CSN's Top 20 rankings: Playoffs 2nd round

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CSN's Top 20 rankings: Playoffs 2nd round

1 Maine South (10-0)
Last Week (Ranked 1): Defeated Lane Tech 42-7
Next Game: 8A Playoffs vs. Conant
PrepsTalk: Quarterback Matt Alviti found Daly Guzaldo (twice), George Sanjenko, John Solari and Zach Hinkamp on touchdown receptions as the Hawks advance. Alviti: 24-35 with 328 yards.

2 Glenbard West (10-0)
Last Week (Ranked 2): Defeated Elk Grove 49-21
Next Game: 7A Playoffs vs. Libertyville
PrepsTalk: The Hilltoppers put the clamps on the Grenadiers in the second half, intercepting quarterback Adam OMalley twice. GBWs Henry Haeffner threw two touchdown passes.

3 Lincoln-Way East (10-0)
Last Week (Ranked 3): Defeated Plainfield Central 47-22
Next Game: 7A Playoffs vs. Providence
PrepsTalk: Moe Almasri ran the opening kickoff 81 yards to the house and the Griffins cruised from there. The most anticipated second round matchup (arguably) will be in Frankfort this week.

4 Loyola (9-1)
Last Week (Ranked 4): Defeated Evanston 41-0
Next Game: 8A Playoffs vs. Bartlett
PrepsTalk: Loyola has played Evanston four times since 2010, including two playoff tilts. Loyola has outscored them 151-0. QB Peter Pujals: four touchdowns (three rushing) this time around.

5 Marian Central Catholic (10-0)
Last Week (Ranked 5): Defeated Wauconda 42-10
Next Game: 5A Playoffs vs. Woodstock North
PrepsTalk: The Hurricanes scored 30 unanswered points to pull away from the pesky Bulldogs. Quarterback Chris Streveler accounted for 376 total yards (193 passing).

6 Mount Carmel (9-1)
Last Week (Ranked 6): Defeated Brother Rice 30-9
Next Game: 8A Playoffs vs. Simeon
PrepsTalk: The Caravan shook off a 9-7 deficit and pulled away in the second half. Quarterback Don Butkus hooked up with Jasson Gasser on two touchdown strikes (24, 58).

7 Crete-Monee (10-0)
Last Week (Ranked 7): Defeated Springfield 41-7
Next Game: 6A Playoffs vs. Richwoods
PrepsTalk: Lance Lenoir and Laquon Treadwell had two touchdowns apiece as the Warriors now prepare to face the same team that defeated them in last years second round.

8 Kaneland (10-0)
Last Week (Ranked 8): Defeated Belvidere 48-0
Next Game: 5A Playoffs vs. Lincoln-Way West
PrepsTalk: Dylan Nauert picked off three passes and Jesse Balluff ran for two touchdowns (41, 1). QB Drew David racked up two more touchdowns, one a 56-yard hook-up with Kyle Pollastrini.

9 Palatine (9-1)
Last Week (Ranked 10): Defeated Niles West 69-42
Next Game: 8A Playoffs vs. Schaumburg
PrepsTalk: Who needs defense when you have a quarterback like Ethan Olles -- 22-34, 306 yards, five total touchdowns (three passing). FYI, Palatine beat Schaumburg 51-18 on October 19th.

10 Neuqua Valley (10-0)
Last Week (Ranked 11): Defeated Naperville North 56-20
Next Game: 8A Playoffs vs. Bolingbrook
PrepsTalk: The Wildcats outscored the Huskies 35-0 in the second half. And it was another huge game for running back Joey Rhattigan: 218 yards and four trips to the end zone.

11 Cary-Grove (10-0)
Last Week (Ranked 12): Defeated Rockford Auburn 41-7
Next Game: 6A Playoffs vs. St. Patrick
PrepsTalk: Kyle Norberg rushed for four touchdowns and Ryan Mahoney added two more scores. One of Mahoneys tallies came off a 90-yard kickoff return.

12 Waubonsie Valley (9-1)
Last Week (Ranked 13): Defeated Proviso West 38-6
Next Game: 8A Playoffs vs. Oak Park-River Forest
PrepsTalk: Quarterback Dylan Warden accounted for three touchdowns, two on runs. Running back Austin Guido had 157 yards on 33 carries and a score. LB Austin Lacke had a 32-yard pick-six.

13 Glenbard North (9-1)
Last Week (Ranked 14): Defeated Fremd 31-24
Next Game: 8A Playoffs vs. Stevenson
PrepsTalk: The Panthers ignored all of the distractions of playing on the road in the opening round. Justin Jackson was the star again: 8 carries, 163 yards and three touchdowns (two rushing).

14 Wheaton North (9-1)
Last Week (Ranked 15): Defeated St. Charles East 41-13
Next Game: 7A Playoffs vs. Prospect
PrepsTalk: The Falcons scored touchdowns on their first six drives. Quarterback John Peltz had four touchdowns (three passing). Running back Patrick Sharp also found the end zone twice.

15 Bolingbrook (8-2)
Last Week (Ranked 16): Defeated Sandburg 39-7
Next Game: 8A Playoffs vs. Neuqua Valley
PrepsTalk: The Raiders get it done again without QB Aaron Bailey. Quincy Woods had three touchdowns. Both the Providence-LWE and Brook-Neuqua matchups are star-studded main attractions.

16 Benet (9-1)
Last Week (Ranked 17): Defeated Andrew 24-10
Next Game: 7A Playoffs vs. Oswego
PrepsTalk: The Redwings secured their first playoff win since 2006. Sophomore quarterback Jack Beneventis 21-yard touchdown pass to Nick Surges with five minutes left was the dagger.

17 Lemont (9-1)
Last Week (Ranked 19): Defeated Morgan Park 45-0
Next Game: 6A Playoffs vs. Richards
PrepsTalk: Another game, another shutout for Lemont (their sixth on the year). Matt Luzzo had an interception and two fumble recoveries. It sets up a nice South Suburban Conference crossover.

18 Providence (8-2)
Last Week (Ranked 20): Defeated Bradley-Bourbonnais 44-7
Next Game: 7A Playoffs vs. Lincoln-Way East
PrepsTalk: It was a total team effort for the Celtics - Brandon Price rushed for three touchdowns, David Kaminski added two more and the defense forced four turnovers.

19 Lakes (9-1)
Last Week (Not Ranked): Defeated St. Viator 35-21
Next Game: 6A Playoffs vs. Lake Forest
PrepsTalk: Solid game for running back Direll Clark 35 carries, 250 yards and three touchdowns. And now its on to face the Scouts, who gave them their only loss back on September 7th.

20 Richards (9-1)
Last Week (Not Ranked): Defeated Lincoln-Way North 36-14
Next Game: 6A Playoffs vs. Lemont
PrepsTalk: Safety Dylan Jiles came through for the Bulldogs. He intercepted three passes and running back Tommy Mister (20 carries, 193 yards, three touchdowns) did the rest.

Looming and Lurking: Morris, Simeon, Thornton, Oswego, Montini, Aurora Christian, Oak Forest, Batavia, Lyons, Marist, Grant, Brooks, Schaumburg, Lake Zurich, Evergreen Park.

Be sure to follow @JoeCSN for prep football coverage.

High School Lites airs this Friday night at 10:30 p.m. and is streamed live at CSNChicago.com. High School Lites will move to Saturday nights for the duration of the IHSA football playoffs starting on November 10th.

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

Noise around QB Mark Sanchez misses bigger, far more important goal for Bears ’17 offseason

The tumult around the Bears quarterback position this offseason – signing Mike Glennon, cutting Jay Cutler, not signing Brian Hoyer, now signing Mark Sanchez – was to be expected. (Well, not all the brouhaha around Sanchez; if there has ever been more hyperventilating around the arriving backup quarterback, it’s escaping my recollections of a quarter-century on the beat.)

All of that, and a lot of the noise around Mike Glennon is really missing a larger point. A couple, really.

GM Ryan Pace established fixing the quarterback situation as a top priority, something it has been just about since Jim McMahon left, with the exception of a few Jay Cutler years. Doing that to any meaningful degree with the castoff options available in free agency or via trades wasn’t ever going to happen. What Pace has done with the quarterback situation, however, is more than a little intriguing.

The quarterback additions and subtractions, coupled with also suggest a draft plan far from locked in on a quarterback. The signings of Glennon and Sanchez don’t mean the Bears have solved their quarterback position, but it does mean the Bears have positioned themselves with the distinct option of NOT taking a quarterback – this year.

But here’s the bigger point.

Even with the optimum quarterback solution unavailable – Pace arguably did go best-available in his and the coaches’ minds with Glennon and Sanchez, all derision aside – Pace’s goal needs to be building a team that can reach a high playoff level regardless of quarterback.

Meaning: defense. And while the 2017 free agent and draft classes did not offer must-have quarterbacks in most evaluations, there are those elite-level defensive talents, and every indication is that the Bears will look there, in the draft, and should be. It had that feeling when the Bears, with ample, money to spend, backed away from day one free-agency runs at a couple of pricey defensive backs. The Bears simply think they can do better for less in the draft.

A perspective: With a defense at its levels during the Brian Urlacher era, the Bears could reach the NFC championship game with what they have at quarterback now. They did, twice, with Rex Grossman and with Cutler. Sanchez got to AFC championship games in each of his first two seasons. The Bears reached a Super Bowl with Rex Grossman as their quarterback. They went 13-3 in 2001 with a solid-but-unspectacular Jim Miller as their quarterback. They reached the 2005 playoffs with Kyle Orton as their starter most of that year, and should have been in the 2008 playoffs with him as well. The Bears reached the NFC championship game in 2010 with Cutler.

There is a common denominator in all of these situations, and it is within Pace’s grasp, and that was an elite defense. Rex Ryan had one with the Jets and Sanchez, Grossman and Orton and Cutler had theirs with Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Mike Brown, Tommie Harris, Charles Tillman, etc.

Forget the quarterback situation for now. Nothing anyone, including Pace, can really do anything about it (other than land possibly Deshaun Watson, based on their turnout at his Pro Day).

But if Pace and his personnel staff do this right, they can lay in the foundation for something elite on defense that will transcend the quarterback, or at least allow the Bears to play more than 16 games in a season even if they do not have a great quarterback. With the Urlacher core defense, the Bears went to postseasons with four different quarterbacks.

The prime directive now for Ryan Pace is to create precisely that model again.

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Perhaps the best thing about the Johnny Oduya trade back to the Blackhawks, for both parties involved, was that Oduya wasn't needed immediately.

It's not that the Blackhawks didn't want the veteran defenseman, who helped them win Cups in 2013 and 2015, back in the lineup as soon as possible. Oduya was coming off an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated and missed about a month when he was with the Dallas Stars. He needed time to fully heal and with the Blackhawks in good shape in the standings and with solid depth at defense, he could.

Now with the playoffs right around the corner, Oduya is feeling more like himself.

Outside of missing two games that were the second halves of back-to-backs, Oduya has been playing steadily since March 9. Oduya's minutes have ranged from around 16 to 21 in games. He said he's now 100 percent healthy from his injury and he's feeling the difference on the ice.

"It makes a big difference," Oduya said on Thursday, prior to facing the Stars for the first time since his trade back to Chicago. "I mean, obviously sometimes you get more or less lucky, depending on what you get and the style of play and what you do or not. Skating is a part of my game I try to use as much as possible to get in good position and try to take away time from the opposition as much as possible.

"Even with battling and things like that, of course it's nice to feel more confident," Oduya added. "In any situation, you're in you want to feel confident on the ice."

The Blackhawks have seen that confidence in previous postseason runs and are looking to see it again in Oduya. Coach Joel Quenneville considers Oduya, "Mr. Reliability."

"You look back at what he delivered for us, not just the regular season, but he's been solid and reliable in the playoffs. He's assumed some important matchups and important minutes," Quenneville said. "Last year, we didn't have him on the back end and watching him this year, it was the perfect fit him coming back."

[Buy Blackhawks tickets right here]

The Blackhawks' defensive group hasn't changed much since Oduya's first stint here. The system probably hasn't been altered much, either. Still, Oduya's not taking anything for granted and is trying to get back on the same page quickly.

"Same as the last time I came into a great hockey team and I really just want to get up to speed and up to date as quickly as possible," Oduya said. "Little things that may have changed. I want to fit in as well as I can. That's the idea anyone has coming in late in the year. The guys here make it pretty easy; the coaching staff is familiar with the way I play and helps speed up things a little more."

The Blackhawks are trying to be their best heading into the postseason. So is Oduya. He needed a little extra time to get back to health and he may still need a little time to get back to speed, but he's just about there. 

"I feel pretty good. Of course it's a lot easier when you have guys around you you've seen before, a coaching staff," Oduya said. "It's a work in progress, anyway. I want to be better, I want to evolve with the team and want us to be better, too. It's a work in progress."