2021 football preview: Scouting the Metro Suburban Conference

  • St. Francis' TJ McMillen (center) is drawing interest from several Division-I programs.

    St. Francis' TJ McMillen (center) is drawing interest from several Division-I programs. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

 
 
Updated 8/20/2021 12:08 PM

Blue Division

IC Catholic Prep2021 spring record: 3-1

 

Coach: Bill Krefft

Worth noting: The Knights won back-to-back Class 3A titles in 2016 and 2017, and then followed it up in 2018 with a Class 4A state championship. Coach Bill Krefft's teams have gone 65-6 since the beginning of the 2015 season. ... IC Catholic will need to replace standout RB Kyle Franklin, who finished off a brilliant high school career with 591 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns in the spring season. Senior captains Brendan Bigane, Jadon Mims, Antonio Richardson and Connor McCoy will be called upon to provide leadership, but the Knights will employ a lot of juniors and sophomores, including sophomore QB Dennis Mandala. ... IC Catholic will be tested early with nonconference trips to Montini and Marian Catholic. The end of the schedule will also provide strong challenges with Bishop McNamara and Wheaton St. Francis awaiting the Knights in the final two weeks.

Wheaton Academy2021 spring record: 5-1

Coach: Jim Johanik

Worth noting: The Warriors enter their second season under head coach Jim Johanik after a successful spring season, including a four-game winning streak to finish the six-game schedule. ... Senior David Dorn is a two-year starter at quarterback and threw for 677 yards during the spring. Junior Belay Brummel, a transfer from IC Catholic, gives Wheaton Academy another potential playmaker at the QB position. ... The Warriors will have plenty of experience in the secondary with Dorn, senior Joseph Bracy, junior Donovan Meeters and sophomore Liam White. They also return half of the starters on the defensive line, but will be untested at the linebacker spots. ... The offensive line is anchored by seniors Peter Johanik (an All-State honorable mention, James Kapitaniuk and Jake Figurski. ... Blue Division matchups against Bishop McNamara (Week 4) and IC Catholic (Week 6) should provide a clearer picture of Wheaton Academy's postseason potential.

Red Division

Chicago Christian2021 spring record: 5-1

Coach: Tom O'Connor

Worth noting: Tom O'Connor takes over from Nick Cook after the Knights went 5-1 during the spring season and captured the Metro Suburban Red Division title. Chicago Christian will sport a young roster with only 11 seniors.

St. Edward2021 spring record: 4-1

Coach: Mike Rolando

Worth noting: The Green Wave enjoyed a successful spring season, but they enter the fall with an unproven roster after graduating 14 seniors, including nine three-years starters. ... St. Edward graduated its top three rushers in Joe Sacco, Anthony Kirkwood and Clem McCullough, who each contributed defensively as well. Senior Max Kaufman will anchor both lines, while senior defensive end Ryan Sauceda and senior linebacker Cam Sauceda also return. ... Junior QB/DB Luciano Rolando received some varsity reps in the spring, and coach Mike Rolando said junior WR/DB Carson Busto has looked impressive during 7-on-7s this summer.

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St. Francis2021 spring record: 6-0

Coach: Bob McMillen

Worth noting: The Spartans would have been among the favorites to win the Class 4A title if there was a postseason during the 2020-21 school year. With seven returning starters on offense and eight on defense, they will still be quite formidable. ... St. Francis will, however, have to replace dual-threat quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse, who is now at Illinois State. Sophomore Alessio Milivojevic will take over under center. ... Junior lineman TJ McMillen (6-4, 235) has more than a half dozen Division I offers, including TCU, Penn State, Arizona State, Texas Tech and Missouri. ... Senior WRs Ryan Calcagno, Adam Criter and Tyler Bishop all return, along with junior Dash Dorsey. ... Senior Sam Atkins and sophomore Dom Beres will anchor the linebacker corps.

THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH

TJ McMillen, offensive line/defensive line, Wheaton St. Francis: Also a terrific baseball player, McMillen plays along both lines for the Spartans and is drawing interest from Division I football programs from Arizona State to Syracuse.

Tony Phillips, running back, Bishop McNamara: Already a state champion as a freshman in the 100- and 200-meter dash, Phillips is one of the fastest players in the state and will see plenty of work in the Fightin' Irish backfield.

Jaydon Wright, fullback, Bishop McNamara: When not opening up big holes for Phillips to run through, Wright is doing his own damage in the run game. He had 314 total yards on 36 carries and five receptions during the spring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

FIVE CAN'T MISS MATCHUPS

Week 1 -- IC Catholic at Montini: The Knights head out on the road for a nonconference matchup against a quality Montini program.

Week 2 -- Coal City at Bishop McNamara: Coal City is known for its hard-nosed defense, but the Coalers are going to have their hands full against Tony Phillips, Jaydon Wright and co.

Week 4 -- Bishop McNamara at Wheaton Academy: Wheaton Academy has high expectations after a 5-1 spring season, which included a 49-23 victory over Bishop McNamara in Week 1.

Week 7 -- Wheaton St. Francis at Bishop McNamara: The on-paper favorites to win their respective divisions, two teams will state-title aspirations will square off in this crossover matchup.

Week 9 -- IC Catholic at Wheaton St. Francis: After a long streak of dominance within the Metro Suburban by IC Catholic, St. Francis has come away with wins in its last two meetings with the Knights.

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