Preps Talk

What to watch for in this weekend's state-title hockey game between Loyola Academy and Stevenson

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@RamblerHockey Twitter account

What to watch for in this weekend's state-title hockey game between Loyola Academy and Stevenson

A state champion will be crowned Saturday at the United Center, when Loyola Academy Gold plays Stevenson for the Boys Red Division State Championship.

Here are some of the storylines we’re watching ahead of the game.

1. Coaching connection: These two coaches have known each other for more than 20 years. Loyola head coach D.J. LaVarre coached against Stevenson head coach Tom Wood when Wood played youth hockey. LaVarre also knows Tom’s dad, Jim, who is the former head coach at Stevenson. Currently the coach Stevenson’s JV 2 team, Jim won the AHAI high school coach of the year in 2007.

2. Fun rewards for players of the game: At Stevenson, the player of the game is awarded a hard hat. At Loyola, it’s a championship belt.

3. International influence: Stevenson’s goalie, Elias Sandholm, is a transfer student from Sweden and has the highest save percentage in school history, .951. He made the all-state team and the Chicago Showcase team.

4. Next man up: In net for Loyola will most likely be Hugh Brady, a senior who stepped up when Thomas Moran went down with a hip injury. Brady has played 47 games and has a .945 save percentage.

5. A drought will be snapped: Stevenson has never won a state championship. Loyola is looking for its first since 1996.

Puck drop is at 3 p.m., with the girls’ state championship game, Glenbrook vs. New Trier, starting at 11:30 a.m.

One more fun note: Team USA gold medalist and Palos Heights native Kendall Coyne will drop the ceremonial puck prior to both games.

Five Chicagoland High School Basketball Shootouts to Watch

Five Chicagoland High School Basketball Shootouts to Watch

Shootouts are a huge part of the high school basketball season, and the Chicagoland area has a number of events to keep an eye on this year. While the Thanksgiving and holiday tournaments remain the major events to track during the season, there are tons of one and two-day shootouts to monitor.

Here's a list of five Chicagoland events to circle on the calendar over the next several months. The state of Illinois features all sorts of great events like this during the season -- including Highland and the Bank O'Fallon Shootouts outside of Chicagoland -- but we focused on five that provide great fan experiences and quality games.

Chicago Elite Classic (12/6 and 12/7 at Wintrust Arena) -- This two-day, star-studded event has become a signature presence for the start of the regular season for Chicago basketball.

Annually featuring many of the area's top teams playing against national opponents from all over the country, the Chicago Elite Classic has high-level talent once again.

Friday's matchups are more locally-focused with New Trier vs. Lane, Evanston vs. Notre Dame and Fenwick vs. OPRF. Those three games all have the potential to be very good as rivalries and emerging programs are involved.

Saturday has five games on the docket, led by Morgan Park vs. St. Louis Vashon, Simeon vs. Baltimore St. Frances and Whitney Young battling Duncanville (TX). Kenwood will also take on Lincoln Park while Bloom plays Atlanta Pace in the earlier games.

Not many events in the country feature a Duke and a Kentucky commit (Whitney Young's D.J. Steward and Vashon's Cam'ron Fletcher, respectively) but the Chicago Elite Classic has tons of future college prospects.

Team Rose Shootout (12/14 and 12/15) -- Before conference play truly kicks into gear and holiday tournaments take form, the Team Rose Shootout is one of the best events every year.

Five games each on Saturday and Sunday, this year's lineup features some outstanding top-25 games as Morgan Park faces Evanston, Curie battles Hillcrest and Orr plays Notre Dame.

With numerous Division I recruits, many of the Chicagoland area's top teams and a handful of top-25 matchups, this year's Team Rose Shootout has a lot to offer.

Steve Pappas Shootout (1/11/20 at DePaul Prep) -- DePaul Prep has quickly built this one-day shootout with five games into a quality event.

The main game to check out in this one will be a matchup of top-ten preseason teams as Morgan Park faces Marian Catholic in a game that features incredible backcourt talent. 

The hosts will also play Deerfield in a matchup of some good young big men in the area while Loyola vs. St. Viator, Homewood-Flossmoor vs. St. Laurence and Fenwick vs. St. Pat's rounds out a good field of games.

  

When Sides Collide (1/25 at Glenbard East) -- Joe Henricksen's City/Suburban Hoops Report has put together one of January's premier events with four great matchups at Glenbard East.

The host Rams will face Class 1A power Aurora Christian in an intriguing matchup to kick things off. From there, a top-five team in Bloom will battle last season's Class 4A runner-up in Evanston. 

Things get interesting in the matchup between Rolling Meadows and Fenwick as that game features the two best juniors in the state in Max Christie and Louisville commit Bryce Hopkins going head to head. 

In the main event, Simeon will face Notre Dame in a fun Public League/ESCC clash that should feature two top-ten area teams. At that late point in the season, both Simeon and Notre Dame will be looking to score a key win right before playoff seeding 

Orr Breast Cancer Shootout (1/25 and 1/26 at Orr) -- With two days, 16 games and teams from all over the Midwest, the Orr Breast Cancer Shootout has become a must-see event for local fans.

The Public League presence at the event is strong because of the host and three-time defending Class 2A champions. This year's event will feature teams from Indiana, Missouri and Wisconsin as plenty of local top-25 teams will take the floor.

Among the top-25 teams scheduled to participate include Curie battling Hazelwood Central, Morgan Park facing Class 1A power Leo and Lincoln Park taking on Romeoville.

  

Edgy Tim's quarterfinal round analysis and picks

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NBC Sports Chicago

Edgy Tim's quarterfinal round analysis and picks

NBC Sports Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the IHSA quarterfinal round edition of High School Lites, this Saturday at 11:00 p.m. Can Marist beat Loyola twice on the road in the span of a few weeks? Can Minooka stun Brother Rice on Chicago's South Side? Can Batavia get some revenge against Nazareth Academy? Who do you have winning the unofficial Prep Bowl between Phillips and Mount Carmel? Who wins the Fox Valley Super Bowl between Cary Grove and Prairie Ridge?

Class 8A

(23) Marist at (18) Loyola Academy, 12:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This is a rematch from Week 9 as Marist (7-4) defeated Loyola (8-3) 14-6 to earn the Redhawks a playoff bid. Marist head coach Ron Dawczak has relied on senior QB Hayden Mikesell, a steady running game and a big offensive line led by junior Pat Coogan. The Redhawks defense has been strong in the postseason as well. They're led by senior LB Colin Bohanek (EIU). Loyola is coming off a come from behind 28-27 win over Glenbard West. In that game, the Ramblers' running game got on track behind RB Vaughn Pemberton. The passing game remains solid with junior QB J.T. Thomas and his main target WR Matty Mangan. Can Marist beat Loyola twice within a month in Wilmette? 

EDGY's Pick: Loyola 27 Marist 17

(1) Minooka at (24) Brother Rice, 5:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Minooka (11-0), with Hall of Fame head coach John Belskis, will rely on a strong running game to keep the Crusaders offense off the field. Minooka senior QB Seth Lehr is a steady signal caller and leader for the Indians. Senior OL/DL Jacob Shipla and RB Noah Ellens are solid as well. Defensively, keep an eye on junior FB/LB Zach Wingerder, senior DB Ernesto Ramirez and senior DB/WR Steven Gonzales. Brother Rice (7-4) has been able to overcome various injuries while still winning games. Coach Brian Badke and his staff have settled on sophomore QB John Lausch to run the offense while junior RB Willie Shaw has been a major impact player out of the backfield. The 'Rice 'D is also a strength. Watch for senior DL/LB Justin Jefferson, senior DT Denver Warren, senior S Giacomo Iraci and sophomore LB Myles Jones. The best match up is in the trenches: Minooka's O-line against Rice's D-line. 

EDGY's Pick: Minooka 27 Brother Rice 21

Class 7A

(8) Phillips at (1) Mount Carmel, 1:00 p.m. #SENDEDGY

EDGY's Take: The unofficial Prep Bowl takes place on Saturday at Mount Carmel in a game that's been highly anticipated for the past handful of years. Phillips (10-1) will feature QB Antonio Brown to run the Wildcats offense and senior WR/S Ronald Pledger has been a key playmaker for coach Troy McAllister and company. Mount Carmel (11-0) head coach Jordan Lynch features a ball control offense led by junior QB Justin Lynch. Junior RB/LB Kenenna Odeluga has been strong all season long. Senior OL/DL Jalen Grant leads the Caravan offensive and defensive line. Can Phillips get the football back from the Caravan offense on Saturday? Can the Mount Carmel defense avoid giving up the big play against Phillips?
 
EDGY's Pick: Mount Carmel 21 Phillips 14

(7) Batavia at (2) Nazareth, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This is a rematch from last year's 7A semifinal, where Nazareth defeated Batavia 47-28; the Roadrunners wound up winning the state title. Batavia (9-2) is back once again, making a deep November run behind a strong running game led by senior RB Art Taylor and senior RB/LB Quinn Urwiler (North Dakota). The Bulldogs' defense is always fast and physical. Junior LB Matt "Mojo" Weerts is a name to watch along with senior S Sam Barus. Nazareth's offense is centered on Michigan commit J.J. McCarthy. This quarterback's main target has been junior WR Tyler Morris. The Roadrunners 'D also has talent. Keep an eye on junior DE/OL Ryan Keeler, senior LB Marcus Griffin (GVSU), senior ILB Riley Theobald and senior DB Jailon Welch (SIU). Can the Batavia defense slow down and contain the Nazareth spread offense?
  
EDGY's Pick: Nazareth Academy 31 Batavia 28

(5) Willowbrook at (20) Lake Zurich, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Willowbrook (10-1) and head coach Nick Hildreth is in the 7A quarterfinal round for the fourth straight season. A huge part of the Warriors success has been senior QB/DB Sam Tumilty. On offense, he has a nice stable of backs and receivers. Senior Deandre Holliday and RB Ta'Vion Geanes will make plays. Lake Zurich has been playing great defense in the postseason; their offense has been able to generate enough points to keep advancing. Quarterback Jack Moses, senior TE Hunter Welcing (Northwestern), senior WR James Piggott and junior LB Bryan Sanborn are the leaders for the Bears. Can the Lake Zurich defense contain Sam Tumilty on Saturday? Can the Lake Zurich offense get into the end zone a bit more? Should be a good one.

EDGY's Pick: Lake Zurich 14 Willowbrook 13

Class 6A

(6) Cary-Grove at (1) Prairie Ridge, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The annual "Fox Valley Super Bowl" takes things to an even-higher level come Saturday. Cary-Grove lost to rival Prairie Ridge 42-7 back in Week 5 as the Trojans just couldn't get their power run game on track. Cary-Grove will rely on senior FB/LB Blake Skol and senior QB Luke Eleftheriou to move the football and control the clock. Prairie Ridge (10-1) and head coach Chris Schremp will also want to run the football. Can the Wolves' power run game make a statement? The leaders on offense are QB Connor Lydon, FB Kyle Koelblinger and senior RB Blake Brown. Can the Trojans' defense slow down the Prairie Ridge run game? Can the Cary-Grove offensive line have a better showing in this rematch?
 
EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 31 Cary Grove 20

Class 5A

(8) St. Rita at (4) Hillcrest, 3:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: St. Rita (7-4) has been rolling this season. Coach Todd Kuska's crew posted an impressive 32-0 road win last Saturday over Sterling to advance. The Mustangs are getting an All-State caliber season from sophomore RB Kaleb Brown. He's been running behind an offensive line that is always a strength. The Mustangs' defense has been terrific since mid-season. Hillcrest (10-1) head coach Morgan Weaver also has an All-State caliber running back in junior Mar'Kiese Irving, but how healthy will Irving be after leaving in the second quarter in last week's 28-7 win over Fenwick? The Hawks also have playmakers in junior QB Robert Myles and senior RB/DB Darius Dawson. Can Rita's defense slow down the Hillcrest running game and big play potential? Will Mar'Kiese Irving be ready to go on Saturday? 

EDGY's Pick: St. Rita 31 Hillcrest 24

Class 4A

(3) IC Catholic at (2) Richmond-Burton, 3:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: IC Catholic (10-1) is in the midst of another deep postseason run in attempting to defend its 4A state title. Head coach Bill Krefft and the Knights will rely on senior QB Danny Cronin and the big play ability of junior RB Kyle Franklin. This team has strong play on both the offensive and defensive lines. Richmond-Burton (11-0) features veteran head coach Mike Noll. The Rockets are rolling this season behind a big and physical offensive line. FB Dalton Wood is a name to watch along with RB Nick Legnaioli. Don't overlook the air attach. The Rockets are very capable of throwing the football with QB Josh Huber. Can R-B slow down the Knights' balanced offensive attack? Will home field advantage come into play for Richmond-Burton?

EDGY's Pick: IC Catholic 28 Richmond Burton 27

Class 3A

(3) Wilmington at (2) Byron, 1:00 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Wilmington and Byron are very familiar with each other, having faced off several times the years in the state playoffs. The visiting Wildcats (10-1), with veteran head coach Jeff Reents, will look to run the football. They will rely on RBs Jake Rodewald and Trey Shaw. The latter has been having a very strong postseason. While Wilmington doesn't throw the football a ton, QB Keaton Hopwood was able to show off his passing ability in beating Eureka last Saturday. Byron (10-1) and head coach Jeff Boyer have been on a mission after losing in the 3A state title game last season. The Tigers also want to run the football. RB Isaac Stickler will have his name called often. Same goes for Drake Snodgrass. Senior OL/DL Tyler Elsbury (Iowa) is a force on both sides of the football for the Tigers. Can Wilmington slow down the Byron power run game? Can the Byron defense find the football against the Wilmington offense?

EDGY's Pick: Byron 28 Wilmington 21