Preps Talk

A legend is back: Frank Lenti returns as special advisor at St. Laurence

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NBC SPORTS

A legend is back: Frank Lenti returns as special advisor at St. Laurence

Frank Lenti is back.

On Tuesday, St. Laurence announced that Lenti, who led Mount Carmel's storied football program for 34 seasons, 374 victories and 11 state titles, has joined the Vikings football staff as a special advisor. While his specific role is still to be determined, the addition of Lenti to a football program that has been getting closer to winning a state title is nothing but a victory for the Vikings on several levels.

What exactly is Lenti's value, not just this season but potentially for years to come for St. Laurence? It’s endless.

How often does a high school football program get the opportunity to bring in an instantly recognizable Hall of Fame head coach? And how often can a program bring aboard such an experienced head coach, who knows the Chicago Catholic League inside and out as well as anyone on the planet, such as Frank Lenti? That opportunity doesn't come along very often. Credit the Vikings administration and coaching staff for moving quickly.

St. Laurence already has an esteemed football coaching staff in place, led by head coach Harold Blackmon. The Vikings continue to make great strides in getting the program to levels not seen in Burbank since the late 1970s under coaches Tom Kavanagh and then Mike O'Neill. Kavanagh (1976) and O’Neill (1979) guided the program to a state title and a second place finish, respectively. Could the addition of Frank Lenti, who will mentor Vikings coaches and players alike, get to those lofty heights? I can't see how having a Hall of Fame coach on staff would fail to help St. Laurence.

The optics are positive as well. Simply having Frank Lenti available at school clinics and functions, which would potentially include alumni and other high school coaches, could instantly draw a crowd and further solidify St. Laurence as a Chicagoland football destination.

Frank Lenti’s Mount Carmel fate was dealt to him in surprising fashion last December when the school decided to move on after his 34 years of service. Unfortunately for Lenti, he wasn't able to leave the Caravan program on his own timetable or terms. No gold watch. No farewell tour. No special pregame celebrations. No fanfare. While the idea of spending an entire career in one school seems almost impossible in these times, if anyone deserved a chance to write his final act it was Frank Lenti— the winningest high school football coach in Illinois.

But if finishing an illustrious high school coaching career means helping molding the St. Laurence program —potentially helping the Vikings win state titles— it’s terrific for Lenti.

I still feel the Frank Lenti story is far from being finished. Quite simply, the best part of this tale —the new chapter— is that Frank Lenti will be back involved in Illinois high school football this season.

It also so happens that St. Laurence will host Lenti's former employer on October 12 in Burbank for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff. Circle the date. It’s a must-watch game. I have a feeling I won't be the only one there in Burbank that night.

75 Days to Kickoff: St. Ignatius

75 Days to Kickoff: St. Ignatius

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: St. Ignatius College Prep

Head coach: Matt Miller

Assistant coaches: Charlie Dowdl, Alex Carric, Dan Bunne, Mike Mille, David Hidalg, Michael Whela, Doug Bartlet, Bill Stritzel and Ben Wade

How they fared in 2018: 6-5 (3-1 CCL Red Conference). St. Ignatius made the Class 6A state playoff field and lost to Notre Dame in opening round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Lindblom
Sept. 6 @ Ridgewood
Sept. 13 @ Benet Academy
Sept. 20 @ Marmion Academy
Sept. 27 vs Loyola
Oct. 4 vs Joliet Catholic
Oct. 11 vs Marian Central Catholic
Oct. 18 @ Marian Catholic
Oct. 25 vs Fenwick

[MORE: 84 Days to Kickoff - Marmion Academy]

Biggest storyline: The schedule. Can the Wolfpack get back to the state playoffs? The upgraded/combined ESCC-CCL regular season schedule should be intriguing.

Names to watch this season: LB Declan Callahan (Sr.), OL/DL Mofolarin Walter-Johnson (Sr.), LB/DE Elijah Williams (Sr.)  

Biggest holes to fill: The Wolfpack graduated nine starters this past spring on the offensive side of the football. 

EDGY's Early Take: St. Ignatius has had a strong run of late, having made the IHSA state playoffs in the past four seasons. They won seven games in 2018, five via the shutout and they gave Loyola all they could handle. But the combination of the ESCC/CCL conferences has undoubtedly ramped up the Wolfpacks' schedule this fall. It features games with the likes of Benet, JCA, Loyola and Marian Central Catholic. If St. Ignatius can reload a bit (on offense in particular), they will have a good chance to compete for a fifth straight IHSA state playoff appearance. 
 

Two 2020 Top Chicagoland names make college choices

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Two 2020 Top Chicagoland names make college choices

Two top names from the Chicagoland Class of 2020 have given verbal commitments so far today.

Chicago Curie senior to be three star ranked offensive tackle Kevo Wesley (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) gave Vanderbilt his verbal commitment this evening while on his official visit this weekend. Wesley, who is holding 29 scholarship offers this summer recently narrowed down his list of favorite schools to both Boston College and Vanderbilt and made official visits to both schools.

Wesley, who didn't play any organized football until his sophomore season under Condors head coach Arthur Ray Jr., saw his transition from football novice to pledging to Vanderbilt and playing in the Southeastern Conference pay off today.

"Kevo just always had a tremendous level of focus," according to Curie head coach Arthur Ray Jr.. "He was a basketball kid who wanted to get better and worked hard. He never missed a workout or a training season  and he would always put in extra work. He always had the academic side taken care and Vanderbilt plays in the SEC plus they offer a great education and it's a great fit."

Wheaton Warrenville South senior K Jack Olsen (5-foot-11, 170 pounds) added a full scholarship offer from Michigan State a few weeks ago and tonight gave the Spartans his verbal commitment while on his official visit. Olsen, ranked as one of the top place kickers in the nation according to Chris Sailer Kicking pointed towards the overall fit for him at Michigan State as a main factor in his decision.

"I have visited Michigan State multiple times and I've always loved it there," Olsen said. "I have always wanted to play in the Big Ten growing up. I've looked into everything that Michigan State has to offer including taking an academics tour. I wanted to make sure I loved the schools for everything and not just the football side."