High School: Prairie Ridge

IHSA title game preview

November, 23, 2011
11/23/11
10:31
PM CT
Here's a look at this week’s state championship games and Prep Bowl.
All eight state championships and the Prep Bowl will be shown on ESPN3.com and can be found at ESPNChicago.com.

No. 2 Bolingbrook (12-1) vs. No. 1 Loyola (13-0)

Loyola Bolingbrook
When:Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Class 8A state championship
The story: When Maine South was upset in the second round, this was the best possible remaining game, and both teams took care of business to get here. They both have dynamic dual-threat quarterbacks. Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey is most dangerous keeping the ball. Robbie Bain, who recently committed to Illinois, is an offensive lineman to watch. Loyola quarterback Malcolm Weaver prefers to pass it, but he’s also possesses plenty of speed. Weaver has a plethora of wide receivers to throw it to, too. Defensively, both teams have been dominant throughout the season. Bolingbrook faced some of the state’s best offensive teams in the Southwest Suburban Blue and contained them. Loyola may have been the state’s premier defensive team this season. The Ramblers allowed 8.2 points a game this season and only gave up more than 13 points once. Bolingbrook linebacker Antonio Morrison, who is committed to Florida, is questionable for the game after suffering an injury during the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Loyola 24, Bolingbrook 20

Rockford Boylan (13-0) vs. No. 3 Wheaton Warrenville South (10-3)

When:Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Class 7A state championship
The story: This is a rare game between one defending state champ against another defending state champ. Boylan won the Class 6A state title last season, and its enrollment placed it in Class 7A this season. Wheaton Warrenville South is the two-time defending Class 7A state champs. Boylan has been as impressive as any team in the state this season. After rolling through its Rockford-area competition in the regular season, the Titans have knocked off one Chicago-area team after another throughout the playoffs. They’ve defeated Libertyville (40-0), Wheaton North (37-20), Crystal Lake South (30-13) and Lake Zurich (16-10) on their way to the title game. All four of those teams were ranked in ESPNChicago.com’s poll at one point this season. Wheaton Warrenville South has had a fairytale season. After graduating nearly everyone from last season’s title team, the Tigers began this year 1-3, putting even a playoff berth in jeopardy. Relying on its defense and running back Dan Vitale, the Tigers turned their season around and have won their last nine games. Most of the victories haven’t come easily, but they’ve found a way to pull out each game. It’s almost as if they’ve been a team of destiny this year as they shoot for a 3-peat. Wheaton Warrenville South may be forced to start sophomore quarterback Jordan Davis due to injuries. Davis was on the sophomore team this season.
Prediction: Boylan 14, Wheaton Warrenville South 10

No. 6 Joliet Catholic (11-2) vs. No. 4 Montini (11-2)

Montini Joliet Catholic
When:Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Class 5A state championship
The story: Joliet Catholic and Montini don’t need to familiarize themselves with each other. This is the third consecutive year the two teams have met. In 2009, Montini upset Joliet Catholic 29-28 in the Class 5A state championship. Joliet Catholic jumped out to a 14-0 advantage in the game, but Montini battled back. With Montini trailing in the fourth quarter, it scored in the final minute to tie the game, and the Broncos won it on a 2-point conversion. Last year, Joliet Catholic topped Montini in the regular season, but Montini went on to win its second consecutive title. Now, they meet again. Joliet Catholic is still powered by its rushing attack. Malin Jones and Ty Isaac are two of the state’s top running backs. Montini’s game is throwing the ball. John Rhode has delivered 35 touchdown passes, and that’s despite missing time early in the season with an injury. Montini wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp is one of the best to ever come through the state. This game could be a shootout. It may come down to which defense can make a stop or two.
Prediction: Montini 36, Joliet Catholic 35

Peoria Richwoods (10-3) vs. No. 5 Prairie Ridge (12-1)

When:Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Class 5A state championship
The story: The third time was the charm for Prairie Ridge. After falling in the semifinals the last two years, the Wolves finally broke through to the title game. Their offense has been unstoppable most of the season. They’ve only been held to less than 29 points once. They’ve scored 33 or more points throughout the playoffs. Running backs Connor Greenwald and Jordan Getzelman and quarterback Nick Nissan have combined for 3,132 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns. Peoria Richwoods has had an interesting season. The Knights dropped their first three games, including a 63-34 loss to Joliet Catholic, and responded by winning their next 10 games. Their offense is potent. They’ve averaged 39.5 points a game.
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 38, Peoria Richwoods 28

Mt. Carmel (12-1) vs. Aurora Christian (12-1)

When:Friday at 4 p.m. in the Class 3A state championship
The story: Aurora Christian has cruised through the Class 3A playoffs. The Eagles have won all their playoff games by 13 or more points. Their offense, which is led by Western Michigan quarterback recruit Anthony Maddie, has averaged 42 points this season. Mt. Carmel, which is in southern Illinois, lost its first game of the season and has won its last 12 contests. Its schedule included six teams from Indiana. Its offense hasn’t scored less than 29 points since that opening week.
Prediction: Aurora Christian 42, Mt. Carmel 24

Simeon (10-3) vs. Mount Carmel (9-4)

Mount Carmel Simeon
When:Friday at 12 p.m. in the Prep Bowl
The story: It’s only fitting Simeon and Mount Carmel close out their seasons with each other. The two teams also met to start the season. Mount Carmel took that game 23-14 at Soldier Field. This time around they’ll play at Gately Stadium for the Prep Bowl. Both teams have been up and down this season, but their offenses have been rolling the past few weeks. This should be another highly competitive game between the two South Side schools.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 28, Simeon 21

Prep rankings: 8A title finalists are top two

November, 20, 2011
11/20/11
5:53
PM CT
Loyola remained No. 1 in this week's rankings and Bolingbrook stayed at No. 2. The two teams will face off in the Class 8A final on Saturday.

Complete rankings.

Third time charm as Prairie Ridge reaches final

November, 19, 2011
11/19/11
7:59
PM CT


BATAVIA, Ill. -- Prairie Ridge senior Connor Greenwald knew all too well the feeling of losing in a semifinal playoff game.

Greenwald had experienced that crushing disappointment as both a sophomore and junior when the Wolves were halted one step short of reaching the state championship in back-to-back seasons. It was a feeling that stayed with him throughout the last two years.

PROn Saturday, Greenwald was finally able to shake those memories for good and embrace a new feeling after Prairie Ridge defeated Batavia 33-22 in a Class 6A semifinal to advance to its first state championship game.

Prairie Ridge will play Peoria Richwoods, which defeated Lemont, for the state title on Saturday.

After sharing dozens of hugs with teammates and fans, Greenwald wasn’t sure how to express what he was actually feeling at the moment.

“Words can’t describe how awesome it is,” said Greenwald, who rushed for a game-high 231 yards and two touchdowns. “I’m so happy with my whole team. We worked so hard to get to this point. We did it. It’s awesome.”

It didn’t come easy for Prairie Ridge.

[+] EnlargePrairie Ridge
Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.comPrairie Ridge's Jordan Getzelman shakes free of Batavia's defender.
Down 14-13 at halftime, Prairie Ridge (12-1) first turned to its defense to create some momentum. On the opening drive of the second half, Batavia’s offense was rolling and got inside the red zone. But with Batavia facing a fourth-and-2 from the 18, Prairie Ridge broke up a pass and gained possession.

“I think if we score on that drive, the game’s ours,” Batavia quarterback Noel Gaspari said.

Instead, Prairie Ridge took over the ball, drove 82 yards and went ahead 20-14 when Jordan Getzelman rushed for an 18-yard touchdown. Getzelman finished with 101 rushing yards.

A possession later, Prairie Ridge’s Josh Hrudicka picked off a pass and ran the ball 37 yards into the end zone to put the Wolves ahead 26-14. They extended their lead to 33-14 when Greenwald scored the second of his two touchdowns.

Batavia (12-1) did make one more push. With the wind at his back, Gaspari got to work in the fourth quarter. He moved the ball quickly and scored on five plays with 10:56 left in the fourth quarter. He added a 2-point conversion pass to pull Batavia within 33-22.

After stopping Prairie Ridge on its next possession, Gaspari again had the Bulldogs advancing the ball. He had one touchdown pass brought back due to an illegal block. He almost threw another touchdown pass, but Prairie Ridge’s Sean Folliard foiled that with a display of athleticism.

As Batavia’s Evan Zeddies was catching Gaspari’s pass in the end zone, Folliard flew at Zeddies, landed a massive hit and snatched the ball in mid-air for an interception.

“It’s the semifinals, man,” Folliard said. “All out. If you think they got the ball, you got to take it away, take it away. He had the ball, and I stripped it out as he was falling down.”

With that, Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp finally was able to exhale.

“Until time ran out, I was nervous,” he said. “[Folliard’s] so athletic. Him coming away with the ball doesn’t surprise me. Some of the things we get to see him do in practice. But a phenomenal play. One of the plays of the year for us.”

Like Greenwald, Schremp felt a lot of pressure taken off of him with Saturday’s win.

“My wife asked me this morning how I feel,” Schremp said. “I said I don’t know how to feel because it’s going to turn out to be one of the best days of your career or one of the worst days of your career. It turned out pretty good today.”

Gaspari was 29-of-46 passing for 374 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions.

Prep rankings: Loyola stays at No. 1

November, 13, 2011
11/13/11
8:36
PM CT
Loyola, Bolingbrook and St. Rita held onto the top three spots in ESPNChicago's prep football rankings.

Complete rankings

Greenwald, Prairie Ridge rush past Nazareth

November, 12, 2011
11/12/11
11:25
PM CT

CRYSTAL LAKE, Ill. --After scoring on a fumble return on the first play of the game and piling up 251 rushing yards against one of the area's toughest defenses, the Prairie Ridge Wolves advanced to the IHSA Class 6A semifinals for the third consecutive season with a 35-7 win over Nazareth Academy on Saturday afternoon.

[+] EnlargeNazareth football
Cori Getzelman Prairie Ridge's ground game was too much for Nazareth to handle on Saturday.

Coming into the contest, the Roadrunners had yet to allow a 100-yard rusher during the postseason, but Prairie Ridge senior Connor Greenwald collected 113 of his game-high 165-yards in the first half. The Wolves' defense limited Nazareth to just 59-yards on the ground.

"Nazareth is heck of a team. With the athletes that they have, we preached all week long that our 11 on offense, defense and special teams had to step up and play their best game of the season - and they did," said Prairie Ridge head coach Chris Schremp. "And our coaches, man, what a great game plan. Our coaches worked so hard to get this done and get our kids in the right position to make plays. It was a great team effort."

Following a touchback on the opening kickoff, Prairie Ridge senior defensive back John Borst scooped up a Joshua Moore fumble on the first play from scrimmage and ran 18-yards for the touchdown. Prairie Ridge (11-1) would increase its lead to 14-0 just two drives later as quarterback Nick Nissen ran for a five-yard touchdown and Greenwald's one-yard dive late in the second quarter allowed the host Wolves to take a 21-0 lead into halftime.

"[Connor] was hurt at the beginning of the week with a leg injury and was rehabbing it before school, after school, after practice, and he just came out and did a great job," Schremp said. "I give a lot of credit to our trainer - our trainer worked his butt off this week."

Despite Nazareth's Kevin Curtin scoring on a 50-yard fumble return on the Wolves' opening drive of the second half, Prairie Ridge would weather the storm and score a pair of fourth quarter TDs to send the Roadrunners (10-2) home for the season. In the final five minutes of regulation, Nissen found junior Jordan Getzelman on nine-yard touchdown pass and later ran for a 24-yard touchdown.

Prairie Ridge Nazareth

"They're a great team. We know at this point that everybody is great but they really capitalized on the mistakes that we made and they really got off the ball well," said Nazareth head coach Tim Racki. "We had our opportunities but it just wasn't our day today. We never really got into a rhythm and at this stage of the playoffs every down counts."

Curtin recovered a pair of fumbles in the game and rushed for a team-high 37 yards on 10 carries. Nazareth quarterback Sam Poulos finished 9-for-13 for 70 yards before leaving the game with a lower-body injury late in the third quarter.

Nissen threw for just 39 yards on 4-for-7 passing, but the senior also picked up 62 yards on 12 carries. Getzelman, the Wolves' big-play threat on offense, was held to 13 yards on the ground while catching three passes for 25 more.

Now Prairie Ridge will see if it can get the monkey off of its back next week against either Batavia or Lakes. The Wolves have fallen in the semifinals in each of the past two seasons and both losses came against the eventual state champions (Cary-Grove in 2009 and Rockford Boylan last year).

"Hopefully we'll have the answer this year," said Schremp. "This team believes they can do it. The last couple of years, I think we were still Prairie Ridge just building a program and I think the guys now believe that they can do as much as they want to do."

Player of the game: Prairie Ridge Sr. RB Connor Greenwald: 25 carries, 165-yards, TD; Sr. QB Nick Nissen: 101 yards total offense, 3 TDs. Nazareth Sr. RB/DB Kevin Curtin: 10 carries, 37 yards & 2 fumble recoveries, TD

Stat of the game: It took Greenwald just seven carries to reach 100-yards rushing in the first half.

It was over when: Prairie Ridge recovered a muffed-punt and scored two-plays later to increase its lead to 28-7 with 4:58 to play.

Quote of the day: "Our expectations were to go beyond today but that wasn't in the lord's plan. But I told these guys, the amount of fun that we had this year, the respect that we gained, a conference title, getting to the 6A quarterfinals which has never been done, after the pain eases off today we'll have a tremendous amount of memories. It was a blast coaching these guys this year - it's absolutely a season to remember." - Nazareth Academy head coach Tim Racki.


Prep rankings: Loyola claims top spot

November, 7, 2011
11/07/11
12:56
AM CT
After last week's top 3 all lost in the second round of the playoffs, Loyola (11-0) moved into the No. 1 spot.

Complete rankings.

Prep football rankings: Top 10 stay put

October, 30, 2011
10/30/11
9:19
PM CT
With the first round of IHSA football playoffs complete, there wasn't much movement at the top of the ESPNChicago.com rankings.

Complete rankings.

Class 6A breakdown: Lots of contenders

October, 26, 2011
10/26/11
12:33
AM CT
Jordan GetzelmanScott Powers/ESPNChicago.comPrairie Ridge running back Jordan Getzelman is averaging 13 yards per carry this season.


There’s no class more wide open than Class 6A in this season’s IHSA football playoffs.

Picking the state champion out of a hat may be as accurate as an educated guess this year. There are at least nine state-title contenders.

Batavia, Cary-Grove, Crete-Monee, Lemont, Nazareth and Prairie Ridge are all currently ranked in the ESPNChicago.com Top 20. From outside the area, Normal Community, Normal Community West and Danville all have strong resumes. Then, there are teams like Antioch and Lake Forest, which have played well during spurts this season.

“Class 6A is solid,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron. “There are lot of teams who could win it all. I expect a lot of upsets these first two weeks.”

Best opening round game
No. 13 Grant vs. No. 4 Antioch:
Antioch will get a chance to avenge its only regular-season loss. Grant upset the Sequoits 22-14 in Week 8. Grant’s Kyle Whitman scored the game-winning touchdown with 45.7 seconds remaining.

Top 10 Class 6A teams
1. Lemont (9-0): The Indians defense is among the state’s best. Lemont has allowed just five points a game and held five opponents scoreless. The Indians have the easiest road to the semifinals.
2. Batavia (9-0): The Bulldogs have been one of the season’s bigger surprises. While they were expected to be a good team this season, no one could have guessed they’d be so dominant. Batavia outscored opponents by an average of 35.4 points in the regular season.
3. Crete-Monee (9-0): The Warriors have the talent to compete with anyone. The only question is if they’ll be ready to play another top-ranked team. Their regular-season schedule was the easiest of the elite 6A teams.
4. Nazareth (8-1): The Roadrunners fought through a demanding eight-game East Suburban Catholic schedule and won a share of the title. Their offense can put up points, but their defense was especially impressive in wins over Joliet Catholic and Marist.
5. Cary-Grove (7-2): The Trojans are as hot as anyone in the class right now coming off an overtime win over Prairie Ridge. They could meet Nazareth in the second round.
6. Prairie Ridge (8-1): The Wolves looked like the state championship favorite before falling 22-21 to Cary-Grove in Week 9. It was the first time their offense was held to less than 29 points.
7. Normal Community West (9-0): The Wildcats are the premier 6A team outside of the Chicago area. They went undefeated in a tough Big Twelve Conference. They defeated Danville 15-14 in Week 5 and could see a rematch with the Vikings in the second round.
8. Danville (8-1): The Vikings lost to Normal Community West by one point and defeated Normal Community by one.
9. Lake Forest (7-2): The North Suburban Lake went under the radar this season, but the Scouts were right there with Lake Zurich and Stevenson. They defeated Stevenson 10-7 and lost to Lake Zurich 16-6.
10. Antioch (8-1): The Sequoits were at one time ranked in the Chicago area. They could find themselves in the quarterfinals if they can return to form.

Top 5 players to watch
1. Crete-Monee, SR, DB, Anthony Standifer: Standifer is one of the premier defensive backs in the state. He’s headed to Michigan next season.
2. Lemont, JR, OL, Ethan Pocic: Pocic is one of the state’s biggest and most talented offensive lineman. He’s 6-6 and 285 pounds and is being highly recruited.
3. Nazareth, SR, DB, Kalium Ewing: Ewing was the East Suburban Catholic defensive player of the year. He’s returned four interceptions for touchdowns.
4. Prairie Ridge, JR, RB, Jordan Getzelman: Getzelman is averaging 13 yards per carry and has scored 11 rushing touchdowns and six receiving touchdowns.
5. Batavia, SR, QB, Noel Gaspari: Gaspari is one of most talented quarterbacks in the area. He’s thrown for 2,061 yards and 20 touchdowns.

Sleeper team
Bremen (6-3):
Someone will have to emerge to face Lemont in the quarterfinals, and it’s likely Bremen. The Braves have been up and down a bit, but they do possess one of the state’s top running backs in David Smith.

Coaches’ thoughts
Crete-Monee coach Jerry Verde:
“We have a difficult opener versus Bloomington. They are a team that has made the playoffs 25 straight years. They play fundamentally sound defense and have some legitimate weapons on offense. Should we win Saturday, we would play an excellent Normal Community or Peoria Richwoods team. We feel good about where we are as a program, and feel we can compete with all the teams in our quadrant, but must first win round one.”
Nazareth coach Tim Racki: “We have a tough bracket, but we play in a tough conference. No such thing as an easy road in the playoffs in my opinion.”
Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen: “I think 6A is solid. There are a lot of good, well-coached teams.”

The road for the defending Class 6A state champions
Boylan was bumped up to Class 7A, so there will definitely be a new champion in 6A.

Fun fact
Only five teams in the Class 6A playoff have won a state championship before. Richards and Peoria Richwoods have won two titles, and Cary-Grove, Deerfield and Normal Community have each won one.

State championship prediction: Batavia defeats Lemont

IHSA football playoff bracket -- Class 6A

October, 23, 2011
10/23/11
3:12
AM CT
Class 6A doesn't have one team that jumps out as the favorite, but is a loaded class. Who are the contenders?

Bracket and analysis.

Week 9 prep football preview

October, 19, 2011
10/19/11
10:28
PM CT

Here's a look at the final regular-season week of action in ESPNChicago.com's top 20.

Glenbrook South (7-1) at No. 1 Maine South (8-0)

Maine South Glenbrook South
When:Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: Maine South takes a 54-game Central Suburban South winning streak into this game. The Hawks’ last division loss was in 2000 to New Trier. Glenbrook South has often finished second to Maine South and is hopeful to change that this year. The Titans’ lone loss this season was to Stevenson early in the year. Glenbrook South has gone undefeated in conference and put up similar overall numbers to Maine South.
Glenbrook South player to watch: Fullback Kevin Schroeder has been key to the Titans’ offense.
Maine South player to watch: Running back Paul Preston has been stellar all season for the Hawks.
Prediction: Maine South 38, Glenbrook South 28

No. 2 Glenbard West (8-0) at Downers Grove North (2 6)

Downers Grove North Glenbard West
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Glenbard West has already clinched the West Suburban Silver title. The Hilltoppers have shut out their last two opponents. Downers Grove North is better than its record. The Trojans have been in every game this season, but just haven’t found a way over the hump.
Glenbard West player to watch: Senior offensive lineman Johnny Caspers recently committed to Stanford.
Downers Grove North player to watch: Quarterback Riley McGinnis has a big arm.
Prediction: Glenbard West 31, Downers Grove North 7

No. 3 Lincoln-Way East (8-0) at Joliet West (2-6)

Joliet West Lincoln-Way East
When:Saturday at 12 p.m.
The story: Lincoln-Way East should close out its Southwest Suburban Blue title run with an easy win. The Griffins had no trouble last week and beat Joliet Central 42-0. Joliet West has won two conference games, but is coming off a 56-19 loss to Homewood-Flossmoor.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Defensive end Joel Magrum returned an interception for a touchdown last week.
Joliet West player to watch: Wide receiver Korey Rogers knows how to find holes in a secondary.
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 42, Joliet West 7

No. 5 St. Rita (7-1) at No. 4 Loyola (8-0)

Loyola Academy St. Rita
When:Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: The Catholic League Blue championship comes down to this game. Loyola has had St. Rita’s number for the past few years. A season ago, the Ramblers beat St. Rita on its home field and forced a three-way tie for the conference crown. Both teams have stellar defenses. It could be a game decided by a field goal or a lone touchdown.
St. Rita player to watch: Defensive back Ryan Leonard is a big hitter.
Loyola player to watch: Quarterback Malcolm Weaver got dinged up last week, but will be needed this week.
Prediction: Loyola 17, St. Rita 14

No. 6 Downers Grove South (8-0) at Addison Trail (7-1)

Addison Trail Downers Grove South
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Downers Grove South hasn’t been tested in the West Suburban Gold in recent years. That could change this week. Addison Trail has proven to be among the area’s top teams, especially with its defense. Its only loss was a narrow one to Glenbard West. Addison Trail will have to find a way to stop Josh Williams, who is approaching 2,000 yards for the season.
Downers Grove South player to watch: Defensive lineman Jeremy Ulrich had a sack and a fumble recovery in last week’s win.
Addison Trail player to watch: Anthony Messina had three touchdown runs in last week’s win.
Prediction: Downers Grove South 24, Addison Trail 10

Cary-Grove (6-2) at No. 7 Prairie Ridge (8-0)

Prairie Ridge Cary-Grove
When:Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: Prairie Ridge has been one of the state’s most dominant teams this season. The Wolves have out-scored their opponents 360-65 through eight weeks. Cary-Grove is out of the Fox Valley Valley title race, but it could spoil Prairie Ridge’s outright championship. The Trojans did upset Lake Zurich early in the season and possess one of the area’s top defenses.
Cary-Grove player to watch: Junior quarterback Quinn Baker has the Trojans’ option offense running smoothly.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Corey Barcoft is one of the key players on the Wolves’ defense.
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 31, Cary-Grove 14

Lockport (6-2) at No. 8 Bolingbrook (7-1)

Bolingbrook Lockport
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Bolingbrook will likely have to settle for second place in one of the area’s toughest conferences. The Raiders have allowed only three points since losing to Lincoln-Way East. Lockport is headed to the playoffs, but hasn’t fared well against the top talent in the conference. The Porters lost to Homewood-Flossmoor and Lincoln-Way East by a combined 66 points.
Lockport player to watch: Dexter Taylor scored two rushing touchdowns in last week’s win over Sandburg.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Quarterback Aaron Bailey will be in consideration for ESPNChicago.com’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Prediction: Bolingbrook 35, Lockport 14

Providence (5-3) at No. 9 Mount Carmel (6-2)

Mount Carmel Providence
When:Friday at 7 p.m. at Gately Stadium
The story: Mount Carmel fell out of the Catholic League Blue race last week with a loss to rival St. Rita. The Caravan will be looking to get back on track against Providence. Mount Carmel’s offense has struggled in its defeats this season. Providence is 0-3 against conference opponents this season.
Providence player to watch: Running back Andrew Hoffmeister leads the Celtics’ offense.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Brandon Greer scored the Caravan’s lone touchdown last week against St. Riva.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 28, Providence 20

No. 10 Crete-Monee (8-0) at Rich East (6-2)

Rich East Crete-Monee
When:Saturday at 12 p.m.
The story: Crete-Monee can win the Southland title outright with a win over Rich East, which has one conference loss. Crete-Monee hasn’t scored less than 30 points in a game this season. Rich East has allowed more than 30 points just once. Something will have to give in this game.
Crete-Monee player to watch: Recruiting attention is picking up for wide receiver LaQuan Treadwell.
strong>Rich East player to watch: Running back Rondell Willingham has been key to the team’s offensive success this season.
Prediction: Crete-Monee 35, Rich East 20

Oak Forest (6-2) at No. 11 Lemont (8-0)

Lemont Oak Forest
When:Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: Lemont has already secured itself the South Suburban Blue title. The Indians have put together a memorable defensive season. They’ve allowed one opponent more than six points. Oak Forest should be another challenge. The Bengals have scored 40 or more points five times this season.
Oak Forest player to watch: Running back Tevin Coleman is one of the state’s best.
Lemont player to watch: Jake Lemming is among the Indians’ defensive playmakers.
Prediction: Lemont 31, Oak Forest 14

Streamwood (6-2) at No. 12 Batavia (8-0)

Batavia Streamwood
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Batavia can put the finishing touches on its Upstate Eight River title this week. The Bulldogs have held six opponent to seven points or less and are coming off back-to-back shutouts. Streamwood guaranteed itself a playoff spot with a win last week. It’ll be the Sabres’ first playoff appearance since 2002.
Streamwood player to watch: Running back Alex Morrow rushed for 228 yards in last week’s win.
Batavia player to watch: Quarterback Noel Gaspari has been among the area’s best this season.
Prediction: Batavia 42, Streamwood 14

St. Viator (2-6) at No. 13 Nazareth (7-1)

Nazareth Nazareth
When:Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: Nazareth will earn a share of the East Suburban Catholic title with a victory over St. Viator. The Roadrunners’ offense and defense have been clicking the past few weeks and out-scored their last two opponents 86-19. St. Viator’s defense has struggled this season, but did shut out Benet in a 28-0 win last week.
St. Viator player to watch: John Balas had four receptions for 129 yards and two touchdown in last week’s win.
Nazareth player to watch: Joshua Moore has been having some remarkable rushing performances.
Prediction: Nazareth 42, St. Viator 14

No. 14 Joliet Catholic (7-1) at Marist (6-2)

Marist Joliet Catholic
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: There’s a good chance that this could be a high-scoring affair. Marist put up 64 points in last week’s win over Carmel. Joliet Catholic is among the state’s offensive leaders with 376 points this season. The winner will get at least a share of the East Suburban Catholic title.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Defensive back Brody Wilhelmi blocked a punt last week.
Marist player to watch: Ian Woodworth threw eight touchdowns in last week’s win.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 49, Marist 42

No. 15 Wheaton North (7-1) at Wheaton Warrenville South (5-3)

Wheaton Warrenville South Wheaton North
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Wheaton North can win the DuPage Valley outright with a win over Wheaton Warrenville South. The Falcons haven’t done much against Wheaton Warrenville South in recent years. Their last win over the Tigers came in 2002. Last year, Wheaton Warrenville South beat them twice. The Tigers are riding a four-game winning streak since their early struggles.
Wheaton North player to watch: Running back Patrick Sharp gives the Falcons a balanced offensive attack.
Wheaton Warrenville South player to watch: Running back Dan Vitale is one of the area’s most versatile players.
Prediction: Wheaton North 17, Wheaton Warrenville South 14

Wheaton Academy (1-7) at No. 16 Montini (6-2)

Montini Wheaton Academy
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Montini’s offense has been scary lately. Last week, the Broncos put up 75 points. Two weeks ago, they scored 59 points. They should have another big offensive day against Wheaton Academy. The Warriors lost 42-0 to Aurora Central Catholic last week.
Wheaton Academy player to watch: Isaiah Rosas is an offensive threat for the Warriors.
Montini player to watch: Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp is in the running for ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year.
Prediction: Montini 49, Wheaton Academy 0

Conant (6-2) at No. 17 Palatine (7-1)

Palatine Conant
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Palatine can win the Mid-Suburban League West outright with a win over Conant. Aside from a narrow win over Schaumburg, the Pirates have been dominant against conference competition. Conant should be up for the test. The Cougars are playoff bound and their two losses came by a combined five points.
Conant player to watch: Tim Manckzo is the Cougars’ premier offensive weapon.
Palatine player to watch: Linebacker Kurt Becker is playmaker on defense.
Prediction: Palatine 28, Conant 17

Grayslake Central (7-1) at No. 18 Crystal Lake South (7-1)

Crystal Lake South Grayslake Central
When:Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: This could be an interesting Fox Valley crossover game. Crystal Lake South has proven itself throughout the season and will be favored. The Gators are one of the area’s top defensive teams and have allowed only one opponent more than 12 points this season. Grayslake Central has the same record, but hasn’t played the same level of competition. This will be a chance for the Rams to earn some respect.
Grayslake Central player to watch: Joel Valdivia was unstoppable last week. He rushed for 365 yards and six touchdowns against rival Grayslake North.
Crystal Lake South player to watch: Reese Dziedzic rushed for two touchdowns in last week’s win over Jacobs.
Prediction: Crystal Lake South 20, Grayslake Central 10

No. 19 Marian Central (8-0) at Marmion (5-3)

Marmion
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Marian Central will take the Suburban Christian Blue with a win. The Hurricanes have proven themselves with narrow wins over Montini and Oswego this season, and they’ve dominated everyone else. Marmion has been up and down this season after reaching the Class 6A title game last year. It defense has been its strength and will need to be again against Marian Central. The Hurricanes have scored 40-plus points in their last four games.
Marian Central player to watch: Quarterback Chris Streveler has been consistent throughout the season.
Marmion player to watch: Running back Jake Ruddy is a threat to run or catch the ball out of the backfield.
Prediction: Marian Central 24, Marmion 14

Kaneland (8-0) at No. 20 Morris (8-0)

Morris Kaneland
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: This game will decide the Northern Big 12 East championship. Both teams have been dominant most of the season. Morris’ defense has probably been slightly better than Kaneland’s, and Kaneland’s offense probably has the edge between the two teams. They both were tested last week and prevailed. Kaneland rolled in last year’s meeting, winning 47-7. There isn’t much separating the two teams this season.
Kaneland player to watch: Wide receiver Quinn Buschbacher scored five touchdowns in a game earlier this season.
Morris player to watch: Quarterback Austin Feeney was the difference in last week’s 14-10 win over Rochelle. He scored on a 58-yard run to give his team the lead.
Prediction: Morris 28, Kaneland 24

Prep football rankings: Montini on rise

October, 16, 2011
10/16/11
6:29
PM CT
Maine South and Glenbard West continue to hold the top two spots, but No. 16 Montini is on the rise.

Scott Powers' rankings

Week 8 prep football preview capsules

October, 13, 2011
10/13/11
2:40
AM CT
Here's a look at the eighth week of action in ESPNChicago.com's top 20.

No. 1 Maine South (7-0) at Waukegan (3-4)

Waukegan Maine South
When:Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The story: Maine South is on the verge of another unbeaten regular season. The Hawks should be fine this week, but could be tested against Glenbrook South next week. Waukegan has lost its last two games, including a 56-14 loss to Glenbrook South last week.
Maine South player to watch: Danny Allegretti had an interception against Evanston last week.
Waukegan player to watch: Maurice Childs provides the running threat for the Bulldogs.
Prediction: Maine South 49, Waukegan 14

York (5-2) at No. 2 Glenbard West (7-0)

Glenbard West York
When:Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: Glenbard West faces its second quality team in as many weeks. The Hilltoppers defeated Addison Trail 14-0 last week. York has lost it two games this season by a combined three points. Its 27-point total in last week’s loss was its lowest of the season. Glenbard West hasn’t allowed more than 14 points in a game this season.
York player to watch: Quarterback Joe Lucca threw 225 yards and ran for 75 yards against Lyons last week.
Glenbard West player to watch: Joe Zito is one of the Hilltoppers’ many reliable running backs.
Prediction: Glenbard West 28, York 14

Joliet Central (0-7) at No. 3 Lincoln-Way East (7-0)

Lincoln-Way East Joliet Central
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Lincoln-Way East will likely roll in its last two regular-season games. The Griffins’ next two opponents have combined for two wins this year. Joliet Central has been out-scored 291-20 through seven weeks.
Joliet Central player to watch: Quarterback Carlos Curry will look to get his offense going this week.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Quarterback Blake Winkler is hearing from Ivy League and FCS schools.
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 49, Joliet Central 7

No. 4 Loyola (7-0) at Brother Rice (5-2)

Brother Rice Loyola Academy
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Loyola finishes out its regular season with two tough games with Brother Rice and St. Rita. The Ramblers will certainly earn their Catholic League Blue title if they win out. Brother Rice has been on the wrong end of two tights games against Mount Carmel and St. Rita. The Crusaders are still one of the area’s top teams and should give Loyola a game.
Loyola player to watch: Michael Paloian had two sacks and recovered a fumble against Fenwick last week.
Brother Rice player to watch: Richard Mayer has been a nice complimentary back to Brother Rice’s two star running backs.
Prediction: Loyola 24, Brother Rice 17

No. 6 Mount Carmel (6-1) at No. 5 St. Rita (6-1)

St. Rita Mount Carmel
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: The Mount Carmel-St. Rita rivalry has one way in recent years. St. Rita has won the last three meetings, including 54-18 win in 2009 and last year’s 35-14 victory. The Mustangs’ offense doesn’t look as potent this season. They scored a total of 40 points in their two other Catholic League Blue games. Mount Carmel’s offense has put up numbers, but was held to seven points against Loyola. If St. Rita wins, Mount Carmel will fall out of the conference title race.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Quarterback Don Butkus threw for three touchdowns and ran for one in last week’s win over St. Laurence.
St. Rita player to watch: Wide receiver Kenny Golladay scored the game-winning touchdown against Bishop McNamara last week.
Prediction: St. Rita 21, Mount Carmel 20

Hinsdale South (4-3) at No. 7 Downers Grove South (7-0)

Downers Grove SouthHinsdale South When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: For Downers Grove South to win another West Suburban Gold title, it will have to go through two quality opponents in the following weeks. Hinsdale South has one conference loss. It has been up and down for the Hornets all season. They haven’t won or lost two games in a row. They did win last week.
Hinsdale South player to watch: Safety Bryan Taheri forced one of five turnovers last week.
Downers Grove South player to watch: Sophomore defensive back DeAndre Washington had an interception last week.
Prediction: Downers Grove South 35, Hinsdale South 20

McHenry (3-4) at No. 8 Prairie Ridge (7-0

Prairie Ridge Prairie Ridge
When:Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: Prairie Ridge was tested early against Jacobs last week and overcame a 14-0 deficit to win 35-14. It was the Wolves’ smallest margin of victory this season. Cary-Grove could still present a challenge for them during the last week of the season, but Prairie Ridge should have no trouble this week. McHenry has allowed 40-plus points against all of the conference’s top-tier teams.
McHenry player to watch: Quarterback Robert Tonyan can be a difference-maker.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Linebacker Collin Corcoran had two sacks last week.
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 49, McHenry 7

No. 9 Bolingbrook (6-1) at Lincoln-Way Central (1-6)

Lincoln-Way Central Bolingbrook
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Bolingbrook will likely have to settle for second place in the Southwest Suburban Blue. The Raiders bounced back from their loss to Lincoln-Way East with a 27-3 win over Sandburg last week. Their defense is among the area’s best. Lincoln-Way Central has lost its last five games.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Linebacker Anthony Morrison will be in the running for ESPNChicago.com Defensive Player of the Year. He had 14 tackles last week.
Lincoln-Way Central player to watch: Brett Ditchman scored his team’s lone touchdown against Lincoln-Way East last week.
Prediction: Bolingbrook 42, Lincoln-Way Central 7

Rich South (3-4) at No. 11 Crete-Monee (7-0)

Crete-MoneeRich SouthWhen:Friday at 6 p.m.
The story: Crete-Monee had its closest game of the season last week, beating Rich Central 34-20. The Warriors will hope to put away Rich South earlier this week. Rich South has four losses, but only one in conference and is in second place in the Southland.
Rich South player to watch: Running back DeAndre Washington ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns against Rich East last week.
Crete-Monee player to watch: Michigan recruit Anthony Standifer is one of the area’s premier defensive backs.
Prediction: Crete-Monee 42, Rich South 17

Marist (5-2) at No. 11 Carmel (5-2)

Carmel Marist
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: There’s a four-way tie for the East Suburban Catholic lead. Either Carmel or Marist won’t be involved in that race any longer after Friday. Carmel won 20-16 at Marist last season. Carmel’s offense is tough to stop, but Marist has proven it can score points this season, too. This could be another close one. Marist closes out its regular season with Joliet Catholic.
Marist player to watch: Tom O’Neil kicked a game-winning 38-yard field goal against St. Patrick last week.
Carmel player to watch: Running back Jordan Kos is coming off a five-touchdown performance.
Prediction: Carmel 38, Marist 28

No. 12 Lemont (7-0) at T.F. North (5-2)

TF NorthLemont

When:Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: Lemont will be favored the next two weeks, but it could be tested against T.F. North and Oak Lawn. Both opponents are 5-2 right now. The challenge against Lemont is trying to score on its defense. The Indiana have allowed 32 points in total this year, and 20 of those came in one game. T.F. North has scored 50-plus points twice this season.
Lemont player to watch: Christos Giatras rushed for 106 yards on five carries in last week’s win over Hillcrest.
T.F. North player to watch: Anyone on T.F. North’s kickoff team. The Meteors recovered three onside kicks last week.
Prediction: Lemont 42, T.F. North 10

No. 13 Batavia (7-0) at St. Charles North (2-5)

St. Charles North Batavia
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Batavia wasn’t ranked in the preseason, but has been one of the area’s most dominant teams. The Bulldogs have gotten it done on offense and defense. They’ve only allowed two opponents more than 13 points this season, and they’ve scored 35 or more points in every game. That trend should continue against St. Charles North. The North Stars dropped their first five games and have won their last two.
Batavia player to watch: Tight end Evan Zeddies had a team-high three catches and a touchdown in last week’s win.
St. Charles North player to watch: George Edlund ran for 172 yards in last week’s win over Larkin.
Prediction: Batavia 49, St. Charles North 13

No. 14 Nazareth (6-1) at Riverside-Brookfield (2-5)

Riverside-BrookfieldNazareth

When:Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: Nazareth takes a step out of the East Suburban Catholic race for a week and plays Riverside-Brookfield in a non-conference game. Nazareth is on a five-game winning streak, and its offense has especially been rolling. Riverside-Brookfield defeated Elmwood Park 28-0 last week for its second win. The Bulldogs lost to No. 12 Lemont 48-0 earlier in the season.
Nazareth player to watch: Kalium Ewing returned two interceptions for touchdowns in last week’s win.
Riverside-Brookfield player to watch: Quarterback Dylan Beketic threw for three touchdowns and ran for one against Elmwood Park last week.
Prediction: Nazareth 45, Riverside-Brookfield 10

No. 15 Joliet Catholic (6-1) at St. Patrick (3-4)

St. Patrick Joliet Catholic
When:Friday at 8 p.m.
The story: Joliet Catholic bounced back from its loss to Nazareth with a 64-13 win over Marian Catholic last week. The Hilltoppers’ offense could have another field day against St. Patrick. The Shamrocks have allowed 30-plus points in their last four games. St. Patrick is also on a four-game losing streak after starting out 3-0.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Defensive end Josh Falk recovered a fumble and blocked a punt against Marian Catholic.
St. Patrick player to watch: Quarterback Ryan Tentler is a threat to pass or run the ball.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 49, St. Patrick 20

No. 16 Geneva (6-1) at South Elgin (3-4)

South ElginGeneva

When:Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The story: Geneva responded after its loss to Batavia with a 42-0 win over Streamwood last week. The Vikings’ offense could have another productive day against South Elgin. The Storm have had a rocky season after finishing 7-4 in 2010. South Elgin’s defense recently struggled against Bartlett and Neuqua Valley in losses.
Geneva player to watch: Running back Bobby Hess scored twice in last week’s win over Streamwood.
South Elgin player to watch: Adolfo Pacheco rushed for 39- and 85-yard touchdowns and caught a 40-yard touchdown pass against East Aurora last week.
Prediction: Geneva 45, South Elgin 20

No. 17 Antioch (6-0) at Grant (5-2)

Grant Antioch
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: This game will decide the North Suburban Prairie championship. Antioch is undefeated in conference, and Grant has one loss. Antioch pulled out some close wins early on, but has been dominant as of late. The Sequoits have won their last three games by 16 points or more. Grant’s lone conference loss came against Lakes. The Bulldogs have won their last three games and scored 40-plus points in three of them.
Antioch player to watch: Anthony Formella is 5-9 and 132 pounds, but he can make big plays at wide receiver.
Grant player to watch: Kyle Whitman rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns against North Chicago last week.
Prediction: Antioch 38, Grant 21

Glenbard North (5-2) at No. 18 Wheaton North (6-1)

Wheaton North Glenbard North
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Wheaton North holds a one-game lead in the DuPage Valley, but it faces back-to-back tough games with Glenbard North and Wheaton Warrenville South. Wheaton North’s offense was limited in last week’s 14-7 win over Naperville Central. Glenbard North has lost its last two games. The Panthers only scored a total of 13 points in those losses. Their defense is still among the area’s best.
Glenbard North player to watch: Running back Phil Jackson is Glenbard North’s premier offensive player.
Wheaton North player to watch: Wide receiver Johnny Daniels had a 46-yard touchdown catch last week. He’s among the area’s top receivers.
Prediction: Wheaton North 17, Glenbard North 14

No. 19 Montini (5-2) at Walther Lutheran (2-5)

Walther Lutheran Montini
When:Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: Montini is becoming the team it was expected to be in the preseason. With quarterback John Rhoden’s return from injury, the Broncos’ offense is clicking. Rhode threw eight touchdowns in last week’s win over St. Edward. Walther Lutheran allowed 63 points to Byron earlier this season and has given up 40-plus points three times.
Montini player to watch: Wide receiver Joseph Borsellini should become a larger threat with Rhode now throwing him passes.
Walther Lutheran player to watch: Najee Toomer ran for two touchdowns, including a 90-yarder, in last week’s win over Aurora Central.
Prediction: Montini 49, Walther Lutheran 10

Hoffman Estates (0-7) at No. 20 Palatine (6-1)

Palatine Hoffman Estates

When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Palatine is two wins away from winning the Mid-Suburban West title. The Pirates should be able to cruise this week against Hoffman Estates. The Hawks have been out-scored 333-79 this year. Palatine is riding a six-game winning streak after losing to Montini in the season opener. It’ll close out the regular season with Conant.
Hoffman Estates player to watch: Quarterback Jordan Hudak rushed for three touchdowns and threw for two against Schaumburg last week.
Palatine player to watch: Cam Kuska rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries against Fremd last week.
Prediction: Palatine 49, Hoffman Estates 7

Coaches roundtable: Why that offense?

October, 11, 2011
10/11/11
8:07
PM CT
Each week all of the coaches in ESPNChicago.com top 20 poll are presented a question. This week’s Coaches Roundtable question: What type of offense do you run and why?

  • Crete-Monee coach Jerry Verde: We have run a variation of the spread here at CMHS for the last five years. It best suits our talents.

  • St. Rita coach Todd Kuska: We run a multi-faceted offense. We are a base pro team that will use some spread -- four wide receiver packages -- at times to give some different looks. We believe in the pro-style offense as it allows us to use all of our weapons (running back, fullback, tight end, wide receiver). The spread package allows us to do just that, spread out the defense and find the weaknesses.

  • Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen: Power running/play action. It fits our personnel and philosophy of moving the chains and keeping the other team's offense off the field.

  • Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski: We run the pistol offense at Wheaton North High School. This type of offense was selected because it matches the skills of the kids that we currently have. The other reason that our offensive coordinator likes the pistol is that it is slightly different than your traditional spread offense and defenses don't see it quite as often throughout the year.

  • Downers Grove South coach John Belskis: We run primarily a pro-style offense but infuse some spread plays, as well. We chose it because we feel that it allows us enough balance to accommodate the wide range of talent we get from year to year.

  • Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz: We have evolved over the years using a hybrid wing-t concept in combination with spread principles. We have utilized formations and motions to gain numbers advantages, misdirection, double teams and reads by the quarterback to build our offense. We have tried to limit the number of skill sets that each position must master in order to execute successfully. We believe that this philosophy provides the best opportunity to run the football effectively and integrate a complimentary passing game. We have felt that the concepts have fit our personnel and can be tailored to each team's specific talents.

  • Antioch coach Brian Glashagel: We are a triple-option team (Georgia Tech, Navy, Air Force, etc.). We feel this gives us the best chance to compete. In the option, we can run the ball against any defense and really put pressure on the defense to cover all three of the phases. We don't have to block everyone on the defense, and we are also out flanking you at the point of attack. Mix in a counter game, short passing and play-action passing game and you have our offense. We do not have a lot of plays, but rather change some formations for even more advantages.

  • Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet: Double wing jet offense. It has allowed us to do many things from pound the ball to throwing it all over. The misdirection element has been vital as well.
    Batavia coach Dennis Piron: We have traditionally run a pro I attack, but this year run more I out of the shotgun. We also mix in one-back misdirection with spread concepts.

  • Bolingbrook coach John Ivlow: We run option football. No one runs it anymore, and we struggle to find offensive linemen every year!

  • Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp: Prairie Ridge runs double-wing option similar to what you see Georgia Tech or Navy. The main reason we run the option is week after week it gives our linemen a chance to be successful. In our schemes, our linemen do not have to block a defender on the line on his own -- we can double team or “read” any D-lineman we choose. Another reason we run the option is we always feel we can find a good athlete to execute our option. Sometimes it is extremely hard to find a QB that can drop back and throw the ball, but we feel we can always find a good athlete and coach him up to run our option.

  • Nazareth coach Tim Racki: I have always run a pro-style/spread offense. It is very easy to adapt to whatever personnel you may have in any given year. This is great for various personnel groupings as well. It also allows you to be much more balanced.

  • Carmel coach Andy Bitto: We run triple option. In our league, we do not always have the biggest group of kids, but we traditionally have quick and smart kids. Therefore, we are able to run our offense without blocking two of the opponent’s best players. We have averaged over 30 points a game for the last 12 years and have won about 80 percent of them.
  • Five thoughts from Week 7

    October, 10, 2011
    10/10/11
    11:57
    PM CT
    Here are five thoughts from the high school football weekend:

    1. Conference showdowns: The next two weeks should be full of drama in a number of conferences. The Catholic League Blue again will come down to Loyola, Mount Carmel and St. Rita. Four teams are tied for first in the East Suburban Catholic. Wheaton North is in first place in the DuPage Valley, but still has to play Glenbard North and Wheaton Warrenville South. Lake Forest leads the North Suburban Lake, but still has to play Lake Zurich and Libertyville.

    2. Prairie Ridge belongs: The question I had before watching Prairie Ridge play Jacobs on Friday was whether it belonged in the conversation with the state’s elite teams. Because Prairie Ridge plays smaller schools and falls into Class 6A, there is always that perception the Wolves can’t hang with the big boys. After watching them on Friday, I’m positive they belong. Their offense could likely move the ball on anyone. Their running game is among the area’s best, and quarterback Nick Nissen is mobile and delivers a nice pass. The defense bent against Jacobs, but didn’t break in the end. Prairie Ridge won’t get a chance to face Maine South, Glenbard West or the other elite teams, but it is among them.

    3. Lake Zurich-Stevenson again: Last season, my favorite game was Stevenson’s come-from-behind victory over Lake Zurich in the final seconds. I didn’t expect this year’s game to be as exciting, but I was wrong. While it’s not my favorite game of the year -- Joliet Catholic’s win over Carmel probably still ranks No. 1 -- Thursday’s game was another classic with Stevenson pulling out another win with a long drive in the final minutes. I’m sure next year’s will be just as dramatic.

    4. Don’t forget about Wheaton Warrenville South: The back-to-back Class 7A state champs rightfully dropped off everyone’s radar after falling to 1-3. Quietly, the Tigers have won their last three games and have put themselves in a position to make a run at another DuPage Valley title. They may not be the same team they were a year ago, but they’re still not someone opponents will want to see come playoff time.

    5. Rhode, wow: It hasn’t taken Montini quarterback John Rhode long to get back into the swing of things. After making his season debut in Week 6, he threw for eight touchdowns this past week. Montini’s offense is clicking at the right time.

    Powers' Rankings: Steady at the top

    October, 9, 2011
    10/09/11
    6:12
    PM CT
    Maine South, Glenbard West and Lincoln-Way East maintained the top three spots in the prep football rankings.

    Check out the complete rankings.

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