Preps Talk

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 19 Willowbrook

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 19 Willowbrook

School: Willowbrook

2016-17 record: 24-5, 9-3 West Suburban Gold

Postseason results: Lost to Addison Trail in Class 4A regional semifinals.

Players to watch: Senior Ethan Schuemer was one of last season's breakout players as he averaged nearly a double-double with 16.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.

Why they're in the power rankings: Coming off of a school-record 24-win season, Willowbrook returns its top six players from a team that had a shocking playoff exit against Addison Trail. Motivated to prove last season wasn't a fluke, the Warriors should remain on of the strongest teams in the Western Suburbs.

Did you know? Willowbrook doesn't have a lot of basketball history despite being open since 1959. The Warriors only have three regional titles to their credit, with the last one coming in 2004.

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.