Preps Talk

High School Lites semifinal football capsules and picks

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High School Lites semifinal football capsules and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA playoffs' semifinal round edition of High School Lites, Saturday at 11:00 p.m. Who wins the Revenge Bowl in Frankfort between Maine South and Lincoln-Way East?  Can Loyola travel well and beat Edwardsville? Can Mount Carmel keep rolling in the postseason and defeat Lake Zurich? Also, can the Chicago Public League make a statement, with Phillips and Raby both making it to the IHSA state finals next weekend in DeKalb?

All games Saturday. Rankings shown reflect class seeds.

Class 8A

#5 Maine South (11-1) at #1 Lincoln-Way East (12-0), 6:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lincoln-Way East defeated Maine South 28-26 back in Week 5 as the Griffins defense held Maine South running back Fotis Kokosioulis to just 17 yards rushing. Look for South to make some adjustments on offense this time around. The Hawks' offense remains one of the state's most dangerous attacks.  Can the East defense keep the Maine South offense in check? Can the Lincoln-Way East offense, led by senior QB Brendan Morrissey, run the football consistently again against the Maine South defense? Revenge factor for both teams here since East beat the Hawks back in Week 2 while Maine South ended the Griffins season at East last season. Will weather/wind be a factor?

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 24 Maine South 21

Loyola Academy (11-1) at Edwardsville (9-3), 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Loyola will take the 289-mile drive to Edwardsville to take on a Tigers team that has been on fire ever since starting the season 0-3. Edwardsville, under head coach Matt Martin, features a young, but speedy offensive skills group led by junior QB Kendall Abdur-Rahman and freshman RB Justin Johnson. Loyola has received a big season from QB Quinn Boyle and several key backups in an injury-plagued season. Last week at Marist, the Ramblers received a breakout performance from RB Trevor Cabanban. Can Loyola continue to win in the postseason as the injuries keep mounting? Can Edwardsville run the football consistently against one of the state's top defenses? Also, can the Ramblers defense avoid giving up the big play against an Edwardsville team that's lived by the big play allseason?

EDGY's Pick: Loyola 28 Edwardsville 21

Class 7A

Benet Academy (9-3) vs. Batavia (11-1) at Benedictine University, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Benet Academy got another big game from their defense unit in last week's 14-10 win over Lincoln-Way Central. Batavia trailed 10-0 at the half to Lincoln-Way West, but took full advantage of eight West turnovers for the 20-10 come-from-behind win. Both Batavia and Benet Academy play great defense, while their offenses want to establish the run. That said, both are capable of a play-action passing game. Can the Benet Academy defense lock down QB Riley Cooper and the Batavia offense? Can the Batavia defense, led by senior safety Michael Niemiec and a strong front seven, derail Redwings' RB Ben Hickey and QB Colin Gillespie? Last possession wins?

EDGY's Pick: Batavia 14 Benet Academy 13

Mt. Carmel (9-3) at Lake Zurich (12-0), 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Mount Carmel came out on fire in last week's 21-18 win over East St. Louis. QB Rad Premovic was sharp running the Caravan's veer option game while the defense, paced by senior OL/DL Jeremy Cooper, had a strong performance as well. Lake Zurich walloped St. Rita last week 49-17. The Bears offense was rolling behind senior QB Evan Lewandowski and senior RB/LB Joey Stutzman. Can the Lake Zurich defense contain the Caravan's veer option game? Can the Mount Carmel defense tame a Lake Zurich offense that's capable of both the run and the pass? How healthy is Mt. Carmel heading into this game? 

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 31 Mount Carmel 21

Class 6A

Prairie Ridge (12-0) at Hoffman Estates (10-2), 4:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Prairie Ridge will hit the road this week and will rely on its option game led by senior QB Samson Evans (Iowa). They have a big, physical offensive line led by OL/DL Jeff Jenkins (Iowa) and a speedy defense led by senior LB Joe Perhats. Hoffman Estates has a ton of skills and speed. QB Austin Coalson will look to WR/LB Jaylan Alexander (Purdue), WR/DB Jayvon Blissert and WR/DB Trevon Hall to carry the load. Can the Hoffman Estates defense slow down the Wolves' option game? Can the Prairie Ridge defense contain the speedy Hawks offensive skills?

EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 31 Hoffman Estates 27

Nazareth Academy (11-1) at Providence Catholic (8-4), 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Nazareth Academy pulled off a big 20-17 win on the road last Saturday on Sacred Heart-Griffin's field. The Roadrunners' defense put the brakes on a very strong Cyclones running game. Nazareth's offense has been a strength all season, led by QB Bobby Grimes, RB/DB Devin Blakely and a deep core of receivers. Last week, Providence Catholic was able to wear down St. Laurence 49-24 as the Celtics again got a big game from its read option offense, led by RB De'Shon Gavin (WIU) and QB Cade Kalinowski. Can Providence run the football against the Nazareth defense? Can the Celtics' defense defend and contain the multiple weapons in the Nazareth offense?

EDGY's Pick: Providence Catholic 29 Nazareth Academy 28

Class 5A

Phillips (12-0) at Sterling (12-0), 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Last week, Phillips relied on their defense to set the tone. Then, the offense went to the air behind QB J'Bore Gibbs and company. It resulted in a 15-3 win over Lemont. The Wildcats feature college-level talent all over the field. Keep an eye on RB/LB Craig Elmore, WR/DB Fabian McCray, TE Jaleel Billingsly, DE Terrance Taylor (Toledo) and DT Queneil Morrissey (NIU). Sterling has a potent ground game, led by RB Nyrell Sullivan and a good-sized, athletic line. It's led by senior OL/DL Tyler Willman. QB Trey Morse is also a very capable passer and has several top targets. Can Sterling's line play match up well against the Phillips' fronts? If the Phillips defense takes away the run, can Sterling throw their way to DeKalb? And, if the Sterling defense takes away the Phillips running game can they throw their way to DeKalb? 

EDGY's Pick: Phillips 30 Sterling 21

Class 4A

Morris (10-2) vs. Raby (11-1) at Chicago's Hanson Stadium, 4:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Morris and head coach Alan Thorson will rely on the power running game with RB Kam Dransfeldt and an offensive line that averages nearly 260 pounds per man. Raby and head coach D'Angelo DeReef might have one of the most fun teams to watch in the postseason. The Raiders offenses thrives off the big play. They're led by QB Tyshun Turnipseed, RB DQ Smith and a stable of receivers and backs with speed. Can the Raby defense take away the Redskins' power run game? Can the Morris defense cover the Raiders receivers and prevent giving up the big play?

EDGY's Pick: Morris 28 Raby 27

Class 3A

IC Catholic (11-1) at Byron (12-0), 2:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Immaculate Conception and head coach Bill Krefft are back, knocking on the state final door once again. The Knights have rolled behind a balanced offensive attack that features RB Lazerick Eatman, WR Khali Saunders and QB CJ West. The defense has been strong with LB Khalil Saunders and LB Kevin Cooke. Byron offense can run the football. Look for a lot of those plays from head coach Jeff Boyer. RBs Nolan Bielskis and Ricky Messling lead the Tigers Wing-T offense. Can Byron keep the football away from the IC offense? Can IC control tempo and force Byron into a higher scoring affair?

EDGY's Pick: Immaculate Conception 28 Byron 14
 

63 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

63 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

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 July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Shepard

Head coach: John Rone

Assistant coaches: Andrew Porter, Ron Rivera, Chris Lewis, Ryan McGuire and Clint Connelly

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A state football playoff field. The Astros lost to Marmion Academy in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Leyden

Sept. 1 @ Stagg

Sept 7 vs Hillcrest

Sept. 14 vs Eisenhower

Sept. 21 @ Richards

Sept. 28 @ Oak Lawn

Oct. 5 vs Reavis

Oct. 12 vs Evergreen Park

Oct. 19 @ Argo

Biggest storyline: First-year head coach John Rone. Can the Astros challenge once again for the South Suburban Red conference title under a new head coach?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Chris Harrison and TE/DE Kevin Graham

Biggest holes to fill: The Astros bring back 10 returning starters (five offense, five defense). Overall depth could also be a concern.  

EDGY's Early Take: Shepard will be led by former Eisenhower assistant Rone, who was able to retain an experienced staff at Shepard. It will help ease the transition from former head coach Dominic Passolano this summer. If the Astros can get off to a good early start they have the overall talent to again make a state playoff appearance in 2018. Can they challenge conference power Richards in the South Suburban Red race?

64 Days to Kickoff: T.F. South

64 Days to Kickoff: T.F. South

Head coach: Bob Padjen

Assistant coaches: Trent Jensen, Jesse Kikkert, Jonathan Hill, Doug Smith, Mike Tisza, Rob Shell and Tim Russell

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (3-3 South Suburban Blue Conference), T.F. South made the Class 6A state football playoff field. The Rebels lost to Danville in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Thornwood

Sept. 1 vs Julian

Sept. 7 vs Oak Forest

Sept. 14 @ TF North

Sept. 21 vs Bremen

Sept. 28 @ Reavis

Oct. 5 vs Hillcrest

Oct. 12 @ Lemont

Oct. 19 @ Tinley Park

[MORE: 86 Days to Kickoff - Reavis]

Biggest storyline: T.F. South has advanced to the playoffs 20 times in the past 24 seasons. Can the Rebels get back to the IHSA state playoff field and make more noise this fall?

Names to watch this season: QB Kamron Clayton LB Michael Smith

Biggest holes to fill: The Rebels will need to replace seven starters on each side of the football this fall. 

EDGY's Early Take: T.F. South head coach Bob Padjen was able to keep the Rebels on a winning path in his first season as Rebels head coach after several years serving in an assistant role. South always has talent. If the underclassmen can step up this summer, look for the Rebels to challenge for the top half of the South Suburban Blue conference race.