80 Days to Kickoff: Fenwick

80 Days to Kickoff: Fenwick

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: Fenwick

Head coach: Gene Nudo

Assistant Coaches:  Alex Holmberg (DC), Brien Rooney (OC), Dick Eufrasio, Arthur Porter, Butch Navarro and Craig Schneider

How they fared in 2017: 7-5 (3-1 Chicago Catholic League Green Conference), Fenwick made the Class 7A state playoff field and lost in opening round action to Wheaton North. The Friars then entered the Chicago Catholic League Playoffs and defeated Leo. Then, they lost to St. Ignatius in the CCL championship.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Kenwood

Aug. 31 vs St. Ignatius

Sept. 7 @ Brother Rice

Sept. 14 @ Leo

Sept. 21 @ De La Salle

Sept. 28 vs St. Laurence

Oct. 5 vs Montini Catholic

Oct. 12 vs Marmion Academy

Oct. 19 @ Mount Carmel

[MORE: 100 Days to Kickoff - De La Salle]

Biggest storyline: Can the Friars get back into the state playoff field and make a run this fall?

Names to watch this season: QB Danny Cronin and DE Jacob Kaminsky

Biggest holes to fill: The Friars will need to reload upfront on the offensive line this summer with just one returning starter back in junior OL Sean Carpenter.

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach Gene Nudo and his staff have done a very impressive job at Fenwick. They have guided the Friars into the state playoff field in five of Nudo's first six seasons leading the football program (including a 10-win and an 11-win season). If Fenwick can find some answers up front on the offensive line, they have plenty of returning starters/experience back to make a state playoff run this fall.

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 7 Lake Zurich

CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings: No. 7 Lake Zurich

CSNChicago.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 Jul. 31, we'll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 25.

School: Lake Zurich

Head coach: Luke Mertens

Assistant coaches: Shane Williams, Aaron Towne, Jeff Bartlett, Nick Summers, Rick Erickson, Kelly Henkel, Will Koukal, Aaron Lewandowski, Christian Wollard 

How they fared in 2016: 8-3 (6-1 North Suburban Conference), made the Class 7A state playoff field. They defeated Harlem, then lost to Fenwick in second-round action.

[MORE: CSN Preps Preseason Power Rankings - No. 8 Waubonsie Valley]

2017 regular season schedule:

Aug. 25 @ Fremd

Sept. 1 vs. Montini Catholic

Sept. 8 vs. Waukegan

Sept. 15 vs. Zion-Benton

Sept. 22 @ Warren Township

Sept. 28 @ Lake Forest

Oct. 6 @ Stevenson

Oct. 13 vs. Libertyville

Oct. 20 @ Mundelein

Biggest storyline: Can the Bears put last year's hazing controversy behind them and stay focused on the field?

Names to watch this season: senior LB Jack Sanborn (Wisconsin), senior QB Evan Lewandowski, senior OL Ian Fitzgerald

Biggest holes to fill: The Bears will need to find some replacements in the secondary.

EDGY's early take: Lake Zurich has been dealing with a hazing controversy since the end of last season. Over that time, several key administrators and coaches were replaced, including head coach Dave Proffitt. Mertens, who guided the Lakes football program for over a decade, steps in as head coach. He inherits a very experienced team on both sides of the football, including 14 returning starters (eight offense, six defense). Lake Zurich has the potential to become a state title contender in 2017. 

Sophomore D.J. Steward ready to shine at Fenwick

Sophomore D.J. Steward ready to shine at Fenwick

Fenwick fell just short of winning a Class 3A state championship last season as they try to make another run behind some new leadership this season. 

Losing seniors like Jacob Keller and Jamal Nixon will be difficult to replace since both of those players were key players for the Friars since they were underclassmen. Thankfully for Fenwick, a new underclassman appears to be taking over where those two decorated seniors left off.

After bursting on the scene last March with his stellar play in Peoria, sophomore guard D.J. Steward will be one of the marked men in the state this season. The 6-foot-1 Steward averaged 24.5 points and shot 20-for-31 from the field in two games at state last season, including going a perfect 10-for-10 in the loss to Morgan Park in the state title game.

The smooth and skilled Steward isn't the only returning player who showed promising signs for Fenwick. Senior guard A.J. Nixon and junior guard Damari Nixon have both shown signs of growth while senior Billy Bruce can play any spot on the floor with a variety of skills.

Finding a reliable big man might be the key to Fenwick's overall season as they didn't have senior post player Mike O'Laughlin with them at the Riverside-Brookfield Shootout.

If Steward can emerge into a go-to scorer then Fenwick should once again see themselves in the Catholic League and state title race this season. With a number of talented perimeter options, head coach Rick Malnati has plenty of pieces at his disposal as Steward should have a lot of help.