Preps Talk

NBC Sports Chicago's 100 Days to Kickoff

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USA Today

NBC Sports Chicago's 100 Days to Kickoff

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 July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

In case you missed any of our previews, here is our rundown:

100. De La Salle

99. Crystal Lake South

98. Eisenhower

97. Back of the Yards

96. Jacobs

95. Waubonsie Valley

94. Kaneland

93. West Aurora

92. St. Edward

91. Joliet Catholic

90. Warren

89. St. Charles East

88. Antioch

87. Hoffman Estates

86. Reavis

85. Rolling Meadows

84. Leo

83. Fremd

82. Ridgewood

81. Bishop McNamara

80. Fenwick

79. Crete-Monee

78. St. Patrick

77. Kankakee

76. Lakes

75. Carmel

74. Chicago Hope Academy

73. Joliet Central

72. Coal City

71. Raby

70. Morris

69. Lincoln-Way West

68. Oswego East

67. Hillcrest

66. Rich Central

65. Elmwood Park

64. T.F. South

63. Shepard

62. Lincoln Park

61. Maine West

60. Grayslake North

59. Mount Carmel

58. Vernon Hills

57. Solorio

56, Wheaton North

55. St. Viator

54. Glebrook South

53. Glenbard East

52. Maine East

51. Rochester

50. Neuqua Valley

49. Naperville North

48. DeKalb

47. Huntley

46. Wheaton Warrenville South

45. Metea Valley

44. Notre Dame

43. St. Joseph

42. West Chicago

41. Bogan

40. Chicago Ag Science

39. Downers Grove South

38. Glenbrook North

37. Schaumburg

36. Glenbard North

35. Oak Forest

34. Bartlett

33. Benet

32. Woodstock North

31. Wauconda

30. McHenry

29. Palatine

28. Lemont

27. Payton

26. IC Catholic

25. Mount Carmel

24. Montini

23. Prairie Ridge

22. Richards

21. St. Rita

20. Neuqua Valley

19. Oswego

18. New Trier

17. Barrington

16. Cary-Grove

15. Maine South

14. St. Charles North

13. Brother Rice

12. Hinsdale Central

11. Stevenson

10. Homewood-Flossmoor

9. Marist

8. Naperville Central

7. Glenbard West

6. Nazareth

5. Lake Zurich

Power Rankings: #5 - Lake Zurich

Power Rankings: #5 - Lake Zurich

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 July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Lake Zurich

Head coach: Luke Mertens

Assistant coaches: Aaron Towne, Nate Boekholder, Jason Newburger, Matt VanAcker, Nick Summers, Vito Andriola, Rick Erickson, Jeff Bartlett, Shane Williams, Kelly Henkel, Chris Barberis, Christian Wollard and Alec Malachowski

How they fared in 2017: 13-1 (7-0 North Suburban Conference). Lake Zurich made the 7A state playoff field and defeated Schaumburg, Plainfield North, St. Rita and Mount Carmel. In the state title game, they lost in OT to Batavia. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Fremd

Aug. 31 vs Nazareth Academy

Sept. 7 vs Zion-Benton

Sept. 14 vs Lake Forest

Sept. 21 @ Stevenson

Sept. 28 @ Libertyville

Oct. 5 @ Warren Township

Oct. 12 vs Mundelein

Oct.20 @ Waukegan

[MORE: Power Rankings #6 - Nazareth]

Biggest storyline: The program didn't miss a beat when they changed coaches in the 2017 offseason. Can the program, one year removed from a state title game, reload once again and not skip a beat for the second consecutive season?

Names to watch this season: LB Luke Dwyer (North Dakota State) and WR Michael Gallus

Biggest holes to fill: The Bears will need to have some fresh faces step up on offense, especially in the skills department: quarterback and running back. 

EDGY's Early Take: The Bears will simply reload this season. Head coach Luke Mertens was able to make quite a state playoff run in his first season. Keep an eye on senior QB Matt McGraw (6-foot-4, 185 pounds), who transferred in this summer from Grant. He brings a big arm and a passing threat to the Lake Zurich offense. The Bears' defense will once again be a strength. Keep an eye on senior DL Jackson Farsales, senior LB Luke Dwyer and senior DB Austin LePage. The underclassmen talent for Lake Zurich is also impressive and will provide much needed depth this season. 

Power Rankings: #6 - Nazareth

Power Rankings: #6 - Nazareth

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 July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Nazareth Academy

Head coach: Tim Racki

Assistant coaches: Casey Moran, Joe Reynolds, Rudy Luna, Brody Budmayr, Jeff Tumpane, Joe Battaglia, Steve Gray, Tom Minogue, Matt Letcher, Larry White, Jonathon Bittle and Joe Felice

How they fared in 2017: 12-2 (6-1 East Suburban Catholic Conference). Nazareth Academy made the 6A state playoff field and defeated Springfield, Danville, Sacred Heart-Griffin and Providence Catholic before losing to Prairie Ridge in the state title game.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs. Lutheran North (Mo.)

Aug. 31 @ Lake Zurich

Sept. 7 @ Marian Central Catholic

Sept. 14 vs. St. Patrick

Sept. 21 @ Benet Academy

Sept. 28 @ Carmel

Oct. 5 vs. Marist

Oct. 12 vs. Joliet Catholic

Oct. 19 @ Marian Catholic

[MORE: 33 Days to Kickoff - Benet]

Biggest storyline: Can the Roadrunners move up a class to 7A and win a state title in 2018?

Names to watch this season: RB/DB Devin Blakley (Miami of Ohio) and WR/DB Michael Love (Bowling Green)

Biggest holes to fill: The Roadrunners welcome back 16 returning starters (seven offense, nine defense) from last year's Class 6A state title runner-up team. But still, more depth will be needed playing "up" in 7A this playoff season.

EDGY's Early Take: The Roadrunners and head coach Tim Racki (who will be playing up in Class 7A this year due to the IHSA Success Factor rule) came up just short in the 6A state title in 2017. This year's team brings back nearly every key player from that squad. The offense will need to settle on a starting quarterback (including D1 recruit sophomore QB J.J. McCarthy) but the overall skills group will be a major strength on offense this fall. Nazareth's defense is also loaded. Senior DB/WR Diamond Evans along with senior DT Cameron Leach are just names among several others who are expected to make a major impact this season. If the Roadrunners' offense can settle in under a new quarterback, this team has the potential to win a state title in Class 7A.