ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — The high school football season kicks off Friday night. With that in mind I’m going to dive into some things that are on my mind regarding the season.
I’ll start with my conference picks. In the NIC-10 I have Hononegah rated number one, Harlem number two, East number three with Boylan fourth and Freeport fifth. Jefferson and Guilford should be significantly improved making the NIC-10 as strong and as deep as it’s been in many years. There are some tremendous athletes spread throughout the conference.
My top three teams in the Big Northern Conference are North Boone, Byron and Genoa-Kingston.
My top three in the NUIC are Lena-Winslow, DuPec and Forreston. It’s a razor thin margin between Le-Win and DuPec. I give Le-Win the edge with it’s overall speed, but key injuries could decide this race. Let’s hope there won’t be any.
Now let’s focus on my top five difference-makers in each conference. In the NIC-10 I start with Harlem linebacker/fullback Adrian Palos. He’s a pure football player. He’s strong, physical and he has good speed. He has led the conference in tackles the last two seasons.
Next is Hononegah’s do-it-all playmaker Bryce Goodwine. He’s a threat to take it to-the-house every time he touches the football either as a running back, a receiver or a kick returner. Goodwine also shines at defensive back.
Next is Boylan two-way lineman Mat Logan. He’s 6’3 280 pounds and strong as a bull. I thought last year he was even better than Boylan’s more heralded seniors Nick Fehrle and Max Caltagerone were.
Next is East sophomore running back Javius Catlin. He has the quickest feet in the conference, and he has great speed to go with them. He’ll break a ton of long runs this season.
My fifth NIC-10 difference-maker will surprise folks. He’s the quarterback no one is talking about except for me. He’s Jefferson junior Nick James. He’s 6’6 and he has an absolute cannon for an arm. By the time the season is over everyone will be talking about Nick James including college recruiters.
My top five difference-makers in the Big Northern Conference are North Boone’s big-play receiver/defensive back Will Doetch, Byron running back Chandler Binkley, Winnebago running back/defensive back/kicker Michael Cunningham. (He can change games with his kicking alone), Lutheran linebacker/offensive lineman Jamyr Pitts and Dixon quarterback Jacob Gaither.
My top five difference-makers in the NUIC are Le-Win running back/cornerback Marey Roby, DuPec quarterback Hunter Hoffman, DuPec linebacker Jake Anderson, Le-Win tackle Ross Stabinow, and Dakota receiver/defensive back Tyler Kauffman.
My top five “must-see games” this season are in the order that they’ll happen:
August 27: Harlem at Hononegah
September 10: Genoa-Kingston at North Boone
September 24: North Boone at Byron
September 24: East at Harlem (NIC-10 championship game rematch)
October 8: DuPec at Lena-Winslow
How will it all unfold? Keep track each week with “Overtime” on Friday nights at 11 p.m. on Fox 39! (Rebroadcast Sunday’s at 9 a.m. on Fox 39).