High school football preview: The top 10 quarterbacks

A Big Ten recruit staying close to home and some exceptional multisport athletes highlight the list of the area’s top quarterbacks.

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Naperville North’s Aidan Gray runs the football during practice.

Naperville North’s Aidan Gray runs the football during practice.

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

A Big Ten recruit staying close to home and some exceptional multisport athletes highlight the list of the area’s top quarterbacks. Here’s the rundown:

1. Aidan Gray, Naperville North

A top-50 quarterback nationally in the 247Sports.com composite rankings, Gray also is the state’s consensus No. 20 senior. The 6-3, 185-pounder, who passed for 22 touchdowns for the DuPage Valley Conference champs last season, is a Northwestern recruit.

2. Joshua Franklin, Crete-Monee

One of Illinois’ most dynamic athletes, Franklin was a state relay champ in track last spring and also owns two state long jump medals. Committed to Western Michigan, the 5-10, 175-pounder passed for 2,165 yards and 23 touchdowns last year and ran for 869 yards and nine TDs.

3. Jake Stearney, Loyola

The reigning Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Blue Offensive Player of the Year is back after throwing for 2,179 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. A 6-3, 180-pounder, he is committed to Colgate.

Loyola’s Jake Stearney (15) throws a pass as the Ramblers play Naperville Central.

Loyola’s Jake Stearney (15) throws a pass as the Ramblers play Naperville Central.

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

4. Kyle Thomas, Marian Catholic

Another dual-threat quarterback from the south suburbs, Thomas is committed to Northern Illinois as a wide receiver. The 6-3, 160-pounder passed for 1,019 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior and ran for 779 yards and nine scores.

5. Tre Jones, Oswego East

The 6-2, 175-pounder, who has a Power Five offer from Arizona State, is a Navy recruit. He threw for 853 yards and eight touchdowns last season and added 310 yards and five TDs as a runner.

6. Logan Malachuk, Nazareth

Malachuk is on pace to be a four-year starter for the Roadrunners. The 5-11, 165-pounder completed 61% of his passes for 1,806 yards and 18 touchdowns as a freshman last season.

7. Michael Champagne, Glenbard South

The Raiders had an elite passing game last season and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Champagne, a 5-9, 170-pounder, completed 62% of his passes for 22 TDs in 2021. Like Notre Dame-bound receiver Cam Williams, he’s a junior.

8. Mark Mennecke, Neuqua Valley

The 6-1, 175-pound senior is a difference-maker as both a passer and a runner. He threw for 1,750 yards on 57% accuracy for 1,750 yards and 16 touchdowns last season and rushed for 562 yards and six TDs.

9. Cole Crafton, Lincoln-Way West

A Louisville baseball commit before he made his prep debut on the diamond, the 6-3, 205-pound junior also holds a football offer from Northern Iowa.

10. Cole Teschner, Montini

The Broncos are looking to bounce back from their first losing season since 1992 and Teschner is expected to be a key contributor to the rebound. The 6-2, 189-pounder completed 60% of his passes last season for 1,581 yards and 15 TDs.

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