Preps Talk

Naperville North vs. Lyons Township on CSN

Naperville North vs. Lyons Township on CSN

Matchup: No. 19 Lyons Township (7-2) at No. 14 Naperville North (8-1)

Where to watch: Live broadcast on CSN at 7 p.m. and a live stream available on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports app.

Overview: This Class 8A showdown features teams from two of the top largest public school conferences in Illinois. Lyons Township and head coach Kurt Weinberg fired off six straight wins to start the 2016 season (including an impressive, 28-14, road win over Glenbard West) before dropping two straight games in Weeks 7 and 8 to Hinsdale Central (28-21) and Oak Park-River Forest (27-3). Naperville North and head coach Sean Drendel posted a 2-7 record last season. However, the Huskies welcomed back 18 returning starters this fall. The Huskies only loss this season was to Neuqua Valley (35-20) back in Week 6.

When Lyons Township has the football: The Lions will look to expand the field with both the pass and run, via its no-huddle shotgun spread offense. Junior quarterback Ben Bryant is already drawing FBS scholarship offers and has several weapons including senior wide receiver Hasahn Austin, junior wide receiver Nate Rusk and junior running back Reggie Terrell Jr. Lyons Township also features a big offensive line. 

[MORE PREPS: IHSA Football Playoffs First-Round Matchups]

When Naperville North has the football: The Huskies will look to establish thunder and lightning in the backfield with senior running backs Cross Robinson and Eric Wright. Then, mix in Naperville North's play-action passing game, led by senior quarterback Luke Cegles, junior wide receiver Nick Calcagno and senior wide receiver Mitch Lewis (6-foot-6, 220 pounds). North also has a good size and experience on the offensive line.

Key matchups to watch: The Naperville North offensive line vs. the Lyons Township defensive line. Naperville North wants to run the ball and also control the clock. The Lions defensive line is very good. Keep an eye on senior Andrew Ezell and junior Mickey Brown. Also, how well can the Naperville North secondary handle the spread passing attack from Lyons? Naperville North has an experienced secondary, led by seniors Cam Hardy and Grant Ericksen. This group will be tested by a speedy group of Lyons receivers and backs..

Impact player for Lyons Township: Bryant. He is an experienced signal-caller who can take over a game when he's on.

Impact players for Naperville North: Robinson and Wright. The Huskies backfield has been special. according to those in and around the Huskies program.

Prediction: Naperville North 28, Lyons Township 21. The keys here will be (1) time of possession for Naperville North and (2) which team wins the turnover battle. I fully expect this to be a close game from start to finish, but I'll give the nod to the home team here. 

More on tonight's matchup and the first round of the IHSA football playoffs:

Have a question about your school's Round 1 State Playoff matchup? Ask Edgy Tim NOW and he'll answer LIVE!

Posted by NBC Sports Chicago on Wednesday, October 26, 2016

71 Days To Kickoff: Crystal Lake Central

71 Days To Kickoff: Crystal Lake Central

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: Crystal Lake Central

Head coach: Jon McLaughlin

Assistant coaches: Dirk Stanger (OC), Justen Lehr (DC), Steve Spoden, Matt MacCrindle and Scott Taylor

How they fared in 2018: 3-6 (3-5 Fox Valley Conference). Crystal Lake Central failed to qualify for the IHSA state football playoffs.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Prairie Ridge
Sept. 6 @ Cary-Grove
Sept. 13 vs Crystal Lake South
Sept. 20 vs Burlington Central
Sept. 27 @ Hampshire
Oct. 4 vs Huntley
Oct. 11 @ Dundee-Crown
Oct. 18 vs McHenry
Oct. 25 @ Jacobs

[MORE: 88 Days to Kickoff - McHenry]

Biggest storyline: The Tigers finished strong last season and have loads of experience coming back. Are they ready to step up and get into the Fox Valley conference's upper tier?

Names to watch this season: QB Aiden Ellinger (Sr.), WR/DB Drew Jenkins (Sr.), OL Ramon Fuentes (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Tigers welcome back 17 returning starters from a season ago, but the overall numbers and depth can always be better.

EDGY's Early Take: Crystal Lake Central had little issue scoring points in 2018, thanks in large part to Aiden Ellinger lighting it up (over 2,700 passing yards). But the defense will be asked to make some marked improvements from a season ago. Look for the Tigers to challenge every opponent in the FVC. They'll certainly be tested in the early going. But if the offense can continue to put up points and the defense can make improvements, they'll challenge for a state playoff berth. 

72 Days To Kickoff: West Aurora

72 Days To Kickoff: West Aurora

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: West Aurora

Head coach: Nate Eimer

Assistant coaches: Tony Melchiori (DC), Patrick Stremel (LB), Bob Fowler (DL), Charlie Graves (DB), Tim Phelps (OL/DL), Mike Runge (OL), Ron Murphy (QB), Alex Shaw (WR) and Joe Howell (RB).

How they fared in 2018: 9-2 (8-1 Upstate Eight Conference). West Aurora made the 8A state football playoff and beat South Elgin in the opening round. They lost to Edwardsville in second round action.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Plainfield South
Sept. 6 @ Plainfield East
Sept. 13 vs Joliet Central
Sept. 20 @ Romeoville
Sept. 27 @ Yorkville
Oct. 4 vs Oswego
Oct. 11 vs. Plainfield North
Oct. 18 @ Minooka  
Oct. 25 vs Oswego East

[MORE: 93 Days to Kickoff - Oswego East]

Biggest storyline: A new home in the Southwest Prairie Conference. Can the Blackhawks fare well and keep up their winning ways with a step up in competition?

Names to watch this season: QB Will Tammaru (Sr.) and DE Matt Johnson (Sr.)

Biggest holes to fill: The Blackhawks will welcome back 13 returning starters (seven offense, six defense) and feature several multi-year starters. Standout defensive lineman Denver Warren has transferred to Brother Rice. How will roster depth play a role? Overall numbers can be better for every high school program-- including West Aurora.
 
EDGY's Early Take: Coach Nate Eimer's Blackhawks depart the Upstate Eight and enter the Southwest Prairie. The program has had great success the last four seasons (all playoff berths), with 30 wins to their credit. The program had 30 wins total between 2005-14. West Aurora is pretty stacked with talent and is expected to challenge the upper tier of the newly-realigned league. They look to get back into the state playoff field for the fifth straight season and make a deeper run come November.