High School: Lyons
The Hilltoppers' Avery Balogh ran for three touchdowns, and the defense intercepted Lyons quarterback Connor Onion three times.
“[Balogh] has been outstanding every game,” Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said. “He’s worked his tail off to make himself the player he is, and I’m proud of him.”
Balogh got Glenbard West (3-0) on the board on its first possession, sprinting 41 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. He followed that with a 39-yard run late in the first quarter to put the Hilltoppers up 14-0.
Leading 17-3 at halftime, the Glenbard West defense pitched a shutout in the second half with three interceptions. Balogh added to his night with a 50-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter for a 24-3 lead.
“That team is just better than us. They showed it in every facet of the game,” said Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg, whose team dropped to 1-2. “But I don’t know if there’s any team in the state that’s had a tougher first three games than us (losses to Downers Grove South and Glenbard West and a win over Stevenson).”
Andy Frye contributed to this report.
No. 1 Maine South (2-0) at Deerfield (0-2)When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Last week's narrow win over Wheaton Warrenville South wasn't pretty, but Maine South escaped and continued to be the top team in the area. The Hawks should have an easier time this week against Deerfield. The Warriors fell to Homewood-Flossmoor 47-0 in Week 2. Maine South also has an explosive offense and will be looking to get back on track after scoring 13 points last week. Deerfield has suffered a handful of early injuries.
Maine South player to watch: Tyler Fahey, an all-area selection last season, has continued to be one of the top linebackers in the state. He made an impressive one-handed interception last week.
Deerfield player to watch: Running back Marc Pagano has scored two touchdowns on the season.
Prediction: Maine South 42, Deerfield 7
No. 2 Glenbard West (2-0) at Lyons (1-1)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Lyons pulled off one of last season's bigger upsets against Glenbard West, beating the Hilltoppers 31-13 on the road. Glenbard West is looking for revenge, and coach Chad Hetlet has used last season's loss as motivation. He used the same tactic against Wheaton Warrenville South in Week 1, and it worked. The Hilltoppers' defense has been stellar through two weeks and has allowed just seven points. Lyons opened the season on a strong note with a win over Stevenson, but lost 28-0 to Downers Grove South in Week 2. Lyons' offense will need a better day if it's going to pull off another win against Glenbard West.
Glenbard West player to watch: Offensive lineman Johnny Caspers has attracted interest from Nebraska and Stanford after playing well on ESPN2 a few weeks ago. Stanford will be in attendance on Friday.
Lyons player to watch: Rennick Thompson was one of the few offensive bright spots last week. He had seven receptions for 112 yards.
Quote: Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet – "You always want to beat a team that you lost to the previous year. They ended our 18-game win streak in conference."
Prediction: Glenbard West 24, Lyons 10
Lockport (2-0) at No. 3 Lincoln-Way East (2-0)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Lincoln-Way East hasn't been challenged the first two weeks, but Lockport should present a step up in talent as both teams open their Southwest Suburban Blue schedules. Last season, the Griffins rolled to a 45-14 win at Lockport. The Porters relied on a balanced running game last week to defeat Plainfield North. They had three different running backs score in the win. Their task this week will be stopping Lincoln-Way East's potent offense. It has scored 94 points in its first two games.
Lockport player to watch: Running back Richie Guess ran in for the game-winning touchdown in last week's win.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Quarterback Blake Winkler has lived up to his preseason hype. He has the Griffins offense rolling.
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 35, Lockport 17
De La Salle (2-0) at No. 4 Mount Carmel (2-0)
When: Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: Mount Carmel crosses over to the Catholic League White to meet De La Salle this week. De La Salle has put up points in its first two games, but Mount Carmel will present a stiffer challenge than Gordon Tech and Lane. The Caravan were dominant on both sides of the ball in their wins over Simeon and Morgan Park. The offense hasn't lost a beat this season with quarterback Don Butkus and running back Brandon Greer running the show.
De La Salle player to watch: Running back Mikale Wilbon will be looking to prove himself this week. He rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns last week.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Defensive lineman Vontrell Williams is considered one of the best in the state. He's being recruited by a number of top programs.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 38, De La Salle 14
Peoria Richwoods (0-2) at Joliet Catholic (2-0)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Peoria Richwoods ended Joliet Catholic's season last year in the Class 5A state quarterfinals with a 17-14 upset. This isn't the same Richwoods team that went 12-1 last season, but the Hilltoppers would still like some revenge. Joliet Catholic's running game has been off the charts the first two weeks with Northwestern recruit Malin Jones and junior Ty Isaac leading the way. Joliet Catholic defeated Notre Dame 42-0 last week. Richwoods' defense has struggled the first two weeks, allowing a total of 60 points.
Peoria Richwoods player to watch: Kendrick Foster rushed for 216 yards on 33 carries in last week's loss to Washington.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Joliet Catholic does possess a defense, too. Linebacker Nick Collofello had three sacks in last week's shutout of Notre Dame.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 42, Peoria Richwoods 21
Lake Forest Academy (1-1) at No. 6 Loyola (2-0)
When: Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The story: Loyola's offense couldn't do any wrong in last week's 41-24 win over Montini. Quarterback Malcolm Weaver threw for five touchdowns and rushed for another. Loyola coach John Holecek, a former NFL linebacker, wasn't as pleased with his defense. Look for the Ramblers to correct their defensive mistakes against Lake Forest Academy. The Caxys dropped their season opener to Antioch, but responded with a 42-7 win over St. Joseph last week.
Lake Forest Academy player to watch: Lake Forest Academy defensive end Faith Ekakitie has 18 offers already on the table. Illinois, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State and Tennessee are among the schools after him.
Loyola player to watch: Marquese Martin-Hayes is one of the many talented receivers Weaver can throw to.
Quote: Loyola coach John Holecek – "Alignment and assignment errors are costly against good teams. More common sense and understanding of the defensive call is a must. We need to go back to the basics of responsibility and key."
Fenwick (1-1) at No. 7 St. Rita (1-1)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: St. Rita traveled nearly five hours to East St. Louis on Sunday and came back with a 7-0 loss against a tough team from Tennessee. The Mustangs struggled in the red zone and will be focused on cleaning that up in this week's game. Fenwick moved over to the Catholic League White this season. The Friars are coming off a 6-0 loss to Marmion.
Fenwick player to watch: Junior quarterback Pat Hart continues to make strides for the Friars. He'll look to bounce back from last week's shutout.
St. Rita player to watch: Quarterback Scott Thomas had his positives and negatives in last week's loss. He'll be a key to the offense again this week.
Quote: St. Rita coach Todd Kuska – "I think playing two very good opponents on the road will help us down the line in the playoffs when we have to travel and face some adversity. Obviously, I would have rather won the game on Sunday, but sometimes it takes a loss to refocus the team."
Prediction: St. Rita 31, Fenwick 14
No. 8 Carmel (1-1) at Notre Dame (0-2)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Nearly every week matters in the East Suburban Catholic title race this season with teams playing eight conference games in 2011. Carmel bounced back from its season-opening loss to Joliet Catholic with a 27-3 win over Nazareth last week. Jordan Kos rushed for 127 yards and is now about 1,200 yards away from the school record. Notre Dame has struggled in its first two games. The Dons fell at home to Joliet Catholic 42-0 last week. The defense will have to do a better job stopping the run to have a chance this week.
Carmel player to watch: Linebacker Tyler Lees is one of the area's best. He had an interception in last week's win.
Notre Dame player to watch: Senior wide receiver Matt Livingston had six receptions for 84 yards in last week's loss.
Quote: Carmel coach Andy Bitto – "Our team has played well the first two weeks of the season. We have played solid defense, great special teams, and our offense is getting better every day. They responded very well after a tough loss and having been practicing extremely hard."
Prediction: Carmel 42, Notre Dame 10
No. 9 Homewood-Flossmoor (2-0) at Lincoln-Way Central (1-1)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Homewood-Flossmoor's offense has put up astronomical numbers so far. The Vikings have scored 123 points in two games with quarterback Tim Williams leading the way. Lincoln-Way Central may not be able to contain the Vikings, but they should slow them down. Lincoln-Way Central is coming off a 41-20 win over Thornridge.
Homewood-Flossmoor player to watch: Gerald Butler had two touchdown receptions in last week's 47-0 win over Deerfield.
Lincoln-Way Central player to watch: Brett Ditchman rushed for 271 yards and three touchdowns against Thornridge last week.
Prediction: Homewood-Flossmoor 35, Lincoln-Way Central 10
Morton (1-1) at No. 10 Downers Grove South (2-0)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Downers Grove South has shown signs so far this season it can be a state title contender. The offense and defense came up big in wins over South Elgin and Lyons. Running back Josh Williams has flourished this season. Morton will likely have its hands full. Morton lost 49-0 to Downers Grove North last week.
Morton player to watch: Quarterback Ismal Ledezma is a threat to run or pass the ball.
Downers Grove South player to watch: Quarterback A.J. Simoncelli's experience is a major reason why the Mustangs' offense has run so smooth this season.
Prediction: Downers Grove South 49, Morton 7
West Chicago (0-2) at No. 11 Glenbard North (2-0)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Glenbard North has coasted so far this season. The Panthers had no troubles against Oak Park or Fenger. Their offense and defense have been equally as dominant. This week they have a chance to continue that trend. West Chicago is coming off losses to Addison Trail and Larkin. Glenbard North won last year's matchup 42-14.
strong>West Chicago player to watch: Quarterback Matt Green had a passing and rushing touchdown in last week's 18-16 loss to Larkin.
Glenbard North player to watch: Junior quarterback Paul Murphy has run the offense consistently well. He had 185 all-purpose yards last week.
Prediction: Glenbard North 48, West Chicago 7
West Aurora (2-0) at No. 12 Wheaton Warrenville South (0-2)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Wheaton Warrenville South hung right with Maine South and Glenbard West, but its offense couldn't capitalize on its chances. Tigers coach Ron Muhitch used senior Thaddeus Armstrong and sophomore Ryan Graham at quarterback last week. He may continue to experiment with both until someone gives his offense some consistency. West Aurora isn't the same caliber of team as the Tigers' previous opponents, but it does have talent. West Aurora out-scored East Aurora and St. Charles East 68-13 in the first two weeks.
West Aurora player to watch: Senior linebacker Brandon Warren can cause offenses fits. He forced a fumble and scored a touchdown in last week's win.
Wheaton Warrenville South players to watch: Running backs Dan Vitale and Patrick Garner each have scored a touchdown this season.
Quote: Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch – "What we learned from Weeks 1 and 2 is that we are able to play with two of the top teams in the Chicagoland area this 2011 season. We need to eliminate mistakes on offense that have been self destructive. "
Prediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 24, West Aurora 10
Marmion (1-1) at No. 13 Montini (1-1)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Montini edged Marmion 27-21 in last year's Suburban Christian Blue meeting. Montini ended up in the Class 5A state championship game last season, and Marmion played in the 6A title game. Montini will be favored again this season. The result may also depend on which Marmion defense shows up. Marmion allowed 36 points to Batavia in Week 1 and then shut out Fenwick last week. Montini's defense was abused by Loyola last week and was challenged in practice this week.
Marmion player to watch: Senior lineman Ryan Glasgow is receiving Division I interest. He's 6-4 and 270 pounds.
Montini player to watch: Senior linebacker Frank Bruscianelli will be one of the key players if Montini's defense is going to improve.
Quote: Montini coach Chris Andriano – "We are a long way off on defense from being a great team. Too much poor tackling and bad angles in pursuit."
Prediction: Montini 28, Marmion 10
No. 14 Prairie Ridge (2-0) at Huntley (0-2)
When: Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: Prairie Ridge has been as good as anybody through the season's first two weeks. The Wolves have put away their opponents quickly and have out-scored them 97-12. Prairie Ridge's starters haven't had to play more than a half so far. Huntley should give them more of a game. The Red Raiders have a physical defensive line.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Quarterback Nick Nissen took a step forward in the offense last week. He ran the option better and had two big passing plays.
Huntley player to watch: Running back Ethan Connor broke a 33-yard touchdown run in last week's game.
Quote: Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp – "I am not surprised that we've scored that many points. We have a great defense and special teams that gives our offense very good field position. For teams that are outside of our conference, they tend to struggle with stopping our option. It's a hard offense to prepare for if you don't see it every year."
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 38, Huntley 7
Antioch (2-0) at No. 15 Libertyville (2-0)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Libertyville has quickly become the only undefeated team remaining in the North Suburban Lake. The Wildcats had an easy time with Urban Prep, winning 24-0 last week. They'll be favored again this week, but Antioch isn't to be overlooked. It has won two close games, and its defense has contained opponents. The Sequoits defeated Lake Forest Academy 14-12 and Waukegan 17-7.
Antioch player to watch: Running back Danny Arden has three touchdown runs on the season. He scored twice in last week's win over Waukegan.
Libertyville player to watch: Austin Williams will find a way to impact Friday's game. He has kicked field goals, punted, rushed with the ball and caught passes this season.
Quote: Libertyville coach Randy Kuceyeski – "This season feels entirely different than any other because I don't want to have any regrets in any anything that I do."
Prediction: Libertyville 27, Antioch 10
Crystal Lake South (2-0) at No. 16 Cary-Grove (2-0)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Crystal Lake South won its first Fox Valley Conference title last season since 1992. To do so, the Gators defeated rival Cary-Grove 28-14. Cary-Grove would like to redeem itself on Friday. The Trojans are the riding the momentum of last week's 10-7 upset of Lake Zurich. Cary-Grove's defense has allowed only one touchdown this season. Crystal Lake South's defense hasn't been bad itself. The Gators have given up six points this year.
Crystal Lake South player to watch: Senior Brad Walovitch is always around the ball whether at wide receiver or defensive back. He had an interception in last week's win.
Cary-Grove player to watch: Junior defensive back Zach Marszal intercepted two passes in last week's win over Lake Zurich.
Prediction: Cary-Grove 14, Crystal Lake South 13
Warren (0-2) at No. 17 Lake Zurich (1-1)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Lake Zurich's offense will look to respond after managing just one touchdown in a loss to Cary-Grove last week. The Bears' running game looked dominant in the opening week, but struggled last week. Lake Zurich's defense gave up only 10 points last week and continues to be among the area's best. Warren has had a disappointing start with back-to-back losses, but did face top-ranked Maine South and an improved New Trier team.
Warren player to watch: Kicker Patrick Kenney gives Warren another offensive element. He's connected on field goals of 29 and 44 yards this season.
Lake Zurich players to watch: Running backs Connor Schrader and Mike Shield had a tough time against Cary-Grove and will try to bounce back.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 24, Warren 13
Joliet Central (0-2) at No. 18 Bolingbrook (2-0)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Bolingbrook is off to a hot start and looks to be the real deal this season. The Raiders' offense has scored 79 points this season and cruised to wins over Plainfield South and Belleville East. The next few weeks shouldn't be much more challenging for them. Joliet Central has dropped its first two games by a combined total of 75-8.
Joliet Central player to watch: Quarterback Carlos Curry rushed for a touchdown and threw for a two-point conversion against Lincoln-Way West.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Junior quarterback Aaron Bailey has already received an offer from Northwestern. Plenty of other schools are likely to follow.
Prediction: Bolingbrook 49, Joliet Central 6
Geneva (2-0) at St. Charles East (0-2)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Geneva needed a little luck to pull off last week's 33-24 win over Wheaton North with two onside kicks going the Vikings way. They should be able to stay away from a similar scenario this week. St. Charles East has struggled to score points in its first two games. It's been out-scored 48-7 so far with losses to Cary-Grove and West Aurora.
Geneva player to watch: Quarterback Matt Williams can do a lot of things on the field. He executed two onside kicks last week.
St. Charles East player to watch: Nick Devor returned a kickoff for a 98-yard touchdown against West Aurora. Devor also doubles as the team's nose guard.
Quote: Geneva coach Rob Wicinski – "We need to continue to play consistent football, protect the ball, go for ball and be the most excited to play."
Prediction: Geneva 35, St. Charles East 7
No. 20 Waubonsie Valley (2-0) at Bartlett (1-1)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Waubonsie Valley is off to its best start since 1992. The Warriors have been solid on both sides of the ball in wins over Naperville Central and Oswego. Last week, they shut down quarterback Ryan West, one of the area's best. This week, they face another talented quarterback in Bartlett's AJ Bilyeu, an Air Force recruit. Bilyeu threw for four touchdown in last week's win over Elgin. Bartlett lost to Wheaton North in Week 1.
Waubonsie Valley player to watch: Dee Gray is one of the area's top receivers. He had four catches for 63 yards and a touchdown last week.
Bartlett player to watch: Linebackers Mike Partyka and Kevin Kirchhoff helped key Bartlett's 42-0 win over Elgin last week.
Quote: Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy – "What I hope to see this week is the same as the past two weeks -- play with confidence, execute the game plan and be ready to play 48 minutes of rocke'em, sock'em football. It's going to be a war on the field this Friday night."
Prediction: Waubonsie Valley 28, Bartlett 24
WESTERN SPRINGS -- Last week, Josh Williams' record-breaking performance carried No. 13 Downers Grove South. On Friday, it was the team's bend-but-not-break defense that made the difference.
South's defense allowed more than 375 yards of total offense but made a big goal-line stand in the fourth quarter and got a boost from Williams and Danny Leach in a 28-0 shutout win over host No. 17 Lyons on Friday.
"[The offense] put them in a bad situation a number of times," South coach John Belskis said, "and they had great resolve."
Holding onto a 14-0 lead with less than 10 minutes left, South (2-0) stuffed a plunge from Lyons running back Jaime Jones at the goal line — the Lions' best chance to score. Linebacker Korey Higgins then sealed the win with a fumble recovery with just over five minutes left.
"Our defense stepped up tremendously for us," said Williams, who broke the school record with 336 rushing yards in last week's win over South Elgin. "When our offense was down, they were up. They helped us out so much."
If Higgins sealed the win, Williams put an exclamation point on it. After being held to just 32 rushing yards on six carries in the first half, the senior broke off a pair of 47-yard touchdown runs, both in the last five minutes of the game. He finished with 193 yards and has 529 yards and five touchdowns through two games.
Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg calls him one of the of the best five running backs he's seen in 18 years of coaching.
"I knew coming into the game they were keying in on me," Williams said. "[They had] so many people inside the box, within 10 yards, and it's just a matter of breaking them in, and eventually we did it."
It took a while, though, and Lyons (1-1) stood its ground. After John Wauer's 2-yard touchdown on South's first drive and Leach's 60-yard punt return two minutes later, Lyons' defense held South scoreless for seven straight possessions.
The performance was even more impressive considering safety Will Konstant, a captain, stayed on the sidelines. He injured his ankle last week and dressed on Friday but did not play.
Still, it wasn't enough to overcome an offense that had committed too many penalties, dropped too many passes and made too many poor throws. And lost two fumbles.
Lyons' offense also threatened twice in the second quarter, but one drive stalled at South's 26-yard line and another ended with a lost fumble on a snap inside the 10.
"We just put too much pressure on our defense," Weinberg said. "Our offense wasn't functioning or executing. And credit their defense. They kicked our butts."
South's win could have been even bigger, but a would-be 85-yard punt return for a touchdown by Marco Scalzetti was called back. During the third-quarter play, an official ran into Belskis, who was standing too close to the sideline while trying to protest what he thought was a penalty.
South didn't need the points, though. After losing its first two games in each of the last three seasons, the program is streaking into the conference schedule. And everyone's contributing.
"It's not individuals," Williams said. "We're doing it as a team. Without one another, we just can't do it. You can't win games individually."
Players of the game: Downers Grove South -- RB Josh Williams (Sr.) 19 carries, 193 yards, 2 TDs; DB Danny Leach (Sr.) 60-yard punt return for TD. Lyons -- WR Rennick Thompson (Sr.) 7 catches, 112 yards.
Stat of the game: Williams rushed for 161 of his 193 yards after halftime.
It was over when: Downers Grove South linebacker Korey Higgins recovered a fumble with 5:06 left in the fourth quarter. Two plays later, Williams' first of two touchdowns gave South a 21-0 lead.
Quote of the night: "It's a team effort," Williams said when asked about his individual performance. "I couldn't care less how many yards I get, how many touchdowns I get. As long as we get a win, that's what's most important."
Here's a look at the second week of action for the teams ranked in ESPNChicago.com's top 20.
No. 3 Wheaton Warrenville South (0-1) at No. 1 Maine South (1-0)When: Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: This game could have been No. 1 vs. No. 2, but it’s still one of the most anticipated games of the year. Two years ago, Maine South won 27-9 at home. Last season, Wheaton Warrenville South rolled 44-7 at home. Now with the game back in Park Ridge, Maine South is looking for revenge. The lopsided loss was the low point of last season for the Hawks. They did rebound from it and win out. The tables have turned, at least on paper this season. Where Wheaton Warrenville South was the experienced team and Maine South was the young squad last year, it’s now the other way around.
Wheaton Warrenville South players to watch: The Tigers’ young offensive line took its lumps against Glenbard West last week. This is will be another test for it.
Maine South player to watch: Maine South quarterback Matt Alviti was an inexperienced sophomore the last time these teams met. He’s grown up since then.
Quote: Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch – “Maine South is a dynamic spread offense.”
Prediction: Maine South 31, Wheaton Warrenville South 20
Willowbrook (0-1) at No. 2 Glenbard West (1-0)When: Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The story: Glenbard West’s defense gave Wheaton Warrenville South little chance last week. With Penn State recruit Tommy Schutt applying constant pressure up front and Glenbard West possessing speed everywhere else, most opponents will experience a similar fate. The Hilltoppers will look to improve their offense this week. Turnovers were a problem last week. Willowbrook lost its opener 35-14 to Glenbard East.
Willowbrook player to watch: Dom Battaglia scored both of Willowbrook’s touchdowns last week. He had a rushing and receiving touchdown.
Glenbard West player to watch: Running back Avery Balogh provided a bulk of the offense last week. He’s a threat once he turns the corner.
Quote: Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet – “I was impressed last week with how confident we played even when the game was tight.”
Prediction: Glenbard West 42, Willlowbrook 7
No. 4 Montini (1-0) at No. 10 Loyola (1-0)When: Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The story: Montini possesses one of the state’s most high-powered offenses. Loyola’s defense is in that same class. Something will have to give. A year ago, Loyola won 31-9. Montini lost its starting quarterback prior to last year’s Loyola game, and that’s the case again this season. Junior quarterback Mark Gorogianis filled in for John Rhode last week and held his own. This week will be an even larger challenge against Loyola’s dominant defense. If Gorogianis can get the ball to Nebraska wide receiver recruit Jordan Westerkamp and company, the Broncos will have a chance. Loyola quarterback Malcolm Weaver was sensational in the opening week, throwing for three touchdowns.
Montini player to watch: Defensive tackle Josh Rogers had 12 tackles in last week’s win over Palatine.
Loyola player to watch: Wide receiver Charlie Dowdle had touchdown catches of 24 and 33 yards last week. He’ll be a major target for Weaver all season.
Quote: Montin coach Chris Andriano – “Up front on both sides of Loyola is big, athletic and very well coached. Defensively, they are very good at mixing up coverages and blitzes which can confuse the offense.”
Prediction: Loyola 24, Montini 21
Dunbar (0-1) at No. 5 Lincoln-Way East (1-0)When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Lincoln-Way East’s offense will have no trouble putting up points this season. The Griffins scored 45 points on Edwardsville last week and that was without Illinois recruit J.J. Robertson playing. Robertson missed the game because he violated team rules. Dunbar’s defense struggled to stop Vernon Hills last week. Dunbar lost 58-34.
Dunbar player to watch: Darvell Harris rushed for two touchdowns and threw for one in last week’s game.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Jay Yancy stepped up in Robertson’s absence last week and caught seven passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 56, Dunbar 17
No. 6 St. Rita (1-0) at Whitehaven, Tenn. (2-0)When: Sunday at 4 p.m. in East St. Louis, Ill.
The story: St. Rita will face its second out-of-state opponent in as many weeks. The Mustangs defeated Portage, Ind. 32-21 last season. This week should be a tougher task. Whitehaven went 12-2 and lost in the state semifinals last year. In its two games this season, Whitehaven has out-scored it opponents 104-0.
St. Rita player to watch: Linebacker Will McNamara is a three-year starter for the Mustangs. St. Rita’s defense will have to come to play in this one.
Prediction: St. Rita 21, Whitehaven 17
Morgan Park (0-1) vs. No. 7 Mount Carmel (1-0)When: Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Gately Stadium
The story: Both these teams played at Soldier Field last week. A lot of people came away impressed by Mount Carmel’s play on both sides of the ball in their win over Simeon. Morgan Park dropped its game 21-6 to Providence. Morgan Park is a work in a progress under first-year coach Jeremy Gold.
Morgan Park player to watch: Quarterback Andrew Newell delivered a touchdown pass against Providence and showed he has potential.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Brandon Greer ran the ball once for negative five yards in the first half against Simeon. In the second half, he broke out for 160 yards.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 28, Morgan Park 7
Cary-Grove (1-0) at No. 8 Lake Zurich(1-0)When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Cary-Grove first-year coach Brad Seaburg took care of his first win with last week’s 28-0 victory over St. Charles East. It gets tougher this week. Lake Zurich put together a dominant 35-3 win over Fremd in the season opener. Cary-Grove’s option offense against Lake Zurich’s speedy defense should be entertaining to watch.
Cary-Grove player to watch: Quarterback Corey Laktas ran for 156 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win.
Lake Zurich players to watch: Running backs Connor Schrader and Mike Shield each ran for 100-plus yards last week.
Quote: Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz – “Week 2, we need to work on fundamental things, more importantly, finishing. We played hard, but we missed some tackles and didn’t finish blocks on every play. So, we need to get better in those areas.”
Prediction: Lake Zurich 27, Cary-Grove 17
No. 9 Joliet Catholic (1-0) at Notre Dame (0-1)When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Joliet Catholic pulled out a miracle 32-31 win over Carmel last week. While there’s plenty of East Suburban Catholic play remaining, Joliet Catholic is the team to beat now. Notre Dame dropped its conference opener 35-21 to Marist last week.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: All eyes should be on running back Ty Isaac this week. He could be a special one.
Notre Dame player to watch: Quarterback Nick Pieruccini scored three touchdowns in last week’s loss.
Quote: Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp – “We have to play better than we did last week. I feel like we have to validate last week’s win with a better performance.”
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 42, Notre Dame 21
Nazareth (1-0) at No. 11 Carmel (0-1)When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Carmel is looking to bounce back from last week’s heartbreaker. The Corsairs’ running game was as good as advertised despite the loss. The big plays were what did the defense in. Nazareth won 17-0 over Benet last week.
Nazareth player to watch: Linebacker Joe DeSimone led the defense last week. He returned an interception for a touchdown.
Carmel player to watch: Mike Panico rushed for three scores in last week’s game. He would have been the hero if it weren’t for Joliet Catholic’s late touchdown.
Prediction: Carmel 24, Nazareth 10
Deerfield (0-1) at No. 12 Homewood-Flossmoor (1-0)When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Homewood-Flossmoor’s offense went off for 76 points in last week’s win over Senn. The Vikings won’t be able to put up that many points every week, but you can see the offensive potential they have. Deerfield lost 27-13 to Zion-Benton last week.
Deerfield player to watch: Running back Jeremy Kritt has big-play ability. He rushed for 10 touchdowns last season.
Homewood-Flossmoor player to watch: Quarterback Tim Williams was efficient last week. He completed 4-of-4 passes and three of them went for touchdowns.
Prediction: Homewood-Flossmoor 52, Deerfield 7
No. 13 Downers Grove South(1-0) at No. 17 Lyons (1-0)When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: This should be one of the more competitive games of Week 2. Both teams are coming off solid wins. Downers Grove South took care of South Elgin, and Lyons defeated previously-ranked Stevenson. Lyons junior quarterback Connor Onion’s debut went smoothly with 20 completions, 190 yards and a touchdown. The Lions will try to get running back Jaimie Jones going after a rocky opener. Downers Grove South running back Josh Williams was nearly impossible to take down last week. He rushed for a school-record 336 yards and added three touchdowns.
Downers Grove South player to watch: Williams came flying out of the gate in Week 1. What can he do for an encore?
Lyons player to watch: Evan Booth found the ball wherever he was in the opener. He had two interceptions on defense and four receptions on offense.
Quote: Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg – “Downers Grove South has a phenomenal running back. One of the best I’ve seen in 18 years.”
Downers Grove South coach John Belskis – “What impresses me about Lyons is their offensive timing and their execution is way ahead of most teams.”
Prediction: Downers Grove South 28, Lyons 24
No. 14 Glenbard North (1-0) at Fenger (1-0)When: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Gately Stadium
The story: Glenbard North put Oak Park away quickly last week. The Panthers will look to do the same with Fenger on Saturday. This will also be another opportunity for Glenbard North’s offensive line to get some more experience. Fenger opened its season with a 40-19 win over Reavis last week.
Glenbard North player to watch: Mario Rodriguez made an impact last week on offense, defense and special teams.
Fenger player to watch: Junior Darrien Boone is a smart and athletic quarterback. He’ll test the Panthers.
Quote: Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens – “Our team needs to shore up our special teams’ phases of the game. In addition, our offensive line needs to continue to gel.”
Prediction: Glenbard North 49, Fenger 17
Mundelein (0-1) at No. 15 Prairie Ridge (1-0)When: Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: Prairie Ridge’s offense, defense and special teams were impressive in the Wolves’ opening week 55-12 win over Glenbard South. Coach Chris Schremp did feel as if his team had to run its option quicker to be more effective. Overall, a good start, though. Mundelein dropped its opener 29-20 to Wheeling. The game was tied at halftime.
Mundelein player to watch: Running back L.D. Frison ran for a touchdown almost every time he touched the ball last week. He rushed for 115 yards and three touchdowns on seven carries.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Playing tight end and kicker, Nick Margiotta can often fly under the radar. Last week, he was well above it. He caught two passes for 130 yards and a touchdown and had five touchbacks off kickoffs.
Quote: Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp – “We always strive to force turnovers on defense, and we forced four last week. We are looking to continue that this week.”
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 31, Mundelein 14
No. 16 Wheaton North (1-0) at Geneva (1-0)When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Wheaton North survived its first test with a last-second touchdown to defeat Bartlett and its star quarterback A.J. Bilyeu. Now the Falcons have to face another quality team in Geneva, which has a quality quarterback in Matt Williams, a Northern Illinois recruit. Geneva defeated Rock Island 27-14 last week. Williams had an up-and-down day and will be looking bounce back against Wheaton North. This has a chance to be a good one.
Wheaton North player to watch: Cole Hrgich was the hero last week with a 21-yard touchdown catch as time expired.
Geneva player to watch: Parker Woodworth rushed for 104 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings’ win last week.
Prediction: Wheaton North 35, Geneva 30
No. 18 Simeon (0-1) vs. Jefferson City, Mo. (1-0)When: Sunday at 2 p.m. in East St. Louis, Ill.
The story: Simeon coach Dante Culbreath expected his young team would experience some bumps in the road early in the season. The Wolverines showed their youthfulness in last week’s loss to Mount Carmel. Culbreath’s hope is they’ll be better this week against out-of-state opponent Jefferson City, which defeated McCluer North 39-7 in its opener last week.
Simeon player to watch: Quarterback Robert Gregory committed to Arkansas earlier this week. His new fans will have an eye on how he does.
Prediction: Simeon 33, Jefferson City 27
Urban Prep (1-0) at No. 19 Libertyville (1-0)When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Libertyville is riding the momentum of last week’s overtime win over Barrington. The Wildcats persevered despite trailing Barrington on three different occasions. Urban Prep pulled out a 14-6 win over Maine West last week.
Libertyville player to watch: Brian Swift ran for 127 yards on 11 carries and put the Wildcats in position for a number of their scores.
Quote: Libertyville coach Randy Kuceyeski – “What impressed me last week was our ability to come back and win the game.”
Prediction: Libertyville 38, Urban Prep 10
Neuqua Valley (1-0) at Naperville Central (0-1)When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Neuqua Valley coach Bryan Wells was impressed by how his team never wavered in its 37-23 win over Naperville North last week. The Wildcats went up 13-0 early, but then allowed 16 unanswered points. Instead of dropping their heads, the Wildcats responded by closing out the first half on a strong note. Naperville Central lost 21-7 to a quality Waubonsie Valley team last week.
Neuqua Valley player to watch: Joey Rhatigan rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns in last week’s win.
Naperville Central player to watch: Senior Matt Randolph rushed for 129 yards on 27 carries last week.
Quote: Neuqua Valley coach Bryan Wells – “We need to play better defensively and keep doing the things we do on offense.”
Prediction: Neuqua Valley 34, Naperville Central 20
Onion completed passes to seven different receivers and No. 20 Lyons forced five turnovers and blocked a punt in its 24-19 season-opening win over No. 16 Stevenson on Friday night.
The five turnovers included a game-sealing interception by Conner Wasz, who picked off Stevenson quarterback Matt Micucci inside Lyons' 20-yard line with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter. It was one of four interceptions by the host Lions, who found themselves in the right place at the right time from the opening kickoff.
"Obviously, our secondary came up huge," Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg said. "We got a lot of guys, athletically, who can play very, very well. We came up with some huge stops, but also some big turnovers when we needed them."
Onion, meanwhile, played calm and collected. In Lyons' four- and five-receiver spread offense, he completed 20-of-33 for 190 yards and a touchdown to receiver Matthew Harris. Harris and Rennick Thompson tied for the team lead with six catches.
Perhaps most importantly, Onion didn't throw an interception.
"Everyone this week was saying, 'You're going to throw up. You're going to be nervous. Your knees are going to be shaking,'" Onion said. "But I felt confident, and the coaches prepared us well."
Onion said getting called up to varsity team at the end of last season helped prepared him for Friday's win. It was a big one, too: Stevenson had won 19 straight regular-season games.
"I didn't know that," Weinberg said. "Ultimately, just beating a great program like Stevenson makes you feel good. We know who they are, and we know what they do. They win football games. They hit you in the mouth, and we knew it would be a tough one coming (into the game). I'm just happy to beat Stevenson."
While Lyons' offense was often methodical, using short passes to rack up 15 first downs, its defense played with exclamation points. Evan Booth had two interceptions while Jamari Burks added another. It wasn't just the defensive backs, though. Jimmy Mitchell recovered the blocked punt in the first quarter and Robert Mitchell recovered the fumble before halftime.
The win is an early boost for the Lions, whose difficult schedule includes Downers Grove South and Glenbard West in the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, Stevenson's bid for a 23rd consecutive playoff berth hit a Week 1 snag.
"We turned the ball over tonight," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. "We gave them more opportunities than they could ever ask for. Hats off to Lyons. They took advantage of it. We got some work to do. We'll get better."
Stevenson never led but had its chances. Anthony Bozin's and Nathan Kahn's short touchdown runs in the second and fourth quarters, respectively, pulled the Patriots with a score. But each of their next possessions ended with turnovers, including the final interception at the end of the game.
"It's real disappointing," said Stevenson wide receiver Troy Radtke, who hauled in a game-high seven catches for 169 yards. "But after the slow start, I'm really proud of our team after coming back and digging deep in the second half. We really showed a lot of heart out there."
One of the Lions' most dangerous weapons, Will Konstant, limped off the field with an ankle injury late in the third quarter and did not return. He often replaced Onion when Lyons' offense moved inside the 10-yard line and twice scored on 1-yard touchdown runs.
Players of the game: Lyons -- QB Connor Onion (Jr.) 20-for-33, 190 yards, TD; WR/DB Evan Booth (Sr.) two INTs. Stevenson -- WR/DB Troy Radtke (Sr.) 7 receptions, 169 yards, TD.
Stat of the game: Stevenson quarterback Matt Micucci, who doubles as the team's kicker, missed an extra point after converting all 47 of his attempts last season.
It was over when: Lyons defensive back Conner Wasz intercepted Stevenson's Matt Micucci inside Lyons' 20-yard line with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter.
Quote of the night: "There's some things we'd like him to do better," Weinberg said of Onion, "But all in all, I think he ran the machine well and ran the show well. He did a good job distributing the ball and understanding what we were after. I think he did a good job for his first start, for sure."
Warren (0-0) at No. 1 Maine South (0-0) on FridayThe story: Maine South begins its quest to win a fourth consecutive Class 8A state championship with Warren. Maine South is widely considered the state’s top team this season. Maine South coach David Inserra will miss the opener due a one-game suspension due to incidents at last year’s state title game. Warren is looking for a stronger start to this season. The Blue Devils dropped two of their first three games last season. They’re expected to pass the ball more this season.
Warren player to watch: Linebacker Matt Goad should be a difference-maker for the Blue Devils this season.
Maine South player to watch: With the departure of Reilly O’Toole, Matt Alviti is the state’s next biggest star quarterback. He has already received offers from Illinois, Notre Dame and Northwestern.
Quote: Maine South coach David Inserra -- “The kids have taken it on as a motivation to work that much harder. We talk about opportunities. This is an opportunity that not many kids get to win a fourth state championship.”
Prediction: Maine South 42, Warren 21
No. 3 Glenbard West (0-0) at No. 2 Wheaton Warrenville South (0-0) on Sunday
The story: This will be one of the most highly-anticipated games of the season. The two teams have met in the playoffs last two seasons, and Wheaton Warrenville South won both times, including in the 2009 Class 7A state title game. Both teams are stacked with talent again and could very well meet up in the playoffs for a third consecutive season. To add to the excitement, the game will be televised on ESPN2.
Glenbard West player to watch: Quarterback Justice Odom is not only making his starting debut, but he’s also doing it against his former school. Odom previously attended Wheaton Warrenville South.
Wheaton Warrenville South player to watch: Thaddeus Armstrong replaces Reilly O’Toole at quarterback. Armstrong isn’t expected to be as dominant as last year’s ESPNChicago.com player of the year, but he does have ability and is expected to excel in the Tigers’ offense.
Quote: Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch – “It’s a great chance to show off Illinois football, which is in the intent of signing this game up.”
Prediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 28, Glenbard West 27
Palatine (0-0) at No. 4 Montini (0-0) on Friday
The story: How Montini does against Palatine and Loyola in its opening two weeks likely won’t determine whether it win another state championship, but it will show whether the Broncos can hang with the big boys and deserve to be ranked No. 4 in the area. The Broncos’ offense was unstoppable during the summer. Palatine hopes to build on last season’s success. After clawing into the playoffs, the Pirates made a run to the Class 8A state quarterfinals.
Palatine player to watch: Jesse Bobbit is one of the area’s biggest offensive threats. He was on the watch list for ESPNChicago.com offensive player of the year.
Montini player to watch: No one may have looked more polished this summer than wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp. Defenses will have their hands full with the Nebraska recruit this season.
Quote: Montini wide receiver Anthony Taylor – “Every team is gunning for the top and knock off Montini. We’re gunning for another state championship. It won’t be easy, but I think we can do it.”
Prediction: Montini 28, Palatine 21
No. 5 Lincoln-Way East (0-0) vs. Edwardsville (0-0) at Illinois State on Friday
The story: Expectations haven’t been this high at Lincoln-Way East since the Griffins won a state championship in 2005. They return a talented group of offensive players, including quarterback Blake Winkler and wide receiver Jason Robertson. Lincoln-Way East cruised past Edwardsville when they met last season.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Quarterback Blake Winkler had a strong junior season. He has the potential to throw for some big numbers this season.
Quote: Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar -- “I think this group without being arrogant just wants to put that target on our back and be the group that turns the tide again.”
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 42, Edwardsville 17
No. 6 St. Rita (0-0) at Portage, Ind. (0-1) on Friday
The story: St. Rita will play two out-of-state opponents this season. The Mustangs defeated Portage 22-0 in Chicago last season. Portage dropped its season opener last week.
St. Rita player to watch: St. Rita relies on its running game, and junior Guerby Ministre becomes the Mustangs’ featured back this season.
Prediction: St. Rita 27, Portage 7
No. 7 Mount Carmel (0-0) vs. No. 10 Simeon (0-0) at Soldier Field on Friday
The story: Mount Carmel and Simeon are quickly developing into a South Side rivalry. Mount Carmel had the Wolverines’ number until last season when Simeon pulled off the upset at Soldier Field. This year’s game should be another classic. Both teams return a number of Division I recruits.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Mount Carmel’s option offense requires a skilled quarterback, and the Caravan believe they have one in first-year starter Don Butkus. He will make his debut at Soldier Field, which is where his great uncle Dick Butkus used to star.
Simeon player to watch: Wolverines quarterback Robert Gregory was one of the most entertaining players in the state last season. He ran and passed with the best of them.
Quote: Simeon coach Dante Culbreath -- “It’s Mount Carmel. It’s the best of Illinois. You get an opportunity to play those guys, and you just got to play hard. It’s been Mount Carmel for years. What those guys have done over there is legendary. We’re just a small group out here working.”
Prediction: Mount Carmel 48, Simeon 42
No. 8 Carmel (0-0) at No. 11 Joliet Catholic (0-0) on Friday
The story: Don’t expect to see many passes thrown in this game. Carmel and Joliet Catholic possess the two best backfields in the state. Carmel’s running game is led by three-year starters Jordan Kos, Michael Panico and Matt Maher. Joliet Catholic is powered by Division I running back recruits Malin Jones and Ty Issac. A Carmel-Joliet Catholic game hasn’t been decided by more than three points the last two seasons. Carmel won 31-28 last season, and Joliet Catholic won 19-16 in 2009.
Carmel player to watch: Jordan Kos rushed for more than 1,500 yards last season. He is on the verge of breaking the school’s rushing record.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Malin Jones is the next in the long line of talented Hilltopper running backs. He’s headed to Northwestern.
Quote: Carmel coach Andy Bitto – “It’s a good chance right away to go to their stadium and play in front of a huge crowd on TV. You get to know where you’re at right away.”
Prediction: Carmel 41, Joliet Catholic 38
No. 9 Lake Zurich (0-0) at Fremd (0-0) on Friday
The story: Lake Zurich is the favorite headed into this game, but Fremd should never be counted out. Last year, Lake Zurich pulled out a 20-10 win. Two seasons ago, Fremd won 10-7. With the game being at Fremd, don’t be surprised if this comes down to the fourth quarter again.
Lake Zurich player to watch: Jack Lynn is one of the area’s top linebackers. He’s headed to Minnesota.
Fremd player to watch: Sophomore quarterback Sam Beutler stepped in as a freshman and helped the Vikings into the playoffs. He should be even better this season.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 20, Fremd 14
No. 12 Loyola (0-0) at Evanston (0-0) on Friday
The story: Loyola has reached the Class 8A semifinals the last two seasons and lost to Maine South. The Ramblers are hoping for more this season. They travel to nearby Evanston to open the season. The Ramblers defeated Evanston 35-0 in last year’s meeting.
Loyola player to watch: Quarterback Malcolm Weaver was impressive with his running and passing last season. He’s primed for another big season.
Evanston player to watch: Evanston linebacker Leonard Garron made ESPNChicago.com’s defensive player of the year watch list.
Quote: Loyola coach John Holecek – “Here, we play good defensive football. We expect that every year no matter who we play. We expect to be very tough on defense.”
Prediction: Loyola 31, Evanston 7
Senn (0-0) at No. 13 Homewood-Flossmoor (0-0) on Friday
The story: Homewood-Flossmoor surprised a lot of people last season by going to the Class 8A semifinals after having only won one game the year before. With that, the Vikings won’t be sneaking up on anybody this season. Senn went 9-1 last season, but all of its wins came against Chicago Public League opponents.
Homewood-Flossmoor player to watch: Quarterback Tim Williams was a major reason for the Vikings’ success last season. He may be the biggest and most athletic quarterback in the state.
Prediction: Homewood-Flossmoor 42, Senn 10
No. 14 Barrington (0-0) at Libertyville (0-0) on Friday
The story: This game should be entertaining from the start with Wayne Messmer singing the National Anthem and Libertyville wearing camouflage jerseys in tribute to it former players who have served in the military. Outside of that, the game should also be a good one. Barrington has an enormous offensive line and a talented running back in Chase Murdock. Libertyville is thought to be one of this season’s sleepers.
Barrington player to watch: Barrington have had some quality offensive linemen come through its program, but Dan Voltz may be the cream of the crop. He’s committed to Wisconsin.
Libertyville player to watch: Luke Mathewson is likely to make an impact on both sides of the ball at tight end and defensive end.
Quote: Barrington coach Joe Sanchez – “We open with Libertyville, and it’s a great opening game for both schools.”
Prediction: Barrington 27, Libertyville 21
South Elgin (0-0) at No. 15 Downers Grove South (0-0) on Friday
The story: This is a good test for both teams. South Elgin was nearly ranked after coming a strong season last year. South Elgin lost 10-7 in the Class 8A second round to Stevenson and returns a number of quality players this season. Downers Grove South should be a state contender this season if it can remain healthy. That was the Mustangs’ downfall last year.
South Elgin player to watch: Joe Slania earned all-conference honors at offensive tackle last season. He’s also play on the defensive line this season.
Downers Grove South player to watch: When healthy, Josh Williams can be one of the state’s best running backs. The Mustangs hope he can stay healthy for an entire season for the first time in three years.
Quote: Downers Grove South coach John Belskis -- “I think there’s enough kids back where we should be competitive in every game we play. That’s all you can ask.”
Prediction: Downers Grove South 42, South Elgin 35
No. 16 Stevenson (0-0) at No. 20 Lyons (0-0) on Friday
The story: This is one of four games between ranked teams in the opening week. Lyons and Stevenson each had its season ended in the Class 8A quarterfinals last season. Both look to replace some holes due to graduation, but are traditionally strong programs.
Stevenson player to watch: Versatile quarterback Matt Miccuci takes over Stevenson’s offense this season. He will also kick field goals.
Lyons player to watch: Jaime Jones rushed for 866 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. He should be among the area’s best this season.
Quote: Stevenson coach William McNamara – “We have to come out of the shoot ready to go.”
Prediction: Stevenson 24, Lyons 20
Oak Park (0-0) at No. 17 Glenbard North (0-0) on Friday
The story: Glenbard North had an impressive regular season last year, going 8-1, but were upset in the first round of the playoffs. The Panthers are hoping for better this season. Oak Park is looking to rebound from last year’s 2-7 mark. This will be the debut for Oak Park first-year coach John Hoerster. He was previously an assistant at Mount Carmel.
Oak Park player to watch: Returning senior quarterback John Phelan will be in charge of a new offense this season.
Glenbard North player to watch: Running back Phil Jackson was among the area’s best last season. He could have a huge season this year.
Prediction: Glenbard North 24, Oak Park 14
No. 18 Prairie Ridge (0-0) at Glenbard South (0-0) on Friday
The story: Prairie Ridge has high expectations heading into the season coming off back-to-back Class 6A state semifinal appearances. The Wolves return a number of players on both sides of the ball and should be led by returning running back Connor Greenwald and an experienced group of linebackers. Glenbard South joins the Metro Suburban Conference this season. It opened last season with four losses in its first five games, but bounced back to have a 4-5 record.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Running back Connor Greenwald rushed for 1,172 yards last season. He’s added some speed this season.
Glenbard South players to watch: Running back Wes Sanders and quarterback Tyler Padera should be able to provide the Raiders a number of points this season.
Quote: Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp – “Our linebacker corp is the strongest we’ve had in the history of the school.”
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 33, Glenbard South 20
Bartlett (0-0) at No. 19 Wheaton North (0-0) on Friday
The story: Wheaton North undoubtedly will put up points this season. The Falcons’ offense is too potent not to. The question is whether their inexperienced defense will come through. Bartlett’s offense will be a good first test. Led by quarterback AJ Bilyeu, Bartlett is coming off an 8-3 season and a second round playoff appearance.
Bartlett player to watch: Quarterback AJ Bilyeu should one of the area’s best this season. He completed 105-of-157 passes for 1,437 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. He’s committed to Air Force.
Wheaton North player to watch: Wide senior Johnny Daniels was impressive in 7 on 7 player this summer. If he continues to impress, more Division I schools are bound to come knocking.
Quote: Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski – “I think we’ve got quite a few kids coming back on offense. We knew where the pieces were going to fit on that side of the ball. Defensively, we’re basically replacing everybody.”
Prediction: Wheaton North 37, Bartlett 31
Season ahead: Coming off a 5-5 season in 2009, Lyons snuck up on everyone last year and took a share of the West Suburban Silver title and advanced to the Class 8A quarterfinals. A season later, Lyons is expected to resemble that 2010 team again rather than the 2009 version. The Lions return four offensive starters and six defensives starters and plenty of athleticism and speed.
Star power: Senior running back Jaime Jones showed he can be a game-changer at times last season. He was the difference in Lyons' upset of Glenbard West, rushing for 163 yards and three touchdowns. With another year under his belt, the Lions hope to see more of those types of performances. "I think he's one of the top returning running backs in the conference," Lyons coach Kurt Weinberg said. "We're excited about his senior year possibilities." Jones finished the season with 866 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Breakout player: Matthew Harris saw the field as a defensive back, wide receiver and kick returner as a sophomore. As a junior, the highly athletic Harris is expected to shine in all three areas. His role will shift to a more offensive one this season. A number of Big Ten schools have already expressed interest in him. "I think he's going to be something special," Weinberg said.
Defensive difference-makers: Seniors Michael Thomas and Will Konstant return in the secondary to give Lyons skill and experience in the secondary.
Newcomer to watch: Junior Connor Onion will step into the starting quarterback spot for the Lions with the graduation of Brian Kelley. Onion did get a nice start to his varsity career as a sophomore. He was called up for the playoffs and completed 7-of-8 passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns.
Schedule breakdown: There are few teams in the state that open with as tough of a schedule as Lyons. Its first three games are against Stevenson, Downers Grove South and Glenbard West. The one positive is all three games are at home.
Key game: Sept. 9 vs. Glenbard West: Lyons defeated Glenbard West 31-13 on the road last season. The Hilltoppers will be looking for revenge at Lyons.
Interesting fact: The Lions holds their first week of practices on the campus of Wisconsin-River Falls, a six-hour drive from Lyons. It's the same campus the Kansas City Chiefs once used for their training camp.
What they're saying: "We know we're very athletic," Weinberg said. "We know we got a lot of football players coming back. We know we had a great senior class that graduated, but we're excited about what we have coming back."