Buffalo Grove

NIU adds more Chicago flavor with Class of 2019 standouts

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USA Today

NIU adds more Chicago flavor with Class of 2019 standouts

The Bears weren’t the only area football team to have a successful weekend bringing in talent.

Northern Illinois University and head coach Rod Carey saw a big spike over the weekend in the Huskies’ Class of 2019 in-state recruiting efforts. 

NIU was able to add four new verbal commitments this past weekend in Solorio junior wide receiver Messiah Travis (5-foot-10, 170 pounds), Raby junior defensive back Romel Goston (6-foot-1, 170 pounds), Buffalo Grove junior tight end Tom Trieb (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) and Kenwood junior cornerback Mark Aitken (5-foot-9, 175 pounds). 

"I like a lot of what NIU has to offer," Messiah said. "Getting to play and go to school close to home at NIU was really important to me. I'm really close with my family. It will allow my mom and my dad to come and see me play in college. NIU also recruited me really hard right out of the gates and NIU was my first offer. NIU really made me feel wanted and like I was needed there."

NIU was able to find early recruiting success a year ago when Carey and his staff decided to extend verbal scholarship offers much earlier in the recruiting process compared to previous years. 

Three of the latest Chicagoland pledges (Messiah Travis, Romel Goston and Mark Aitken) play together on the HEROH 7-on-7 team based on the South Side. Those connections played a big part in Aitken's decision process. 

"We have a really strong connection both mentally and emotionally," according to Aitken. "I feel like we can just make each other better at NIU and also keep each other on the right track. It was definitely a part of my decision to commit to NIU."

NIU now has five known verbal commitments in the Class of 2019. That list includes Detroit’s Martin Luther King High School junior wide receiver Jalen McGaughy (6-foot-3, 175 pounds).

This will mark the sixth full season for Carey leading the Huskies. He owns a 44-24 record during his time in DeKalb with five bowl appearances.

EDGY: Which under-the-radar coaches are worthy of honors?

EDGY: Which under-the-radar coaches are worthy of honors?

Don't look now, but we're just over three weeks away from crowning eight teams as football state champions in Illinois. And as we approach the end of the season, it's a good time to take stock of other individual awards. Prairie Ridge's Chris Schremp already claimed a title. The IHSA named him "2016-2017 Football Coach of the Year" this week. The award recognizes success on the field and positive work with athletes.

What other Chicagoland IHSA football coaches are worthy of awards this season? Obviously, every team in the IHSA state playoff field can make a strong case for their coach. While we still have a few more weeks of IHSA football left to play, here are some more under-the-radar head coaches for award consideration:

Minooka's Terry McCombs: There were few people (if any) around the Minooka Indians football that had any idea that McCombs, an IHSFCA Hall of Fame coach, would become the program's leader going into this season. McCombs, in his 49th season coaching IHSA football, is a district resident who decided to throw his hat into the ring when the Minooka job opened up. McCombs landed the job and immediately went to work winning over the kids left from a 4-5 team in 2016. Community support quickly followed. Minooka (8-2) travels to take on Barrington this Friday. 
 
Hope Academy's Matt Kelly: His Eagles (8-2) have been a consistent winner and are back in the Class 2A playoffs. Yet Kelly needs to be mentioned here for having to deal with several issues away from the field including having two opponents (St. Francis and Bishop McNamara) decide to forfeit games against Hope. Both schools cited "safety concerns" after an early season shooting incident in the neighborhood surrounding Altgeld Park, the Eagles home field. Kelly, along with the Hope Academy administration, have handled the situation about as well as they could handle it. The Eagles have remained focused at the task at hand. 
 
Raby's D'Angelo Dereef: The Raiders are back in the IHSA state playoffs and have a chance to keep making noise in the 2A field. Raby took some lumps in 2016, posting a 2-7 record. This season, the Raiders have played several underclassmen who are major contributors. The Raiders will hit the road this Saturday and take on Richmond-Burton (7-3). 

[MORE: Edgy Tim's Week 11 Power Rankings]
 
Buffalo Grove's Jeff Vik: The Bison (9-1) have also been able to turn their fortunes around. They went 3-6 in 2016 and the program only cobbled together two winning seasons from 2002 until this fall. Buffalo Grove, who just played in its first IHSA state playoff game in 13 years (a win over Belleville West), will travel this Saturday to take on East St. Louis (8-2). Best part of all for Bison football? They have a nice core of underclassmen starters and could potentially make a return playoff visit in 2018. 
 
Wheaton North's Joe Wardynski: The Falcons (8-2) under Wardynski play old-school football, meaning they will run the football early and often. Then, they suffocate teams with a quick and physical defense. Wardynski, who took the Falcons to the IHSA playoffs in his first six seasons, missed out on the playoffs from 2014-2016. That all changed this year. Any school that survives the 2017 DuPage Valley Conference schedule is a dangerous team to watch from here on out. Wheaton North travels to Batavia (9-1) on Saturday in Class 7A.
 
Other worthy candidates to consider:
 
Bryant McNulty - Warren Township
Joe Pardun - Hersey
Nick Nildreth - Willowbrook
Tim Heyse - Hoffman Estates
Morgan Weaver - Hillcrest
Terrell Alexander - Rich Central
Apostolos Tsiamas - Peotone
Mike Barry - Hinsdale South
 

High Five: Edgy Tim's biggest undefeated surprises

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High Five: Edgy Tim's biggest undefeated surprises

With Week Six of the IHSA football season on the horizon, here are several teams having eye-opening performances thus far in 2017:

Marmion Academy (5-0): The Cadets and head coach Dan Thorpe are on a roll this fall, topped off by last week's big 28-27 win over Montini Catholic. Senior QB Brandon McPherson is a two sport standout (football/baseball) and the unquestioned team leader.  Marmion Academy will have its hands full for the remainder of the regular season, with the likes of Fenwick, St. Laurence, De La Salle and St. Rita looming on the schedule. That said, the Cadets have a very good chance at earning a higher seed in the 6A state playoff field. 

Oswego East (5-0): The Wolves graduated several key players from last year's playoff team, which included RB Ivory Kelly-Martin (Iowa) and QB Jaylon Banks (EIU). But head coach Tyson LeBlanc and staff have reloaded quite well this season. Junior QB/S Justin Clark just added his first offer recently from NIU. Illinois commit senior WR/DB Antwain Walker is another key contributor for the Wolves, who travel to rival Oswego (4-1) Friday night.

Buffalo Grove (5-0): The Bison, coached by Jeff Vik, had cautiously-high hopes entering 2017 with 11 starters back from last season's team. Buffalo Grove has received big seasons so far from junior RB/LB Tom Trieb and junior QB Connor Adams.  Buffalo Grove will have a few big tests remaining in Hersey (4-1) and Rolling Meadows (4-1). This is another team that is on pace for a higher seed in Class 7A. 

Eisenhower (5-0): The Cardinals have been able to post a few solid wins so far, but last Friday's 23-16 win at Oak Forest was undoubtedly the eye-opening victory. Coach Travis Moore and company still have South Suburban Red foes to deal with down the stretch. They will face Richards (3-2) on Friday and Shepard (4-1) in Week 8. Could the Cardinals be thinking conference title? 

Johnsburg (5-0): The Skyhawks, who made it to the 2016 4A state title game, also needed to reload the roster going into this season. They graduated 15 starters, 10 of which on offense. Senior Adam Jayko, who played defensive back and kicked last season, is having an All-State season at quarterback so far for head coach Dan DeBouef. 

[MORE: Preps Power Rankings, Week 6]

IHSA state playoff qualifiers from last season who have already been eliminated (0-5 teams) or are on the verge of being eliminated (1-4 teams) from the 2017 IHSA state playoff field:

Fremd (0-5)

Thornwood (0-5)

Vernon Hills (1-4)

Brother Rice (1-4)

Wheeling (1-4)

Bradley (1-4)