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Article updated: 8/29/2013 9:43 PM
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Doing the scouting for your 'Eyes on Five'
 

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Doing the scouting for your 'Eyes on Five'
 

Welcome back.

Specifics aren't necessary because we all know it's finally prep football season. Nine months after we watched Montini, Glenbard West and six other schools win state titles, we're thrilled to be back for Opening Day 2013.

Each week this season I'll take a look at five "things" relevant to area prep football. I like to call it "Eyes on Five."

After spending an entire offseason thinking about Aug. 30, this week's edition was tough to pare down to five items. But we'll take a shot.

Putting his paws up?:

Ron Muhitch -- Wheaton Warrenville South's coach for three state titles and an assistant for four more -- enters his final year of teaching and serving as the school's Physical Education Wellness chair.

While Muhitch is prepared to retire from teaching, is he ready to retire as a coach? Not quite.

"I've been invited to stay on and coach," he said. "We'll see what happens. I'm still up in the air. I may try it for a year, but I'm open to any opportunity."

No doubt Muhitch would be welcome on numerous college staffs, the most obvious being at North Central College. That's where former Tigers coach John Thorne has rolled up a 97-27 record and, in only 11 seasons, already has become the school's all-time leader in coaching victories.

Other choices are more intriguing. Muhitch owns property in western Michigan, and he could seek high school or college opportunities closer to his vacation territory.

If you're a betting person, though, bet on the Tigers.

There may be plentiful coaching options, but it'd be tough to imagine someone else coaching WW South next year.

In fact WW South athletic director Mike Healy, in an email sent earlier this week, showed he's already planning on it.

"Ron will be back next year," he wrote.

2. Doing the right thing:

In May the IHSA instituted a "Preseason Football Acclimatization Policy" that dictates how long teams can practice and what type of practices can be held.

Basically, the IHSA aims to prevent heat-related issues that arise during mid-August. For the first five preseason days, teams are limited to three total hours of practice with two hours of rest in between for teams choosing to stick with "two-a-days."

Helmets only the first two days, shoulder pads added the next three days and not until Day 7 can teams practice in full pads.

Coaches I spoke with expressed frustration at the new rules, although all said they're adhering to them. Some were relatively unaffected because an early first day of school allowed only a few hours of afternoon practice anyway.

In the end -- regulations or not -- it all comes down to a school and administration trusting its coaches to do the right thing. Around here, that doesn't seem to be a problem.

Are some coaches pushing the envelope and violating the IHSA rules? Probably, but like so many other regulations, good luck trying to prove it.

3. Crowded class:

The preseason Associated Press state polls were somewhat stunning. Not because of the teams that were ranked, but the classes in which the teams were ranked.

Some of the stronger teams normally in Class 8A are listed in 7A. For example, last year's 8A finalists -- Glenbard North and Mt. Carmel -- are listed in 7A. Maine South, another perennial 8A power, is also listed in 7A.

For a few years 7A's been known as the toughest of the eight classes. Glenbard West, WW South, Wheaton North, Lake Zurich, Lincoln-Way East, East St. Louis ... the list goes on and on.

And now Mt. Carmel, Glenbard North and Maine South are listed in 7A? Yikes!

Keep in mind that it likely won't end up that way in the playoffs. The AP rankings are a guide, not a direct link to IHSA classifications. By the time the pairings are announced, the list of teams in 8A and 7A will differ from AP.

If it ends up close to the way it's listed by AP, though, watch out. It'd be the toughest 7A field since the debut of the eight-class system in 2001.

4. Fab Five:

On Thursday we ran a list of the 50 players we consider among the best in DuPage County. Certainly not scientific, and certainly not completely representative of the enormous talent in the area.

Unfortunately I won't get to see all of them play. I do, however, have a list of five players you really should try to see this season.

Jack Beneventi, Benet: What a summer he had touring the nation's top college campuses. At 6-foot-6, the junior quarterback's already been offered by Illinois, Iowa, Louisville, Notre Dame and many others.

• Hayden Carlson, Glenbard West: The safety's entering his third varsity season and sealed the Hilltoppers' Class 7A title in November with an amazing hit late in the fourth quarter. He's smart, he's savvy and he epitomizes the attitude of a true "Hitter."

Mikey Dudek, Neuqua Valley: At 5-11, 175 pounds, Dudek doesn't exactly pass the eye test as an elite receiver. But, man, is he lightning in a uniform. You can't cover him, and you can't catch him on the run. He's committed to Illinois, where I definitely see him becoming a fan favorite.

• Justin Jackson, Glenbard North: Last season's Gatorade Player of the Year rushed for 2,600 yards and led the Panthers to the Class 8A final. Headed to Northwestern, his 2012 highlight tape is amazing. This season is bound to be another long highlight tape.

• Nile Sykes, Montini: Took one look at the Oak Park transfer at this summer's Red Grange 7-on-7 and immediately realized he was a man among boys. The linebacker was named the Grange's top defensive player, and with good reason. A dozen scholarship offers show how much he's impressed college scouts.

5. In with the new:

We've got a couple of new coaches in Downers Grove South's Mark Molinari, the program's longtime defensive coordinator, and Wheaton Academy's Brad Thornton, a former player at Cary-Grove and Wheaton College.

Just as exciting are the changes at area stadiums. Lake Park debuts its new artificial surface, as does IC Catholic Prep at Plunkett Field in Elmhurst.

St. Francis, meanwhile, gets to come back home after three years of playing at College of DuPage. The Spartans officially return to their Wheaton campus when Kuhn Memorial Stadium is dedicated before Friday's opener against Riverside-Brookfield.

Finally, we have a new site for the state championship games: Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

Champaign will play host to the Big Ten title game Thanksgiving weekend in alternating years, allowing Huskie Stadium a chance to host the IHSA games in odd numbered years.

kschmit@dailyherald.com

Follow Kevin on Twitter @kevin_schmit

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