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.

Power Rankings: #8 - Naperville Central

Power Rankings: #8 - Naperville Central

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: Naperville Central

Head coach: Mike Stein

Assistant Coaches: Mike Ulreich: (DC/Inside LB), Tim Boecker (DB) Marc Anderson (DB), Adam Pucylowski (Outside LB), Eric Novak (DL), Pat Watson (OC/OL), Phil Allen (OL), Ryan Clifford (TE/H-backs), Adam Freed (RB), Chad Bradley (QB), Josh McLeod (WR) and Kofi Hughes (WR)

How they fared in 2017: 9-3 (7-1 DuPage Valley Conference). Naperville Central made the 8A state playoff field and defeated West Aurora and Homewood-Flossmoor. In the quarterfinal round, they lost to Maine South. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Hinsdale Central

Aug. 31 @ Lincoln-Way East

Sept. 7 vs Naperville North

Sept. 14 @ St. Matthews (Trinity) Kentucky

Sept. 21 @ Metea Valley

Sept. 28 vs Naperville North at NCC

Oct. 5 vs Neuqua Valley

Oct. 12 vs Waubonsie Valley

Oct. 19 @ Cary-Grove

[MORE: 12 Days to Kickoff - Hinsdale Central]

Biggest storyline: The schedule. Can the Redhawks survive a grueling regular season slate and go deep in the Class 8A playoffs?

Names to watch this season: QB Payton Thorne (Western Michigan) and OG Luke Hallstrom (Air Force)

Biggest holes to fill: The Redhawks will need to reload upfront on both the offensive and defensive line this fall. 

EDGY's Early Take: Welcome to the new-look DuPage Valley, Naperville Central fans. The Redhawks will face a stiff test for all nine weeks of the regular season. It includes back-to-back games against fellow Class 8A state title contenders right out of the gate: Hinsdale Central and Lincoln-Way East. But Naperville Central features one of the state's top quarterbacks in senior Payton Thorne. He has capable targets in senior WR Cade McDonald and senior TE Jared Suchevits. As for the defense, they'll feature senior DB Jack Jopes along with senior LB Matt Oliver. A major plus to help Central's cause: they always have a deep roster and strong overall program numbers year in and year out. 

Power Rankings: #9 - Marist

Power Rankings: #9 - Marist

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: Marist

Head coach: Ron Dawczak

Assistant coaches: Matt Shalvis (OC), Pete Gabel (DC), Jim Looney (OL), Joe Watson (OL), Chris Bohanek (WRs), Tony Turek (DL), Rich Watson (DL), Matt Jedrey (LBs) and Brendan Garrett (DBs)

How they fared in 2017: 11-1 (7-0 East Suburban Catholic Conference). Marist made the 8A state playoff field, defeated Oak Park-River Forest and Curie then lost to Loyola Academy in quarterfinal round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Brother Rice
Sept. 1 vs Mishawaka Indiana
Sept 7 @ Niles Notre Dame
Sept. 14 vs St. Viator
Sept. 21 vs Joliet Catholic Academy
Sept. 28 @ Marian Catholic
Oct. 5 @ Nazareth Academy
Oct. 12 vs Marian Central Catholic
Oct. 19 @ Benet Academy

Biggest storyline: Can the Redhawks replace a handful of key starters from last season and keep moving forward in Class 8A?

Names to watch this season: QB Mike Markett and WR Jadon Thompson

Biggest holes to fill: The Redhawks will look to reload in a few key spots this summer, especially up front on the defensive line with the graduation losses of DT Elijah Teague (Minnesota) and DL Gavin McCabe (Indiana). 

EDGY's Early Take: The Redhawks once again look to be loaded on the offense side of the football for the 2018 season. Senior QB Mike Markett is back after a strong 2017 junior campaign and Markett has multiple weapons including highly recruited junior WR Jadon Thompson along with senior WR Billy Skalitzky and senior WR Denny Hogan. While the Redhawks' defense will be missing a few headliners from last season, this is still a unit with seven returning starters back this fall. Keep an eye on senior OLB Kendric Nowling (Eastern Michigan) for the Redhawks this season.