Playoffs kick off with conference battle

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Playoffs kick off with conference battle

By Tashara Parker

CSNChicago.com Contributor

Its that time again: The Illinois High School Football Playoffs will kick off all across Illinois this weekend and there is no better way to get a good dose of Illinois culture than to watch a game or two.

Theres only one thought on many of the teams mind and thats taking it deep into the playoffs and hopefully making it to the state championship game this year.

Not only will the matchups be exciting, but we may see teams come up with plays that weve never seen before. Theres obviously a finality to the postseason, so coaches and players are going to give it all they got to make each game worthwhile.

The question remains, will the greater Chicago-area produce a state championship high school football team in 2012?

Perhaps the best chances reside to the west, south, and northwest suburbs in communities where the high school is the talk of the town.

The truth of the matter is no one really knows how things will unfold in high school football, its a matter of who makes the least mistakes offensively and puts up the most points during the game.

One predictable thing about the postseason is that its unpredictable and the first weekend of the playoffs may prove to be just that.

Class 8A will see the most action tonight, theyll have 10 games kicking off with four ranked teams looking to fight for a chance to see round two. Perhaps the most exciting of the four is the Bolingbrook-Sandburg (Raiders-Eagles) game.

Both teams are 7-2 and are familiar opponents to one another. The Eagles took on the Raiders just three weeks ago and beat them out 13-6 so, were sure the Raiders are looking for revenge tonight.

Not only are they seeking a win, but they have some renewed confidence with the hopeful return of their starting QB Aaron Bailey, who has been out since a Week 6 lost against Lincoln-Way East.

Bolingbrook head coach John Ivlow tells MySurburbanLife.com, he doesnt know if Bailey will be ready today, tomorrow or next week.

Class 7A will have nine teams facing elimination this Friday night, followed by class 6A who will have eight teams looking to advance past the first round.

One thing for sure is gridiron greatness will be renewed this weekend and many teams are looking to advance to the most important weekend of this football season, Nov. 24-25.

Let the games begin!

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. How will Blackhawks respond to worst loss of season?

The Blackhawks suffered their worst loss of the season on Saturday in a 7-0 rout at the hands of the Panthers. It was the first time they've lost by at least seven goals since 2011 when Edmonton beat them 9-2 and the first time they lost 7-0 since 2001 against San Jose; the Blackhawks lost to Washington 6-0 earlier this year. But by no means was Saturday their worst effort of the season. A questionable interference penalty by Marcus Kruger led to a two-man advantage, which Florida cashed in on with a goal and another shortly after, and it opened up the floodgates. Expect a big bounce-back against a hungry Lightning team.

2. Lightning fighting for playoff lives.

Every game is a must-win for the Lightning with eight games remaining on their schedule. They're three points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand on the Bruins, who currently occupy that spot, but still have to jump the Islanders. The Lightning didn't do themselves any favors by losing three straight in regulation last week, but they've won two in a row and tonight will be the first of a four-game homestand for them.

3. Keep the puck off Nikita Kucherov's stick.

There isn't a hotter player in the NHL right now than Kucherov, who has seven goals and two assists in his last four games. He's had two hat tricks in the past month, and he ranks sixth in the league with 78 points and second in goals with 38. You know how lethal Artemi Panarin's slapshot is from the left faceoff circle? That's Kucherov, but on the right side.

4. Staying disciplined.

The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team in the league, but they acted out of character Saturday by racking up 30 penalty minutes. They were also slapped with a pair of unsportsmanlike penalties, which isn't something you normally see from Joel Quenneville's teams. Ryan Hartman, who along with Marcus Kruger was penalized for "yapping" at the officials, accepted responsibility for it after the game, and insisted it "won't happen again."

5. Special teams to play key factor?

On the flip side, the Lightning are the second-most penalized team, averaging just over 11 penalty minutes per game. Power plays will be key for the Blackhawks in an effort to keep Tampa Bay's collection of talented young goal scorers off the ice. The Lightning also boast a top-five power play unit with a 22 percent success rate. Both teams would be better served staying out of the box and making this a 5-on-5 battle.

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you’re ready for action

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

- NBC Sports App FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Blackhawks: All of the most recent news and notes

- See what Blackhawks fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Blackhawks Pulse

White Sox may have to deal with Francisco Lindor for a while, according to unlikely source

White Sox may have to deal with Francisco Lindor for a while, according to unlikely source

Sources have confirmed that kids really do say the darndest things. 

In a spring training game Sunday afternoon, 6-year-old Brody Chernoff, son of Indians general manager Mike Chernoff, spilled the beans on his dad's prospective moves. Goated by announcer Todd Hamilton, Brody said that his dad was trying to keep Lindor in Cleveland for seven more years.

On one hand, Brody's honesty rivals a young Abraham Lincoln. Not even Adrian Wojnarowski could cultivate a source so honest and to the point. On the other, his dad probably is a little shocked that contract offer leaks are coming from his own family. 

Either way, though, hearing that Lindor may be in Cleveland for a while is bad news for the White Sox. The 23-year-old stud shortstop has hit over .300 in his first two big-league seasons. So definitely not someone you want to have in your division for years to come. Oh, plus he's absolutely nasty with the leather. 

Cubs fans know all about Lindor's talents, too. The shortstop hit .296 in his first World Series and was almost a key reason the Indians captured the crown. Almost!

Watch the hilarious exchange in the video above.