Preps Talk

High School Lites preview: Week 9

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High School Lites preview: Week 9

Should be another fun week on High School Lites as we have some great games in store. Conference rivalries are heating up as we'll have battles from Red-West, Catholic North, Mid-Suburban West, South Suburban Blue, West Suburban Gold as well as the Interstate Eight Conference Tournament.

Our Viewers' Choice Game of the Week also had outstanding participation this week, with a photo finish going to Joliet West at Joliet Central. I'll be in the building to watch this SouthWest Suburban Blue rivalry and it should be a great matchup.

This week's Getting to Know feature is on talented Bogan senior James Jones while our team of the week is the Morgan Park girls basketball team.

High School Lites airs this Friday night at 11 p.m. on CSN and streaming live at CSNChicago.com. Be sure to follow us on @CSNPreps and send us scores and highlights on Twitter.

Thursday games

No. 4 Simeon at No. 1 Morgan Park, 4:30 p.m. - After all of the controversy surrounding where this game would be played, the Mustangs will finally host the Wolverines in a Red-South rematch this week. Morgan Park (16-1, 8-0) is unbeaten against Illinois competition and has been the class of the area behind Player of the Year frontrunner Charlie Moore. Simeon lost the first matchup in December but will try to tie for the conference lead behind Gonzaga commit Zach Norvell and a deep and talented team.

No. 9 St. Joseph at No. 3 Fenwick, 7:00 p.m. - Two unbeatens in the Catholic North collide as Fenwick hosts St. Joseph. The Friars (17-2, 6-0) are coming off of great wins over Simeon and Riverside-Brookfield and senior point guard Mike Smith has been outstanding lately. The Chargers (13-5, 6-0) have dropped a few since a hot start but they're in the conference title hunt as senior Nick Rakocevic has played at a high level. These two Class 3A powers could also meet in the Catholic League Tournament and the Westinghouse Sectional in the next few months.

Friday games

Plano vs. Peotone, 5:30 p.m. (at Coal City) - The third-place game at the Interstate Eight Tournament features Plano (10-8, 4-2) taking on Peotone (16-4, 5-1). In the first matchup of these two teams, Peotone took home the 61-42 victory on Dec. 8. 

Reed-Custer vs. Sandwich, 7:00 p.m. (at Coal City) - The title game of the Interstate Eight Tournament pits Reed-Custer (19-2, 7-0) against Sandwich (12-10, 3-2). While Reed-Custer has been a Class 2A contender for much of the year, Sandwich earned an impressive win over Peotone to reach the finals.

De La Salle at DePaul Prep, 7:00 p.m. - Two talented Catholic North teams take the floor when De La Salle visits DePaul Prep. The Meteors (14-5, 4-2) have spent a good chunk of time in the @CSNPreps Power Rankings this season while DePaul Prep (11-10,  has perhaps the area's most productive freshman in guard Perry Cowan.

No. 24 Hillcrest at Lemont, 7:00 p.m. - This could be an intriguing one in the South Suburban Blue as Hillcrest (14-4, 8-0) travels to Lemont (12-6, 5-2). The Hawks recently re-entered the @CSNPreps Power Rankings after a strong stretch of play after the Proviso West Holiday Tournament. Lemont is led by junior point guard P.J. Pipes, an underrated floor general who is averaging 20 points per game.

No. 20 Proviso East at Downers Grove South, 7:30 p.m. - A huge one in the West Suburban Gold as Proviso East tries to get revenge after falling to Downers Grove South earlier this season. The Pirates (10-5, 5-1) have looked like a different team since senior Antonio Williams entered the lineup at Proviso West and they've been playing good ball lately. Downers South counters by winning seven of their last eight games since the holidays as juniors T.J. Clifford and Denis Alibegovic are a talented duo.

Palatine at Conant, 7:30 p.m. - Conant is looking for the season sweep as they take on Palatine in this Mid-Suburban West contest. The Cougars (12-4, 6-0) won the first matchup on the road, 58-52, on Jan. 8 as junior guard Jimmy Sotos has played well this season. Palatine (15-8, 4-2) has been balanced all season as they try to form a winning streak after 

Joliet West at Joliet Central, 6:30 p.m. - A great SouthWest Suburban Blue rivalry is our Viewers' Choice Game of the Week. Joliet West (12-6, 3-3) has spent time in our top 25 this season and will look to win the first of two against Joliet Central (10-7, 5-1) as these two teams battle Homewood-Flossmoor atop the conference standings.

5 Days to Kickoff: Batavia

5 Days to Kickoff: Batavia

NBCSportsChicago.com 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

NBCSportsChicago.com 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.