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High school football preseason starts this week – What to watch

LANSING, Ill. (August 5, 2023) – Preseason practice starts on Monday for high school football teams around Illinois. Here’s a quick update on the three teams in the Lansing Journal coverage area:

TF SouthTF South

Coach: Bob Padjen (31-24 in six seasons at South; 54-52 in 11 seasons overall).

Last season: 3-6 overall, 2-4 in South Suburban Blue (fifth place).

2023 schedule (x-denotes South Suburban Blue game)

  • Aug. 25, at Hammond Central (Ind.), 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 1, at Lane Tech, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 8, x-at Lemont, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 16, x-at TF North, noon
  • Sept. 21, x-Bremen, 6 p.m.
  • Sept. 29, x-at Tinley Park, 7 p.m,
  • Oct. 6, x-Hillcrest, 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 13, x-Oak Forest, 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 19, at Argo, 6 p.m.

Top players

Christian Streeter, junior, RB; Karrel Harvest, senior, TE/DT; Seneca Smith, senior, RB/LB; Andy Ochiabutor, senior, LB; Dennis Hoskin, senior, S; Diar Fleming, senior, DL; Dylan Oliphant, senior, LB; Tailen Gosa, senior, DB.

What to watch

The Red Wolves are looking to bounce back after missing the IHSA playoffs last year for the first time since 2015 and posting their worst record since going 2-7 in 1990. With their field getting turf installed, they are scheduled to play only three home games and won’t host a game till Sept. 21 (Bremen). Expect a big boost from the return of senior quarterback Nathaniel Smith, who was injured in last year’s opener and missed the rest of the season.

TF NorthTF North

Coach: Anthony Pignatiello (0-0 at North and overall).

Last season: 1-7 overall, 1-5 in South Suburban Blue (sixth place).

2023 schedule (x-denotes South Suburban Blue game)

  • Aug. 25, at Proviso West, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 1, at Thornton, 6 p.m.
  • Sept. 8, at Shepard, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 16, x-TF South, noon
  • Sept. 22, x-Tinley Park, 6 p.m.
  • Sept. 29, x-at Bremen, 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 6, x-at Oak Forest, 7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 13, x-Hillcrest, 6 p.m.
  • Oct. 19, x-at Lemont, 6:30 p.m.

Top players

Zion Blanton, senior, OL/DL; Damari Dogan, senior, DL; Tremaine Floyd, senior, EB/WR/DB; Dominic Gradford, senior, QB/DB/WR; Tristan Jackson, senior, RB/LB; Keilan Jones, senior, WR/DB; Alvin Lankin, senior, OL/DL; Terrion Long, senior, RB/DB; Carlos Roa, junior, OL.

What to watch

Anthony Pignatiello takes over at his alma mater seeking to turn around a program that last had a winning record in 2014 (5-4) and last made the playoffs in 2011. Two senior basketball players, Jordan Petty and Aric Moultrie, are out for football for the first time and should improve the receiving corps and the defense.

Marian CatholicMarian Catholic

Coach: Nick Lopez (4-5 in one season at Marian and overall).

Last season: 4-5 overall, 0-3 in Chicago Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference Purple (fourth place).

2023 schedule (x-denotes CCL/ESCC Red game)

  • Aug. 25, Rich Township, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 2, at Homewood-Flossmoor, 1 p.m.
  • Sept. 8, at St. Viator, 7 p.m.
  • Sept. 15, x-at De La Salle, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 22, Montini, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 29, x-DePaul Prep, 7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 6, at St. Ignatius, 7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 13, Nazareth, 7:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 19, x-Leo, 7:30 p.m.

Top players

Austin Alexander, senior, DB; Kaleb Isom, senior, WR/DB; Tyler Lofton, junior, RB; Caiden O’Neil, senior, OT/DE; Michael Biesboer, senior, OG; Bryan Maduakolam, senior. OG; Harmon Cummings, junior, WR; Kelby Key, senior, WR/DB; Carter Magerski, senior, QB; Marcellus Clifton, senior, DB; Kaiden Jenson, senior, LB; Joseph Garcia, senior, LB; Roosevelt Griffin, junior, LB; Joaquin Mendez, junior, DE; Christopher Hunter-Walker, senior, DT.

What to watch

Alexander is an elite talent, a four-star prospect committed to Kansas who is ranked 12th among Illinois seniors, 34th among cornerbacks and 430th nationally in his class by Lofton was the CCL/ESCC Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore, rushing for 1,319 yards (9.1 yard per carry) with 17 touchdowns. The experienced Spartans are looking to win the revamped CCL/ESCC Red and advance to the IHSA playoffs for the first time since 2019 and just the second time since 2010.

Mike Clark
Mike Clark
Mike Clark is a veteran journalist who has been covering sports in the Chicago area and beyond, from preps to pros, for more than four decades.