High School Lites: Quarterfinal Weekend

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High School Lites: Quarterfinal Weekend

It's down to the field of 64 in the IHSA football playoffs, but this week's High School Lites will have more of a "Sweet 16" feel.

Comcast SportsNet Chicago will cover 16 games on Saturday as teams fight to advance further down the road to a potential state championship. Each class currently contains eight teams with dreams of playing in Champaigns Memorial Stadium. Our cameras will bring you action from class 8A all the way to 3A-- from Chicago's north shore all the way to Coal City and Wilmington. In 8A, who wins the Upstate Eight rematch between Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley? Or the 5A rematch between Marian Central Catholic and Montini? Lyons and Downers Grove North have gone from Cinderellas to legitimate contenders. How far can they go? And could Chicago's Brooks High School represent the Public League in a big way with a trip to the 4A semifinals?

Here is a snapshot of every game High School Lites will profile on Saturday night's 10:30 p.m. show. The rankings reflect the class seeds in the IHSA playoffs.

8A:

No. 3 Palatine (10-1) at No. 2 Loyola (10-1), 12:00 p.m.

It's going to be up to the defenses of both the Pirates and Ramblers to step up. For Palatine, it means finding ways to contain quarterback Peter Pujals and running back Julius Holley. Both contributed with big games last week in a 31-7 victory over Bartlett. For Palatine, quarterback Ethan Olles and running back Cam Kuksa form a potent duo. Both teams feasted on opponents turnovers last week. The turnover battle could be key here.

No. 4 Glenbard North (10-1) at No. 1 Maine South (11-0), 1:00 p.m.

This will no doubt be Maine South's toughest test to date. Their opponents have a combined 53-54 record and Glenbard North represents the first team the Hawks have played with more than eight wins. The key players to watch will be Northwestern-bound QB Matt Alviti on Maine South. But South's defense may have a little more work cut out. Stopping elite Panther running back Justin Jackson needs to be at the top of their to-do list.

No. 4 Waubonsie Valley (10-1) at No. 1 Neuqua Valley (11-0), 6:00 p.m.

It's a matchup that everybody --at least in Aurora and Naperville-- have been waiting for in the playoffs. The Wildcats survived two overtimes to stun the Warriors 35-34 at North Central College. Both schools won impressively in the first and second rounds-- and they each feature running backs that are sure to cause fits for the opposing defenses. Neuqua's Joey Rhattigan and Waubonsie's Austin Guido will get a lot of looks Saturday night.

No. 3 Mount Carmel (10-1) at No. 15 Lyons (7-4), 7:00 p.m.

Northwestern-bound Matthew Harris is back and that could make things real interesting for Mount Carmel. Harris, who missed regular season time due to a chest injury, is one of the top two-way players in the area. He has definitely changed the complexion of the Lions' attack, but will it be enough to stop the Caravan? Don Butkus, Matt Domer and Draco Smith have dominated on offense. And coach Frank Lenti's defensive corps could be one of the best in Illinois.

7A:

No. 5 Wheaton North (10-1) at No. 1 Glenbard West (11-0), 1:00 p.m.

Wide receiverbackup quarterback Clayton Thorson left last week's game with a reported broken collarbone. This will put more pressure on quarterback John Peltz and running back Patrick Sharp to step up. It will be a challenge against a Hilltopper defensive unit that has kept seven opponents to a touchdown or less on the season. Their balanced offense features Devante Toney, Nathan Marcus, Henry Haeffner and Scott Andrews.

No. 2 Boylan Catholic (11-0) at No. 6 Lake Zurich (9-2), 1:00 p.m.

This 7A tilt represents an intriguing rematch of last year's semifinal in Rockford, won by the Titans 16-10. They went on to win state and are looking to do the same in 2012. Slotback Danny Appino, nephew of former Boylan coach Dan Appino, is a threat out of the backfield. The Bears, traditionally tough on defense, are giving up a scant five points per game. Running back Connor Schrader has helped put a lot of points on the board.

No. 2 Benet (10-1) at No. 8 Downers Grove North (7-4), 1:00 p.m.

Just call this the "Cinderella Bowl." Both programs have experienced quite a renaissance in 2012. Benet's story might be a little more of a feat, considering this is their first winning season since 2006. Sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventi and an opportunistic defense lead the Redwings. DGN, one of three teams still alive from the West Suburban Silver, has a defense that kept good offensive teams in Batavia and Thornton in check.

No. 2 Edwardsville (10-1) at No. 1 Lincoln-Way East (11-0), 6:00 p.m.

Edwardsville shredded five years of mediocrity with an impressive 10-1 campaign that includes last week's win over East St. Louis, the lone team that beat the Tigers in the regular season. The Griffins will have to keep tabs on lightning-quick running back Bennett Gray, a proven track star. LWE has plenty of defensive accolades and a dynamic offense with NIU-bound Tom Fuessel at quarterback and Nick Colangelo out of the backfield.

6A:

No. 4 Crystal Lake Central (9-2) at No. 1 Cary-Grove (11-0), 1:00 p.m.

The mission for the 9-2 Tigers is simple: find a way to stop --or mildly contain-- Cary-Grove's Kyle Norberg. The senior fullback piled up another 205 yards and three scores in last week's win over St. Patrick. The Trojans have two state berths since 2004 (won in 2009). The CLC program has rebounded very nicely over the last six years. Running back Matt MacAlpine has returned after a left leg injury sidelined him early this season.

No. 2 Ottawa (11-0) at No. 1 Crete-Monee (11-0), 6:00 p.m.

For the host Warriors to win, they will have to cut down on turnovers. Against Richwoods last week, they gave the ball away seven times but came back to secure a 35-32 victory. C-M will look for another strong game from their do-everything superstar Laquon Treadwell. Ottawa has an exceptional talent of their own in Illinois-bound slotback Miguel Hermosillo. Both schools are gunning for their first-ever 12-win seasons.

No. 3 Lemont (10-1) at No. 1 Oak Forest (10-1), 7:00 p.m.

It'll be back-to-back South Suburban Conference playoff games for Lemont, and this time it's a rematch from a September 21st game against the divisional foe Bengals. The Indians, who beat Oak Forest 17-14 in that game, clinched a win late in the game when LSU-bound lineman Ethan Pocic pounced on a fumble off a Bengals handoff. Both teams are averaging over 36 points per game, so the defenses have to step up once again.

5A:

No. 12 Joliet Catholic (7-4) at No. 9 Lincoln-Way West (8-3), 1:00 p.m.

The Hilltoppers are back. Namely, the ones in the backfield. Ty Isaac, Tyler Reitz and Mike Ivlow --all back from various injuries-- were on the field together for a complete game for the first time all year in a 42-21 victory over Tinley Park. But an interesting foe awaits. Lincoln-Way West proved they could hang with the big boys as they shocked Kaneland last week. The Warriors are led by Notre Dame-bound offensive tackle Colin McGovern.

No. 3 Montini (9-2) at No. 2 Marian Central Catholic (11-0), 5:00 p.m.

"We know state goes through Montini." That's what Marian coach Ed Brucker told the Sun-Times after last week's win over Woodstock North. And he's right. Montini has won three straight titles and will remain champs until proven otherwise. But this is a special year for the Hurricanes. Minnesota-bound quarterback Chris Streveler piloted a 49-24 victory over Montini in week seven. But Montini, with players like WR Joe Borsellino, will look for their fourth straight playoff knockout of MCC.

4A:

No. 1 Alleman (10-1) at No. 2 Coal City (10-1), 2:00 p.m.

This has potential to be a serious black-and-blue match. Rock Island's Alleman Pioneers can bring it on defense. They have kept seven opponents to a touchdown or less this year, including four shutouts. Coal City has solid defensive numbers on the year, but can they break through on offense? Coalers quarterback Brennen Shetina will have his work cut out behind center. The Coalers defeated Geneseo last week 12-10.

No. 5 Brooks (8-2) @ No. 7 Evergreen Park (8-3), 6:00 p.m.

Ahmad Bradshaw can play. Pay no mind to the New York Giants running back with the same name. Bradshaw, the Brooks quarterback, has D-1 potential and is one of the many reasons Brooks could represent the Chicago Public League in the semifinals and beyond. But to get there, the Eagles are going to have to beat a Mustangs team that is peaking at the right time. Road wins at North Chicago and Richmond-Burton are no fluke.

3A:

No. 2 Newman Central Catholic (11-0) at No. 11 Wilmington (9-2), 5:00 p.m.

Both schools are long-time football powerhouses. Newman Central Catholic has won four state championships since 1990, including a 14-0 season in 2010. Brian Bahrs is a solid rusher and contributor on defense for the Comets. Wilmington, making their 17th straight playoff appearance, is a juggernaut on offense. Running back Mike Wolfe had four touchdowns last week in a 48-8 victory over St. Joseph Ogden.

We'll have more on Brooks High School in our Muscle Milk Team of the Week segment. After close losses against playoff teams like Kaneland and Rock Island earlier in the year, the Eagles want to prove that they're for real. How far will this Chicago Public League team go in the IHSA playoffs? Plus, well also catch you up with Joliet Catholic in this weeks Drive segment, presented by Northern Illinois University. And well take a drive down Memory Lane in Flashback and bring you up-to-the-minute scores from across Chicagoland.

High School Lites streams this Saturday night on CSNChicago.com.

Follow CSNChicago.com preps writer Joe Collins on Twitter: @JoeCSN.

We invite you to share your story ideas as well. Check us out at: highschoollites@comcastsportsnet.com

AP Illinois preps football rankings: Preseason

AP Illinois preps football rankings: Preseason

Here are the preseason rankings of Illinois high school football teams in each class, according to an Associated Press panel of sportswriters.

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Loyola (10) 0-0 100 -
2 Lincoln-Way East 0-0 79 -
3 Glenbard West 0-0 60 -
4 Homewood-Flossmoor 0-0 52 -
5 Edwardsville 0-0 39 -
6 Marist 0-0 37 -
7 Palatine 0-0 32 -
8 Waubonsie Valley 0-0 29 -
8 (tie) Glenbard North 0-0 29 -
10 Huntley 0-0 28 -

Other receiving votes: Brother Rice (27), Naperville Neuqua Valley (17), Stevenson (8), Oak Park River Forest (5), Naperville Central (5), Glenbard East (2), Oswego (1)

Class 7A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Chicago Mt. Carmel (7) 0-0 91 -
2 East St. Louis (2) 0-0 72 -
3 Batavia 0-0 64 -
4 Libertyville (2) 0-0 62 -
5 Normal Community 0-0 54 -
6 Bradley-Bourbonnais 0-0 46 -
7 Jacobs 0-0 37 -
8 Wheaton Warrenville South 0-0 33 -
9 St. Charles North 0-0 27 -
10 St. Rita 0-0 22 -

Other receiving votes: Benet (21), Geneva (13), Lake Zurich (12), Lincoln Way West (12), Wheaton North (11), Machesney Park Harlem (9), Niles North (9), Schaumburg (4), Whitney Young (3), Fenwick (2), Belleville West (1)

Class 6A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Montini (8) 0-0 104 -
2 Sacred Heart-Griffin (Spr) (2) 0-0 92 -
3 Cary-Grove (1) 0-0 88 -
3 (tie) Prairie Ridge 0-0 82 -
5 Crete-Monee 0-0 76 -
6 Rockford Auburn 0-0 25 -
7 Lemont 0-0 21 -
8 Providence 0-0 20 -
9 Belvidere North 0-0 16 -
10 St. Laurence 0-0 15 -
10 (tie) Quincy 0-0 15 -

Other receiving votes: Oak Lawn Richards (13), Hinsdale South (10), DeKalb (9), Kennedy (7), Danville (7), Riverside-Brookfield (5), Lakes Community (3), Normal West (3), Chatham Glenwood (3), Grayslake (3), Harvey Thornton (3), Lake Forest (2)

Class 5A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Nazareth (7) 0-0 119 -
2 Peoria Central (1) 0-0 107 -
3 Washington 0-0 101 -
4 Joliet Catholic (5) 0-0 83 -
5 Champaign Central 0-0 54 -
6 Sterling 0-0 34 -
7 Sycamore 0-0 30 -
7 (tie) Centralia 0-0 30 -
9 Metamora 0-0 26 -
10 Triad 0-0 24 -

Other receiving votes: Woodstock Marian (23), Highland (18), Marian Catholic (Chicago Heights) (17), Eisenhower (15), Tinley Park (8), St. Francis (6), Dunlap (6), Richwoods (4), LaSalle-Peru (4), Jacksonville (3), Glenbard South (1), Peoria Notre Dame (1), Chicago (Solorio Academy) (1)

Class 4A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Phillips (11) 0-0 127 -
2 Althoff Catholic (2) 0-0 118 -
3 Rochester 0-0 99 -
4 Breese Mater Dei 0-0 68 -
5 Geneseo 0-0 52 -
6 Marengo 0-0 46 -
7 Mateno 0-0 45 -
8 Johnsburg 0-0 44 -
9 Richmond-Burton 0-0 36 -
10 Plano 0-0 28 -

Other receiving votes: Rockford Lutheran (17), Columbia (15), Taylorville (9), Quincy Notre Dame (5), Murphysboro (3), Rock Island Alleman (1), Herrin (1), Bethalto Civic Memorial (1)

Class 3A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Bishop McNamara (8) 0-0 124 -
2 Tolono Unity (3) 0-0 110 -
3 Wilmington 0-0 75 -
4 IC Catholic (2) 0-0 63 -
5 Monticello 0-0 48 -
6 North-Mac 0-0 43 -
7 Pana 0-0 42 -
8 Newton 0-0 39 -
9 Paxton-Buckley-Loda 0-0 34 -
9 (tie) Byron 0-0 34 -

Other receiving votes: St. Joseph-Ogden (31), Bloomington Central Catholic (20), Carlinville (15), Elmwood-Brimfield (15), Breese Central (10), Williamsville (9), Princeton (8), Winnebago (5), Aurora Christian (5), Mercer County (3), Mt. Carmel (3), Herscher (2), Dwight (1), Westville (1), Marshall (1)

Class 2A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Auburn (1) 0-0 90 -
2 Downs Tri-Valley 0-0 84 -
3 Maroa-Forsyth (2) 0-0 79 -
4 Deer Creek-Mackinaw (3) 0-0 73 -
5 Sterling Newman (1) 0-0 52 -
6 St. Bede 0-0 48 -
7 Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 0-0 35 -
7 (tie) Wethersfield 0-0 35 -
9 Mendon Unity 0-0 20 -
10 Orion 0-0 42 -

Other receiving votes: Rockridge (15), Nashville (14), Bismarck-Henning (11), Hall (11), Eldorado (7), DuQuoin (6), El Paso-Gridley (4), Champaign St. Thomas More (4), Villa Grove (4), Clifton Central (3), Chester (3), Fulton (3), Hamilton West Hancock (3), Eastland-Pearl City (1), Lawrenceville (1)

Class 1A

No. Team W-L Pts Prv
1 Stark County (3) 0-0 91 -
2 Decatur St. Teresa (2) 0-0 76 -
3 Ottawa Marquette (1) 0-0 65 -
4 Lena-Winslow (2) 0-0 62 -
5 Tuscola 0-0 60 -
6 Forreston (2) 0-0 53 -
7 Carrollton 0-0 36 -
8 Dakota 0-0 31 -
9 Mt. Sterling (Brown County) 0-0 30 -
10 Athens (1) 0-0 27 -

Other receiving votes: LeRoy (26), Arcola (23), Bureau Valley (22), Stockton (16), Camp Point Central (13), Pawnee (11), Galena (6), Cerro Gordo (Cerro Gordo-Bement Coop) (5), Concord (Triopia) (4), Sidell (Jamaica)-Salt Fork (2), Hardin (Calhoun) (1)

How soon before Cubs make Javier Baez an everyday player?

How soon before Cubs make Javier Baez an everyday player?

SAN DIEGO — The airtight defensive alignment for October would have to include Javier Baez, a game-changing force moving in all directions. The Cubs have seen Baez make barehanded plays and laser throws, take charge on bunts and frustrate hitters with an uncanny ability to improvise and make split-second decisions.

Baez and Addison Russell are two of the best athletes in the entire game, Jake Arrieta said after Tuesday night’s win over the San Diego Padres, so put the ball in play and let those two middle infielders take over.

There could be playoff lineups where Baez starts at second base and bumps Ben Zobrist to the outfield. But manager Joe Maddon isn’t about to hand Baez an everyday job, sticking with the super-utility formula and versatile philosophy that’s helped the Cubs become the best team in baseball.

“It depends on how we morph as a group over the next couple years,” Maddon said Wednesday at Petco Park. “Right now, I like the way it’s working out. I like the fact that (Javy’s) getting rested (and) not playing every day. Look at his at-bats — they have gotten better, too. He is making adjustments or adaptations during the at-bat. He’s not just out of control every swing.”

Baez has channeled his aggressiveness, hitting .276 with 13 homers, 47 RBIs and 83 strikeouts through 343 plate appearances, becoming a more mature and well-rounded player at the age of 23.

“You’re seeing a lot of progress,” Maddon said. “Who knows if by playing sporadically this is becoming more part of who he is? As opposed to playing every day, maybe getting caught in the trap of not hitting well, whatever, and all of a sudden he takes it on defense. It’s natural progression. He’s an everyday player, there’s no question, in maybe a couple years.”

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The Geek Department and scouting reports will ultimately influence where Baez plays, because Maddon wants him wherever the ball will most likely be hit most often. When Jon Lester pitches, that can mean Baez starting at third base and Kris Bryant moving to the outfield.

The Cubs promised Zobrist the second-base job when he signed a four-year, $56 million contract, agreeing the focus on one position would help reduce the wear and tear on his body at the age of 35. The Cubs still need Zobrist’s switch-hitting skills and World Series experience in the lineup.

Maddon also wants to keep Jorge Soler involved — because he’s a presence other teams have to account for — and maybe that will mean sacrificing Jason Heyward’s Gold Glove defense in right field at times.

But Baez is the type of defender the Cubs will want to see out there in one-run, low-scoring playoff games.

“He’s unbelievable,” Bryant said. “Any ball hit his way — whether it’s in the air, on the ground, on line — you kind of just expect him to make the play and make it look good. That’s what he’s been doing all year. I certainly think he’s Gold Glove worthy, but he plays all over. I feel like there should be a utility man Gold Glove, because he definitely (deserves it).”

U.S. Cellular Field to become Guaranteed Rate Field after 2016 season

U.S. Cellular Field to become Guaranteed Rate Field after 2016 season

The White Sox announced on Wednesday they have signed a 13-year naming rights deal with Guaranteed Rate for their home ballpark, which will be known as Guaranteed Field beginning on Nov. 1, 2016. 

The Illinois Sports Facilities Authority approved the name change in a meeting on Wednesday.

"We are pleased to find, in Guaranteed Rate, a new naming rights partner founded in Chicago by Chicagoans, which shares our commitment to the city and to our fans," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "We view this partnership as an opportunity to connect a successful Chicago business with a historic baseball franchise, and we look forward to growing this important relationship over the coming years as millions of fans enjoy White Sox baseball at Guaranteed Rate Field."

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Under the team's lease for the ballpark, the White Sox retain an option that could extend the naming rights deal an additional year through 2030.

The White Sox played at Comiskey Park from 1991-2002 before the ballpark's name changed to U.S. Cellular Field from 2003-2016.