Preps Talk

Several familiar teams fighting to stay alive at 0-4

Several familiar teams fighting to stay alive at 0-4

As we enter Week 5 of play, it’s quite the understatement that several teams are fighting to stay alive in the IHSA playoff hunt. What's even more startling is that some of these programs are part of the state's biggest names in IHSA football:

Glenbrook South (0-4): The Titans’ longtime head coach Mike Noll retired after the 2015 season. David Schoenwetter, who was formerly an assistant under Noll, stepped in as the new head coach. The Titans have played a very tough non-conference slate to start the year (Barrington, St. Patrick, Palatine and Fremd). Those teams have posted a combined 15-1 record. I fully expect Glenbrook South to win more than its share of Central Suburban South games this season.

St. Francis (0-4): The Spartans also had a sudden head coaching change this past offseason as Mike Fitzgerald left to take a teaching position at Naperville North. Under first year head coach Joe Lepsche, St. Francis has played a tough early schedule which included Loyola (4-0) and Marmion Academy (4-0). But they’ve scored just 14 points in four games along with allowing 215 points in that same span. It doesn't bode well for the remaining CCL Green slate.

Bishop McNamara (0-4): The Fighting Irish, the defending Class 3A state champions also have played a very tough early schedule (Immaculate Conception, Bolingbrook, St. Laurence and Marmion Academy). They have also suffered a rash of injuries including Western Michigan commits senior WR/DB Chris Bell and senior OL/DL Dylan Deatherage. However, I feel that Bishop McNamara still has a fighting chance to make a push for a state playoff spot.

Wheaton South (0-4): The Tigers and veteran head coach Ron Muhitch seemed to be all-go this summer, winning the annual Red Grange 7-on-7 tournament. But Wheaton South has also been a victim of injuries and the always-tough competition in the DuPage Valley Conference hasn’t helped. Most glaring has been a defense that has allowed 159 points in four games. Several Wheaton South teams in the past didn't allow 159 total points against in a full season. 

Joliet Catholic (0-4): The Hilltoppers, under veteran head coach Dan Sharp, graduated a ton of starters last spring. Those graduation losses hit hard, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. On top of that, the amount of overall players numbers coming out from the senior and junior class has been down. Joliet Catholic has started up to eight sophomores on the varsity level this season and they’re hoping that the move to go young this season will pay off down the line.

Conant (0-4): Head coach Bill Modelski wasn't kidding this summer when he said he had no returning starters back in 2016. The Cougars have struggled getting the offense on track despite a strong season so far from junior RB Jack Reiger. Next up for Conant is Mid-Suburban West play, featuring a group of opponents with an 18-2 overall record.

Andrew (0-4): The Thunderbolts also have a first year head coach in Adam Lewandowski who was an assistant coach at Crete-Monee. Turnovers and penalties have been an issue for Andrew so far this season and the remaining schedule (Lockport, Lincoln-Way East, Thornton, Lincoln-Way Central, Stagg) won't make thingws any easier for the T-Bolts this fall.

Top five under the radar teams to watch in 2020

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NBC Sports Chicago

Top five under the radar teams to watch in 2020

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.

VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

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NBC Sports Chicago

VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

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.