Preps Talk

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.

High School Lites basketbal roundup: Week 7

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

High School Lites basketbal roundup: Week 7

Check out our high school hoops highlights from some of the best games around the state, and be sure to follow @NBCSPREPS for all of the latest scores, highlights, and analysis

Windy City Legends: Candace Parker

Athlete of the Week: Lake Park West's Darrione Rodgers

Team of the Week: Saint Viator hockey

Highlights: Sandburg 63, Stagg 56

Highlights: Marist 57, St. Rita 46

Highlights: Benet 55, St. Charles East 44

Highlights: Morton 67, Leyden 55

Highlights: Sycamore 53, Kaneland 47

Mid-week Mixtape:  Thornton 55, Homewood-Flossmoor 43

Highlights: Buffalo Grove 80, Rolling Meadows 70

Highlights: Senn 73, Amundsen 67

Highlights: Clark 74, Crane 57

Highlights: Whitney Young 80, North Lawndale 41

Highlights Bolingbrook 79, Lincoln-Way East 66

Edgy Tim’s Team of the Decade: Kickers

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EDGY TIM

Edgy Tim’s Team of the Decade: Kickers

You may not picture Illinois as a hotbed for kickers. But we have been fortunate to witness so many that have done well on the prep level.

This is our final position in the “Team of the Decade” series (2010-2019). This position should produce more debate: Do you factor in just strictly high school production and program winning/success, or does a particular player's post high school success also become a factor? Let the debate begin.

Jake Elliott, Lyons Township’s Class of 2013 (Memphis): Elliott, who had never played football until his junior season at L-T, made the most of his limited time on the field. He was named an All-State kicker his senior season. Elliott ended up signing with Memphis and was a four-year starting kicker for the Tigers. Elliott was a fifth-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2017 NFL Draft and was then signed off their practice squad by the Philadelphia Eagles. Elliott has remained the Eagles kicker since the 2017 season.

Austin Seibert, Belleville West’s Class of 2015 (Oklahoma): Seibert was ranked as one of the nation's best prep kickers in the Class of 2015. He ended up signing with the Oklahoma Sooners after drawing multiple scholarship offers. Seibert had an impressive career kicking for the Sooners and was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He made 25 of 29 field goal attempts and 30 of 35 extra points this past season.

Tucker McCann, O'Fallon’s Class of 2016 (Missouri): McCann was a nationally sought-after kicker in the Class of 2016 and signed with Missouri after considering offers from Alabama and Illinois. McCann is also listed in several IHSA kicking records including career field goals made (28), field goals made in a season (12), field goals made in a game (four) and still holds the state record for the longest field goal made in a game (60 yards). McCann also made at least one field goal over 50 yards in all three years he kicked at the varsity level for the Panthers.

Jack Olsen, Wheaton Warrenville South’s Class of 2020 (Michigan State): Olsen, who graduated early this fall and is already enrolled at Michigan State, was a four-year letterman for the Tigers and head coach Ron Muhitch. He was named as an All-State kicker in 2018 and 2019 by EDGYTIM/Rivals.com. During his time at WWS, he set new IHSA records for the most field goals made in a game (eight) along with the most field goals made in a single season (22).

Dominic Dzioban, Lincoln-Way East’s Class of 2020 (Miami OH): Dzioban, otherwise known as “The Dominator,” was 18-of-20 on field goals and 50-of-51 on extra points last season. Dzioban's kickoff and punting game was a major weapon for the Griffins, who won the Class 8A state title this past fall. Dzioban also earned All-State honors as a senior and owns the school record for most field goals made (37) and is the school's all-time leading scorer (340 points). He possesses 50 yard-plus field goal range and was one of the best two-way kickers in the Land of Lincoln over the past several seasons.

Next in?

Ron Colucci, Naperville North’s Class of 2012 (Central Michigan/Iowa)

Kai Kroeger, Lake Forest: Class of 2020 (South Carolina)

Caleb Griffin, Danville’s Class of 2018 (Illinois)

Josh Pollack, Highland Park’s Class of 2014 (Arizona)

John Richardson, Brother Rice’s Class of 2018 (Northern Illinois)