Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Michael O'Brien

Michael O’Brien’s preseason Super 25 high school football rankings

Mount Carmel’s Darrion Dupree runs the ball during football practice. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

Darrion Dupree, the area’s most dynamic offensive talent, missed Mount Carmel’s entire playoff run last season due to an injury. 

“It hurt,” Dupree said. “I knew my team was going to make it happen. But I was kind of in my feelings.”

The Caravan didn’t miss a beat without a running back that averaged nearly 11 yards a carry. 

Expect Dupree to be leaned on more heavily this year. He’s always had what it takes on the field but he’s been working on his leadership. 

“That’s been a big switch for me,” Dupree said. “It doesn’t come naturally like it does to some people but I’m learning.”

 New names are stepping up for Mount Carmel all over the field. Following up an undefeated, state championship season is never easy. The Caravan dominated, holding the top ranking the entire season. 

“I don’t have any worries,” Dupree said. “Talent-wise we are better than last year. We just need the focus and leadership from the seniors.”

1. Mount Carmel

Mount Carmel’s Le’Javier Payne (13) and Daniel Banks (44) react after Payne recovers a fumble in last season’s 7A state title game. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

It starts with Dupree, but the Caravan has two high-quality running backs. Navy recruit Alonzo Manning is a threat to score every time he touches the ball. Quarterback Jack Elliott has a lot to prove, but confidence in him internally is very high. The defensive line should be a strength and Parker Startz is a standout at linebacker. Read more on Mount Carmel.

2. Lincoln-Way East

Lincoln-Way East’s Braden Tischer (15) rushes for a big gain against Warren last season. (Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times)

Rob Zvonar has a load of starters back, including quarterback Braden Tischer and the majority of his defense. Loyola was the only team that could handle the Griffins last season. There might not be any team in Class 8A capable of beating them this year. Read more on Lincoln-Way East.

3. Batavia

Batavia’s Ryan Boe (21) passes against Mount Carmel in the Class 7A state title game last season. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

This group of Bulldogs may lack the elite talent of some past years. But the overall depth and experience level is higher. And three-year starting quarterback Ryan Boe should be a force. Ten other starters return from last year’s Class 7A runner-up and two transfers, lineman Malachi Smith and receiver Isiah Brown, are major additions. Read more on Batavia.

4. Loyola

Loyola’s Johnny McGuire (33) and teammates celebrate McGuire’s touchdown against York. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

A new, untested coach and a young, inexperienced offense. But it’s still Loyola. The battle-tested defense, led by linebackers Colin Scheid and Ethan Hogg and lineman Johnny McGuire, will give Beau Desherow a solid foundation. Read more on Loyola.

5. Nazareth

Nazareth’s Logan Malachuk (1) runs for a touchdown against Peoria last season. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

Three-year starting quarterback Logan Malachuk, still just a junior, is bigger and better. There is great depth at running back and tight end/lineman Gabe Kaminski is one of the state’s best players. The Roadrunners are a Class 5A powerhouse, but can they compete with the big schools? Read more on Nazareth.

6. Maine South

Maine South’s Ethan Stumpf (57), one of the area’s top kickers, looks on after kicking a field goal against Bolingbrook last season. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

The Hawks rarely return so much experience on offense. Quarterback Jack DeFilippis and running back Michael Dellumo should be dependable and Evan Agosto is a playmaker. The defense is loaded with seniors but the first three games (Brother Rice, Warren, Palatine) are intense. Read more on Maine South.

7. York

York’s Luke Mailander (84) catches a pass and turns up field last season against Glenbard West. (Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times)

The Dukes are confident that Sean Winton can replace Matt Vezza at quarterback. If that proves true, it is hard to find a hole in the West Suburban’s newest powerhouse. Read more on York.

8. Warren

Warren’s Nate Foster works through a drill during practice. (Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times)

There’s no standout name on the roster in Gurnee, which means the always ferocious defense will have to set the tone. Keep an eye on sophomore tailback Aaron Stewart, who could be the Blue Devils’ next star. Read more on Warren.

9. Prairie Ridge

Prairie Ridge’s Dom Creatore works through a drill during practice. (Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times)

The Wolves may be better at every position, other than quarterback, than last season when they finished second in Class 6A. Both lines are very solid and if senior Joey Vanderwiel produces at quarterback the sky is the limit for the squad, which has dropped to 5A. Read more on Prairie Ridge.

10. Palatine

Palatine’s Tommy Elter looks to pass during football practice. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

A huge offensive line and a speedy, strong running back (Tulane recruit Dominik Ball) is a great starting point. Quarterback Tommy Elter returns and junior defensive lineman Jaylen Williams is one of the state’s most highly-recruited players. Read more on Palatine.

11. Lyons

Illinois recruit Eddie Tuerk is a dominant player on both lines and three-year starting quarterback Ryan Jackson threw a school-record 26 TDs last season. Thirteen starters are back. 

12. Brother Rice

The Crusaders will benefit from some consistency in Casey Quedenfeld’s second year as coach. Linebacker Christian Pierce and Navy recruit Randall Nauden, a running back, are the two standouts. 

13. Neuqua Valley

Quarterback Ryan Mohler gained valuable experience in seven wins last season. The offense should be ready to roll and the less battle-tested defense at least has a solid foundation on the line with Nick Williamson and Justin Dutkiewicz.

14. St. Rita

New coach Martin Hopkins has 10 starters back, including quarterback Jett Hilding and running back DJ Stewart. 

15. Wheaton North

The Falcons have been consistently excellent for several seasons and return a strong core of leaders and difference-makers, including quarterback Max Howser, receiver Matt Kuczaj and Illinois recruit Joe Barna, a defensive end.

16. Glenbard West

The offense is young, but senior running back Julius Ellens is a lot to lean on. He scored 34 TDs last season. Seven starters return on defense. 

17. St. Charles North

Junior quarterback Ethan Plumb is a three-year starter and the North Stars return 12 starters overall, including standout tight end/linebacker Jake Furtney. 

18. Geneva

A new team is on the radar. The Vikings have receiver Talyn Taylor, one of the state’s best juniors, to go along with returning starter Nate Stempowski at quarterback. Seven starters are back on defense including Tommy Diamond, the leading tackler.

19. Providence

First-year coach Tyler Plantz returned the proud program to prominence last season with a run to Champaign. Eleven starters return, including junior running back Jamari Tribett. 

20. Naperville North

Receiver/safety Luke Williams, a Purdue recruit, is one of the area’s most intriguing players. Running back Cole Arl returns behind a solid offensive line. Three-year starter Lawson Grier leads an experienced defense. 

21. Joliet Catholic

Wisconsin-bound defensive lineman Dillan Johnson and running back HJ Grigsby return to anchor their units. Eight starters in total are back from an 8-3 squad. 

22. Hersey

The Huskies will be fun to watch. A talented junior class is in place and Iowa recruit Will Nolan and receiver/safety Carson Grove are senior difference-makers. 

23. Morgan Park

There isn’t a more experienced team in the state. Chris James has 18 starters back, including Illinois recruit Tysean Griffin, quarterback Marcus Thaxton and linebacker Jovan Clark. Bremen transfer Keshon Lewis-Hunt a running back/linebacker, is a major addition. 

24. Kenwood

All eyes will be on 6-6 senior quarterback Nacari McFarlane, who was injured in last season’s opener. Defensive end Marquise Lightfoot is a Miami recruit and a destroyer. Receiver I’Marion Stewart, a Michigan recruit, transferred in from Bolingbrook and running back Ethan Middleton joined from St. Rita. 

25. IC Catholic

Receiver/defensive back KJ Parker, an Iowa recruit, returns for the defending Class 3A champions. The senior class is battle-tested, but the move to the Catholic League will be a challenge. 

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.