Scouting the CCL/ESCC Red division

DePaul

2019 record: 3-6

Coach: Mike Passarella (second season)

Worth noting: DePaul had 15 sophomores earn playing time on varsity in 2019. “We were very young, but still have a great deal of experience,” Passarella said. ... Senior DB Abel Yolich missed all of his junior season due to injury, but he makes his long awaited return this spring. ... The Rams have an experienced offensive line with OL Coleton Elliot, OL/DL Damian Barrientos, OL/DL Athan Nwalozie and OL Diego Munante all returning with varsity experience. WR/CB Cole Ceravolo and TE/DE Shane O’Brien are also returning starters. ... QB Anthony Martinez and QB Oliver Vigerust will be in the mix at quarterback. ... Junior RB Andy Diaz and freshman WR Lavelle Hary are two newcomers who could see time at skill positions. ... CB Danny Kelly could see time as a freshman in the secondary. ... Sophomore OL Emmett Jeske could be added to the mix on the offensive line.

Leo

2019 record: 3-6

Coach: Michael Holmes (14th season)

Worth noting: Leo finished 3-6 in 2019 with wins over Christ the King, DePaul and St. Joseph. Only a 43-12 loss to Marian Catholic in Week 9 kept the Lions from a Red division title. ... The Lions struggled a little bit more in their crossover games. In a Week 2 nonconference game, they hung around in a 28-20 loss to Evergreen Park – a Class 5A playoff team in 2019. ... This year’s schedule should be somewhat favorable outside of tough road games at Notre Dame and at Fenwick. ... Junior WR/DB Rayion Davidson, senior RB/LB Jalen Johnson and sophomore QB James E’Akels were All-Red division performers in 2019.

Marian Catholic

2019 record: 5-5, Class 5A first round

Coach: Erick Middleton (third season)

Worth noting: Marian Catholic won the Red division in 2019 with a 3-0 record. The Spartans bring back a senior-heavy team. ... Senior WR/DE Justin Stallworth will play at FCS Division I South Dakota next year. He is one of a number of returning starters. ... RB Tajheem Lawson is a returning starter in the backfield, and will be joined by freshman RB Randall Nauden. ... RT Josh Hybert and C Craig Morrison bring experience to the offensive line. ... DE Kendall Thomas and DB Jah’Mar Daniel are two senior starters on the defense. ... K Ray Cantelo will play at Division III North Central College next year. ... Junior DT Correll Young should be in the mix on the defensive line.

St. Joseph

2019 record: 1-8

Coach: Adam Polak (third season)

Worth noting: Senior WR/DB Tim Shannon, RB/DB JaVontay Bright and WR/DB Victor Zuno should be three of the top playmakers for the Chargers. ... Senior OL/DL Jose Garcia will lead the way in the trenches. He will be joined by varsity newcomers OL/DL Quincy Oyekanmi and OL/DL Daniel Banks. ... RB/LB Joseph Okah and WR/DB Jermaine Shephard are other newcomers to watch for the Chargers. ... The Chargers are playing an abbreviated schedule, with three games currently on the calendar. Polak said he’s still hoping to add a Week 4 game.

FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • Shane O’Brien, DePaul, DB/WR, sr.: O’Brien is a returning all-conference performer for DePaul.
  • Tajheem Lawson, Marian Catholic, RB, sr.: Lawson brings starting experience to the running back position. He was the Red division offensive player of the year in 2019.
  • Justin Stallworth, Marian Catholic, WR/DE, sr.: A two-way player at Marian, Stallworth is committed to South Dakota.
  • Tim Shannon, St. Joseph, WR/DB, sr.: Shannon will play safety in college at Division II Northern Michigan.
  • Jalen Johnson, Leo, RB/DB, sr.: Johnson was an all-conference running back for the Lions last season.

SCHEDULES

DePaulLeoMarian CatholicSt. Joseph
Week 1vs. Carmel; 7:30 p.m. March 19vs. St. Patrick; TBA March 20vs. Marian Central; 1:30 p.m. March 20Idle
Week 2at Leo; 1 p.m. March 27vs. DePaul; 1 p.m. March 27vs. Crete-Monee; noon March 27at Hope Academy; 7 p.m. March 26
Week 3vs. Marian Catholic; 7:30 p.m. April 1at St Joseph; noon April 3at DePaul; 7:30 p.m. April 1vs. Leo; noon April 3
Week 4at Providence; 7:30 p.m. April 9at Notre Dame; 7 p.m. April 9vs. St. Rita; 7:30 p.m. April 9TBA
Week 5at Joliet Catholic; 7:30 p.m. April 16at Fenwick; 7:30 p.m. April 16at St. Ignatius; 7:30 p.m. April 16Idle
Week 6vs. St. Joseph; 7:30 p.m. April 23vs. Marian Catholic; 7 p.m. April 23at Leo; 7 p.m. April 23at DePaul; 7:30 p.m. April 23

THREE CAN’T-MISS MATCHUPS

Week 2 – Crete-Monee at Marian Catholic: In a year with few nonconference games across the state, this is a good one.

Week 6 – St. Jospeh at DePaul: Week 6 games will have big implications on the division standings.

Week 6 – Marian Catholic at Leo: Marian won the division last year and could be looking to do so again in the finale this year.

STEVE SOUCIE’S PREDICTED FINISH

Marian Catholic2-4
DePaul2-4
Leo1-5
St. Joseph0-3
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.