2018-19 record: 27-6 (12-2 North Suburban)
Postseason results: Lost to Evanston in Class 4A Supersectionals.
Players to watch: Senior Matthew Ambrose is a quality scorer and perimeter threat who can play on or off the ball. Ambrose is committed to Division II Indianapolis. Matthew's younger brother, Evan, is a talented junior floor general. Senior forwards John Ittounas and RJ Holmes are both returning starters and productive players who will likely be scholarship basketball players at the college level as well.
Why they're in the power rankings: You'll notice that none of Stevenson's core is heading to a Division I program. That doesn't hinder the Patriots from winning a lot of games. Coming very close to making it to Peoria last season, Stevenson returns four starters and has one of the area's best coaches in Pat Ambrose. The Patriots are cohesive and have a number of weapons who can hurt you.
Did you know? Although Stevenson (and Pat Ambrose's coaching tenure) is mostly associated with Jalen Brunson, Connor Cashaw and the group that made three straight trips to Peoria earlier this decade (2013-15), the Patriots also won fourth in Class AA in 2007. Similar to Stevenson's 2019-20 team, that 2007 Patriots squad didn't have Division I studs and was a well-balanced team that counted on multiple scorers.
There are several teams that finished with losing records this past season; they will undoubtedly be flying under the radar come August. Who are the top 5 teams who could surprise IHSA football fans next fall?
St. Charles North (4-5): It was a tough 2019 season for the North Stars both on and off the field. The school administration and head coach Ron Pomazak had to deal with the serious brain injury to sophomore RB Aidan Carlson-- an issue which impacted the entire community. St. Charles North still has talent in the program including several starters on the offensive line, namely junior OL/DL Carmine Bastone and junior OT Ian Erickson. They are on the rise along with junior ATH Jordan Nubi, the younger brother of former North Star and current Minnesota Gopher safety Tyler Nubin.
Naperville Central (4-5): The Redhawks had a ton of hype in the preseason, then the reality of a brutal schedule set in. Naperville Central ended up losing three games to eventual state champions (Lincoln-Way East, Ohio’s Pickerington Central and East St. Louis). They lost another two games to teams with a combined record of 17-4. The 2020 Redhawks will still have one of the state's most dangerous athletes in QB Sam Jackson (Minnesota) along with a deep group of talented young receivers led by junior Keon Green and sophomore Reggie Fluerima.
Stevenson (4-5): The Patriots missed the IHSA state football playoff field for the first time since 1988. Can postseason football come back to Lincolnshire? Stevenson head coach Brent Becker will need to replace a very big senior class; however, this remains one of the top programs year in and year out in Illinois. Don't look for Stevenson to be down for very long.
Lockport (4-5): Easily one of the better stories of 2019. Former longtime Porter assistant coach George Czart was given the reins of this program in the offseason. Czart was also the head coach at Lincoln-Way North and led the Phoenix to a 54-29 record in eight seasons before the district closed the school. The Porters have numbers in the program; Czart’s staff did an outstanding job of getting everyone to buy in and the program became competitive as a result. The overall talent level is still a work in progress but the ingredients are in the building. They have the potential of becoming an eventual monster to watch in the Southwest suburbs.
Oak Park-River Forest (4-5): The Huskies, under head coach John Hoerster, wound up posting a losing record—a rarity for this Western Suburban Silver program. But outside of a 42-0 Week 9 loss to Glenbard West, OPRK was in every game last season. Several of the Huskies top players in 2019 will be back in 2020, led by QB/S Jaden McGill, LB Naahlyee Bryant and junior OL/DL Amarion Jones.
Who wants it more?
NBC Sports Chicago and Wintrust present our “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week.” We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland’s top prep sports show, in the hands of passionate high school basketball followers. Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night’s “High School Lites” broadcast at 11:00 p.m. The show also live streams at www.nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive and appears in the MyTeams app. High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago.
This week, we're going to get a taste of the Chicago Public League/White division. Which game should we attend for High School Lites?
Mather at Foreman, 5:00 p.m.
Jones at Wells, 5:00 p.m.
Perspectives-MSA at Raby, 6:30 p.m.
To participate, our fans are encouraged to do the following:
**Follow our NBC Sports Chicago preps Twitter page: @NBCSPreps.
**Note the pinned tweet that is atop the feed.
**Vote for the game you want NBC Sports Chicago to cover Friday night.
**Spread the word!
The poll will start promptly at 12:00 p.m. Monday. We will make an announcement with the official results on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week,” along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights, all season long.