Preps Talk

Loyola's John Holecek on Lovie Smith hiring at Illinois

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Loyola's John Holecek on Lovie Smith hiring at Illinois

It didn't take Loyola Academy head coach — and former Fighting Illini linebacker — John Holecek very long to express his opinion of the hiring of former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith today when asked.

"I love it for the school," Holecek said. "Coach (Lovie) Smith brings instant credibility to the football program."

Holecek (110-24 record at Loyola over 10 seasons), who led the Ramblers to a perfect 14-0 season and the 2015 Class 8A state title, has heard some of the questions regarding the hiring of Smith — most of them revolving around how effective can Smith and his staff recruit.

"Like everyone else, I'm very interested to see who he adds to his coaching staff," Holecek said. "I just think that Illinois will have an easier time recruiting with Coach Smith in charge. With Lovie Smith you gain immediate attention, not just locally but nationally. He's a recognizable name and face and he's just a well respected man."

"99 percent of kids recruited these days think they will all play in the NFL. Who would be a better coach to evaluate and mentor those same than Coach Smith? That's another big advantage for Illinois."

Holecek has been dealing with players, parents and college coaches with the recruiting process over the past decade. What advice could Holecek offer Smith from a high school coach's perspective?

"I'm the last person in the world to offer Coach Smith any advice, but I guess the best thing I would tell him would be to just be yourself," Holecek said. "Spend time with the kids and the parents and be genuine and honest with them. Coach Smith just needs to be himself and he will do a great job for Illinois. I'm excited about the move for Illinois."

98 Days to Kickoff: Plainfield South

98 Days to Kickoff: Plainfield South

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: Plainfield South

Head coach: Bill Bicker

Assistant coaches: Adam Chavez (OC), Rob Szudarski (DC), Ben Delange (OL), Corey Carver (DL), Clint Reams (LB)

How they fared in 2018: 7-3 (7-2 Southwest Prairie). Plainfield South made the Class 8A state playoff field and lost to Naperville Central in opening round action. 

2019 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 30 @ West Aurora

Sept. 6 vs Minooka

Sept. 13 @ Oswego

Sept. 20 vs Oswego East

Sept. 27 @ Joliet Central

Oct. 4 vs Plainfield Central

Oct. 11 vs Plainfield East

Oct. 18 @ Joliet West

Oct. 25 vs Romeoville

Biggest storyline: Where will the Cougars place in the newly expanded Southwest Prairie Conference?

Names to watch this season: Senior RB Jaylin Eisen, junior QB Niko Schultz, junior OL Deuce Yates

Biggest holes to fill: The Cougars will need to replace eight graduated starters from last season’s defense, a unit that was one of the best in the Southwest Prairie.

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach Bill Bicker was able to put together a punishing ground game and a speedy defense to get into the state playoff field last season. 2019? Look for the Cougars to rely on an experienced offense led by junior QB Niko Schultz. If the defense can reload a bit, expect Plainfield South to challenge for another state playoff spot this fall.

99 Days to Kickoff: Prospect

99 Days to Kickoff: Prospect

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: Prospect Knights

Head coach: Dan DeBoeuf

Assistant coaches: Brock Collins (DC), Tim Beisher (STC), Matt Weber (WR), Jeff Collier (DB), Dan Keller (LB), Jim Argentine (DL), Dan Yeoman (DB), Michael Watson (RB), Tom Whalen, Dominic Canon and Mike Naboltny

How they fared in 2018: 5-5 (2-3 Mid Suburban East). Prospect made the Class 7A state playoff field and lost to Glenbard East in opening round action. 

2019 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 30  @ St Viator
Sept. 6 vs Hoffman Estates
Sept. 13 vs Niles West
Sept. 20 @ Highland Park
Sept. 27 @ Elk Grove
Oct. 4 @ Hersey
Oct. 11 vs Rolling Meadows
Oct. 18 vs Hersey
Oct. 25  @ Wheeling

Biggest storyline: Can the Knights challenge for the Mid-Suburban East conference title in 2019?

Names to watch this season: OL/DL Sebastian Swistak (Sr.), WR Matt Meyer (Sr.) and RB/DB Luke Zardzin (Jr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Knights bring back a ton of experience back this fall; however, a few key seniors will graduate this spring. That list includes QB Jimmy Martin and RB Michael Shafis.

EDGY's Early Take: In his first year as Prospect head coach, Dan DeBoeuf was able to make the IHSA state playoffs-- the first postseason berth for the school since 2012. What will the Knights do for an encore? More postseason success is expected in 2019. With 15 returning starters back in the fold, I'm looking for the Knights to challenge for a state playoff spot and a conference title.