High-SchoolIllinois: Aaron Bailey

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Whether you’re putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you’re making that special list for Santa, there’s nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we’re bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: The top underclassmen in high school football.

The state championships are over and the Class of 2012 had a great run, but it’s never too early to start looking at the impressive players in the Class of 2013 and beyond. Who’s going to rule the gridiron in Illinois next season? We give you the early rundown of who to watch for.

5. LaQuon Treadwell (JR), Crete-Monee, WR
Credentials: Big, physical playmaker caught 75 passes for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns this year

4. Ethan Pocic (JR), Lemont, OL
Credentials: At 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, Pocic is dominant in the running game and pass protection

3. Matt Alviti (JR), Maine South, QB
Credentials: Passed for 2,210 yards and 29 touchdowns and also ran for 12 scores

2. Aaron Bailey (JR), Bolingbrook, QB
Credentials: Led Bolingbrook to a state championship, running for

1. Ty Isaac (JR), Joliet Catholic, RB
Credentials: Ran for 2,629 yards and 48 touchdowns on the year, including a title game-record 515 yards in the Class 5A championship contest

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Tomorrow: The POWERADE Illinois Weekly Basketball Rankings.

Did I miss someone who should be on the list? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and let me know about it.

Five Days of List-Mas: IL's A-List

December, 12, 2011
12/12/11
12:25
PM ET
5

Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday

Whether you're putting together a grouping of best quarterbacks or worst albums, or you're making that special list for Santa, there's nothing quite like a good list. So in honor of the holiday season we're bringing you lists all week long — Merry List-Mas!

Today: Illinois A-List

What is an A-Lister? In Hollywood, it's the George Clooney and Julia Roberts crowd. In the NFL, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers are A-Listers. In the NBA, it’s LeBron James and Kobe Bryant. The A-List is the best of the best. So which athletes can be considered A-Listers in Illinois this year? That’s where today’s list comes in. Regardless of sport, here’s our list of the top five A-List athletes in the state.

Aaron Bailey, Junior
Bolingbrook, Football
Credentials: Quarterbacked Bolingbrook to state championship; ran for 1,983 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Ty Isaac, Junior
Joliet Catholic, Football
Credentials: Ran for 2,629 yards and scored 49 touchdowns; led Joliet Catholic to state title game.

Ryan Koziol, Senior
Providence, Baseball
Credentials: The most controversial selection to this list, Koziol may not play a single inning this year after being ruled ineligible following his transfer from Brother Rice to Providence. He has committed to Arizona.

Jabari Parker, Junior
Simeon, Basketball
Credentials: No. 1 in the ESPNU 60; leads the No. 1 team in the POWERADE FAB 50.

Jordan Westerkamp, Senior
Montini, Football
Credentials: State's all-time leader in receptions (269), receiving yards (4,355) and touchdowns (66).

Click here to check out some of the other states in our Five Days of List-Mas.

Tomorrow: The top underclassman football players from Illinois.

Think I missed someone who should be on the A-List? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and make your case.

Winkler wins Gatorade POY

December, 1, 2011
12/01/11
11:22
AM ET
Blake Winkler may not have been the highest-ranked football player in Illinois, but there was no one more feared with the game on the line. For his steady play and clutch leadership, Winkler took home the Gatorade State Player of the Year award for 2011.

The 6-foot senior passed for 2,369 yards with 30 touchdowns this year, while tossing just five interceptions. His Lincoln-Way East squad was upset in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs, but Winkler was still the choice for the Gatorade panel.

It won't be a popular decision in some circles, as there were some spectacular performers across Illinois this year. Montini senior receiver Jordan Westerkamp became the state's all-time leader in every pass-catching category while leading his team to the Class 5A championship. Bolingbrook junior quarterback Aaron Bailey burst onto the scene and won the Class 8A championship. Joliet Catholic junior running back Ty Isaac ran for 2,629 yards and scored 51 TDs.

And those are just the offensive stars. Glenbard West senior defensive tackle Tommy Schutt may have been the most dominant player in the state.

If I had a vote, in all honesty, I probably would have cast it for Isaac or Bailey. But since both are juniors, we'll likely get to see them battle it out for this award next year. For 2011, I have no problem with Winkler taking home the hardware.

To read the complete rundown of Winkler's credentials, click here.

To see all the winners for every state, click here.
After a playoff run that saw the top two teams lose in the early rounds, Bolingbrook emerged as the undisputed No. 1 football team in Illinois. The Raiders used one of the best defenses in recent memory, along with star quarterback Aaron Bailey, to go 13-1 and win the Class 8A championship with a 21-17 victory over Loyola.

Bailey, a candidate for Gatorade State Player of the Year, is just a junior, so he should return next year to make Bolingbrook a favorite again in 2012.

Final 2011 POWERADE State Rankings
  1. Bolingbrook (13-1) — Defeated Loyola, 21-17 (final regular season rank: No. 5)
  2. Loyola (13-1) — Lost to Bolingbrook, 21-17 (final regular season rank: No. 4)
  3. Montini (12-2) — Defeated Joliet Catholic, 70-45 (final regular season rank: NR)
Click here for complete POWERADE state rankings.

Football championship games set

November, 21, 2011
11/21/11
11:40
AM ET
It's been a long season in IHSA football. Some teams have been declared dead (Wheaton Warrenville South), only to come back to life. Some players have exploded and become stars (Aaron Bailey). Some stars have gone down with injuries (Antonio Morrison). Some stars have become legends by breaking records (Jordan Westerkamp). There have been upsets (Stevenson over Maine South) and perfect seasons (Loyola — so far). And now it's time for the survivors to play one more game.

State championship matchups were locked in over the weekend, as an exciting semifinal round produced some very intriguing title games.

Class 8A

Bolingbrook needed a late touchdown run from junior quarterback Aaron Bailey to finish off Naperville Central, 22-19. Bailey ran 27 times on the game for 183 yards, and he'll need another performance like that if the Raiders are going to topple Loyola in the 8A title game. Loyola fell behind Glenbard North, 13-0, before scoring the next four touchdowns and rolling, 28-13. One storyline to watch this week will be the status of Bolingbrook linebacker Antonio Morrison. The Florida-bound senior missed the semifinal game with a broken foot, but he's hoping to be ready to take on Loyola.

Class 7A

Wheaton Warrenville South hasn't quite finished it off yet, but the Tigers are on the verge of winning a third consecutive state championship. And this would be the most unlikely of the three, by far. The Tigers lost three of their first four games this season, but they're playing like one of the best teams in the state right now. Even down to their third-string quarterback, WWS was able to edge past St. Rita, 21-4, in the semifinals. Up next is Boylan, which is also looking to repeat as state champion — the NICKNAMES won the 6A title last year.

I'll be taking a look at the other state championship matchups throughout the day, with more analysis coming during the week. Keep checking back here for more, and follow me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) for the latest updates.

Football quarterfinal picks: 8A

November, 11, 2011
11/11/11
10:12
AM ET
Quick picks today, looking at the Class 8A quarterfinals. After last week's rush of upsets, it's hard to discern who has the upper hand in many of these matchups. But they pay me to make predictions (and clean out the keyboards), so here we go.

Playoff picks: 8A quarterfinals

Class 8A

Lyons (7-4) at Loyola (11-0)
Saturday, 12 p.m.
No team has had it as easy as Loyola in the first two rounds, as the top-seeded Ramblers have outscored Evanston and then Dunbar by a combined score of 64-0. As much as it scares me after last week's upsets, I'm going with Loyola here. This looks like the team to beat in 8A now.
LOYOLA 35, LYONS 6

Stevenson (9-2) at Glenbard North (8-3)
Saturday, 3 p.m.
I'm all in on Stevenson after I called them a pretender last week, only to see them go out and beat No. 1 Maine South. And Glenbard North is a good matchup for the Patriots. North likes to pound the ball, but Stevenson senior linebacker Carl Miller is playing out of his mind right now.
STEVENSON 22, GLENBARD NORTH 10

Homewood-Flossmoor (8-3) at Naperville Central (8-3)
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Naperville Central defense has been outstanding all season, and they face a unique challenge this week in 6-foot-7 Homewood-Flossmoor quarterback Tim Williams. But I think senior defensive end Zach Borta has a big game and Central moves on to the semifinals.
NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 17, HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 13

Downers Grove South (10-1) at Bolingbrook (10-1)
Saturday, 6 p.m.
Bolingbrook has two superstars in key spots — senior linebacker Antonio Morrison and junior quarterback Aaron Bailey. They made enough plays to beat Mount Carmel 21-7 last week, and I think they'll do it again on Saturday. Bailey is quickly becoming a favorite of this blog.
BOLINGBROOK 28, DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH 18

Did I make a bad call? Let me know on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

Football playoffs: Week 1 review

October, 31, 2011
10/31/11
2:09
PM ET
With the first round of the playoffs in the books, we've learned a lot about which teams are for real, and which teams are not. Let's jump into things with a feature I like to call "Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)."

CONTENDERS

Aaron Bailey and Bolingbrook: The junior quarterback was spectacular in Bolingbrook's 33-14 win over Neuqua Valley, rushing for 304 yards and four touchdowns. Three of the TDs came on huge plays (66, 71 and 80 yards), and that's something Bailey has been able to do consistently this season. Because of that big-play ability, Bailey and the Raiders are definitely contenders in Class 8A.

Lincoln-Way East: The Griffins' passing attack was in high gear on Friday night, as senior quarterback Blake Winkler threw for 228 yards and three touchdowns in a 35-7 win over Plainfield South. Senior wideout J.J. Robertson caught a pair of touchdowns and senior Jay Yancy paced the squad with 133 receiving yards and a touchdown. Wheaton-Warrenville South is next on the schedule for the top-seeded Griffins.

PRETENDERS

Stevenson: The Patriots may have defeated York, 31-28, in the first round of the 8A playoffs, but the win was not exactly impressive. Stevenson entered the fourth quarter leading by 17 points, but back-to-back late touchdowns took things down to the wire. With No. 1 Maine South up next in the second round, Stevenson doesn't look long for the postseason.

Brother Rice rushing TD record: The Crusaders' single-season record for rushing touchdowns fell on Friday night, as senior RB Martez Walker reached the end zone three times to break the mark. Walker ran for 183 yards and three scores to give him 19 on the season.

CHICKEN TENDERS

Simeon: The Wolverines opened the season at No. 7 in the POWERADE state rankings and with hopes of a state championship. Those hopes crumbled in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs, when fourth-seeded Simeon lost to No. 13 seed Lockport, 18-15. Simeon led, 12-0, at halftime before Lockport came alive. The Wolverines gave up the go-ahead touchdown with less than four minutes to play.

Want to play Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

Week 9 football picks

October, 20, 2011
10/20/11
2:10
PM ET
With the regular season winding down, the stakes are high in a lot of the Week 9 matchups. And there are several intriguing games on the slate, including No. 1 Maine South taking on a very dangerous (and motivated) Glenbrook South team. There's a lot to get through, so let's move on with the picks.

Note: The game between No. 4 Loyola and No. 5 St. Rita isn't listed here because I'm saving it for an in-depth preview tomorrow.

Week 9 picks

Glenbrook South (7-1) at No. 1 Maine South (8-0)
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Glenbrook South defense has been improving as the season has gone on, but are the Titans ready to stop the two-headed monster of QB Matt Alviti and RB Paul Preston? ESPNChicago's Scott Powers has Maine South winning this game, and so do I.
MAINE SOUTH 31, GLENBROOK SOUTH 20

No. 2 Glenbard West (8-0) at Downers Grove North (2-6)
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Can Glenbard West make it three shutouts in a row? I don't think so, but it's in play.
GLENBARD WEST 28, DOWNERS GROVE NORTH 7

No. 3 Lincoln-Way East (8-0) at Joliet West (2-6)
Saturday, 12 p.m.
A win clinches the Southwest Suburban Blue title for LWE, and I don't expect the Griffins to stumble.
LINCOLN-WAY EAST 38, JOLIET WEST 10

No. 6 Downers Grove South (8-0) at Addison Trail (7-1)
Friday, 7:30
I loved the way Addison Trail gave Glenbard West everything it could handle. Wouldn't surprise me if they slowed down RB Josh Williams just enough to come away with an upset win here.
ADDISON TRAIL 21, DOWNERS GROVE SOUTH 14

Cary-Grove (6-2) at No. 7 Prairie Ridge (8-0)
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Cary-Grove defense is good, but Prairie Ridge can score on them.
PRAIRIE RIDGE 34, CARY-GROVE 20

Lockport (6-2) at No. 8 Bolingbrook (7-1)
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Is Lockport for real? I don't think they can stop Bolingbrook QB Aaron Bailey.
BOLINGBROOK 38, LOCKPORT 14

Think you could make better picks? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala) and let me know what I got wrong.

Stock is rising for Rhode, Getzelman

October, 5, 2011
10/05/11
4:39
PM ET
In this week's edition of Stock Watch, we're looking at Illinois football players who saw their potential value rise or fall over the past week. A player could have had a huge game, gotten a big-time scholarship offer, or broken a leg. Whatever the case, I chart all the data (in my head) and give you the biggest movers of the week.

STOCK WATCH

UP — John Rhode, Montini QB
When Rhode transferred from Marian Catholic to Montini this summer, he no doubt expect to be tossing countless TDs to WR Jordan Westerkamp. But an injured thumb kept the senior QB on the sideline through the first five weeks of the season. He returned this past weekend, starting the second half against St. Francis and throwing for 134 yards and three touchdowns (two to Westerkamp) in a 33-14 win. Expect Rhode to be the starter going forward.

DOWN — Aaron Bailey, Bolingbrook QB
This is cheating, because Bailey can’t really be in the DOWN category after rushing for 222 yards and two touchdowns in his team’s 20-14 loss to Lincoln-Way East. This is more a knock on his timing — both TDs came in the first quarter, and the Bolingbrook offense was unable to scratch out any more points as LWE came all the way back from a 14-point deficit to earn the win. Bailey, a junior, will be fine going forward, but the loss is still tough to swallow.

UP — Jordan Getzelman, Prairie Ridge RB
Prairie Ridge has done nothing but climb the rankings with dominant performances week after week. On Friday, it was a 41-16 thrashing of Crystal Lake South, and Getzelman was right in the middle of it. The junior ran for more than 100 yards and punched in two touchdowns, and he also made a big special teams play by returning a punt 45 yards for a TD. Just like his team’s stock, Getzelman is pointed UP.
Homewood-Flossmoor lost its showdown with No. 3 Lincoln-Way East last week, but the Vikings are still 3-1 and very dangerous. They'll get a chance to rebound in a big way today, when they face off against 4-0 Bolingbrook.

The Game:
Bolingbrook at Homewood-Flossmoor
Friday, 7:30 p.m.

The Players:
Bolingbrook — Whether running or throwing, quarterback Aaron Bailey is a threat to put points on the board with every snap. Defending him will be priority No. 1 for Homewood-Flossmoor.

Homewood-Flossmoor — The Vikings have a dynamic QB of their own in senior Tim Williams. If this game turns into a shootout, Williams has the juice to deliver when it counts.

The Stakes:
Both teams are hovering just outside the POWERADE Top 10, and the winner could vault into the ranks. For Homewood-Flossmoor, two consecutive losses at this point in the season would hurt.

The Prediction:
Homewood-Flossmoor really needs this game, but I think Bailey is just too hot right now. He makes the plays in the fourth quarter and Bolingbrook improves to 5-0 with a huge road win.
BOLINGBROOK 24, HOMEWOOD-FLOSSMOOR 20


Other notable games:

No. 1 Maine South at New Trier
Friday, 7: 30 p.m.
New Trier is 3-1, but Trevians don't have the firepower to stick with Matt Alviti and Co. MAINE SOUTH 38, NEW TRIER 10

No. 2 Glenbard West at Oak Park
Saturday, 1 p.m.
Don't mean to offend Oak Park fans, but I would be surprised if Glenbard West allowed any points (outside of garbage time). GLENBARD WEST 35, OAK PARK 0

Sandburg at No. 3 Lincoln-Way East
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Huge win over Homewood-Flossmoor last week proved the Griffins were for real. Lincoln-Way East just has too many weapons here. LINCOLN-WAY EAST 45, SANDBURG 16

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