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.

VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

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NBC Sports Chicago

VOTE: Wintrust Viewers' Choice Game of the Week

Who wants it more?              

NBC Sports Chicago and Wintrust present our “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week.” We are putting High School Lites, Chicagoland’s top prep sports show, in the hands of passionate high school basketball followers. Fans will get the chance to pick one game that the @NBCSPreps crew will cover on Friday night. We will send our cameras to the game that gets the most votes; highlights and postgame reaction of that game will appear on that night’s “High School Lites” broadcast at 11:00 p.m. The show also live streams at www.nbcsportschicago.com/watchlive and appears in the MyTeams app.  High School Lites will also have broadcast replays at 7:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. the following Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago. 

Let's hear you, River Valley Conference! Which game should we cover on Friday night?

Donovan at Gardner-South Wilmington, 7:00 p.m.

Illinois Lutheran at Beecher, 7:00 p.m.

Tri-Point at St. Anne, 7:00 p.m.

To participate, our fans are encouraged to do the following:

**Follow our NBC Sports Chicago preps Twitter page: @NBCSPreps.

**Note the pinned tweet that is atop the feed.

**Vote for the game you want NBC Sports Chicago to cover Friday night.

**Spread the word!

The poll will start promptly at 12:00 p.m. Monday. We will make an announcement with the official results on @NBCSPreps just after 4 p.m. Thursday. And as a reminder, be sure to follow @NBCSPreps for updates on the “Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week,” along with other high school sports news, scores and highlights, all season long.

Major changes in the latest Preps Power Rankings

Major changes in the latest Preps Power Rankings

Over the last six days, we saw eight members of the Power Rankings lose. It led to some major changes, including multiple top-ten teams shuffling up and down the order.

Conference play continues with some big games this week as we near the Public League Playoffs next week as well.

1. Curie (19-1, 8-0) (1) -- Two more solid wins for the Condors as they take down Corliss and Hazelwood Central (MO). Curie will try to close out Public League play unbeaten when they play Morgan Park at home this week.
2. Bogan (19-2, 8-1) (5) -- Bogan throttled Hyde Park during the week to finish a very impressive 8-1 in Red South/Central play. The Bengals take on Bosse (IN) in the Alton Shootout this week as a tune-up for the Public League Playoffs. 
3. Thornton (21-0, 9-0) (7) -- Still unbeaten, Thornton earned its biggest road win of the season in knocking off Kankakee. The Wildcats stay on the road this week with a showdown against No. 6 Bloom in Southland play. 
4. Young (13-7, 8-0) (4) -- The Dolphins dropped an out-of-state matchup to Vashon (MO) but remain very strong when it comes to area competition. Whitney Young closes out the conference season with a road game at Orr before two games in California against elite west-coast teams.
5. Evanston (20-1, 6-0) (2) -- Finally dropping a game, the Wildkits fell to Zion-Benton before rallying for wins over rival New Trier and No. 6 Bloom. Things stay difficult for Evanston this week as they play No. 11 Loyola, No. 19 Glenbrook South and OPRF.
6. Bloom (19-5, 8-1) (3) -- The Blazing Trojans fell to Evanston in a huge top-ten matchup. Bloom continues a crazy stretch when they host No. 3 Thornton and No. 13 Marian Catholic for games this week. 
7. Notre Dame (21-3, 5-0) (6) -- Notre Dame dropped a matchup with No. 14 Simeon to drop a spot this week. The Dons are still ahead in the ESCC as they host Nazareth this week.
8. Lincoln Park (19-3, 8-1) (8) -- The Lions won three more games after the MLK weekend as they continue to win without head coach Pat Gordon. Lincoln Park is off this week before the Public League Playoffs get started. 
9. Homewood-Flossmoor (17-2, 2-0) (9) -- Two more double-digit wins for the Vikings as they are off to a good start in Southwest Suburban Blue play. Homewood-Flossmoor battles Hillcrest in an intriguing matchup this week.
10. DePaul Prep (18-2, 9-0) (10) -- The Rams continue to stay atop the Catholic League Blue with a win over St. Laurence. DePaul Prep gets some good matchups this week when they host Brother Rice and travel to Benet. 
11. Loyola (20-2, 9-0) (11) -- Loyola ran past St. Joseph to stick with the Catholic League's top teams. The Ramblers get their biggest road test of the season this week at Evanston. They will also host De La Salle in conference play.
12. Stevenson (16-3, 7-0) (12) -- The Patriots made quick work of Waukegan as they've been rolling inferior opponents since the Mundelein win. A road game at Zion-Benton should be a stiffer test with the Zee-Bees coming off a huge win over Evanston.
13. Marian Catholic (15-6, 3-1) (13) -- Dropping an out-of-state game at Quincy, Marian Catholic stays in the same spot. The Spartans will have two ESCC games and a road game at Bloom this week.
14. Simeon (15-8, 5-2) (NR) -- The Wolverines shoot back up the Power Rankings with wins over Morgan Park and Notre Dame during the week. Senior Jeremiah Williams is starting to have some huge games and this team is dangerous heading into the Playoffs.
15. Bolingbrook (17-4, 2-0) (15) -- Bolingbrook has played one of the toughest January schedules of any area team. The Raiders beat East Aurora and Bradley-Bourbonnais during the week. A top-25 game against Joliet West will be a fun one at Lewis this weekend.
16. Morgan Park (14-8, 6-2) (14) -- The Mustangs ran past Leo and Lindblom but stumbled at home against rival Simeon. Morgan Park has a chance to make a statement when they play Curie in the final conference game of the season.
17. Fenwick (18-4, 8-1) (NR) -- Winners of six straight, Fenwick has rounded into form after a sluggish stretch to start 2020. Junior Bryce Hopkins is a legitimate Player of the Year candidate as he continues his huge scoring outbursts. 
18. Cary-Grove (20-2, 10-0) (19) -- The Trojans earned double-digit wins over Burlington Central and Prairie Ridge to stay unbeaten in the Fox Valley. A tough road game with Huntley makes for an interesting week for Cary-Grove. 
19. Glenbrook South (18-3, 6-0) (20) -- Glenbrook South earned a win over Niles West to bounce back after falling to Cary-Grove. The Titans will have a huge conference clash with Evanston this week as the winner will be the leader of the CSL South.
20. Mundelein (17-3, 5-1) (21) -- The Mustangs knocked off Lake Zurich twice during the week. Two road games for Mundelein this week when they travel to Warren and Waukegan. 
21. Oak Forest (18-1, 9-0) (22) -- Taking care of business against Bremen, it sets up for a big week for Oak Forest. The Bengals play three games, including a big matchup with Tinley Park and Lincoln-Way East.
22. Waubonsie Valley (20-2, 4-1) (23) -- A big win over Metea Valley pushes the Warriors to 20 wins. Waubonsie Valley has two home games during the week, including a conference matchup with Naperville North. 
23. Joliet West (19-3, 11-0) (24) -- Joliet West stayed unbeaten in the Southwest Prairie with two more wins. This week gets significantly tougher for the Tigers with matchups against Romeoville and Bolingbrook. 
24. Kankakee (16-2, 6-2) (17) -- The Kays fell to Thornton before rallying for two wins to close out the week. Kankakee gets two winnable home games during the week as they try to keep pace with the Wildcats and Bloom in the Southland.
25. Hinsdale South (21-2, 7-0) (25) -- The Hornets claimed two more wins to push their winning streak to nine as they remain red hot. Hinsdale South gets a solid test at home against Morton this week.