Elk Grove (2-1) at No. 6 Schaumburg (3-0) on Thursday
The story: It's no surprise the Mid-Suburban League has proven to be among the state's top conferences again. What is surprising is that different teams from a year ago are leading the way. Last year, it was Fremd and Prospect. Now, it's Barrington, Elk Grove and Schaumburg. In Thursday's crossover game, Elk Grove and Schaumburg have dynamic offenses and can put up points. Defense will be the key in this one.
Elk Grove player to watch: Linebacker Joey Bishoff won't be able to contain Schaumburg's offense alone, but he has the ability to do a lot .
Schaumburg player to watch: With a lot of the attention going to running back Shepard Little, it's important to remember the Saxons also have one of the area's top quarterbacks in Mark Iannotti.
Quote: Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling – "We have not had a consistent [offensive line] lineup, but the seven kids who have played there have been steady, which has paved the way for Shepard's performance. ... Our defense has been tackling well individually and collectively, running to the ball very well, executing their assignments. Consequently, we have given up very few big plays."
Prediction: Schaumburg 36, Elk Grove 35
No. 12 Wheaton North (3-0) at No. 9 Glenbard North (3-0) on Friday
The story: After three weeks, we know Wheaton North's offense can score, and Glenbard North's defense doesn't allow offenses to score. Something will have to give in this one. The Falcons have scored 116 points this season and are coming off a 50-7 win over West Chicago. Glenbard North has allowed 17 points this season, and its defense was impressive in last week's 10-3 win over Naperville North.
Wheaton North player to watch: Wide receiver Richard Finley is one of quarterback Reece Butler's favorite targets. He had six catches for 152 yards last week.
Glenbard North player to watch: Safety Sean Fogarty was the difference in last week's win over Naperville North. He picked off two passes with one going for a touchdown and had a diving catch that set up a field goal.
Quote: Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens – "We must establish some type of run game. We need to disrupt their timed-passing game, try to pressure the quarterback and keep their offense off the field."
Prediction: Glenbard North 17, Wheaton North 10
No. 4 Joliet Catholic (3-0) at No. 7 Carmel (3-0) on Friday
The story: This is the game of the week for many reasons. For one, they're two top-10 teams. Secondly, they're East Suburban Catholic foes. Finally, last year's game came down to Joliet Catholic kicking a 35-yard field goal in the final seconds for a 19-16 win. This year's game could be just as exciting. Both teams have been dominant so far and have been led by their talented backfields. Both teams have capable quarterbacks, too.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Josh Ferguson is one of the state's premier running backs when he's healthy. He was hampered by an injury in Week 1 and had cramps in Week 3. The Hilltoppers will likely need him the whole way this week.
Carmel player to watch: Michael Panico is putting together a memorable season at running back after moving from cornerback. He has 496 yards and five touchdowns.
Quote: Carmel coach Andy Bitto – "We need to run the ball and prevent the big plays."
Prediction: Carmel 24, Joliet Catholic 21
No. 14 Lincoln-Way East (2-1) at Lockport (2-1) on Friday
The story: Lockport fell out of the top-20 rankings with last week's 14-7 loss to Bolingbrook. The Porters will need to get their offense going if they're going to win this game. Lincoln-Way East dropped its first game of the season in Week 2 to Wheaton North and bounced back last week with a victory over Joliet West. The Griffins' defense struggled against Wheaton North and will need to be more consistent against Lockport.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Running back Max Bayer is one of the keys to the Griffins' offense. He scored twice last week.
Lockport player to watch: Running back Dan Holman was held to under 100 yards last week. That doesn't happen often. Look for him to try and get back on track this week.
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 24, Lockport 17
Prairie Ridge (3-0) at No. 11 Crystal Lake South (3-0) on Friday
The story: Prairie Ridge is one of the teams on the cusp of the top 20, and it would improve its stock with a win here. Crystal Lake South is highly ranked, but its schedule isn't the toughest around and could use a quality win like this. Prairie Ridge's offense has been especially strong in the first half of games. It put up 27 points in the opening quarter in last week's win over Jacobs. Crystal Lake South had a scare in Week 2, but came back with a big win last week.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Senior quarterback Stephen Covalt has found ways in the air and on the ground to score points for Prairie Ridge. He'll be looked at to do the same against Crystal Lake South.
Crystal Lake South player to watch: Kicker Brad Walovitch could come into play in a tight game. He has made three field goals this year, including a 42-yarder.
Prediction: Crystal Lake South 20, Prairie Ridge 14
No. 15 Mount Carmel (2-1) at No. 16 Loyola (3-0) on Saturday
The story: With Providence struggling early on, it appears as if there will be a new Catholic League Blue champion this season. St. Rita is the favorite, but Loyola and Mount Carmel aren't too far behind. Loyola has been solid on both sides of the ball this season and is coming off a win over Providence. The Caravan stumbled in the opening week as they lost to Simeon, but have rebounded nicely since. Loyola beat Mount Carmel twice last season.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Running back Michael Banks is extremely fast. He could give Loyola fits if it allows him to get outside.
Loyola player to watch: Wide receiver E.J. Webb has the size (6-5, 200 pounds) and ability to give defensive backs trouble. He had four catches for 152 yards last week.
Prediction: Loyola 31, Mount Carmel 28