Preps Talk

Momentum building as Phillips prepares to make history

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Momentum building as Phillips prepares to make history

Last year, they were a Cinderella story. This year, the slipper still fits—although you may not want to call this a Cinderella story much longer.

Phillips head coach Troy McAllister will lead the Wildcats back to a state championship game this Friday night for the second straight year.

The obvious question: how does this year feel different for McAllister?

"I'm a worrier, especially right before a game," McAllister said. "But with this group I'm just much less worried. Last year I needed to go in with the rah-rah type of speeches. This year, this group is just much more relaxed compared to last year….they come in ready to play. This team just knows what to expect each week and each level of the state playoffs."

The 2015 Wildcats’ approach and focus undoubtedly started at the end of last season, one that saw them on the short end of a 49-28 decision in the 4A title game at Champaign Memorial’s Stadium. They did, though, join the 1982 Robeson Raiders as the only teams from the Chicago Public League to advance to an IHSA football state championship game. The Chicago Public League, for all of its successes in other sports –especially basketball-- have yet to bring home an IHSA state football title.

Phillips has transformed itself over five years from being one of the worst performing schools in the CPL to one of the best. Now, it’s all about finishing. McAllister will never forget what transpired last November after the loss to Rochester. It was an exceptionally long bus ride back to Chicago.

"It was just a miserable feeling," McAllister recalled. "The bus ride was quiet at first until the kids started to get hungry and then they came around. I just remember back and walking off the field and thinking to myself that we just weren't ready. We will be ready this time around."

[CLASS 4A PREVIEW: Phillips vs. Belleville Althoff]

Having his team ready and prepared hasn't been an issue too often for McAllister and his staff. But one of the big turning points for McAllister and Phillips goes back to the 2013 season after a humbling 41-8 loss to Geneseo in the 4A quarterfinals.

"That year we had a false sense of who we were and how good we were. We came off a big win against Evergreen Park and we went into Geneseo all confident and they just whacked us. I walked off the field knowing we didn't prepare the team as well as we should of prepared them. I wasn't going to let that happen ever again."

The following winter, McAllister, along with Athletic Director John Byrne, loaded up the Wildcats’ non-conference schedule with Wing T and power option running teams-- which is generally the offense of choice among Geneseo and several traditional 4A powers. The Wildcats over the past two seasons have played the likes of power running teams in Stillman Valley, Carmel, Naperville North and several others to great success, including a 24-7 win over Geneseo in the quarterfinal round.

So has the city of Chicago gotten on board with the Wildcats again this postseason?

"It's definitely building up," according to McAllister. “Monday was a prime example of how people from all over the city are coming around to us. Everyone who was driving by the practice was honking their horns and cheering for us as they passed by the field. Earlier in the day, I got a call from Jesse Chick at Simeon who wanted to let us know that the Simeon family and everyone in the CPL was behind us and in our corner. That call was really important. I also got a call from guy who lives on the Northwest Side. He's just some regular guy who has been following us all season and just wanted to wish us luck and how excited he is for the state championship game. I also got a call from the Mayor (Rahm Emanuel) wishing us luck."

"In just one day you have it all covered, from the neighborhood to the rest of the Public League, to the North Side and the Mayor. It's a pretty good feeling."

Phillips takes on Belleville Althoff at 7 p.m. Friday. The game can be seen live on CSN+, csnchicago.com/ihsa and via the NBC Live Extra App.

Edgy Tim's Preps Power Rankings: Week 9

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's Preps Power Rankings: Week 9

Here are the latest @NBCSPreps Top 25 Power Rankings.
 
1. Lincoln-Way East 8-0 (1)
Last Week: Beat Thornwood, 56-18
This Week: vs Bolingbrook
EDGY's Take: The Griffins get a nice Week 9 test hosting Bolingbrook. Can the Raiders push the Griffins for four quarters?

2. Batavia 8-0 (2)
Last Week: Beat St. Charles North, 27-24
This Week: @ Wheaton North
EDGY's Take: An epic drive late in the game with no timeouts. The Bulldogs pull out the close-call win over St. Charles North.  

3. Brother Rice 8-0 (3)
Last Week: Beat Leo, 48-0
This Week: @ Montini Catholic
EDGY's Take: What were the preseason that the biggest Chicago Catholic League game of the year would be Brother Rice at Montini?

4. Marist 7-1 (4)
Last Week: Beat Marian Central Catholic, 42-6
This Week: @ Benet Academy
EDGY's Take: The Redhawks will get a nice Week 9 on Friday from Benet at Benedictine University. 

5. Mount Carmel 7-1 (5)
Last Week: Beat St. Laurence, 40-0
This Week: vs Fenwick
EDGY's Take: The Caravan have been playing as well as any contenders ranked here.

6. Homewood-Flossmoor 7-1 (6)
Last Week: Beat Andrew, 35-3
This Week: vs Sandburg
EDGY's Take: Head coach Craig Buzea got his 200th career win last Friday over Andrew.

7. Cary-Grove 8-0 (7)
Last Week: Beat Prairie Ridge, 21-14
This Week: vs Naperville Central
EDGY's Take: The Trojans rallied from being down 14-0 and scored 21 unanswered points to defeat their bitter rivals.

8. Simeon 8-0 (8)
Last Week: Beat Taft, 58-7
This Week: @ Curie
EDGY's Take: The big question coming Saturday night-- Will the Wolverines wind up in 8A or 7A? 

9. Nazareth Academy 7-1 (9)
Last Week: Beat Joliet Catholic, 49-20
This Week: vs Marian Catholic
EDGY's Take: The Roadrunners get a nice bounce-back win last Friday over Joliet Catholic.

10. Maine South 7-1 (10)
Last Week: Beat New Trier, 38-21
This Week: vs Niles West
EDGY's Take: The Hawks get another big Central Suburban South win. 

11. Oswego 8-0 (11)
Last Week: Beat Joliet Central, 49-0
This Week: @ Plainfield South
EDGY's Take: The Panthers will take on a very defensive-minded Plainfield South team on Friday.
 
12. Richards 8-0 (13)
Last Week: Beat Reavis, 51-0
This Week: vs Eisenhower
EDGY's Take: The Bulldogs continue to cruise and are gearing for a high seed in Class 6A.
 
13. Phillips 6-2 (14)
Last Week: Beat Westinghouse, 46-6
This Week: @ Raby
EDGY's Take: The Wildcats will look to finish strong this week against Raby.

14. Willowbrook 8-0 (15)
Last Week: Beat Proviso East, 40-7
This Week: @ Downers Grove South
EDGY's Take: The Warriors will look to send Downers Grove South (4-4) home for the holidays on Friday.

15. Naperville Central 6-2 (16)
Last Week: Beat Waubonsie Valley, 35-14
This Week: @ Cary-Grove
EDGY's Take: The Redhawks have won six straight games and have the makings of a team that could make some postseason noise. 

16. Bolingbrook 7-1 (17)
Last Week: Beat Thornton, 43-7
This Week: @ Lincoln-Way East
EDGY's Take: The Raiders will look to derail the "Big Cobalt Blue Machine" this Friday in Frankfort. 

17. Montini 8-0 (18)
Last Week: Beat Providence Catholic, 27-3
This Week: vs Brother Rice
EDGY's Take: The Broncos will host Brother Rice on Friday in the biggest game of the year in the Chicago Catholic League.

18. Oak Park-River Forest 6-2 (NR)
Last Week: Beat Glenbard West, 10-7
This Week: vs Lyons Township
EDGY's Take: The Huskies have a top-notch defense and found a way to beat Glenbard West at Duchon Field. It was OPRF's first win there since 1998.

19. Warren Township 7-1 (NR)
Last Week: Beat Stevenson, 21-0
This Week: @ Mundelein
EDGY's Take: The Blue Devils defense came to play. An impressive 21-0 shutout over Stevenson 21-0 last Friday.

20. Glenbard West 6-2 (12)
Last Week: Lost to Oak Park-River Forest, 10-7
This Week: @ Proviso West
EDGY's Take: The Hilltoppers defense is still salty as ever. But can the offense find a few more options besides standout RB Tyquan Cox?

21. Hillcrest 8-0 (22)
Last Week: Beat TF North, 50-6
This Week: vs Bremen
EDGY's Take: The Hawks have made it look easy this regular season. They'll go for a 9-0 sweep later this week in an effort to claim a high seed in 5A.

22. Notre Dame 7-1 (23)
Last Week: Beat Carmel, 21-7
This Week: vs Joliet Catholic
EDGY's Take: The Dons now host JCA and will try to knock out the Hilltoppers from the state playoff field.

23. Hinsdale Central 8-0 (24)
Last Week: Beat Lyons Township, 57-0
This Week: vs Hinsdale South
EDGY's Take: The Red Devils will get challenged this Friday against crosstown rival Hinsdale South (The "Doings Cup" game).

24. Rolling Meadows 8-0 (NR)
Last Week: Beat Hersey, 38-35
This Week: @ Buffalo Grove
EDGY's Take: The Mustangs get a huge win over Hersey. Why do I get the feeling we could see an RM-Hersey rematch in the postseason?
 
25. St. Charles North 6-2 (21)
Last Week: Lost to Batavia, 27-24
This Week: vs Wheaton South
EDGY's Take: The North Stars drop a last-second loss to Batavia last Friday; they will look to get back on track this week against another tough opponent in Wheaton South.
 

High School Lites Football Roundup Week 8

High School Lites Football Roundup Week 8

High School Lites is back with an exciting Week 8 full of thrilling matchups. NBC Sports Chicago has the highlights of some of the top matchups from Friday's games.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @NBCSPREPS for all of the latest IHSA football scores and highlights.

DRIVEBatavia (episode 8)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Prospect/Elk Grove Girls Volleyball

VIEWERS' CHOICE GAMES OF THE WEEK: Downers North shuts out rival Downers South

WINTRUST ATHLETE OF THE WEEK: Downers Grove South runner Brenna Cohoon 

Eisenhower's Jade Watson makes a big impression on the football field 

FRIDAY'S TOP 25 SCORES

(1) Lincoln-Way East 56, Thornwood 18

(2) Batavia 27, St. Charles North 24

(3) Brother Rice 48, Leo 0

(4) Marist 42, Marian Central 6

(5) Mount Carmel 40, St. Laurence 0

(6) Homewood-Flossmoor 35, Andrew 3

(7) Cary-Grove 21, (25) Prairie Ridge 14

(9) Nazareth 49, Joliet Catholic 20

(10) Maine South 38, (20) New Trier 21

(11) Oswego 49, Joliet Central 0

(13) Richards 51, Reavis 0

(14) Phillips 46, Westinghouse 6

(15) Willowbrook 40, Proviso East 7

(16) Naperville Central 35, Waubonsie Valley 14

(17) Bolingbrook 43, Thornton 7

(18) Montini 27, Providence 3

Warren 21, (19) Stevenson 0

(22) Hillcrest 50, T.F. North 6

(23) Notre Dame 21, Carmel 7

(24) Hinsdale Central 49, Lyons 6

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Rolling Meadows 38, Hersey 35

Antioch 43, Lakes 24

Byron 21, Genoa-Kingston 14

SATURDAY'S TOP 25 GAMES

(8) Simeon vs. Taft at Lane Stadium

Oak Park-River Forest at (12) Glenbard West