Seven players from the metro-east were named to the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association All-State Team.
The selections represent seven area high schools, each of them a playoff qualifier, and five of the eight classes established by the IHSA
Topping the list is Belleville West senior defensive lineman Keith Randolph, whose introduction to football just two seasons ago has brought him a whirlwind of attention.
At 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, he’s entertaining scholarship offers from no fewer than 19 Division I schools. He has said Illinois, Purdue and Wyoming are among his top three picks, but that was before Michigan State entered its bid last month.
Randolph helped the Maroons to their seventh straight Class 7A playoff berth. West finished the regular season 7-2 before falling to Wheaton Warrenville South, 20-12, in the first round. Despite frequent double teams, he was among team leaders with 56 tackles, nine of them for loss. Randolph also sacked the quarterback seven times and recovered a pair of fumbles.
Darrell Simmons, a 6-4, 290-pound offensive lineman also was an all-state pick as a junior. Behind him and others on a sizable offensive line, the Flyers averaged more than 50 points per game and reached a state quarterfinal game, which it lost on the road to Chicago Mount Carmel, 29-19.
Like Randolph, Simmons has received multiple D-I offers, but has already given verbal commitment to Iowa State.
Southwestern Conference rival Kendall Abdur-Rahman, a senior quarterback from Edwardsville, was the area’s lone all-state pick in class 8A.
Abdur-Rahman has been an adequate passer, having completed 27 of 56 passes for 515 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. But his value is as a playmaker under center. He rushed for 806 yards and 17 touchdowns on just 89 carries.
Already committed to Notre Dame, Abdur-Rahman likely will find a different role in the college ranks, perhaps as a wide receiver of defensive back.
Rival class 5A schools from the Mississippi Valley Conference also placed players on the IHSFCA All-State team.
Defensive end Malik Green helped Mascoutah to its best season in years by recording 42 solo tackles and 13 quarterback sacks. He also fell on three fumbles.
The Indians, 6-3 in the regular season, qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2009, falling in the first round to Mattoon, 28-24.
Highland wide receiver Sam LaPorta once again was central to a potent offense that carried the Bulldogs to 11 straight victories before their quarterfinal playoff loss at Joliet Catholic.
The 6-4, 215-pound senior caught 68 passes for 1,457 yards and 19 touchdowns to cap a remarkable career at Highland. As a junior last year, LaPorta 64 passes for 1,295 yards and 20 TDs to earn all-state honors.
Coaches from Big Ten, Mid-American and Ivy League conference football programs are among those who have been in contact with the Bulldogs’ three-sport star. According to Rivals, LaPorta already has offers from Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Southern Illinois University Carbondale, Illinois State, Northern Iowa, Western Illinois and Yale.
Nic Seelhoefer again anchored the Mater Dei defense for his senior season to earn his all-state selection. The 6-2, 259 pound linebacker had 63 tackles and a pair of sacks to take the Knights back to the playoffs.
He’s been contacted by coaches from Southern Illinois-Carbondale, Lindenwood, McKendree, Lindenwood-Belleville and Missouri Baptist.
Rounding out the list of metro-east all-state picks is Dylan Kwiatkowski, a6-3, 280-pound lineman from Nashville. The Hornets finished the season 8-2 after a first round playoff loss to Tri-Valley.