Nazareth pegged as favorite in stacked ESCC

Marist, Benet and Notre Dame could challenge Roadrunners for conference title

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Melvin Tate

Contributing Reporter

Most pundits felt last year that a young but talented Nazareth team would be a state title threat in 2018. But the Roadrunners had a sensational season in 2017, finishing with a 12-2 record and a runner-up finish in Class 6A. With several players returning from that team - including senior stalwarts Devin Blakely and Michael Love - Nazareth not only is the favorite to win the East Suburban Catholic conference, but is also a serious challenger for the Class 7A championship.

However, there are several teams in this highly competitive league that will challenge the Roadrunners. Marist, which won the title last year, returns a talented core led by quarterback Michael Markett and receiver Jadon Thompson. Benet also returns several players as the Redwings have been 7A semifinalists back-to-back seasons. After taking its lumps the last two seasons, perennial power Joliet Catholic looks poised to return to the playoffs. Marian Central is always a threat in 5A, and don't go to sleep on Notre Dame, St. Patrick and St. Viator; each team is quite capable of beating any of the top teams on any given Friday.
Devin Blakely, RB, SR, Nazareth 
Michael Love, WR/DB, SR, Nazareth
Michael Markett, QB, SR, Marist
Jadon Thompson, WR, JR, Marist
Colin Gillespie, QB, JR, Benet
Joliet Catholic at Marist, September 21
Nazareth at Benet, September 21
Marist at Nazareth, October 5
DID YOU KNOW: Joliet Catholic has amassed the most state football championships in Illinois? The Hilltoppers have finished first 13 times.
Nazareth, Marist, Benet, Notre Dame, Marian Central, Joliet Catholic, St. Viator, St. Patrick, Carmel, Marian Catholic 

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