Scouting the CCL/ESCC Orange division

Benet

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.

Nazareth

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.

St. Laurence

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.

SCHEDULES

BenetDe La SalleNazarethSt. Laurence
Week 1at St. Ignatius; 7:30 p.m. March 19at Marmion; 7 p.m. March 19at Fenwick; 7:30 p.m. March 19vs. Joliet Catholic; 7:30 p.m. March 19
Week 2vs. De La Salle; 7 p.m. March 26at Benet; 7 p.m. March 26vs. St. Laurence; noon March 27at Nazareth; noon March 27
Week 3vs. St. Laurence; 7 p.m. April 1vs. Nazareth; 6 p.m. April 1at De La Salle; 6 p.m. April 1at Benet; 7 p.m. April 2
Week 4at Loyola; 1:30 p.m. April 10vs. Mount Carmel; 7:30 p.m. April 9vs. Marist; noon April 10vs. Brother Rice; 7:30 p.m. April 9
Week 5vs. St. Rita; 7 p.m. April 16vs. Montini; 7:30 p.m. April 16vs. Notre Dame; noon April 17vs. Providence; 7:30 p.m. April 16
Week 6at Nazareth; noon April 24at St. Laurence; 7:30 p.m. April 23vs. Benet; noon April 24vs. 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

TeamRecord
Nazareth5-1
Benet3-3
St. Laurence1-5
De La Salle0-6
Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for Shaw Media. He also contributes to high school football coverage at Friday Night Drive. Sean has covered various sports at the amateur, college and professional levels since 2012. He joined Shaw Media in 2016.