Preps Talk

High School Lites Preview - Week 2

brand_new_lites.jpg
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

High School Lites Preview: Week 9

brand_new_lites.jpg
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.