Preps Talk

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 9 Niles North

Preps Basketball Power Rankings: No. 9 Niles North

School: Niles North

2016-17 record: 21-10, 7-3 Central Suburban South

Postseason results: Lost to Notre Dame in Class 4A regional finals

Players to watch: The Vikings have the luxury of three double-figure scorers returning as Damaria Franklin, Jamal Stephenson and Dravon Clayborn are all back. Franklin is the biggest All-Area threat of the trio as he's a potential menace on the defensive end while also being the team's leading scorer last season. 

Why they're in the power rankings: Returning nearly everybody from a 21-win team last season, the Vikings have plenty of scoring pop and some dangerous athletes. The big question for Niles North is how they share the ball this season and if they are a team that makes winning plays. A lack of big-game experience caught up to this group at times last season. 

Did you know? Niles North alum Abdel Nader is a rookie for the Boston Celtics this season after winning the NBA D League's MVP award last season. 

Power Rankings: #10 - Homewood-Flossmoor

Power Rankings: #10 - Homewood-Flossmoor

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: Homewood-Flossmoor

Head coach: Craig Buzea

Assistant coaches: Tom Cicero, Zac Wells, Alex Pratt, Daron Williams, Eric Schreiber Jr., Bart Czachor, David James, Josh Blair, Josh Forney and Matt Ramos

How they fared in 2017: 9-2 (6-1 Southwest Suburban Conference). H-F made the 8A state playoff field, defeated Lake Park then lost to Naperville Central in second round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Michigan City (IN)

Sept. 1 vs Lutheran North (MO.) at East St. Louis

Sept. 7 vs Stagg

Sept. 14 @ Bolingbrook

Sept. 21 vs Lincoln-Way West

Sept. 28 @ Lincoln-Way East

Oct. 5 @ Bradley

Oct. 12 vs Andrew

Oct. 19 vs Sandburg

[MORE: 69 Days to Kickoff - Lincoln-Way West]

Biggest storyline: Can the Vikings, now without their dynamic WR/RB Justin Hall (NIU), get back to the postseason and play deeper into November?

Names to watch this season: QB Dominick Jones and DB Wynston Russell (Oregon State)

Biggest holes to fill: The Vikings have a good number of returning starters back in 2018 (five offense, six defense). The team boasts plenty of talent. But who can step up and be the go-to guy? Who replaces Justin Hall?

EDGY's Early Take: The Vikings have become a traditional power in Chicago's south suburbs and in the overall Class 8A field. Head coach Craig Buzea is looking for a breakout season and he has the ingredients in the program. The offense will be led by junior QB Dominick Jones. He has some firepower behind him in senior RB Leon Tanna. Keep an eye senior TE Jack Schmitz as well. The defense is also talent-heavy. Look for senior DL Isaiah Coe and senior DE/OLB Charlies Brooks to help carry the load. Oregon State commit senior DB Wynston Russell is the lone returning starter in the secondary.

Power Rankings: #11 - Stevenson

Power Rankings: #11 - Stevenson

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: Stevenson

Head coach: Josh Hjorth

Assistant coaches: Brent Becker (OL/Assistant Head Coach), Tom Baumann (DBs), Brian Burja (DC), Chris Caballero (OL/DL), Jason Ford (LBs), Pat Grady (WRs/Special Team Coordinator) Erik Jensen (Quality Control Coach), Redelle Lawrence (DBs), Joey Weber (QBs)

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (5-2 North Suburban Conference). Stevenson made the 8A state playoff field and lost to Hinsdale Central in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Palatine

Aug. 31 @ Neuqua Valley

Sept 7 @ Libertyville

Sept. 14 @ Zion-Benton

Sept. 21 vs Lake Zurich

Sept. 28 @ Mundelein

Oct. 5 vs Waukegan

Oct. 12 @ Warren Township

Oct. 19 vs Lake Forest

[MORE: 29 Days to Kickoff - Palatine]

Biggest storyline: Can the Patriots, under second-year head coach Josh Hjorth, make another run at the North Suburban title --and beyond-- this season?

Names to watch this season: RB JM Eitenne and LB Maema Njongmeta

Biggest holes to fill: The Patriots welcome back 15 returning starters from a season ago including nine back on offense. On defense, they'll be looking to fill holes on the defensive line and in the secondary. 

EDGY's Early Take: The Patriots went young in 2017 as then-first year head coach Josh Hjorth was able to get varsity experience to several key players. That should pay dividends this fall. Stevenson, led by three returning offensive lineman, will look to establish their running game early in the season. Senior QB Cole Okmin will have a deep and experienced group of backs and receivers to utilize. The key in the first few weeks will be the development of the defensive line and secondary. Defensive team leaders such as senior OLB Maema Njongmeta will play a big role in bringing along a younger but very talented group.