Preps Talk

High School Lites Week 9 capsules and picks

High School Lites Week 9 capsules and picks

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the Week 9 edition of High School Lites. Can Loyola beat Brother Rice on the South Side in the Chicago Catholic Blue title game? Can Oak Park-River Forest upset Hinsdale Central in the West Suburban Silver title game? A playoff spot is on the line in the DuPage Valley: can Wheaton North win on the road at Waubonsie Valley? And can either Thornwood or Thornridge win and remain eligible for a state playoff spot?

Lincoln Park vs. Mather, 4:15 p.m. at Winnemac Stadium

EDGY's Take: The winner between Lincoln Park (7-1, 5-1) and Mather (7-1, 5-1) will head to the IHSA state playoffs while the loser will prepare for the CPL Prep Bowl playoffs. Lincoln Park will look to establish the running game behind senior RB Charles Dale Jr. while Mather will also rely on its backfield and solid offensive line. Can either team stop the run?

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln Park 28, Mather 27

Thornwood at Thornridge, 7:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This Battle of District 205 schools is always a big rivalry game. Throw in a potential state playoff spot and that makes this game even bigger. Thornwood (4-4, 1-4) and head coach Bill Bundy features senior QB Jamar Howard while. Thornridge (5-3, 2-3), under head coach Pat Jennings, has posted five wins; however, they do not have a guaranteed state playoff spot yet due to their low IHSA playoff point total (31). Can Thornwood win and get in? Can Thornridge win-- and then sweat out a state playoff bid on Saturday?

EDGY's Pick: Thornwood 34, Thornridge 28

(1) Loyola at (3) Brother Rice, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The winner here captures the CCL Blue conference crown along with a high seed in the 8A playoff field. Brother Rice (8-0, 3-0) features one of Chicagoland’s top offenses behind senior QB Dino Borrelli and an assortment of playmakers, including senior WR Ricky Smalling (Illinois) and senior RB Xazavian Valladay (Wyoming). Loyola (8-0, 3-0) has been the state's top ranked team since the preseason. The Ramblers will look to their passing game, led by senior QB Tommy Herion and senior WR Jake Marwede (Duke). Loyola's offensive line has also been a strength all season. Can the Loyola defense slow down the Crusaders’ weapons? Can the Rice defense get the football back — early and often — from the Loyola offense?

EDGY's Pick: Loyola 34, Brother Rice 31

Lockport at (12) Lincoln-Way East, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Lockport (6-2, 4-2) has been a terrific story this year as the Porters are state playoff-bound. Will Lockport's starting QB Ben Davis, who sat out with an illness in last week’s 35-0 win over Stagg, return to the field? Lincoln-Way East (6-2, 4-2) is in need of a win this week after dropping a 38-21 game to Bradley last Friday. The Griffins counter with dual QBs in seniors Jake Arthur and Max Shafer. Can Lockport move the football against the East defense, minus Ben Davis? Can the Porters defense slow down the East offense?

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 34, Lockport 14

Mt. Carmel at Providence, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Mount Carmel (4-4, 0-3) is in a rare position of needing a win this week to become eligible for the IHSA state playoff field. Providence Catholic (3-5, 0-3) is out of the state playoffs for the second straight season. Can the Caravan win on the road and beat Providence Catholic in New Lenox? Will Providence show up and play this game like it’s a state playoff game? If Providence wins, it will result in Mount Carmel missing the state playoffs for the first time since 1985.

EDGY's Pick: Mount Carmel 28, Providence Catholic 21

(14) Oak Park-River Forest at (6) Hinsdale Central, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The winner will become the West Suburban Silver conference champion — and they’ll also secure a high seed in the 8A playoff field. Hinsdale Central (8-0, 5-0) has been led by senior QB John Bean and a very solid defense all season long. Oak Park-River Forest (7-1, 4-1) bounced back last Friday with a huge 27-3 win over Lyons. The Huskies also feature a terrific quarterback in senior Jeremy Hunt, who utilizes several weapons all over the field. Can the Hinsdale Central defense slow down the OPRF offense? Will last week's OPRF defense show up again on Friday in Hinsdale?

EDGY's Pick: Hinsdale Central 28, Oak Park-River Forest 27

Wheaton North at Waubonsie Valley, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Both Wheaton North (4-4, 3-4) and Waubonsie Valley (4-4, 3-4) are seeking a state playoff bid with a win on Friday. Wheaton North will look to a few senior leaders in QB Luke Anthony and LB Erik Mueller. Waubonsie Valley head coach Paul Murphy lost a heartbreaker last Friday to Naperville North. The Warriors have a balanced offense and keep an eye on junior QB Tanner Westwood. Last possession wins?

EDGY's Pick: Waubonsie Valley 28, Wheaton North 24

Hersey at Wheeling, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Wheeling (4-4, 3-1) is seeking a win and a state playoff berth for the first time since 2008. The Wildcats offense features a very good passing attack led by QB Jalen Dennis. Hersey (3-5, 2-2) will look towards QB Owen Goldsberry to lead the way for the Huskies. Can the Hersey defense slow down the Wheeling passing attack?

EDGY's Pick: Wheeling 31, Hersey 20

Notre Dame at St. Viator, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Both Notre Dame (5-3, 4-2) and St. Viator (5-3, 4-2) seem to be in line for a state playoff spot, win or lose. St. Viator and first year head coach David Archibald has the Lions playing well. They will look to their passing game, led by QB Bryce Hellgeth and senior TE Cole Kmet (Notre Dame recruit). Notre Dame and veteran head coach Mike Hennessey features QB Tom Drabik along with a strong running game. Can the Notre Dame defense slow down the St. Viator passing game? 

EDGY's Pick: St. Viator 27, Notre Dame 19

Viewers’ Choice: Elgin at Larkin, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: It's the annual battle for the Town Jug between these two U-46 district schools. Larkin (4-4, 2-3) and head coach Dragan Teonic are looking to secure a state playoff berth with a win. If so, it’ll be the program's first since 2006. Larkin will rely on QB David Hibbler. The Maroons (0-8, 0-5) will be in search of their first win since beating Larkin back in Week 8 of the 2014 season — a 31-13 win. Larkin leads the all-time series 34-20.

EDGY's Pick: Larkin 37, Elgin 14

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.

NBC Sports Chicago to air "IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show" on October 20

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NBC Sports Chicago

NBC Sports Chicago to air "IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show" on October 20

Bloomington, IL/Chicago, IL (October 17, 2018) -- The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Football Playoff Pairing Show returns to NBC Sports Chicago for its eighth season in 2018. NBC Sports Chicago – THE Home of the #AuthenticFan – will air the show live on NBC Sports Chicago+ on Saturday, October 20 from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM CT. Viewers are urged to visit NBC Sports Chicago’s “Channel Finder” page (NBCSportsChicago.com/channel-finder) for exact NBC Sports Chicago+ channel locations in their area.

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show, which will reveal the brackets and first round match-ups of all 256 playoff qualifiers across eight classes, can also be viewed via Live stream beginning at 8:00 PM on Saturday at NBCSportsChicago.com/WatchLive, on Facebook Live (Facebook.com/NBCSChicago), and will also be accessible for viewing to authenticated NBC Sports Chicago subscribers via the brand new MyTeams by NBC Sports app (NOTE: MyTeams is available on iOS and Android devices, at no cost, to fans anywhere in the U.S. and can be downloaded from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store).

"The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show' continues to be one of the most highly-anticipated events in the state of Illinois and we couldn't be prouder to once again showcase two-straight hours of live, interactive coverage across all platforms on Saturday night," said Kevin Cross, Vice President of Content for NBC Sports Chicago.  

NBC Sports Chicago anchor Leila Rahimi hosts the show and will be joined by a panel of experts on-set, including long-time IHSA TV announcer Dave Bernhard and Illinois high school football bracketologist Steve Soucie. IHSA TV veteran Camron Smith will breakdown each class with media members from around the state, including NBC Sports Chicago prep football expert “Edgy” Tim O’Halloran. Viewers are encouraged to interact with the show and ask questions to be answered during the program by utilizing the Twitter hashtag #IHSAbrackets

The program will once again feature highlights, coaches interviews and media analysis from all over the state. In addition, NBC Sports Chicago will be gathering teams & fan reaction moments throughout the “Land of Lincoln” on Saturday from numerous school playoff pairing parties taking place that evening.

“This is one of the most anticipated nights of the year on the IHSA calendar,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Student-athletes, coaches and communities around the state have put their hearts into the last nine weeks, and for 256 teams, it’s an amazing chance to celebrate their accomplishments, while looking ahead to the path to the IHSA Football State Finals. We appreciate the time and effort that our partners at NBC Sports Chicago put into making this night so special.”

The IHSA Football Playoff Pairing Show kicks off NBC Sports Chicago’s playoff coverage of IHSA Football, which culminates with all eight state title games being televised and streamed by NBC Sports Chicago on Thanksgiving weekend (Nov. 23-24), live from Memorial Stadium on the University of Illinois campus in Champaign.