How high would you rank both the 7A state champion East St. Louis Flyers and 5A state champion Peoria Lions if they were included in the final 2016 CSN Preps Top 25 Power Rankings?
That's a pretty good question and one I was asked a few minutes after both teams stepped off the trophy stand Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign.
Should East St. Louis be the top-ranked high school football team in Illinois?
I can definitely make a case that this year’s Flyers could compete — and beat — anyone in the state. That includes Maine South, our CSN Preps Power Rankings No. 1 team and 8A state champion.
East St. Louis showed a suffocating, physical and speedy defense in beating Plainfield North, 26-13, while possessing an offense capable of putting up numerous big plays. They were paced by quarterback Rey Estes, a Missouri commit, along with four-star wide receiver Jeff Thomas.
And where would Peoria end up in the Chicagoland top-25 rankings?
Head coach Tim Thornton's record-setting Lions offense, led by junior quarterback Coran Taylor, a deep backfield and stellar line play, could undoubtedly put up points against all challengers in Class 5A and above.
The Lions' approach of scoring quickly and making the opposing team run itself out of steam would also cause multiple problems for opponents. Lost in Peoria's winning formula is a defense that was able to force multiple turnovers. Sure, the Lions gave up a ton of points all season long. But their defense caused enough turnovers and big plays to win 13 games and a state title.
So, where would the Flyers and Lions rank in the Chicagoland picture?
I like East St. Louis to end the season as my top-ranked team, while the Lions would be in the top five, six or seven.
That said, rankings — as we all know — mean nothing now. Instead, can I have one more week of football in two weeks? Maybe it’s a game at the Rams’ old stomping grounds in St. Louis? Perhaps the Flyers could take on Maine South? And then perhaps Prairie Ridge could battle Peoria?
Now that would be a huge way to finish off a terrific 2016 season.