense, five defense); they will need to patch a few holes on both the offensive and defensive lines. 

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach Dennis Piron has simply built the Bulldogs into a perennial state title contending team over his eight seasons (85-12 overall record, two state titles). The 2019 Bulldogs welcome back some key names from a season ago including RB/LB Quinn Urwiler, his brother junior RB/DB Trey Urwiler, senior RB Art Taylor, junior ILB Matt Weerts and senior S Sam Barus. The schedule is loaded, like usual. The opener vs. East St. Louis is full of intrigue. The Week 8 game against St. Charles North could be a must-see. If the new faces can step up and help Batavia reload in a few key spots, the Bulldogs will again challenge for the Class 7A state title. 

6 Days to Kickoff: Naperville Central

6 Days to Kickoff: Naperville Central 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: Naperville Central

Head coach: Mike Stine

Assistant coaches: Mike Ulreich (DC), Tim Boecker (DB), Marty Balle (LB), Marc Anderson (DB), Eric Novak (DL), Adam Pucylowski (LB), Rick Erickson (DL). Offense: Mike Stine (OC), Pat Watson (OL/Assistant OC), Tony Colletti (OL), Phil Allen (H-Backs), Kofi Hughes (WR), Josh McLeod (WR), Joe Denney (WR), Ryan Clifford (RB) and Chad Bradley (QB)

How they fared in 2018: 7-4 (4-0 Dupage Valley Conference). Naperville Central made the Class 8A state playoff field, defeated Plainfield South and then lost to Marist in the second round.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 @ Hinsdale Central
Sept. 6 vs Lincoln-Way East
Sept. 13 @ Pickerington Central (Ohio)
Sept. 20 vs Metea Valley
Sept. 27 vs Naperville North at NCC
Oct. 4 @ Neuqua Valley
Oct. 11 @ Waubonsie Valley
Oct. 18 vs DeKalb
Oct. 25 vs East St. Louis

Biggest storyline: Can the Redhawks’ transfers mesh well with their new teammates and win big in Class 8A?

Names to watch this season: QB Sam Jackson (Jr., Minnesota) WR Jadon Thompson (Sr., Illinois)

Biggest holes to fill: The Redhawks welcome back just seven returning starters (four offense, three defense); however, some key incoming transfers will certainly help fill those holes. 

EDGY's Early Take: Naperville Central had a short IHSA playoff run last season. Coach Stine’s 2019 Redhawks might be young in spots, but they have the potential to be one of the most explosive offenses in the state. Junior quarterback Sam Jackson (Minnesota) played receiver in 2018 and brings incredible speed/quickness and athletic ability to the offense. Incoming (transfer) wide receivers Thompson and sophomore Reggie Fleurima provide instant big play ability to the Naperville Central offense.

If the new faces on defense can develop and progress this fall, the Redhawks have a chance of being one of the top teams in Chicagoland in 2019.