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.