Preps Talk

Saturday on CSN: Class 8A Neuqua Valley at Hinsdale Central

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Saturday on CSN: Class 8A Neuqua Valley at Hinsdale Central

IHSA Class 8A Playoffs: No. 19 Neuqua Valley (6-3) at No. 14 Hinsdale Central (7-2), Saturday at 6 p.m. on CSN.           

Neuqua Valley: The Wildcats and head coach Bill Ellinghaus have dropped two straight games (28-21 to Lake Park and 42-28 to Glenbard North), but they present a big opening round challenge to Hinsdale Central. Neuqua Valley has one of the state's top receiver tandem with junior D-1 standout Isaiah Robertson and senior TE Brett Borske (Western Michigan), along with junior WR Owen Piche. The Wildcats defense has allowed a ton of yards on the ground over the past few weeks. Senior LB/RB Nick Osikowicz has been dealing with injuries, and it’s been an issue for the overall unit during the regular season.

Hinsdale Central: The Red Devils were rolling merrily along with their only loss - up until last Friday - coming back in Week 6 to the West Suburban Silver conference champs – and top seed in Class 7A - Glenbard West (9-0), 37-26. But in last week's 39-7 loss to OPRF, the Red Devils high flying offense was stalled and was held to its lowest point total all season. Keep an eye on senior QB Michael Sessa along with junior QB Josh Bean plus senior RB Christian Bobak. Also how big of a loss is Hinsdale Central senior OL Matt Allen (Michigan State)? He is suspended for this opening round game after being ejected in last week’s loss.

Key player to watch for Neuqua Valley? Junior WR/S Isaiah Robertson, who also returns kicks.

Key player to watch for Hinsdale Central? Senior RB Christian Bobak.

63 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

63 Days to Kickoff: Shepard

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: Shepard

Head coach: John Rone

Assistant coaches: Andrew Porter, Ron Rivera, Chris Lewis, Ryan McGuire and Clint Connelly

How they fared in 2017: 8-2 (5-1 South Suburban Red Conference). Shepard made the Class 6A state football playoff field. The Astros lost to Marmion Academy in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Leyden

Sept. 1 @ Stagg

Sept 7 vs Hillcrest

Sept. 14 vs Eisenhower

Sept. 21 @ Richards

Sept. 28 @ Oak Lawn

Oct. 5 vs Reavis

Oct. 12 vs Evergreen Park

Oct. 19 @ Argo

Biggest storyline: First-year head coach John Rone. Can the Astros challenge once again for the South Suburban Red conference title under a new head coach?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Chris Harrison and TE/DE Kevin Graham

Biggest holes to fill: The Astros bring back 10 returning starters (five offense, five defense). Overall depth could also be a concern.  

EDGY's Early Take: Shepard will be led by former Eisenhower assistant Rone, who was able to retain an experienced staff at Shepard. It will help ease the transition from former head coach Dominic Passolano this summer. If the Astros can get off to a good early start they have the overall talent to again make a state playoff appearance in 2018. Can they challenge conference power Richards in the South Suburban Red race?

64 Days to Kickoff: T.F. South

64 Days to Kickoff: T.F. South

Head coach: Bob Padjen

Assistant coaches: Trent Jensen, Jesse Kikkert, Jonathan Hill, Doug Smith, Mike Tisza, Rob Shell and Tim Russell

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (3-3 South Suburban Blue Conference), T.F. South made the Class 6A state football playoff field. The Rebels lost to Danville in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Thornwood

Sept. 1 vs Julian

Sept. 7 vs Oak Forest

Sept. 14 @ TF North

Sept. 21 vs Bremen

Sept. 28 @ Reavis

Oct. 5 vs Hillcrest

Oct. 12 @ Lemont

Oct. 19 @ Tinley Park

[MORE: 86 Days to Kickoff - Reavis]

Biggest storyline: T.F. South has advanced to the playoffs 20 times in the past 24 seasons. Can the Rebels get back to the IHSA state playoff field and make more noise this fall?

Names to watch this season: QB Kamron Clayton LB Michael Smith

Biggest holes to fill: The Rebels will need to replace seven starters on each side of the football this fall. 

EDGY's Early Take: T.F. South head coach Bob Padjen was able to keep the Rebels on a winning path in his first season as Rebels head coach after several years serving in an assistant role. South always has talent. If the underclassmen can step up this summer, look for the Rebels to challenge for the top half of the South Suburban Blue conference race.