Preps Talk

Simeon's dynasty continues with third straight 4A title

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Simeon's dynasty continues with third straight 4A title

PEORIA, Ill. Simeon and Proviso East staged one of the all-time great state championship games Saturday at Carver Arena.

Pirates junior Sterling Brown drained a three with four seconds to play, but Proviso East was forced to watch the final seconds tick off the clock as the ball rolled under the basket. There were no timeouts left and time had run out. Simeon had a 50-48 victory and a third consecutive Class 4A state championship.

The win gave Simeon a sixth state championship, the most in state history. It also gave Simeon coach Robert Smith his fifth title, the most by one coach in state history, breaking the record held by East St. Louis coach Bennie Lewis since 1989.

For three quarters, all of that history-making seemed to be in severe doubt, as the Pirates matched Simeons every move. The game was tied at the half and Proviso East led by five after three quarters. There was a sense that Simeons dynasty was coming to end.

Then Steve Taylor found a way to drain an awkward hook shot from under the basket. It was a shot hes made several times this season, even if it looks lucky. It gave Simeon (33-1) a 43-41 lead and the Pirates immediately seemed to tighten up.

After that shot I think my team just fed off my emotions, Taylor said. We had the lead back and Proviso East got nervous.

Simeon junior Jabari Parkers dunk with 12 seconds to play seemed to put the exclamation point on the win, but the officials called a technical for hanging on the rim.

It didnt faze me, Parker said. They had to do something to keep the game alive. They didnt want to see us win again.

Brown hit both free throws after the technical and then drained the three, but then time ran out.

I told Sterling that we needed a three, Proviso East coach Donnie Boyce said. He had no problems with the shot. I told him we needed a delay too. I should have told him to throw the ball up in the stands afterwards.

Brown scored 25 points for the Pirates (32-1), shooting 10 for 18 from the field.

Sterling Brown was an amazing player, Parker said.

But it seems that may have been Smiths plan all along.

Sterling was outstanding, he really was, Smith said. Keith Carter didnt have a good game tonight, did he? We wanted to shut him down. He makes them go.

Carter scored eight points on 4-for-12 shooting. The Proviso East point guard had three turnovers and no assists.

Taylor scored 12 and grabbed 15 rebounds for Simeon. Parker finished with 15 points and five rebounds. Jaleni Neely added 10 points and Jaylon Tate scored eight off the bench.

In a curious incident after the win, all of Simeons players removed their shoes and placed them in a line next to the podium set up on center court. IHSA Executive Director Marty Hickman picked up the shoes and removed them.

They said they wanted to leave their mark on the court, Smith said.

66 Days to Kickoff: Rich Central

66 Days to Kickoff: Rich Central

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: Rich Central

Head coach: Terrell Alexander

Assistant Coaches: Quincy Woods (OC), Vince Brown (OL), Art Schuldt (ST), Les Hampton (DB), Jerrell Bibbs (DB), Steve Henley (DC), Jeff Spikner (WR), Derrick Goard (LB) William Pass (DL) Chuch Robinson (Skills), Guy Smith (RB) and Shawn Mitchell (Skills)

How they fared in 2017: 8-3 (4-1 Southland Conference). Rich Central made the Class 5A state football playoff field. The Olympians defeated Marion then lost to Dunlap in second round.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Hillcrest

Sept. 1 vs Lemont

Sept. 7 @ Kaneland

Sept. 14 vs Rich South

Sept. 21 @ Crete-Monee

Sept. 28 vs Rich East

Oct. 5 vs Kankakee

Oct. 12 vs Bloom Township

Oct. 19 vs Christ the King

[MORE: 67 Days to Kickoff: Hillcrest]

Biggest storyline: The Olympians have reached the IHSA playoffs three consecutive seasons-- the first such streak in Rich Central history. Can they stay on a winning track and make a deeper playoff run this fall?

Names to watch this season: WR/S Mehki Miller (Miami of Ohio) and RB Sean Tyler (Western Michigan)

Biggest holes to fill: The Olympians will need to replace their entire starting offensive line from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Rich Central and head coach Terrell Alexander has brought winning and stability to the Olympians football program.  The 2018 team has some firepower back in the aforementioned Miller and Tyler; however, the development of their underclassmen group this summer will determine just how far this team will go. The ingredients look to be there for another IHSA state playoff caliber team.

Maurice Jones-Drew ranks Jordan Howard in NFL's top-10 RBs

Maurice Jones-Drew ranks Jordan Howard in NFL's top-10 RBs

Chicago Bears RB Jordan Howard is entering an interesting season. He has just as good a chance of leading the NFL in rushing as he appears to have at losing reps to Tarik Cohen, a player some analysts feel is a better fit for coach Matt Nagy's system.

It's unfortunate that Howard isn't receiving the kind of praise a player like him deserves. He set the Bears' rookie rushing record with 1,313 yards in 2016. In 2017, he became the first running back in franchise history to start a career with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons.

Howard's production suggests he should be the feature back in Chicago's ground game. In fact, according to NFL Network's Maurice Jones-Drew, it's a no-brainer. He recently ranked Howard in the NFL's top-10 running backs.

7. Jordan Howard (Bears)

Even with the plethora of offensive weapons thanks to some offseason additions, the Bears' offense still must run through Howard. After rushing for at least 1,100 yards in each of his first two seasons, Howard will be a key piece for first-year head coach Matt Nagy and will have to carry Chicago late in the season if the squad is going to make a playoff push.

Howard will be given every chance to prove he can thrive in Nagy's system early in the season. If he can prove reliable as a receiver, he could match Kareem Hunt's league-leading 1,327 yards last season. He'll have to be effective as a pass-catcher to keep Cohen from threatening for more touches.

Howard deserves this kind of respect for what he's done through two seasons as a pro. He may not be in the NFL's elite class just yet, but if he surpasses 1,200-plus rushing yards and threatens for 10 or more touchdowns again, it'll be an undeniable fact that Howard is a true franchise back.