Preps Talk

Where do East St. Louis and Peoria rank among Illinois' best teams?

Where do East St. Louis and Peoria rank among Illinois' best teams?

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.

95 Days to Kickoff: Waubonsie Valley

95 Days to Kickoff: Waubonsie Valley

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: Waubonsie Valley

Head coach: Paul Murphy

Assistant coaches: Ron Griffin, Tom Baumgarnter, Chris Genslinger, Brad Caldwell, Josh Cuttone, Noel Soto, Ryan Voitik, Duane Butts and Ken Anderson

How they fared in 2017: 4-5 (4-4 DuPage Valley Conference). Waubonsie Valley failed to qualify for the IHSA playoff field.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Oak Park-River Forest

Aug. 31 vs Libertyville

Sept 7 @ Neuqua Valley

Sept. 14 @ Edwardsville

Sept. 21 vs Naperville North

Sept. 28 vs Neuqua Valley

Oct. 5 vs Prairie Ridge

Oct. 12 @ Naperville Central

Oct. 19 @ Metea Valley

[MORE: 96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs]

Biggest storyline: It's all about the schedule. Can the Warriors survive a challenging lineup --which includes playing Neuqua Valley twice-- and make the playoffs?

Names to watch this season: WR Julian Cain and DL Avante Rogers

Biggest holes to fill: The Warriors will have several new faces on both the offensive and defensive lines in 2018. 

EDGY's Early Take: It's not often that veteran head coach Paul Murphy and his Warriors view the playoffs from home. But that's what happened last year. They were the first Waubonsie team since 2006 to do just that. Look for the Warriors to rely on a strong group of receivers to bounce back this fall. They also feature a good group of underclassmen ready to step up. Also, they will need to get used to life in the newly-realigned DuPage Valley Conference. The 2018 schedule includes two games against big district rival Neuqua Valley and a loaded non-conference slate which includes some heavy hitters. 

96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs

96 Days to Kickoff: Jacobs

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: Jacobs

Head coach: Bill Mitz

Assistant coaches: Bubba Smith, Mike Warren, Brian Zimmerman, JM Foote, Ryan Arndt and Bob Mackey

How they fared in 2017: 6-4 (5-3 Fox Valley Conference). Jacobs made the Class 7A playoff field. The Golden Eagles lost to Lincoln-Way West in opening round action. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 Hampshire 

Aug. 31 @ Huntley 

Sept. 7 Dundee-Crown 

Sept. 14 @ McHenry 

Sept. 21 Neuqua Valley 

Sept. 28 Prairie Ridge 

Oct. 5 @ Cary-Grove 

Oct. 12 Crystal Lake South 

Oct. 19 @ Crystal Lake Central

Biggest storyline: Can the Golden Eagles move up in the Fox Valley Conference pecking order in 2018?

Names to watch this season: OT Joacheim Price and OL Nick Zonta

Biggest holes to fill: The Golden Eagles will need to replace its entire starting linebacker group from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Year in and year out, Jacobs is always a factor in the rugged Fox Valley Conference (seven playoff appearances in the last eight years). The Golden Eagles return some starters in several key spots. If the underclassmen group can step up this summer, look for Jacobs to challenge for the FVC conference title and a higher seed in 7A come IHSA playoff time.