100 days

Power Rankings: #1 - Lincoln-Way East

Power Rankings: #1 - Lincoln-Way East

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: Lincoln-Way East

Head coach: Rob Zvonar

Assistant coaches: Joel Pallissard, Dale Augustine, Ed Lefevour, Lance Logan, Tom Grogan, Anthony Pignatiello, Wilber Milhouse, Jeremy Vestal, Matt Nelson, Matt Mrozek, Matt Mrozek, Jake Aleck, Tom Lynch and Mike Sazama

How they fared in 2017: 14-0 (7-0 Southwest Suburban Conference). Lincoln-Way East made the 8A playoff field and defeated Joliet West, St. Charles East, Oswego and Maine South. They advanced to the state championship game and defeated Loyola Academy to win the title. 

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Crete-Monee

Aug. 31 vs Naperville Central

Sept. 7 vs Andrew

Sept. 14 @ Sandburg

Sept. 21 vs Lincoln-Way Central

Sept. 28 vs Homewood-Flossmoor

Oct. 5 @ Lockport

Oct. 11 @ Thornwood

Oct. 19 vs Bolingbrook

[MORE: 79 Days to Kickoff - Crete-Monee]

Biggest storyline: Can the Griffins pull off a rare back-to-back Class 8A state title win this season?

Names to watch this season: WR/RB AJ Henning, LB Gus Christensen and OL Dane Eggert

Biggest holes to fill: The Griffins will need to replace 14 graduated starters from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: If you don't like seeing Lincoln-Way East near or at the top of the rankings year in and year out, you better get used to it. The Griffins and head coach Rob Zvonar have been on a serious roll, including a stacked roster which has both talent and sheer numbers. Lincoln-Way East has some high-level names this fall including top-ranked junior WR/RB AJ Griffin along with up and coming senior QB Jack Baltz. They also feature three returning offensive linemen back in the fold, led by senior Dane Eggert (6-foot-3, 270 pounds). East's defense will be inexperienced in some spots, but  senior LB Gus Christensen (5-foot-5, 165 pounds) leads a very quick unit. While the Griffins have holes to fill they also have one of the state's best --and extraordinarily deep-- rosters. They should be able to weather a very tough early schedule. 

Power Rankings: #2 - Loyola

Power Rankings: #2 - Loyola

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: Loyola Academy

Head coach: John Holocek

How they fared in 2017: 12-2 (4-0 Chicago Catholic Blue Conference). Loyola made the 8A state playoff field and defeated New Trier, Hinsdale Central, Marist and Edwardsville. They advanced to the state championship game and lost to Lincoln-Way East.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Rockford, Mich

Aug. 31 @ New Trier

Sept. 8 vs Mount Carmel

Sept. 14 @ Brother Rice

Sept. 21 @ St. Ignatius

Sept. 29 vs Montini

Oct. 5 @ De La Salle

Oct. 12 @ St. Rita

Oct. 20 vs Providence Catholic

[MORE - Power Rankings #18 - New Trier]

Biggest storyline: Loyola has been to state five times since 2011. Can the Ramblers reload once again and challenge for an 8A state title in 2018?

Names to watch this season: LB Armoni Dixon, S Jake Gonzalez and WR Noah Jones

Biggest holes to fill: The Ramblers will need to replace 15 graduated starters from a season ago, including eight starters on the offensive side of the football. 

EDGY's Early Take: You'll be hard-pressed to find a football program in the Land of Lincoln that has remained as consistent a winner over the past decade-plus than Loyola. The Ramblers will rely on their defense early on this season behind some key headliners, namely: LB Armoni Dixon and senior DB Jake Gonzales (Penn). The offense has playmakers in senior wide receivers Noah Jones and Rory Boos. Keep an eye on junior RB Trevor Cabanban as well. The biggest question for the Ramblers? Did they do enough to reload up front on the offensive and defensive lines over the summer. If so, expect another state championship run to Champaign.

Power Rankings: #3 - Phillips

Power Rankings: #3 - Phillips

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: Phillips

Head coach: Troy McAllister

How they fared in 2017: 14-0 (5-0 CPL Illini Land of Lincoln Conference). Phillips made the 5A state playoff field, defeated Morgan Park, Solorio, Lemont and Sterling. They went on to defeat Dunlap in the state championship game.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 26 @ Pickerington Central (Ohio)

Sept. 1 vs Chaminade (St. Louis) at East St. Louis

Sept. 8 vs Simeon at Gately

Sept. 14 vs Lincoln Park at Mandrake

Sept. 21 vs Morgan Park at Mandrake

Sept. 28 vs Curie at Rockne Stadium

Oct. 6 at Lane Tech

Oct. 12 vs Westinghouse at Mandrake

Oct. 19 vs Raby at Lane Tech

[MORE: 62 Days to Kickoff - Lincoln Park]

Biggest storyline: With the Wildcats moving up to Class 6A, can they claim another state title this November?

Names to watch this season: TE Jahleel Billingsley (Alabama) and WR/S Fabian McCray (Illinois)

Biggest holes to fill: The Wildcats will need to replace quite a bit of offensive production, due to the graduation losses of QB J'Bore Gibbs (South Dakota State) and RB Craig Elmore (Kent State).

EDGY's Early Take: No one can ever accuse Phillips and/or head coach Troy McAllister of avoiding any challenges.  The Wildcats will again play "up" in competition, going from Class 5A to 6A this season. They also will play some national powers in Pickerington Central (Ohio) right out of the gate on live TB. The following week, they take on St. Louis-area power Chaminade. That game will be in East St. Louis at the annual Scholar Classic Showdown. As far as the roster is concerned, Phillips is stacked once again with FBS-level talent. If they feel that they have found answers over the summer at a few key spots, they have all the potential to play with --and beat-- any team in Illinois on any given day, regardless of class.