Edgy Tim's Illinois Prep Football

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5 Teams to Watch this season

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Tim O'Halloran

Publisher of www.edgytim.com, part of the Rivals.com network.

With just literally hours and minutes away from Kickoff 2009 for the Illinois High School Prep Football season, here are my 5 teams to watch this fall who could surprise.

These remain school/programs who either didn't make my 2009 Preseason Top 25 Chicagoland rankings or any of my Class 5A thru 8A Preseason Top 10 polls. Both polls are available at EDGYTIM.com.

Crete-Monee- the Warriors and veteran head coach Jerry Verde are primed for a big 2009 season and Crete just missed making my Top 25 rankings by a hair. Crete-Monee welcomes back 15 returning starters this fall including 9 of those starters on defense. Senior safety prospect Greg Barksdale (6-foot-3, 210 pounds) remains one of the state's top uncommitted players and also watch out for senior OT Matt Finnin (6-foot-7, 295 pounds) and senior WR/DB Dylan McElveen (6-foot-1, 185 pounds). Finnin has given Western Michigan his verbal commitment.

Geneva- the Vikings and head coach Rob Wicinski made it all the way to the Class 7A state title game last season before losing to eventual state champion East St. Louis. The Vikings graduated it's Superman in running back Michael Ratay (Grand Valley State) and no question Ratay was a once in a decade type of performer for Geneva. Yet look for the Vikings to reload this fall behind senior QB Brandon Beitzel (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) along with senior DT Frank "The Tank" Boenzi (6-foot-3, 290 pounds) and senior RB/LB Michael Santacaterina. Look for Geneva to get better as the season progresses and the inexperienced players gain some game-time experience this fall.

Niles North- the Vikings and head coach Scott Smith were able to finish last season with a 5-4 regular season record, but a lack of playoff points kept Niles North at home come state playoff time. Look for the Vikings to reload again this fall and to challenge for the conference title in the Central Suburban North behind senior QB Michael Granato. Niles North hasn't made the state playoff field since 1994.

Proviso West- Ok, so I didn't exactly show the Panthers much love in my preseason conference picks, yet West no question looks much improved this summer. Senior WR Kyle Prater (6-foot-5, 205 pounds) is the top ranked prospects in the Class of 2010 State of Illinois prospect rankings and is a tremendous athlete. Also keep an eye out for senior WR Julius Shelby (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) who should draw plenty of recruiting looks this fall.

Chicago Morgan Park- the Mustangs also just missed out on making my Top 25 poll. Veteran head coach Lexie Spurlock continues to get his program competitive not just in the CPL but way beyond. Morgan Park will get a serious test right out of the gates when they take on Brother Rice at the Preseason Prep Bowl this Friday night 8PM at Soldier Field. The Mustangs feature some serious skills along with some size in the line play. Keep an eye out for senior QB DaRon Brown along with senior OL Jazzario Barrios and senior OL Maurice Goodman, senior DB Brian Jones and senior DE Matthew Mosley.

So who are your sleeper teams for the 2009 season? Let me know and hit me back with your feedback.

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8 Comments

J.J. said:

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Tim;

I played for CVS in 1959. What has happened to the Chicago Public League in Football. I went to a UTEP basketball game three years ago and they had 7 basketball players from Chicago. I was informed that NMSU (35 miles north of UTEP) had 4 from Chicago. I searched the Web and could not find 7 players in football from Chicago in the Big 10, Big 12, etc.

In 1960 Lane had 9 sign a letter of intent, and we (CVS) had 6.

I enden up playing at Utah St.

J.J. Leonard

edgytim said:

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JJ,

Thanks for the post and yes things from a football perspective and the CPL are no where near what they were back in the day. What happened? Lots of different issues honestly but for me the biggest impact was mainly Michael Jordan and basketball. Schools started seeing 200 freshmen try out for basketball and then the same school would be lucky to get say 30 kids for football. Football just lost it's luster with kids. I know that the CPL has been trying harder and harder in many ways to bring back football and from an overall program standpoint the CPL is actually much improved from say 5-7 years ago. The CPL also has some good people at the top trying really hard for football and that also helps. Talent also comes and goes and unfortunately the CPL has been somewhat down in D-1 level kids the past few seasons.

IrishYeti said:

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You going to cover downstate football too much? And even more specifically lower classes? Like 2A, 3A?

edgytim said:

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IrishYeti,

As far as downstate football I try to get out across the state as much as humanly possible, so yes I'll try my best like I have for the past 14 plus years. I feel that I've been able to build a good reputation outside of Chicagoland and I intend on trying to cover the entire state, something I take pretty seriously. As far as smaller class football, I could lie to you or lead you on and say that yes I'll do it all but I need to cut it off somewhere. I'm still trying to find a way to do everything but I'm basically a one man crew here so my focus will be 5A and above.

IrishYeti said:

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I understand. I try to keep up on alot of it as well, but there is just too much. And it would make sense for a Chicago area based blog to have most of it's emphasis on Chicago area football, and when you venture out, it's probably best to stick with teams that can impact teams that people up there pay attention to, like bigger class teams.

No worries. Thanks for your honesty

Chicago Expatriate said:

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In 1960 I saw Mt. Carmel defeat Taft in the old Prep Bowl at Soldier Field. I believe the losing Taft squad had 4 or 5 guys that played in the NFL. Rich Coady, Greg Schumacher, Ken Kortas, and Jim Grabowski. I think the star of the team Al MacFarlane played in some preseason games for the Cowboys. The CPL used to be mighty.

Mark said:

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Tim, you had to be impressed with the overall effort Elk Grove gave against Niles North! Good things happening at EGHS!

Tim O'Halloran said:

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No question and I'm really rooting for the Grens turnaround. Alot of good folks around the EG program and that school and community deserves a winner.

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