With four weeks of IHSA football in the books, let's take a look at some of my early candidates for Offensive Player of the Year honors in the Chicagoland area (in no particular order):
Homewood-Flossmoor RB Justin Hall (Sr.): The NIU verbal commit was able to showcase his ability last Friday to a live TV audience in the Vikings' 48-20 win over Bolingbrook (3-1). Hall, who is averaging 9.5 yards per carry so far for the 4-0 Vikings, is able to break tackles, has exceptional speed and remains one of the most versatile (RB/WR/DB/KR/PR) athletes in the state.
Prairie Ridge QB Samson Evans (Sr.): Evans, who is verbally committed to Iowa, runs the option offense for the 4-0 Wolves. He remains the focal point of every opposing defense this season. Evans is averaging nearly nine yards per carry, an almost unheard-of number for an option-running quarterback.
Lake Zurich RB/LB Joey Stutzman (Sr.): Stutzman (5-foot-7, 170 pounds) is, pound for pound, one of the toughest players you'll find in Chicagoland this season. Stutzman gives the Bears' offense a big play threat on every carry. He is also a key cog on a nasty defensive unit that has allowed just 16 points in four games.
Loyola Academy QB Quinn Boyle (Sr.): Boyle has quickly developed into the Ramblers' main weapon so far this season and has been very strong leading Loyola's shotgun read-option offense. Boyle's running ability along with his accurate arm has allowed a banged-up Ramblers running attack time to heal up early this season.
[MORE: Week Five Power Rankings]
Maine South RB Fotis Kokosioulis (Sr.): Kokosioulis has been one of the most productive players in Illinois over the past two-plus seasons for the defending 8A state champion Hawks. Lincoln-Way East head coach Rob Zvonar, whose team was able to limit Kokosioulis' yards in the Griffins' 28-26 win in Week 2 admitted, "We definitely had to find a way of slowing down number 41 (Kokosioulis) because he's a tremendous high school player."
Lincoln-Way East QB Brendan Morrissey (Sr.): The Griffins are undoubtedly one of Chicagoland's deepest teams. A number of players from their roster could be considered for Player of the Year. But Morrissey, a concerted running back from a season ago, has run the LW-East offense with a mix of poise, confidence and accuracy in the play-action passing game.
Crete-Monee QB Isaiah Rucker (Sr.): Rucker is the old, savvy veteran of the Warriors offense this season. He's a rare four-year varsity contributor and three-year starter. Rucker has thrown for nearly 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns with a 64 percent completion percentage so far in 2017. He remains Crete's unquestioned leader.
Naperville North QB Drake Davis (Sr.): Davis, who transferred in last spring from 1A Bureau Valley, has been electric since midway through the Huskies' stunning come from behind opening week 53-49 win over Edwardsville. Davis has thrown for 1,212 yards and 14 touchdowns so far this season.
Naperville Central QB Payton Thorne (Jr.): Thorne, who transferred into Naperville Central from Metea Valley this summer, has added a big boost to an already strong Redhawks team. Thorne, who is the son of North Central College head coach Jeff Thorne, has a combined 1,061 yards of total offense and 15 touchdowns through four games.
Phillips RB/LB Craig Elmore (Sr.): The Wildcats' defensive unit has been just as solid as their offensive counterparts so far this fall. Elmore, who plays both running back and linebacker, has played huge roles in big games on both sides of the football. He is gaining the tough yards as well as breaking big runs when needed.