'Terrific Trio' sparks North Chicago

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'Terrific Trio' sparks North Chicago

Jay Amos-Mays had a couple of huge Christmas wishes. It goes without saying that the No. 1 priority on his list for Santa Claus is the Class 3A championship in 2013, something that has eluded his North Chicago team for the last two years.

And the other wish? "Studio ear phones for the road trip to Peoria," he said.

North Chicago coach Gerald "King" Coleman has a New Year's resolution--to make history. He had a chance to make history in 1972. An All-State selection on coach Larry Hanzel's 26-2 team, Coleman had 24 points and 10 rebounds but North Chicago lost to Evanston 62-60 in the supersectional, one victory short of securing the school's first trip to the Elite Eight.

Now Coleman, in his eighth season as head coach at his alma mater, has another chance to make history. After qualifying for the Sweet Sixteen in four of the last five years, after finishing fourth in Class 3A in 2011 and second in Class 3A last year, his Warhawks are seeking their third consecutive trip to Peoria--and their first state championship.

"Potentially, this team can be very good. It has three Division I players," Coleman said. "A lot of people want to compare them to last year's team (that was 25-7 and finished second in Class 3A). But there is no comparison. This team has much more talent.

"But last year's team had been together since sixth grade. They were so much closer. And they had Aaron Simpson, who averaged 25 points per game and was our leader on the court. We haven't had a leader step up yet. The hunger isn't there yet. Last year, we knew the ball had to go to Simpson when we had to score. Who gets the ball this year?"

North Chicago might still be a reconstruction project in progress but the Warhawks answered most if not all of their coach's questions while winning the State Farm Classic last week in Bloomington. They boosted their record to 14-1 by sweeping Chillicothe IVC 63-49, Rockton Hononegah 81-79 in overtime, Peoria Notre Dame 62-56 and highly rated Rock Island 69-61.

Along the way, everybody got a look at North Chicago's "Terrific Trio," three multi-talented juniors who already are attracting considerable interest from Division I programs: 6-foot-3 JayQuan McCloud (19 ppg), 6-foot-4 Jay Amos-Mays (22 ppg) and 6-foot-4 Kurt Hall (17.5 ppg, 10 rpg).

Against IVC, Hall scored 28 points while Amos-Mays had 13, McCloud 12. Against Hononegah, Amos-Mays scored 25, Hall 19 and McCloud 15. Against Peoria Notre Dame, Amos-Mays scored 22, Hall 17. Against Rock Island, McCloud scored 32 while Hall had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Amos-Mays scored 10. Hall and Amos-Mays were named to the all-tournament team.

They are ably supported by 6-foot-3 senior Jarrod Coleman (12 ppg, 8 rpg), the coach's nephew, and 5-foot-10 junior Arnold Shead. Coleman, the only senior in the lineup, has been offered by Northwestern and Ohio University. Shead, a football star, broke Michael Turner's single-game rushing record with 338 yards.

North Chicago will resume its regular-season schedule against North Suburban Prairie rival Wauconda on Jan. 8, then will host Libertyville on Jan. 12.

"Once I get them to blend in as a team, they will be very successful," Coleman said. "They have made giant strides to reach that goal but they still are reaching out for it. The kids don't know each other that well yet. Once they realize the strong points and weak points in their teammates, they will be an awesome team.

"Our goal is to get to Peoria for the state final. We don't worry about tournaments or the conference. We want to work on things we aren't doing well...transition defense, playing together. I hope we are one unit on defense after the Christmas tournament. Our offense will take care of itself. We will score 80 to 90 points. But other teams score too easy on us. We must get a better grip on shutting teams down."

It has taken a while to get to know each other. McCloud is a native North Chicagoan. But Amos-Mays transferred from Zion-Benton after his sophomore year. He is just beginning to realize that his best sport is basketball, not football. And Hall moved in from Chicago as a freshman.

McCloud has been offered by Wright State. DePaul, Iowa, Northern Illinois, Colorado State, Eastern Kentucky and Indiana-Fort Wayne have expressed interest. Hall has interest from DePaul, Iowa, Indiana, Oregon State, Illinois State, Wichita State, Michigan and Michigan State but is holding out for an offer from his dream school, Kentucky. Amos-Mays, still debating between football and basketball, has basketball interest from DePaul, Iowa, Michigan State, Wright State and Xavier.

But they are juniors and still getting their feet wet. After starting 7-0, they lost to highly rated Providence-St. Mel 73-62 in a game in which they shot 3-of-25 from three-point range. Afterward, Coleman said: "I didn't know what they were doing out there. I never have seen a performance like that. In all my seven years of coaching boys basketball, they were totally unmotivated. They were outplayed, out-rebounded and out-hustled."

To say the Warhawks' only loss to date was a wake up call would be an understatement.

"We aren't as good as we think we are but we can be a great team. We have to do the little things to make each other better and have more leadership," McCloud said.

"When the three of us came together, I worried at first that it might not work. But now I see that we are bonding. We can be a great team, a team that can't be beat. We want to make history. That's our plan, our goal. Our edge is our quickness. We can get up and down the court very fast. We relied too much on Simpson last year. We put a lot of pressure on him. But we have more balanced scoring this year. Leadership on the court will bring us all together. Someone has to take the scoring role that Simpson had and take us Downstate."

Amos-Mays believes he, McCloud and Hall are more hungry, knowing they are supposed to be the team to win a state championship. "We are more of a team this year because we don't look at one person like Simpson last year. We have multiple people who can score. We can rely on three instead of one," he said.

Meanwhile, Amos-Mays is trying to figure out his true identity. He is an outstanding athletequarterback in football. And he is an outstanding but underrated shooting guard in basketball, just beginning to attract attention from major Division I schools.

"It is hard to choose which sport I like the most. It is very difficult," he admits. "I am leaning to basketball right now. But I can't make a choice. I am more successful in basketball than football. I don't feel the same about football as I used to. It isn't as much fun as it used to be, not as much fun as basketball. I have more love for basketball."

Hall has a lot of love for Kentucky. "That's where I want to play," he said. But he has received only one letter, nothing else. He likes the way Kentucky coach John Calipari handles his players. "I have time to show them what I can do. I hope they'll come and see me play," Hall said.

"The loss to Providence-St. Mel was a big wake up call for us. It showed we aren't as good as the the hype right now, that we have to keep our heads out of the limelight. We need more people to step up and prove we can be the No. 1 team in the state with the type of team we have.

"But we must play as a team and compete. It shouldn't be just one of us but all three of us should step up and be a leader. My role is to rebound, play strong, bring aggressiveness to the court, create things inside and open up shots on the outside for Amos-Mays and McCloud. They are the scorers. They can score in many ways.

"Last year, we watched Simpson. This year, any one of us can score and close out a game. We have more balance and we are hungrier this year. We want to be known as the team that took first place in state."

Illinois lands Huntley DE Olalere Oladipo

Illinois lands Huntley DE Olalere Oladipo

Illinois added another important in-state piece as Huntley three-star ranked defensive end Olalere Oladipo (6-foot-4, 235 pounds) announced his college decision Thursday night to the Fighting Illini.

"Illinois has a great staff, is close to home," according to Oladipo. "Illinois felt like a nice fit for me."

Oladipo is also the second verbal commitment Illinois added Thursday as the Fighting Illini added a commitment from Miami (Fla.) Central four-star ranked wide receiver Carmoni Green (6-foot-1, 178 pounds).

Oladipo is now the sixth in-state verbal commitment for the Fighting Illini Class of 2017. Oladipo joins St. Rita OLB Marc Mondesir, Auburn OT Verderian Lowe, Marian Catholic QB Cameron Thomas, Chicago Brother Rice WR Ricky Smalling and Bolingbrook ATH Kendall Smith.

Illinois now has 11 known verbal commitments total in the Class of 2017.

High School Lites preview: Week 1

High School Lites preview: Week 1

CSN Chicago will have cameras covering the biggest high school football games across Chicagoland on the season premiere of High School Lites, Friday at 11 p.m. Can the defending 7A state champion Glenbard West Hilltoppers take care of business on the road in Bolingbrook? Can defending 4A champs Phillips begin its road back to the state title game with a win against an experienced Fenwick squad? Who wins the heavyweight ground battle between Prairie Ridge and Cary-Grove? And who comes away with a win when Palatine travels to Lincolnshire to take on Stevenson?

Check out the Facebook Live video of CSN Preps contributors Joe Collins and "Edgy" Tim O'Hallaran and be sure to check Facebook at noon every Wednesday for a live preview.

Von Steuben vs. Amundsen at Winnemac Stadium, 4:15 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Von Steuben, led by head coach Alan Rood, will play its first varsity season in school history. The Panthers are looking to build off the foundation set last year, where they played a full JV schedule. Can the Panthers bring winning football to Chicago’s northwest side? As for Amundsen and head coach Nick Olsen, they will look to improve on a 1-7 record from last fall. 

EDGY's Pick: Von Steuben 20, Amundsen 18

(5) Lincoln-Way East at (South Bend) Adams, Ind., 6 p.m. CT

EDGY's Take: Lincoln-Way East will open the season against an opponent who already has a game under their belt. South Bend Adams (1-0) defeated Northridge 46-29 last Friday. Lincoln-Way East will look towards a steady running game diet via senior RB Nigel Muhammad and a strong offensive line anchored by senior Sam Diehl (Colgate). The Griffins defense features junior DE Devin O'Rourke (6-foot-6, 240 pounds) who already has a handful of BCS level offers. Can the Griffins shake off the rust against an opponent who already has game experience?

EDGY's Pick: Lincoln-Way East 27, Adams 12

(2) Glenbard West at (15) Bolingbrook, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Glenbard West and head coach Chad Hetlet's defense has always been the Hilltoppers calling card, and expect that to be an early strength. Seven starters are back from last year’s 7A state champion squad. Keep an eye out for senior LB Jackson Goleach, senior DB Justice Bradley and senior FB/DE Dionte Moorehead. As for Bolingbrook, they have a ton of talent on the defensive side as well with senior DE Izayah Green-May (Wisconsin), senior DB/WR Kendall Smith (Illinois), senior S Zyon Bell and junior DT Deshaun Mallory. Watch out for the new-look Raiders offense, spearheaded by Bolingbrook’s new offensive coordinator Doug DiFusco. The Raiders offense remains a huge key to success this season.

EDGY's Pick: Glenbard West 24, Bolingbrook  20

 (11) Montini at (22) Maine South, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: The biggest question for both Maine South and Montini in this game could be the overall quarterback play. The visiting Broncos will rely on junior Brad Norgle while Maine South will counter with senior Nick Leongas. Both starting quarterbacks are being given the keys to two of the state's top offenses. Will the team who avoids the most turnovers/penalties/early season rust win it?  

EDGY's Pick: Montini Catholic 35, Maine South 24

 

(14) Prairie Ridge at (18) Cary-Grove, 7 p.m.

EDGY's Take: This opening night game in the Fox Valley will feel like a state playoff game atmosphere. Both Prairie Ridge and Cary-Grove want to run the football early and often. Both teams also feature great defenses. Prairie Ridge will let junior QB Samson Evans run the Wolves option game while Cary-Grove will give the football to three-time All-State FB/LB Ty Pennington early and often. Look for, possibly, a late turnover or penalty to potentially be a factor here, and I also wouldn't be shocked to see an overtime or two.

EDGY's Pick: Prairie Ridge 22, Cary-Grove 21 (OT)

Kaneland at Brooks (at Gately Stadium), 7:15 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Kaneland made it to the state playoffs a season ago, however the Knights graduated several starters from that squad. However, Knights head coach Tom Fedderly has a very strong underclassmen group led by second-year starting sophomore RB Jonathan Alstott, who is a cousin to former JCA/Purdue and NFL fullback Mike Alstott. Brooks and head coach Benjamin McCall is looking to bounce back after a 3-6 record in 2015. 

EDGY's Pick: Kaneland 34, Brooks 14

Simeon at (20) Oak Park-River Forest, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Simeon and head coach Dante Culbreath might have one of Chicagoland's most dangerous offensive weapons this season in junior QB Jayshon Jackson (5-foot-11, 170 pounds). Jackson, who already is drawing major D1 recruiting looks and offers, moved from receiver to quarterback this fall, giving Simeon a dangerous run/pass option threat. OPRF and head coach John Horerster also welcomes back some key playmakers, including senior QB Jeremy Hunt plus three starters on the offensive line. Can Simeon's inexperienced offensive line come ready to play? Can the Huskies hang with the Wolverines overall team speed?

EDGY's Pick: OPRF 26, Simeon 20

(9) Phillips at Fenwick (at Triton College), 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Phillips and head coach Troy McAllister will look to defend its 4A state title. The Wildcats defense is an early strength, led by senior DT/FB Chris Elmore (Western Michigan) along with OLB Malcolm Fox and senior S Dexter Warren (NIU). The Friars, coached by Gene Nudo, welcome back 19 starters including the entire starting offense from a year ago, including QB Jacob Keller. Can the Phillips offense get going early here? Can Fenwick withstand Phillips quick-strike potential? 

EDGY's Pick: Phillips 27, Fenwick 14

Glenbrook South at (24) Barrington, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Glenbrook South will take the field under first-year head coach David Schoenwetter, who takes over the Titans program from retired head coach Mike Noll. South will be inexperienced with just five returning starters, including WB Noah Acocella and senior WB Jake Smiley. Barrington and head coach Joe Sanchez seems to find a way to reload every year. Keep an eye out for senior WR Josh Babicz (North Dakota State) plus senior DE Jackson Perkins (Navy) and senior LB Blake Holley (Navy).

EDGY's Pick: Barrington 28, Glenbrook South 14

(7) Palatine at (12) Stevenson, 7:30 p.m.

EDGY's Take: Great season-opening non-conference game between two 8A powers. Palatine made a terrific run last season. Expect the Pirates to rely heavily on returning All-State QB Zach Oles and a strong core of offensive skills players back from a season ago. Stevenson and head coach Bill McNamara will bring back nine starters (four offense, five defense). The Patriots' key could be the development of first-year starting QB Aidan O'Connell (6-foot-4, 190 pounds). Can the Stevenson defense contain Zach Oles?

EDGY's Pick: Palatine 28, Stevenson 17

**VIEWERS’ CHOICE GAME OF THE WEEK**

Gary West Side at Valparaiso, 7 p.m.

This will be the first-ever High School Lites game featuring Northwest Indiana foes. The host Vikings, who lost 27-7 in their opener against last year’s Indiana 6A runner-up Penn, features eight returning starters on defense. QB Jake Leffew went 19-of-27 and a touchdown against Penn. They face a Gary West Side team looking for revenge after last year’s 56-0 loss against Valpo. One of the strengths of the Cougars is their secondary, featuring senior Mario Newell and juniors Darius Benton and Markell Outlaw.

"5 Minutes with Edgy Tim" is LIVE! Have a question about your favorite High School Football program? Ask now and Edgy will answer. Don't miss the High School Lites debut this Friday at 11 PM!

Posted by CSN Chicago on Wednesday, August 24, 2016

CSN Preps Power Rankings: No. 1 Loyola Academy

CSN Preps Power Rankings: No. 1 Loyola Academy

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26. View Edgy Tim's other football previews here.

School: Loyola Academy

Head coach: John Holecek

How they fared in 2015: 14-0 (4-0) Chicago Catholic League Blue Conference. Loyola Academy made the Class 8A state playoff field. The Ramblers defeated West Aurora, Stevenson, Homewood-Flossmoor, Palatine and Marist to capture the 8A IHSA state football title. 

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Ramblers repeat in Class 8A?

Names to watch this season: TE Jake Marwede, DB Ian Swenson

​​​​​[PREPS: Edgy Tim's Countdown to Kickoff series]

Biggest holes to fill: Loyola will need to find answers at a handful of key spots including quarterback and running back.

EDGY's early take: Despite having to replace 14 starters from last year's title team, look for Loyola to reload once again. Holecek has some headliner names in place, along with a very talented and deep roster this season. If Loyola can find some answers early on offense, the defense usually plays at a very high level and can help the offense. 

Ramblers schedule:

Aug. 26 at Milwaukee Marquette (7:30 p.m.)

Sept. 3 vs. Maine South (1:30 p.m.)

Sept. 9 vs. Mount Carmel *at Gately* (7:30 p.m.)

Sept. 17 vs. St. Francis (1:30 p.m.)

Sept. 23 vs. Fenwick *at Triton College* (7:30 p.m.)

Oct. 1 vs. St. Rita (1:30 p.m.)

Oct. 7 vs. Leo (7:30 p.m.)

Oct. 15 vs. Providence Catholic (1:30 p.m.)

Oct. 21 at Brother Rice (7:30 p.m.)