2019 record: 6-4, Class 7A first round
Coach: Patrick New (11th season)
Worth noting: Butler commit QB/FS Nick Bafia is an experienced player for the Redwings. He slides into the starting quarterback spot and will play in the secondary on defense. ... WR Auggie Mazza was a “big play player” for Benet last season, according to coach Patrick New. He should be a top target for Bafia. ... Sophomore WR/DE Pierce Walsh is likely to attract college interest at his size (6-4, 205). He and sophomore LB John Weidenbach are two “outstanding” sophomores, New said. ... Senior CB Graham Cooney and S Will Benish will hold things down in the secondary. ... OL Alex DuFour and OL/DL Dylan McGivney bring experience on the offensive line. Varsity newcomers OL/DL Joe Infante and OL Braden Carrier are expected to contribute as well.
De La Salle
2019 record: 3-6
Coach: Michael Boehm (seventh season)
Worth noting: The Meteors have three starters returning on the offensive line in seniors Gary Adcock (6-2, 300) and Chris Benford (6-2, 280), along with junior DJ Montgomery (5-9, 210). They will protect senior QB Ben Rodriguez. ... OLB/DE Aidan Ralph is committed to Iowa State. He is one of six returning starters on the defense, which includes a handful of defensive backs: Fred Meriweather, Jason Moore, Alexandre Coleman and Joe Vinson. ... Moore, who also plays running back, is a two-way starter committed to Eastern Illinois. ... Senior WR/LB Jaden Blake is one of the top pole vaulters in the state.
2019 record: 13-1, Class 7A state runner-up
Coach: Tim Racki (15th season)
Worth noting: The Roadrunners had numerous players leave the program when the IHSA moved the season to the spring, including quarterback J.J. McCarthy. As a result, Nazareth isn’t quite as deep as in years past. ... Racki has set a unique goal this season: Play every player in every game, especially the seniors. “With what these kids have had to endure this past year, I want to see them all enjoy playing high school football for six games regardless of the outcome,” he said. ... Senior DL/TE Drew Hughes is committed to Ball State. ... Senior DE/TE Daine Hanson has numerous Division I college offers. ... Junior DB/WR Tyler Morris is rated as a top 100 recruit in the class of 2022 and has offers from much of the Big Ten, Notre Dame and a few SEC schools, among others.
2019 record: 5-5, Class 5A first round (won Prep Bowl after IHSA elimination)
Coach: Adam Nissen (second season)
Worth noting: After missing the postseason in 2018, St. Laurence rebounded in 2019 – despite a couple of one-possession losses – to finish 5-4 and nearly won its first-round game in the Class 5A playoffs. The Vikings went on to beat Simeon, 35-34, in the Prep Bowl. ... Nissen loves the leadership from his senior class. The Vikings have a lot of talent back on offense and a younger defense with some great athletes. ... Senior QB Darius Wilson is committed to Army and senior DB Aaron Wofford is committed to Western Michigan. ... Wilson has a trio of seniors to throw to in WRs Jalen Hamilton (Dayton commit), Keith McBee and AJ Wrenn.
FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH
- Nick Bafia, Benet, QB/FS, sr.: Bafia will be a solid two-way player for the RedWings. He will play defensive back at Butler, and is playing both safety and quarterback this season.
- Aidan Ralph, De La Salle, OLB/DE, sr.: Ralph (6-3, 205) is committed to Iowa State. He will be a leader for the Meteors and could even see some reps on offense too.
- Daine Hanson, Nazareth, DE/TE, sr.: Hanson (6-7, 270) sports a long list of college offers, including a number of Big Ten schools. He’ll play both ways for Nazareth, but colleges are looking at him as a defensive end.
- Tyler Morris, Nazareth, DB/WR, jr.: Morris also has numerous college scholarship offers. According to 247Sports’ composite rankings, he’s the No. 2 recruit in the state of Illinois in 2022, the No. 78 overall recruit in the country and the 11th overall receiver.
- Darius Wilson, St. Laurence, QB, sr.: Wilson can power the St. Laurence offense with both his arm and his legs. An Army commit, Wilson is a solid all-around athlete.
|Benet||De La Salle||Nazareth||St. Laurence|
|Week 1||at St. Ignatius; 7:30 p.m. March 19||at Marmion; 7 p.m. March 19||at Fenwick; 7:30 p.m. March 19||vs. Joliet Catholic; 7:30 p.m. March 19|
|Week 2||vs. De La Salle; 7 p.m. March 26||at Benet; 7 p.m. March 26||vs. St. Laurence; noon March 27||at Nazareth; noon March 27|
|Week 3||vs. St. Laurence; 7 p.m. April 1||vs. Nazareth; 6 p.m. April 1||at De La Salle; 6 p.m. April 1||at Benet; 7 p.m. April 2|
|Week 4||at Loyola; 1:30 p.m. April 10||vs. Mount Carmel; 7:30 p.m. April 9||vs. Marist; noon April 10||vs. Brother Rice; 7:30 p.m. April 9|
|Week 5||vs. St. Rita; 7 p.m. April 16||vs. Montini; 7:30 p.m. April 16||vs. Notre Dame; noon April 17||vs. Providence; 7:30 p.m. April 16|
|Week 6||at Nazareth; noon April 24||at St. Laurence; 7:30 p.m. April 23||vs. Benet; noon April 24||vs. De La Salle; 7:30 p.m. April 23|
FIVE CAN’T MISS MATCHUPS
Week 1 – Joliet Catholic at St. Laurence: In 2019, Joliet Catholic blocked a potential game-winning field goal to hold on for a 34-33 win over St. Laurence.
Week 3 – St. Laurence at Benet: These two were evenly matched in 2019, with Benet prevailing, 21-17.
Week 4 – Marist at Nazareth: These teams reached their respective state semifinals in 2019 (and beyond in Nazareth’s case). This should make for a heavyweight battle.
Week 4 – Niles Notre Dame at Nazareth: Week 5 is chock-full of great crossover games in the CCL/ESCC. This is one of them.
Week 6 – Benet at Nazareth: Both teams entered Week 9 in 2019 at 2-0 in the division. A division title could be on the line here.
STEVE SOUCIE’S PREDICTED FINISH
|De La Salle||0-6|