Brian Badke

9 Days to Kickoff: Brother Rice

9 Days to Kickoff: Brother Rice

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 Aug. 5, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 30.

School: Brother Rice

Head coach: Brian Badke

Assistant coaches: Dan O'Brien (OC/QB), Anthony Malopsy (DC/LB), Bob Wilcox (DL), Tim McAplin (DB) and Dan Nicholson (WR)

How they fared in 2018: 13-1 (4-0 CCL Blue Conference). Brother Rice made the Class 8A state playoff field and defeated Zion-Benton, Oak Park-River Forest, Warren Township and Marist. They advanced to the state title game and lost to Loyola Academy.

2019 regular season schedule:

Aug. 30 vs Hillcrest
Sept. 6 vs Perspectives
Sept. 13 vs Providence Catholic
Sept. 20 vs Marist
Sept. 27 @ Joliet Catholic Academy
Oct. 5 @ Loyola Academy
Oct. 11 vs St. Laurence
Oct. 18 @ Carmel
Oct. 25 @ Mount Carmel

[MORE: 10 Days to Kickoff: Mount Carmel] 

Biggest storyline: What will Brother Rice will do for an encore? Can the Crusaders, who sprinted past a rough 2017 season (2-7 record) to a 13-1 mark in 2018, reload on offense and make another run toward the 8A title game?

Names to watch this season: DT Justin Jefferson (Sr.), S Giacomo Iraci (Sr., Western Michigan)

Biggest holes to fill: The Crusaders will need to replace 10 graduated starters on the offensive side of the football. Senior RB Jahlil Pettis is the lone starter back on 'O this season.
  
EDGY's Early Take: Brother Rice had a terrific run in 2018-- one of the best seasons in school history. While the graduation losses are a big issue, the Crusaders also have plenty of talent waiting in the wings. The defense will feature six returning starters including DT Justin Jefferson and S Giacomo Iraci. Incoming transfer DT Denver Warren (West Aurora) has a chance to become another impact player. On offense, senior QB Colin Smyth and junior RB Willie Shaw will make waves. Shaw has already added FBS-level scholarship offers this summer and has a chance to have a big breakout season. Developing a young offensive line was a top priority this summer. They'll have an intriguing battle against a good Hillcrest program in the opener.