Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 17 Homewood-Flossmoor


By Andy Sroka
Illinois and Wisconsin Assistant Director

The Illinois high school baseball season kicks off on April 12, opening day for regular season action under IHSA regulations. Over the next several weeks, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2021 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, leading into a countdown through the official PBR Illinois Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Perennially, we’ve submitted a Preseason Questionnaire to high school head coaches across the entire state. Their responses have been flooding in and we’re using the detailed insight they’ve provided in our team-by-team preseason analysis.

Our 2021 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Homewood-Flossmoor
Preseason Rank: No. 17
2019 Record: 19-19
Conference: Southwest Suburban
IHSA Class: 4A
Head Coach: John McCarthy

TOP PLAYERS

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
Keegan Buksa RHP 2021 Heartland CC
Gallien Coupet INF 2021 Creighton
Joshua McAlister INF 2021 Ohio State
Chad Readey RHP 2021 Northwestern
Waylon Deck RHP 2022 -
Charlie Faoro INF/RHP 2022  -
Will Goldberg OF/LHP 2022 -
Shane Jones 1B/RHP 2022 -
Shai Robinson INF 2022  Illinois State
Carter Green LHP 2023 -
Tommy Haggerty RHP/INF 2023 -
Dillon Head OF 2023 Michigan
Vince Waterman LHP 2023 -


UNDERCLASSMAN TO WATCH

Illinois’ exciting sophomore class is looking more and more like a memorable one, and Dillon Head among its best and brightest. The Michigan recruit is highly ranked both in-state and at the national level, equipped with a tantalizing combination of athleticism and strength. The Vikings expect to have Head etched into their starting lineup from day one, likely roaming center field where he has shown to be one of the top defensive outfielders in the state, regardless of class. Homewood-Flossmoor will rely on its upperclassmen to provide its run production, but a quick transition to varsity ball would further extend the Vikings’ potentially potent lineup. His loose, simple left-handed swing has a top-of-the-order profile that he could grow into over time – if not in 2021, then in his junior and senior seasons.

Dillon Head (9/13/20)

X-FACTOR

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound RHP Keegan Buksa impressed our staff in a late July live look at a PBR Wisconsin tournament, where he was up to 90 mph while mixing in a sinking, deceptive changeup. He committed to Heartland CC later in the year, and has since, reportedly, continued to make positive strides in his development ensuring his high school squad has a No. 1-type arm at the top of its rotation. HF may need to look to its sophomore class to fill out much of its staff, so Buksa’s presence at the top of the rotation is really important to the team’s composition.

Keegan Buksa (7/25/20)

OUTLOOK

The Southwest Suburban Conference is typically competitive, but the 2021 season looks especially unforgiving. With that being said, Homewood-Flossmoor has the talent and depth to be squarely in the mix at the top of the standings by the end of the year, and they’ve clearly made an effort to use the regular season to prepare them for the postseason. The Vikings naturally play a highly competitive conference schedule, but they’re testing themselves with an interesting mix of non-conference opponents as well, featuring the likes of Joliet Catholic, Brother Rice, Huntley (DH), St. Rita, Marist, Mount Carmel, among others.

So, this team will be truly battle-tested by the postseason, and it’s just something to consider when assessing this team’s record once we reach that point in the spring.

Defensively, there might not be a better, more athletic infield than HF’s. Up the middle, they’re occupied by junior Shai Robinson and senior Josh McAlister, and senior Gallien Coupet is completely capable of playing on either side of the second base bag, but he may better served as the team’s starting third baseman in 2021.

Shai Robinson (3/20/21)

Robinson is as slick as it gets defensively, equipped with big arm strength that reached a 90 mph high across just last month at Preseason All-State. His middle infield glove and actions are his best traits on the diamond, and his loose right-handed swing will help bolster the lineup, supporting seniors like McAlister who will carry greater offensive responsibilities.

McAlister and Coupet are a pair of high-end athletes in the state’s senior class and they can impact the game in a number of ways. Both can play all over the diamond, can cause havoc on the bases and look to control the barrel at the plate. McAlister also features sneaky pop in his right-handed bat and could provide a much-needed punch in the middle of the order at times. Senior classmate RHP Chad Readey, a Northwestern recruit, is a quality arm to call your No. 2 on staff, behind the ‘X-Factor’ Buksa. Readey’s a huge, athletic 6-foot-8 righty who we’re eager to see again after another offseason of work.

One of the offseason winners along our winter event circuit was RHP Waylon Deck, an uncommitted junior who sat 84-86 mph at the Chicago Preseason I.D., up to 87, from a strong and athletic 6-foot-1 build. His sinking changeup complements his carry fastball well, and he also utilized a cutter that featured some late action. If Deck can carry over his strong winter performances into the spring, he should be able to provide quality depth to the staff.

More juniors like OF/LHP Will Goldberg, INF/RHP Charlie Faoro, and 1B/RHP Shane Jones can be relied on to reinforce this everyday order, in addition to their two-way roles to provide depth on staff. Goldberg’s a quality athlete with a smooth left-handed swing that should adjust to the varsity level well, and he was up to 83 mph on the mound at Preseason All-State. Faoro’s a smooth infield defender who give coach McCarthy even more options with his loaded defensive infield. Faoro also has a loose swing and he’s a low-80s arm who will capably cover some innings from the mound. Jones will reportedly play a critical role at the center of this lineup, while also adding to the team’s depth inside the rotation.

There’s also a gifted group of sophomores right around the corner – and it’s a collection who could contribute ahead of the schedule. We’ve already mentioned Head, who’s penciled in to play a big role from opening day, but pitchers like RHP/INF Tommy Haggerty, LHP Vince Waterman, and LHP Carter Green have the skillset to take on some innings and add even more depth to the staff.

BOTTOM LINE

The athleticism inside the Homewood-Flossmoor dugout bursts off the lineup card. Team speed and defense will be strengths, enough to project for a successful season ahead, even considering the rigorous schedule the squad will navigate. The Vikings can be called a SWSC title threat, and the experience they gain over the course of a hardy season could mold them into a tough out come playoff time.

Make sure to follow @PBRIllinois on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2021 season.

Find more information on the 2021 Vikings below:

+ Team Website

+ Team Schedule

+ Team Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN