2022 season preview: Scouting the CCL/ESCC
2021 record: 4-5, 1-2 Green
Coach: Patrick New
Worth noting: Benet missed the playoffs for the second time since New took over as coach in 2010. The Redwings had two chances to pick up a fifth win with two games left in the season but lost to Joliet Catholic and Nazareth, respectively. The team will try to make its return with a deep postseason run; Benet last advanced past the first round in 2017 when it competed in the Class 7A semifinals. ... Senior TE Pierce Walsh will be a captain on and off the field. The Minnesota commit will spend time at tight end and play some snaps outside at wide receiver, lending his 6-foot-4, 212-pound frame as a large target. ... Seniors Anthony Picciolini and Jake Hoeppel are competing for the starting quarterback position. Picciolini started in eight games last season but New has enjoyed having a quarterback competition between two seniors. ... Senior linebackers Dave Cservenyak and John Weidenbach will be the core to the Redwings' defense. ... Benet will play two teams from Indiana this season. The Redwings will start the season by hosting Noblesville on Aug. 26 and then will travel to South Bend to take on South Bend St. Joseph on Oct. 7.
2021 record: 7-5, 2-1 Green
Coach: Tim Racki
Worth noting: Nazareth competed in its sixth quarterfinal game since 2013 last season when it fell to eventual Class 5A state champion Fenwick. The Roadrunners have won three state titles and played in two more title games since 2013. The team is looking to build off of last season to take its next step and return to a championship game. ... The Roadrunners won five of their last six regular season games after losing their first three games last season. Racki had six freshmen play last season. ... Sophomore quarterback Logan Malachuk returns after playing in 10 games last year, throwing for 1,806 yards, 18 touchdowns and seven interceptions. ... Justin Taylor will be a senior leader on both sides of the ball. The Wisconsin commit finished second on the team with 794 receiving yards and seven touchdowns while also totaling 12 tackles as a defensive back. ... Senior DL William Beargie will be disruptive on the line with his 6-foot-5, 270-pound frame. He's a Princeton commit. ... Sophomore lineman Gabe Kaminski impressed during his freshman season, earning scholarship offers from Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Tennessee. He'll try to build off the an impressive freshman campaign.
Niles Notre Dame
2021 record: 3-6, 0-3 Green
Coach: Michael Hennessey
Worth noting: Notre Dame missed the postseason for the first time since the 2014 last season. The farthest the Dons advanced during that period was the Class 6A semifinals in 2018. The Dons won three of their last five regular season games before they won four straight to win the Prep Bowl against Kenwood Academy. ... Senior quarterbacks Enzo Ricciardi and St. Ignatius transfer Coleman McDonagh are competing for the starting job. Ricciardi started all of the Dons' spring games in 2021 and played in 13 games last fall. ... Hennessey wants to get Frankie Ricciardi the ball as much as possible. The senior will start as a cornerback but also be featured heavily offensively as both a running back and wide receiver. Notre Dame's offense will also feature 6-foot-3 senior wide receivers Howard Williamson and Kevin Durkin. ... Senior DL/LS Karl Schmalz will be a major contributor on the Notre Dame defense. The Brown University commit comes back with experience and will be disruptive with his 6-foot-4, 240-pound frame, leading a defense that will feature two-way senior lineman Nick Thome, senior defensive tackle Michael Bollin and senior linebacker Randy Russ.
2021 record: 11-3, 3-0 Green
Coach: Todd Kuska
Worth noting: St. Rita is looking to take the final step after losing in its second consecutive state-title game, falling to Wheaton North in the Class 7A title game last year. The Mustangs have made the playoffs 11 times since winning the 7A title in 2006, but St. Rita worked to build off its last two appearances this summer to finally get over the hump. ... Senior Michael Collins and junior Jett Hilding are competing to replace three-year starter Tommy Ulatowski, who graduated. Collins played some varsity snaps last season, but both quarterbacks will need to gain experience over the summer with a wide receivers group that has many new faces. ... Juniors Ethan Middleton and DJ Stewart will provide a formidable duo at the running back position. Middleton earned an offer from Penn State. ... The Mustangs' defense will have strong defensive returners, including senior Pat Farrell, an Illinois commit, who will lead the defensive line while All-CCL/ESCC linebacker Matt Kingsbury and his brother Joseph Kingsbury take control in the middle. Senior Johnny Schmitt will lead a talented secondary. ... St. Rita will be tested right from the start when it begins its season with three CCL/ESCC Blue opponents, Mount Carmel, Brother Rice and Loyola, respectively.
Five players to watch
Pat Farrell, St. Rita, DL, sr.: Farrell will create pressure for opposing quarterbacks after adding weight this summer.
Justin Taylor, Nazareth, DB/WR, sr.: Taylor should make a big impact on both side of the ball.
Pierce Walsh, Benet, TE, sr.: Walsh's 6-foot-4, 210-pound frame should be tough to stop for many defenses.
Frankie Ricciardi, Notre Dame, CB/RB/WR, sr.: The playmaker will look to get the ball on both sides of the ball.
Gabe Kaminski, Nazareth, DL, so.: The young lineman impressed early and should get even more attention this fall.
Five can't miss matchups
Week 1 -- St. Rita at Mount Carmel: Two South Side powerhouses start the season with a big-time crossover game.
Week 2 -- St. Patrick at Notre Dame: The rivalry game gets new blood with new Shamrock coach Luke Mertens.
Week 3 -- Marist at Nazareth: Another big-time crossover game.
Week 6 -- St. Rita at Nazareth: The division could home down to this midseason matchup.
Week 8 -- Benet at Joliet Catholic: Start of a tough two-game stretch to end the season for Benet.
2021 record: 14-0, 3-0 Orange
Coach: Jake Jaworski
Worth noting: Joliet Catholic is looking to reload after losing 16 of its 22 starters from last season's team that won the Class 4A state title. The Hilltoppers have shown reloading hasn't been a problem for the program under Jaworski, missing the playoffs once in four season where a postseason was held while winning two state titles. The program will look to win a 16th state title in program history this fall. ... Senior T.J. Schlageter will take over as the starting quarterback after serving as Aidan Voss' backup. Schlageter came into the Hilltoppers' game against Benet last season and helped Joliet Catholic come back to win. The senior recently committed to play baseball at Louisville. ... Senior OL Anthony Birsa will return as a leader on and off the field after being a starter last season. The 6-foot-4, 270-pound lineman committed to Northwestern over the offseason. ... Seniors Hunter Powell, Jeremy Johnson (6-3, 200), Billy Burke (6-3, 250) and junior Dillan Johnson (6-2, 270) will all return after starting on the defensive line last year. ... Senior Brett Mouw and juniors Aaron Harvey and H.J. Grigsby will split time at running back along with Powell at fullback. Justin Bonsu, who has a couple of Division-I offers, will be the main wide receiver, ... The Hilltoppers will cross state lines to start the season when they travel to Waterford, Wis., on Aug. 26 to take on the Wolverines.
2021 record: 3-6, 1-2 Orange
Coach: Mike Bukovsky
Worth noting: Montini failed to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 1992 last season. The Broncos lost in the 5A state title game in 2018 under Bukovsky, who will enter his sixth season as the team's head coach. Montini players have used the summer to grow as they try to go back to the standard of making the postseason. ... Senior QB Cole Teschner will return as the Bronco's starting quarterback and he'll have a deep receiving corps. Junior Julian Turner, who had over 50 catches last season, and seniors Mingo Nixon and Trey Barrett will all return after being the team's top-three receivers last year. ... Junior RB Alex Marre will return after only playing in a handful of games last season before he broke his leg. Bukovsky expects the running back to be a major contributor. ... Seniors Luke Cushing and Mike Wind will return on the defensive line after starting last season and they'll be joined by a talented linebacking corps of junior George Asay and seniors Jonathan Goff and Caden Phengkeokaisone. ... The Broncos will have a tough final stretch to the season by playing some of the conference's best teams. They'll finish against Marist, Nazareth and Joliet Catholic, respectively.
2021 record: 3-6, 0-3 Orange
Coach: Tyler Plantz
Worth noting: Providence will have a new head coach for the first time in 16 seasons after Mark Coglianese retired at the end of last season. The Celtics won a 7A state title under Coglianese in 2014 and appeared in the 6A title game in 2009. Plantz, a 2010 Providence graduate, takes over the program after serving as in various assistant coaching positions under Brian Kelly at Notre Dame starting in 2015. The new coach served as captain and linebacker for the 2009 runner-up team. ... Senior Lucas Proudfoot and juniors Colin Sheehan and Kyle Lipke are battling for the starting quarterback position. Proudfoot has been the starter for the Celtics for the past couple seasons but Plantz enjoyed having the competition to see who would step up under a new coaching staff. ... Senior Mason Santiago and junior Byron Olson will both be major contributors on defense as utility players. ... The schedule makers didn't do many favors to Plantz in his first season as head coach. Providence will play three defending state champions, a state runner-up and a semifinalist from last year's postseason. The Celtics play three defending champions in a row starting in Week 2 against Wheaton North, followed by Fenwick and Joliet Catholic, respectively. Providence will play Class 8A semifinalist Loyola in Week 7 and 7A runner-up St. Rita in Week 8.
2021 record: 4-5, 2-1 Orange
Coach: Adam Nissen
Worth noting: St. Laurence will try to return to the postseason for the first time in two season after finishing last season at 4-5 -- there was no postseason in the 2021 spring season. The Vikings started the season 3-2 but lost three straight games to Joliet Catholic, Mount Carmel and Niles Notre Dame, respectively, before winning the season finale against Providence. St. Laurence will only have two offensive starters and three defensive starters from last season returning. ... Junior WR/S Corey Taubr returns as a starter on both sides of the ball after serving as a captain as a sophomore. Nissen called the junior explosive who can do different things with the ball. ... Senior transfer Danny Fitzpatrick and junior Evan Les are competing for the starting quarterback position. Junior interior offensive lineman Jack McGeehan will return and protect whoever's under center. ... Senior DE Tommy Fus returns as a defensive starter and should be an anchor along with Taubr on the defensive side of the ball. ... The Vikings will start the season by traveling 165 miles to take on Moline on Aug. 26 but they will have the comfort of playing three of their last four games at home against Joliet Catholic, Mount Carmel and Niles Notre Dame, respectively.
Five players to watch
Anthony Birsa, Joliet Catholic, OL, sr.: The big lineman will help open holes for the Hilltoppers' rushers.
Cole Teschner, Montini, QB, sr.: Teschner will have plenty of targets to hit this season, he'll need to make big plays.
Mason Santiago, Providence, UTI, sr.: Santiago will show off his skills from different parts of the defense.
Corey Taubr, St. Laurence, WR/S, jr.: Taubr will return as a captain and play a heavy role on both sides of the ball.
J.T. Schlageter, Joliet Catholic, QB, sr.: Schlageter will show off the experience he gained last year as he takes over as the lead quarterback.
Five can't miss matchups
Week 2 -- Wheaton North at Providence: This nonconference game will be the first of two straight against defending state champions for the Celtics.
Week 3 -- St. Laurence at St. Ignatius: An early test for the Vikings against one of the conference's fast rising teams.
Week 7 -- Brother Rice at Joliet Catholic: A CCL/ESCC crossover game that will feature two of the conference's top teams.
Week 8 -- Nazareth at Montini: Another CCL/ESCC crossover game that could have large playoff implications.
Week 9 -- Montini at Joliet Catholic: The division could come down to this season finale.
2021 record: 3-6, 1-2 Purple
Coach: Jason McKie
Worth noting: Carmel will try to return to the postseason for the first time since 2016 when it lost in the opening round. After qualifying for the playoffs for 12 straight seasons beginning in 2000 and winning a 6A state title in 2003, the Corsairs have only been in the playoffs twice since 2012. Carmel started last season 2-1 before losing five straight games, winning against Marian to end the season. ... Junior QB Johnny Weber returns after starting last season. McKie said he's seen Weber take the next step over the offseason and is excited to watch what he does this fall. ... All-CCL/ESCC Purple junior linebacker Camren Lang returns to lead a defense that will have some fresh faces on the defensive line. ... Carmel will start the season with a couple of nonconference games before taking on Leo on Sept. 10. The Corsairs will face a tough second half of the season when they play Nazareth starting on Sept. 23 before facing St. Patrick, Marmion and Marist, respectively, and finishing the season against Marian.
2021 record: 3-6, 0-3 Purple
Coach: Nicholas Lopez
Worth noting: Lopez takes over the program and will try to lead Marian back to the playoffs for the first time since 2019. The Spartans have only made the playoffs once since 2011. Marian started last season 2-1 before losing five of its next six games. ... Senior QB Kyle Thomas returns after starting last season and rushing for more than 1,100 yards. Lopez has been impressed with how Thomas has taken control and how much of a dual-threat he'll be against defenses. The senior is committed to Northern Illinois as a wide receiver. ... Sophomore running back Tyler Lofton will lead a one-two punch of rushers with senior Jerry Thurman III. Both rushers have impressed with their speed and ability to make quick cuts. ... Junior WR/CB Austin Alexander will use his speed on both sides of the ball. The Spartans' will look to get the ball to him and junior Kelby Key on the outside as receivers while Alexander will lead a defensive front that returns some experience. ... Marian will have a critical end to the regular season when it finishes off with Brother Rice in Week 8 before taking on Carmel to end the year in a game that could have major playoff implications.
2021 record: 7-5, 3-0 Purple
Coach: Luke Mertens
Worth noting: Mertens returns to coaching for the first time since he left Lake Zurich in April 2019. The coach takes over a program at his alma mater that made history last season by qualifying for the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. St. Patrick lost 14-0 to Sycamore in the Class 5A quarterfinals after qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 2013. ... Mertens wants to spread the ball across the field to make defenses protect the whole field. He's happy with his team's speed and athleticism, and is looking forward to see what wide receivers like seniors Jack Fuller and Mike Brosnan and jack-of-all-positions senior Trever Wozny, who will spend time at running back, wide receiver and tight end. ... Senior Nick Dustin and junior Ryan Birt are battling for the starting quarterback position. Mertens has been impressed with their dedication to the team while also serving as good teammates in the middle of the competition. ... Senior LB Keith Hoffman returns after playing a large role on last season's team and is a defensive player that checks all the boxes for the new coach. ... The Shamrocks start the season running with an opening game against St. Ignatius on Aug. 26 while following that up with a rivalry game against Niles Notre Dame. St. Patrick also faces Class 8A state semifinalist Loyola, Class 7A runner-up St. Rita and defending 5A champion Fenwick.
2021 record: 3-6, 2-1 Purple
Coach: David Archibald
Worth noting: St. Viator is trying to return back to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. The Lions came a yard short of winning their fifth game of the season against Carmel in their regular-season finale in 2019 and Archibald believes the 2020 team had the potential to be one of the best teams in program history. Returning players are motivated to return to the playoffs not only for themselves but also their former teammates. ... Junior QB Charlie Dolsen returns as the team's starter after coming into the play for Alex Konopka in the first game of the season when Konopka suffered an ACL injury. Dolsen completed 59.5% of his passes last season and spent the summer watching tape and working on his mechanics to prepare for this season. ... The Lions will return an experienced group of skill players, including senior No. 1 receiver Michael Nix, who holds two Division-I scholarship offers from Drake and Butler. ... St. Viator will have two returning defensive starters this season, including John Kaiser and CCL/ESCC Purple all-conference linebacker Jayden Franzen. ... The Lions will have a tough final three-game stretch to the season, with games against St. Ignatius, Mount Carmel and St. Patrick, respectively.
Five players to watch
Camren Lang, Carmel, LB, jr.: The linebacker will be a major factor for Carmel's defense this season.
Kyle Thomas, Marian Catholic, QB, sr.: Thomas' dual-threat approach will make the senior quarterback tough for opposing defenses to stop.
Charlie Dolsen, St. Viator, QB, jr.: Dolsen was impressive when he was thrown into action last season and should be better this year.
Trever Wozny, St. Patrick, WR/RB/TE, sr.: Wozny will be a major weapon for the Shamrock offense, fitting in different positions.
Michael Nix, St. Viator, WR, sr.: The wide receiver should be electric and one of the best wide outs in the division.
Five can't miss matchups
Week 2 -- St. Patrick at Niles Notre Dame: The rivalry games gets a new twist with Mertens entering as head coach.
Week 5 -- Nazareth at Carmel: A nice CCL/ESCC crossover test Corsairs against one of the conference's best teams.
Week 8 -- St. Viator at Mount Carmel: The Lions will be in the middle of a critical final three-game stretch against potential playoff teams.
Week 9 -- St. Carmel at Marian: Both teams should have a lot riding in this regular-season finale.
Week 9 -- St. Viator at St. Patrick: The division could come down to this season finale.
2021 record: 3-6, 0-3 White
Coach: Marty Quinn
Worth noting: Quinn will take over after Michael Boehm stepped away from the program after seven seasons. The new coach will try to lead De La Salle back to the playoff for the first time since 2017. The Meteors have made the playoffs once since 2013. ... Senior linemen James Taylor and Evan Smith will both return plenty of experience on both sides of the ball. Taylor (6-1, 220) and Smith (5-8, 230) should create a lot of opportunities and havoc on both sides of the lines. ... Senior DB/WR Amar Patalinghug has received lots of attention from FCS schools as the talented two-way player has competed in different camps throughout the summer. ... Sophomore Kaleb Navarro and juniors Matt Cleggs and Angelo Chavarria have spent the summer battling it out for the starting quarterback position. Quinn has been impressed with what he's seen from each quarterback. ... Junior WR/FS David Coffey will provide speed on the outside along with senior RB Zion Nix, who transferred over from Lyons. ... De La Salle will have a tough middle stretch of their season, with games against Joliet Catholic, Fenwick, Brother Rice and St. Ignatius.
2021 record: 12-2, 3-0 White
Coach: Matt Battaglia
Worth noting: The defending Class 5A state champions will have a lot of new faces this season. Fenwick lost seven starters on each side of the ball from last season's team that won the program's first state title. The Friars will have some depth players from last season's team to step up into bigger roles this year. ... Battaglia will try to continue his playoff success in his young playoff career. The Friars are undefeated in the playoffs in their lone postseason last year under the third-year coach. Fenwick is 15-4 under Battaglia in two seasons. ... Senior EJ Hosty and junior Marek Hill will try to replace Kaden Cobb as the team's starting quarterback. Hosty earned some game action last season and threw for 173 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. Battaglia said both Hosty and Hill are sharp mentally, have good arms and can move quicker than their tall figures might suggest. ... Senior Aaron Johnson will be a big returning leader both on the offensive line and off the field. ... The Friars are still looking for a Week 8 opponent.
2021 record: 7-4, 1-2 White
Coach: Dan Thorpe
Worth noting: Marmion will try to take to escape the second round of the postseason this fall. The Cadets have competed in the playoffs seven times since they finished runner-up in the Class 6A tournament in 2010, but Marmion has failed to reach past the second round each time, including a second round exit after a loss to Nazareth in last season's 5A playoff. Thorpe believes his team has the talent to take that next step after a tough loss to the Roadrunners last year. ... The Cadets will return two starters offensively from last season, offensive tackle Zach Weiersheuser and running back Josh Lim. Lim earned All-CCL/ESCC White honors last season and returns as a three-year varsity starter. ... Senior Ryan Prell and juniors Henry Garrison and Alfonso Barraza are competing for the starting quarterback job. Prell transferred to Marmion from Glenbard North and Thorpe has been impressed with what he's seen from each quarterback in 7-on-7s over the summer. ... CCL/ESCC White Honorable Mention Ivan Erickson returns at defensive end after committing to Illinois State over the offseason. The 6-foot-6, 247-pound rusher will be tough to stop.
2021 record: 9-2, 2-1 White
Coach: Matt Miller
Worth noting: St. Ignatius is coming off of a historic season where the Wolfpack won their first playoff game in program history. The Wolfpack have made improvements over the summer as they try to take their next step after a second-round exit in last season's 6A playoffs to Crete-Monee. The goal for this season remains clear: win a state title. ... Junior DL/OL Justin Scott's star has risen since he last played in a game last fall. Scott has earned 23 scholarship offers to play collegiate football, including from powerhouses like Notre Dame, Michigan, Oklahoma, USC and LSU. Both 247Sports Composite and Rivals rank Scott as the top prospect in Illinois. The junior will add some snaps on the offensive line this season after only playing on the defensive line last fall. ... Senior Vinny Rugai returns after excelling on both sides of the ball. Rugai was the CCL/ESCC White Offensive Player of the Year after finishing with 16 touchdowns and 1,264 rushing yards at running back. He also finished with 98 tackles, five forced fumbles and two interceptions as an inside linebacker. ... Senior John Kemp returns at outside linebacker and is committed to Yale. ... Senior Jake Petrow returns at quarterback after taking over midway halfway through last season.
Five players to watch
Justin Scott, St. Ignatius, DL/OL, jr.: The best junior in the state is must-watch on both sides of the line.
Ivan Erickson, Marmion, DL, sr.: The 6-foot-6, 247-pound rusher will be tough to stop.
Aaron Johnson, Fenwick, OL, sr.: Johnson will provide leadership and strong play on the field.
Amar Patalinghug, De La Salle, DB/WR, sr.: Patalinghug should show off his talents on each side with his speed.
Vinny Rugai, St. Ignatius, LB/RB, sr.: Rugai will try to dominate on both sides of the ball again after an impressive junior year.