Craig Buzea

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor 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 Jul. 31, we'll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Homewood-Flossmoor

Head coach: Craig Buzea

How they fared in 2016: 10-1 (7-0 Southwest Suburban Conference), made the Class 8A state playoff field, defeated Evanston then lost to Glenbard West in second-round action.

[MORE: CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings - No. 10 Palatine]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 vs. Michigan City, Indiana

Sept. 1 @ South Durham, North Carolina

Sept. 8 @ Stagg

Sept. 15 vs. Bolingbrook

Sept. 22 @ Lincoln-Way West

Sept. 28 vs. Lincoln-Way East

Oct. 6 vs. Bradley

Oct. 13 @ Andrew

Oct. 20 @ Sandburg

Biggest storyline: Can the Vikings get deep into the Class 8A state playoffs in 2017?

Names to watch this season: senior RB/DB Justin Hall (NIU), senior DL Jeff Griffin (NIU), senior LB Mario Wright II (Western Kentucky)

Biggest holes to fill: The Vikings will need to fill some important spots including the quarterback position this fall.

EDGY's early take: If any program can reload each year it's the Vikings under Buzea. The Vikings will look towards Hall, who can see action at any number of positions including returner. Griffin moved over from the offensive line, while Wright II is another name to watch along with junior defensive back Wynston Russell, a top Class of 2019 player who transferred in from De La Salle. Homewood-Flossmoor has the overall numbers, talent and depth to once again be a real threat in Class 8A this season.

Northern Illinois in-state recruiting class recap

Northern Illinois in-state recruiting class recap

EDGY's Huskies grade: B-

Northern Illinois has made their program a success year in and year out based heavily on in-state recruiting efforts. I love the fact that nearly half of this recruiting class features in-state names. The overall talent of this group could be as high in some spots as any I can remember in several years. The Huskies main focus was reloading on the defensive line and inked five new names.

Headliner of the in-state class?

Homewood-Flossmoor wide receiver Tyrice Richie (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) was a big-time playmaker for the Vikings and head coach Craig Buzea. Richie has great hands, body control and is just a high-level gamer who could break into the Huskies' receiver rotation early. Immaculate Conception three-star ranked running back Jordan Rowell (6-foot-1, 190 pounds) is just a high-level athlete who was a two-way starter and standout for the Class 3A state champion Knights. St. Charles North offensive tackle Isaac Hawn (6-foot-6, 305 pounds) might be one of the meanest on the field/nicest kids off the field in Illinois. Hawn, who is now enrolled at NIU, is already college-sized and has a chance to also challenge the depth chart early.

[RELATED: Illinois State in-state recruiting class recap]

The one who got away?

NIU was able to get offers out to several top in-state players and missed out on kids who would up in the Big Ten. Northern Illinois offered Deerfield three-star ranked defensive end Josh Maize (6-foot-4, 230 pounds) early on and Maize also showed early interest. However, once Maize started to draw Power 5 looks he seemed to back off the Huskies. Maize wound up signing with Miami (OH).

Final thoughts on the Huskies recruiting efforts:

Overall, I just like the talent level in this in-state class for the Huskies. Northern Illinois was able to sign some pretty talented football players and — in some cases — kids with Power 5 size and ability. NIU has always done a terrific job of finding those slightly under the radar types, and developing them into contributors which should continue to happen with this class.

Despite a 5-7 season in 2016, which began with a bizarre loss at Wyoming and ended with four wins in their last five games, Northern Illinois still has a lot of positives to offer recruits. NIU remains a blue collar, hard-working school and football program that knows how to win. Northern Illinois also offers a solid education, is located close to Chicago and continues its much-needed upgrades to improve overall facilities.

Huskies fans should feel pretty good about the in-state recruiting efforts in the Class of 2017.