Preps Talk

Why to watch: Loyola at Glenbard West Tale of the Tape

Why to watch: Loyola at Glenbard West Tale of the Tape

Matchup: No. 1 Loyola Academy (12-0) at No. 20 Glenbard West (10-2), Saturday 1 p.m.

Where to watch: Live broadcast on CSN and a live stream available on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports app.

Overview: This Class 8A semifinal features two of the better programs in Chicagoland over the past several seasons. Head coach John Holecek's No. 1 seeded Ramblers are looking to repeat as Class 8A champions after capturing the second IHSA title in school history in 2015. Loyola Academy has also been the state's consensus top ranked team since the preseason. Head coach Chad Hetlet No. 20 seeded Hilltoppers are also looking looking to capture the program's second-straight state title after winning the Class 7A crown in 2015. The Hilltoppers lost two straight regular-season games to West Suburban Silver rivals Lyons Township (28-14) and Hinsdale Central (31-30) before firing off six straight wins.

When Loyola Academy has the football: The biggest question going into this game for Loyola is if senior quarterback Tommy Herion will return after reportedly suffering a concussion in last week's 24-0 win over Huntley. Herion has been a big key to the Loyola no-huddle shotgun-spread offense all season. The Loyola offense has weapons, including Duke verbal commit in wide receiver Jake Marwede who could take snaps under center. Marwede (6-foot-5, 240 pounds) played quarterback for Loyola up until last season and has been used as a Wildcat quarterback this season. The Ramblers will also rely on its very impressive senior led offensive line and running back Kyle Rock.

[MORE PREPS: Time to look at homefield advantage in football playoffs again]

When Glenbard West has the football: The Hilltoppers want to establish the running game first and juniors' Ryan Diver and Dre Thomas have been a key, led by a strong offensive line. However, the real story for Glenbard West on offense this postseason has been its play-action passing game. Senior quarterback Cole Brady has been on fire all postseason and has some big targets in senior tight end Alex Pihlstrom (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) and junior wide receiver (Alec Pierce 6-foot-4, 185 pounds). 

Key matchups to watch: The Glenbard West running game against the Loyola defense. Both Loyola and Glenbard West boast first and foremost its defenses. Throughout the postseason Glenbard West has been able to set up its play-action passing game thanks to its running attack. When the Hilltoppers can get the running game going, good thing happen for them. Loyola also knows they need to take away the Glenbard West running game as its top priority this week.

Impact player for Loyola Academy: Marwede has simply been a very hard matchup for all comers this season. Marwede uses his size and length to out-position most defenders. Marwede is also very hard to stop under center running the Wildcat in short yardage situations.  Opposing teams do not want to see Marwede with a 5-7 yard head full of steam.

Impact Player for Glenbard West: OLB/DB Jackson Goleash. While the Hilltoppers offense is no question important, the lifeblood is the defense. Goleash is an impact performer and leader on the Hitters defense, and if Glenbard West needs a big play or a big stop on defense? Look towards Goleash to be somewhere near the football.

Prediction? Glenbard West 21, Loyola Academy 14. Check the weather conditions on Saturday. If it's cold/rainy/windy as forecasted, Duchon Filed could be a potentially sloppy track. I like the Hilltoppers on its homefield in less than ideal conditions.

Edgy's recruiting news and notes: LWE's Dzioban commits to Miami (OH)

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USA TODAY

Edgy's recruiting news and notes: LWE's Dzioban commits to Miami (OH)

Lincoln-Way East junior kicker Dominic Dzioban (6-foot-1, 180 pounds) added a recent scholarship offer from Miami of Ohio and has since given the Redhawks and head coach Chuck Martin his verbal commitment. 

"I just had a great visit on Saturday to Miami of Ohio and I was able to get every question I had about the school and the program answered on Saturday," Dzioban said. "When I was first offered by Miami (Ohio) I had no idea what they had to offer or what they are all about. Miami (Ohio) has a historic campus and they also offer an amazing education. It seems like every facility at Miami (Ohio) is brand new and Oxford is just a great small college town. Miami (Ohio) really offers everything I was looking for in a school and having a chance to go to Miami on a full scholarship is a huge opportunity I couldn't pass by at all."

Lake Forest sophomore linebacker Cal Uihlein (6-foot-1, 205 pounds) was able to add his first offer recently from the Wisconsin Badgers, and Uihlein also made a visit to the University of Wisconsin this past Saturday. 

"I had a great visit to Wisconsin on Saturday," Uihlein said. "It wasn't a usual recruiting type of visit, it was much more low key and I was able to just see everything behind the scenes including seeing the team scrimmage. I was able to get a good feel for the team and the coaches after the scrimmage. I was also able to talk with some of the coaches at Wisconsin including head coach Paul Chryst and linebacker coaches. Everyone at Wisconsin seems very excited about me and it was just good to get to know them a bit better. I was able to just basically see the stadium and I didn't get to see too much of the facilities or the campus. I'll definitely head back again to Wisconsin soon and see more of the school and the facilities and overall it was a great visit."

Warren Township junior three star ranked defensive tackle Willis Singleton Jr. (6-foot-2, 285 pounds) was able to add an offer from the University of Illinois last Saturday while on a visit to watch the Fighting Illini's spring game. 

"I was hoping that an offer (from Illinois) was coming but I still had no idea," Singleton Jr. said. "I know that Illinois is on the rise and have added some really strong players from my recruiting class. My Dad also went to Illinois and just telling him over the phone that Illinois had offered me was an amazing felling and experience."

Singleton Jr. also said that "Illinois is definitely on the top of the spectrum. My recruitment is open, but there are definitely one of the top schools because of how they went about things with me on the visit."

Bolingbrook sophomore safety Justin Walters (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) has also seen more and more schools take notice of him this spring. Walters is currently holding six FBS level offers and growing by the day. 

"I have six scholarship offers now," Walters said. "I have offers from Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Army, Iowa, Iowa State and now Minnesota. Minnesota is my latest offer and they offered me a few weeks ago."

Walters has also been hitting the road and visiting a few schools this spring and plans to see even more soon.

"I've made visits already to Iowa and Iowa St and Wisconsin. I also visited Northwestern awhile ago. I'm also planning to visit Michigan State sometime this spring."

Breaking: Northwestern adds another in-state pledge

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Breaking: Northwestern adds another in-state pledge

It didn't take Wheaton North junior outside linebacker Xander Mueller (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) long to give the Northwestern coaching staff his verbal commitment today. Mueller — whose older brother (junior linebacker Erik Mueller) is already on the Wildcats roster — attended the Wildcats final spring practice today. He picked up a scholarship offer and then gave head coach Pat Fitzgerald his verbal commitment on the spot. 

"I didn't expect it (adding a Northwestern offer) and I was very surprised," Mueller said. "Northwestern is the place for me because of the incredible academics, the location, having my brother already on the team and the amazing coaching staff and football program. I'm super happy."

Mueller is the second in-state name for the Wildcats and the seventh known verbal commitment for the Northwestern Class of 2020. Mueller joins Lake Zurich tight end Hunter Welcing (6-foot-4, 225 pounds) as the Wildcats in state commitments so far in the 2020 class. 

Mueller was also the Wildcats second overall verbal commitment today as Groveport (Ohio) Madison three star ranked offensive guard TeRah Edwards (6-foot-3, 295 pounds) also committed to the Wildcats after today's final spring practice.