High School: Glenbard North

Recapping the holiday hoops action

January, 2, 2012
Connor BoehmScott Powers/ESPNChicago.comConnor Boehm led New Trier to the title game of the Proviso West tourney.

Here’s a look back at this season’s holiday tournaments:

Best tournament:

The honor goes to Pontiac this season. Having Simeon helped, but Pontiac was about much more than Simeon this season. On the final day alone, fans were treated to three overtimes games, two of which went to double overtime, and nearly witnessed Simeon upset by Peoria Manual. It would be hard to find two better holiday tournament semifinal games than Curie-Warren and Simeon-Manual anywhere in the country.
Runner-up tournament

St. Ignatius is the reason for York finishing second here. While the tournament favorites won at Proviso West, the McDipper, Pontiac and plenty of others tournaments, St. Ignatius added an element of surprise at York. The Wolfpack first fought back from a double-digit deficit to defeat Downers Grove South in the semifinals and then defeated De La Salle in the championship.

Top games:

Curie 77, Warren 68, 2 OT at Pontiac: In the first Pontiac semifinal, Warren forced a first overtime when JoVaughn Gaines drained a 3-pointer from the corner in the final seconds of regulation and then sent the game into a second overtime when Jon Geske dropped in a late layup. Curie won in the end. Devin Foster had 27 points in the win.

Simeon 48, Peoria Manual 47 at Pontiac: Not to be outdone by the first semifinal, Simeon and Peoria Manual went down to the buzzer to determine their game. Manual had two shots at overtaking Simeon on its final possession, but missed a shot around the basket and had the ball stolen in the game’s final seconds. The game had 10 lead changes.

St. Ignatius 47, De La Salle 44, OT at York: In the championship game, St. Ignatius senior Brian Howard sent the game into overtime with an off-balance 3-pointer with four seconds left, and the Wolfpack prevailed in overtime again the tournament favorites.

St. Ignatius 52, Downers Grove South 50 at York: In the semifinals, St. Ignatius overcame a 12-point deficit to upset Downers Grove South. Abdoulie Contch scored the game-winner in the lane with 1.5 seconds left.

Elgin 57, Glenbard North 51 at Elgin: Before Elgin could win close semifinal and championship games, it had to win a tight quarterfinal matchup with Glenbard North. Former AAU teammates, Elgin’s Kory Brown and Glenbard North’s Josh Fleming, went head to head in the final minutes. Fleming had a game-high 21 points, but Brown, who had 19 points, came out with the victory.

Crete-Monee 67, Seton 66, OT at Rich South: In the semifinals, Crete-Monee’s Marvie Keith sank two free throws with 35 seconds left to lift his team to the upset victory. Mark Conner scored 19 points off the bench for Crete-Monee. Crete-Monee squandered a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter to allow overtime.

Metea Valley 69, Rolling Meadows, OT at Hinsdale South: Metea Valley nearly saw its unbeaten season ruined by Rolling Meadows, which led 39-30 heading into the fourth quarter. Spearheaded by Kenny Obendorf and his 20 points, Metea Valley rallied in regulation and won in overtime.

New Trier 61, Homewood-Flossmoor 58 at Proviso West: The second-round matchup was expected to be a good one, and it didn’t disappoint. The game went back and forth until New Trier got hot in the second half and connected on seven 3-pointers in the final quarters. Connor Boehm had 25 points in the win. Tyrone Sherman had 24 points for Homewood-Flossmoor.

All-tournament first team

New Trier senior forward Connor Boehm, Proviso West tournament: Boehm has been one of the most consistent players in the state this season. At Proviso West had 25 points and nine rebounds vs. Homewood-Flossmoor, 14 points and 14 rebounds vs. Morgan Park, 16 points and six rebounds vs. Proviso East and 17 points and seven rebounds vs. Von Steuben.

Elgin senior guard Kory Brown, Elgin: Brown stepped up game after game in the Maroons’ run to their own holiday tournament championship. He had a 18 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals in Elgin’s upset win over La Lumiere in the tournament championship.

Proviso East senior guard Keith Carter, Proviso West: Carter keyed the Pirates’ run to their first Proviso West title since 1991 and was awarded the tournament MVP. He had 18 points and five steals in a win over Benet in the quarterfinals.

Bloom senior guard Donald Moore, Rich South: Carter’s point guard play led the Blazing Trojans to their first McDipper title since 1995. He had 14 points and four assists in the title game. He was named the tournament MVP.

Simeon senior forward Steve Taylor, Pontiac: Jabari Parker may have won the MVP trophy at Pontiac, but many, including Parker, thought it should have gone to Taylor. Taylor had 11 points and seven rebounds to lead the top-ranked Wolverines over Curie in the championship game.

All-tournament second team

St. Ignatius senior guard Brian Howard, York: Howard and St. Ignatius surprised Downers Grove South and De La Salle on their way to the York title. Howard sent the championship game into overtime with a 3-pointer and finished with 20 points. He was named tournament MVP.

Metea Valley senior guard Kenny Obendorf, Hinsdale South: Obendorf continued to put up big numbers while helping Metea Valley to the Hinsdale South tournament championship. He had 24 points in the championship game and was named the tournament MVP.

Benet sophomore center Sean O’Mara, Proviso West: O’Mara isn’t as hyped as some of the state’s sophomores, but he’s been more productive than most of them. He was impressive throughout Proviso West. He had 20 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and two blocks against Proviso East in the semifinals.

Simeon junior forward Jabari Parker, Pontiac: Parker didn’t disappoint the sellout crowds at Pontiac. He hit difficult jumpers, swatted shots and threw down a few jaw-dropping dunks. In Simeon’s one-point win over Peoria Manual, he scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Warren senior forward Darius Paul, Pontiac: Paul averaged 15.5 points and 12.5 rebounds in four games at Pontiac. With fellow post player Nathan Boothe in foul trouble against Curie, Paul scored 21 points and grabbed 15 rebounds.

Honorable mention

Andrew junior forward Jubril Adekoya, Kankakee

Plainfield East senior forward Brian Bennett, Pekin; Crane senior guard Willie Conner, Romeoville; De La Salle junior forward Alvin Ellis, York; Stevenson senior guard Michael Fleming; Curie senior guard Devin Foster, Pontiac; Morgan Park junior guard Billy Garret Jr., Proviso West; North Chicago senior guard Aaron Simpson, Bloomington; Crete-Monee junior forward LaQuon Treadwell, Rich South; Downers Grove South senior guard Jerron Wilbut, York

The unbeatens

Andrew (9-0): Won the Kankakee’s holiday tournament, biggest upcoming test could be at Thornwood on Jan. 20.

Bloom (13-0): Won the McDipper, have plenty of tough games in the future, including at Homewood-Flossmoor on Jan. 24.

Immaculate Conception (12-0): Won its own holiday tournament, could still be undefeated heading into matchup at Elgin on Feb. 15.

Glenbard West (10-0): Won its own holiday tournament, could be challenged this week when playing at Bolingbrook and York.

Metea Valley (13-0): Won Hinsdale South’s holiday tournament, will host Lake Park, which is also undefeated in the Upstate Eight Valley, on Saturday.

Plainfield East (11-0): Won the Pekin holiday tournament, hosts Wheeling tournament winner Naperville Central on Jan. 17.

Simeon (12-0): Won the Pontiac holiday tournament, face nationally-ranked No. 36 Miller Grove in West Virginia on Saturday.

Bolingbrook finishes atop prep rankings

November, 27, 2011
After topping previous No. 1 Loyola in the 8A title game, the Bolingbrook Raiders finish as the area's top-rated team in the final ESPNChicago.com top-20 prep poll. They are followed in the top five by No. 2 Loyola, No. 3 Montini, No. 4 Wheaton Warrenville South and No. 5 Prairie Ridge.

Complete rankings.

Loyola overcomes slow start, tops GB North

November, 19, 2011
Prairie Ridge

WILMETTE -- Nothing was going right for the Loyola Ramblers in the first half. Their offense struggled to find a rhythm. Their defense couldn’t contain the edge and let the Glenbard North Panthers’ runners find open space outside the hashes.

Loyola Glenbard North

Loyola coach John Holecek needed to rally his players if they were going to stay undefeated and head to the Class 8A title game.

“We are not going to give up another point and the offense is going to score three times,” Holecek said he told his team at halftime.

Holecek just about nailed that prediction.

The Ramblers scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to beat the Panthers 28-13.

“We just had to come out and do the fundamentals,” defensive lineman Michael Scott, who registered a sack in the game, said. “We had to come out there harder. We knew what we had to lose playing our last game on this field. We came out emotional.”

The Panthers struck first when a Loyola punt deflected off a lineman and fell into the hands of linebacker Dominic Fornino, who ran it in for the touchdown.

Glenbard North then had its next two drives go deep into Loyola territory but only managed to get six points off those opportunities.

The Panthers saw success early on running outside of the tackles. Quarterback Brian Murphy, who left with an injury late in the fourth quarter, saw his share of big runs in the first half with gains of 12, 18, and 19 yards. The talented backfield duo of Phillip and Justin Jackson (15 carries 35 yards, 8 carries 23 yards respectively) were able to get their share of yards, but neither dashed for a big gain against what seemed like a bend-but-don’t-break defense in the first half for Loyola.

Loyola immediately set the tone in the second half on its first drive. The Ramblers marched 80 yards on eight plays to get their first points of the day. The play that swung the momentum in Loyola’s favor was a pass over the middle to senior running back William Palivos (16 carries 90 yards TD) who ran 33 yards down to the Panthers’ 21-yard line.

Palivos, who only saw a handful of carries in the first half, was able to find lanes in the second half, to balance out Loyola's aerial attack conducted by quarterback Malcom Weaver (14-26 175 yards 2 TDs INT).

“He’s a slippery, real good back,” Holecek said about Palivos. “Obviously, he can squirt you some holes. We are going to get him his touches no matter what.”

On a 4th-and-4 at the Panther 35-yard line to start the fourth quarter, Weaver threw one up for a streaking Charlie Dowdle, who came down with a beautiful one handed catch for a touchdown, giving Loyola the lead for good.

“It’s so fitting for him to make that kind of play on the last time he’s going to play on this field,” Holecek said.

“It was just a fly route,” Dowdle said. “We work on it all the time in practice. We just want to give our receivers a chance. Malcom does a great job.”

The key difference in the Loyola offense from the first to second half was their pace. Speeding the offense up took Glenbard North by surprise and ended up wearing them down by the end of the game.

Loyola, however, suffered a blow to their secondary when senior defensive back Scotty Suhey went down with a broken wrist in the fourth quarter, putting his chances of playing in the state championship game in jeopardy.

Player of the Game: Though nearly invisible in the first half, William Palivos appeared in a big way for his team in the second half. Going over 100 all-purpose yards for the game, Palivos broke arm tackles constantly, wearing down the Panthers’ defense.

It was over when: Charlie Dowdle did what he’s been doing all year: Making big plays. His spectacular one handed touchdown grab put the Ramblers on top for good to start the fourth quarter and the defense clamped down on the Panthers’ rushing attack.

Stat of the Day: 13 – The Ramblers won their 13th game this year, making it the most wins in a season in school history.

Quote of the Day: “We knew that Phil Jackson their running back was playing both ways, and if he wanted to stay playing both ways, we knew that we as an offense had to help out the defense by getting him a little tired. So, we tried to pick up the speed, which also ended up working for us,” – Quarterback Malcom Weaver on speeding up the offense in the second half.

IHSA semifinal preview capsules

November, 17, 2011

Here's a look at this week’s area playoff action.

No. 12 Glenbard North (9-3) at No. 1 Loyola (12-0)

Loyola Glenbard NorthWhen: Saturday at 12 p.m.
The story: It’s Loyola’s Class 8A state championship to lose at this point. The Ramblers have proven throughout this season that they’re the state’s top team. Their offense and defense have clicked in unison throughout the playoffs and haven’t been tested yet. Glenbard North has upset team after team in the playoffs. The Panthers have knocked off higher seeds behind the play of their two consistent running backs, Justin and Phillip Jackson. Scoring against Loyola won’t be easy. The Ramblers haven’t allowed more than 13 points since Week 2.
Glenbard North player to watch: Alex Mendez had one of the Panthers’ three interceptions last week.
Loyola player to watch: Defensive end Eric Hauser has been among the area’s best this season.
Prediction: Loyola 28, Glenbard North 17

No. 2 Bolingbrook (11-1) at No. 12 Naperville Central (9-3)

Naperville Central Bolingbrook
When: Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: Naperville Central didn’t draw a lot of attention to itself during the regular season, but it wasn’t far off from being one of the area’s top teams if you go back and look at its results. It lost by 14 points to Waubonsie Valley to start the season and had narrow losses to Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South. The Redhawks’ offense has been remarkable throughout the last three weeks. They have scored 40 or more points in every game. Bolingbrook has continued to be impressive on both sides of the ball. The Raiders have been jumping on opponents early and not giving them a chance.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Austin Van Meter compliments Florida recruit Antonio Morrison in Bolingbrook’s linebacker group.
Naperville Central player to watch: Defensive lineman Zach Borta was the defensive player of the year in the DuPage Valley Conference.
Prediction: Bolingbrook 27, Naperville Central 21

No. 4 Wheaton Warrenville South (9-3) at No. 3 St. Rita (10-2)

St. Rita Wheaton Warrenville South
When: Saturday at 6 p.m.
The story: This is a rematch of a 2009 Class 7A quarterfinal game. Wheaton Warrenville South pulled out on a 23-14 win at St. Rita in that contest. This is expected to be another defensive slugfest with even maybe less scoring. Both teams have relied heavily on their defenses to get them here. Wheaton Warrenville South has out-scored their last two opponents 17-7. St. Rita hasn’t given up more than 14 points in the playoffs.
Wheaton Warrenville South player to watch: Defensive back and kick returner Mike Shelton has been making an impact all over the field.
St. Rita player to watch: Linebacker Will McNamara is one of the team’s defensive leaders.
Prediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 13, St. Rita 10

No. 5 Lake Zurich (10-2) at Rockford Boylan (12-0)

Rockford Boylan Lake ZurichWhen: Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: Both these teams played in a state title game last season. Lake Zurich lost to Wheaton Warrenville South in Class 7A. Rockford Boylan defeated Marmion in Class 6A. Lake Zurich’s defense has been the key to its success the past few weeks. It allowed a total of 17 points to Glenbard West and Elk Grove. Rockford Boylan’s offense hasn’t been contained all season. The Titans put up 30 points on Crystal Lake South last week and haven’t scored less than 28 points this season.
Lake Zurich player to watch: Running back Mike Shield came through again in last week’s win.
Rockford Boylan player to watch: Peter Cimino had three interceptions and a fumble recovery in last week’s win.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 17, Rockford Boylan 14

No. 6 Lemont (12-0) at Peoria Richwoods (9-3)

Peoria Richwoods LemontWhen: Saturday at 2 p.m.
The story: Peoria Richwoods started off its season 0-3 and has rallied to win its last nine games. The Knights squeaked out a 20-19 win over Danville last week. Lemont will be favored, but it will have to win on the road. The Indians notched their sixth shutout of the season with last week’s win. No one has come within 18 points of them through 12 games.
Lemont player to watch: Defensive lineman Sebastian Koziel recorded 1.5 sacks in last week’s win.
Peoria Richwoods player to watch: Running back Kendrick Foster rushed for 177 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win.
Prediction: Lemont 35, Peoria Richwoods 17

No. 9 Prairie Ridge (11-1) at No. 7 Batavia (12-0)

When: Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: This is a game everyone has been waiting for in Class 6A. Batavia and Prairie Ridge have been two of the most dominant teams in the class throughout the season. Batavia has out-scored it opponents 506-124. Prairie Ridge has out-scored teams 520-101. Batavia hasn’t scored less than 31 points this season. Prairie Ridge hasn’t given up more than 22 points in a game. This could be a good one.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Guard Tom Evans has been opening holes for the Wolves’ running backs all season.
Batavia player to watch: Defensive lineman Alex Lyons has had a memorable year.
Prediction: Batavia 28, Prairie Ridge 27

No. 8 Montini (10-2) at No. 13 Kaneland (12-0)

Kaneland MontiniWhen: Saturday at 6 p.m.
The story: These two teams met in the Class 5A semifinals last season, and Montini won 27-14 at Kaneland. Montini will have to win on the road again if it’s going to get a shot at its third consecutive state championship. Montini was dominant on both sides of the ball in last week’s 52-27 win over Marian Central. Quarterback John Rhode has been unstoppable throughout the playoffs and threw five more touchdowns last week. Kaneland has been finding a way to win over the last month. The Knights’ last four games have been decided by six points or less.
Montini player to watch: Defensive back Joe Cione intercepted three passes in last week’s win.
Kaneland player to watch: Sophomore quarterback Drew David will likely need to have a big day for the Knights to pull off the upset.
Prediction: Montini 42, Kaneland 21

Sacred Heart-Griffin (12-0) at No. 10 Joliet Catholic (10-2)

Joliet Catholic Sacred Heart GriffinWhen: Saturday at 2 p.m.
The story: This should be a battle of a great offensive team vs. a great defensive one. Sacred Heart-Griffin has allowed a total of 24 points in the playoffs. The Cyclones haven’t given up more than 15 points in a game since Week 1. On the other hand, Joliet Catholic has scored 145 points in the playoffs. The Hilltoppers have been held to less than 32 points just once this year. Something will have to give in this one.
Sacred Heart-Griffin player to watch: Chris Harris rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown in last week’s win.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Kicker Isaac Grashoff could help decide a close game. He’s been accurate all season.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 34, Sacred Heart-Griffin 28

Tolono Unity (11-1) at Aurora Christian (11-1)

Aurora Christian Tolono UnityWhen: Saturday at 5 p.m.
The story: Aurora Christian appears to be the front-runner in Class 3A. The Eagles have been getting it done offensively throughout the season. They’ve scored less than 34 points just once this season. Quarterback Anthony Maddie, a Western Michigan recruit, and wide receiver Chad Beebe are one of the best combos in the state. They’re good for 100 yards and a few touchdowns almost every week. Tolono Unity has put up its share of points this season as well. The Rockets have scored 40 or more points in eight games.
Tolono Unity player to watch: Michael Lafenhagen ran for 191 yards in last week’s win.
Aurora Christian player to watch: Julian Sosa is one of the team’s leaders on defense.
Prediction: Aurora Christian 42, Tolono Unity 28

Simeon (9-3) vs. Harper (10-2)

Harper SimeonWhen: Saturday at 12 p.m. at Gately Stadium
The story: Harper and Simeon face off for the Public League championship and the right to represent the Public League in the Prep Bowl. Simeon had a disappointing run in the playoffs, but is making up for it now. The Wolverines did get by Fenger earlier in the week without quarterback Robert Gregory, who was serving a one-game suspension. Harper avenged an early-season loss to Dunbar in the Public League semifinals with a 40-14 win. The Cardinals have seven shutouts this year.
Harper player to watch: Kewane Pipkins threw for two touchdowns and ran for one against Dunbar.
Simeon player to watch: Paris Ratliff scored touchdowns on a fake punt and kickoff return in the Wolverines’ win over Fenger.
Prediction: Simeon 34, Harper 21

Brother Rice (8-4) vs. Mount Carmel (8-4)

Mount Carmel Brother Rice
When: Friday at 6 p.m. at Gately Stadium
The story: Brother Rice and Mount Carmel meet for the second time this season with this game deciding which team represents the Catholic League in the Prep Bowl. Mount Carmel won the first matchup 35-24 at home. Both teams like to keep on the ground and have two of the area’s top running backs.
Brother Rice player to watch: Running back Martez Walker has been among the area’s best this season.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Brandon Greer makes plays at running back and defensive back.
Prediction: Brother Rice 24, Mount Carmel 20

Jackson, GB North upset Stevenson

November, 13, 2011

CAROL STREAM, Ill. -- Glenbard North running back Phil Jackson has been pivotal for his team all season. But perhaps the Panthers' recent playoff run has stirred up some sibling rivalry.

Glenbard North Stevenson

Glenbard North beat No. 4 Stevenson 28-0, with sophomore Justin Jackson, Phil's little brother, helping the Panthers to a commanding two touchdown lead in the first half.

"We came in with a defensive mindset, wanting to pitch a shutout and we did it," said the younger Jackson.

The Panthers got going early scoring their first touchdown, an 18-yard hand off to Justin within six minutes. Glenbard North's offensive line gave quarterback Brian Murphy the time and place to run himself, and utilize both Jackson brothers the whole game.

"People have said we're just a bunch of big guys and that's all," said offensive lineman and captain Dan McHale. "But we've got a great core and when we do our job Brian and the backs make it so easy."

Stevenson sputtered on offense, punting four times in the first 13 minutes.

Later in the second, Patriots' QB Matt Micucci found his arms, nailing three completions in a 35-yard drive down to GB North's 10. But Micucci, who completed only nine of 30 passes, also as kicker, missed a field goal attempt by putting it wide.

On the Patriots' next first down, Tremel Smith picked off Miccuci's first throw, and Alex Mendez did the same a minute and a half later. Both interceptions set up Panther scoring opportunities.

Justin Jackson, who had 112 total yards on the night, converted Smith's pick three plays later on a 44-yard run, making it 13-0. Trevor Hackett missed the Panthers' extra point, but made up for it after Mendez' interception with his own 20-yard touchdown reception, making it 19-0. A second later, Phil Jackson ran in a two-point conversion, to cap off the first half at 21-0 to the Panthers.

The second half wasn't much better for Stevenson. Gaining excellent field position on the Panther 20-yard line after blocking a Panthers punt, Micucci got sacked, threw two incompletes then missed his second field goal attempt from the 23.

Glenbard North's defensive line continued to threaten Micucci throughout the last 24 minutes, sacking him four times. Smith almost intercepted twice more while the Panthers' defensive backs remained rampant, thwarting every single Stevenson drive.

"We were a bit concerned because as a team they're pretty well balanced," said Glenbard's coach Ryan Wilkins. "But our defense rushed the quarterback really well tonight and our offense was spot on."

Player of the game: Justin Jackson, with two TDs in the first half.

The game was over when: Stevenson, at the end of the third quarter gave up unnecessary yardage due to penalties, multiple times.

Stat of the game: 65 yards of penalties against Stevenson, mostly in the second half. An even zero total rushing yards for the Patriots.

Play of the game: Phil Jackson's crafty cut left and 46-yard touchdown run, which put the Panthers up 28-0.

Quote of the game:"It's never a rivalry with us and when we're on this field we're one, together," - Jackson

What it means: Darkhorse Glenbard North has toppled better ranked teams each week of the playoffs and now look to challenge the mighty Loyola next week.

Football quarterfinal round preview

November, 10, 2011
Here's a look at this week’s quarterfinal action in ESPNChicago.com's top 20.

Lyons (7-4) at No. 1 Loyola (11-0)

Loyola Lyons
When:Noon Saturday
The story: On paper, Loyola should run away with this one. But after last week’s round of upsets, it’s easy to realize that there are no guarantees in the playoffs. The Ramblers haven’t been tested yet through two rounds. They outscored their first two opponents 64-0. Lyons has had some close calls, defeating Bartlett by three points in the opening round and then knocked off Glenbrook South by three points in overtime last week. The Lions’ strength the past three weeks has been putting up points. Their only games of scoring 30 or more points this season came in the last three weeks.
Lyons player to watch: Jaime Jones would have been a great fantasy running back last week. He rushed for five touchdowns on 25 carries.
Loyola player to watch: Wide receiver Peter Pujals is coming off a nine-reception, 181-yard performance against Dunbar.
Prediction: Loyola 31, Lyons 13

No. 12 Downers Grove South (10-1) at No. 2 Bolingbrook (10-1)

Bolingbrook Downers Grove South
When:6 p.m. Saturday
The story: Some of the best football games of the previous four years were Bolingbrook-Downers Grove South matchups. Last season, Bolingbrook won 28-21. In 2009, Bolingbrook won 16-14 in a regular-season matchup, and Downers Grove South won 22-20 in the playoffs. In 2008, Bolingbrook pulled out a 21-20 win. In 2007, Downers Grove South won 10-7. This was the first season their non-conferences meetings ceased, so it’s only fitting they square off in the Class 8A quarterfinals. This could be another classic.
Downers Grove South player to watch: Kaylon Miller is one of the many offensive weapons for the Mustangs.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Offensive lineman Robbie Bain is often responsible for the holes created for Aaron Bailey.
Prediction: Bolingbrook 26, Downers Grove South 24

No. 3 St. Rita (9-2) at O’Fallon (10-1)

When:7 p.m. Friday
The story: St. Rita will be making the long drive to the St. Louis area again. The Mustangs made a similar trip in Week 2 when they went to play an out-of-state opponent in East St. Louis. St. Rita is hoping for a better outcome this time after losing that game. O’Fallon has pulled out a couple close wins this season. It narrowly defeated Pekin 34-31 last week. The Panthers’ offense has scored on a consistent basis. St. Rita’s defense will be looking forward to that challenge.
St. Rita player to watch: Max Kurucar had a key interception in last week’s win over Andrew.
O’Fallon player to watch: Running back Ejay Johnson rushed for six touchdowns in the first round.
Prediction: St. Rita 30, O’Fallon 17

No. 4 Stevenson (9-2) at No. 17 Glenbard North (8-3)

Glenbard North Stevenson
When:3 p.m. Saturday
The story: According to the seeding, Stevenson and Glenbard North should not be playing in the quarterfinals. Glenbard North overcame Barrington and Palatine to get here. Stevenson pulled off the biggest upset of the playoffs with last week’s win over three-time defending Class 8A state champs Maine South. Stevenson has the been king of close games this season. The Patriots have won six games by a touchdown or less. Glenbard North fell on the wrong side of a couple close games during the regular season, but has been finishing strong late in the season.
Stevenson player to watch: Matt Morrissey is among the capable wide receivers for the Patriots.
Glenbard North player to watch: Phil Jackson makes his presence known on both sides of the ball.
Prediction: Stevenson 24, Glenbard North 21

No. 5 Wheaton Warrenville South (8-3) at East St. Louis (9-2)

When:Noon Saturday
The story: This is the game everyone had hoped to see last season, but it wasn't to be after East St. Louis was removed from the playoffs due to an ineligible player. Neither team is as talented as it was a year ago, but this should still be an entertaining game. East St. Louis’s defense overwhelmed Oswego with its speed in last week’s win. Its offense also has its share of athletes. Wheaton Warrenville South has been getting by on its defense. The Tigers pulled out a 7-0 win over Lincoln-Way East last week.
Wheaton Warrenville South player to watch: Jack Lipinsky is a threat to get to the quarterback on any play.
East St. Louis player to watch: Natereace Strong is no ordinary freshman running back. He ran for 146 yards and a touchdown against Oswego.
Prediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 17, East St. Louis 13

Elk Grove (10-1) at No. 6 Lake Zurich (10-1)

When:1 p.m. Saturday
The story: Lake Zurich put together a defensive masterpiece against Glenbard West. If the Bears are playing that well, there are few teams who will be able to beat them. Elk Grove has flown around the radar this season without any wins over ranked teams, but all it has been doing is winning. The Grenadiers are riding a nine-game winning streak into this game. They’ve scored 35-plus points in their two playoff games.
Elk Grove player to watch: Fernando Lozana scored three touchdowns in last week’s victory.
Lake Zurich player to watch: Mike Shield scored the lone touchdown in last week’s win over Glenbard West.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 21, Elk Grove 13

Hubbard (9-2) at No. 7 Lemont (11-0)

When:6 p.m. Saturday
The story: Hubbard is the lone Chicago Public League team to reach the quarterfinals in any class. The Greyhounds’ defense has come up big in the playoffs. It hasn’t allowed more than 13 points. Lemont will be a huge test for Hubbard. The Indians haven’t scored less than 35 points since September. Lemont is also one of the state’s premier defensive teams. It has allowed only two teams more than 14 points.
Hubbard player to watch: Quarterback Quincy Skanes ran for 116 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s win over Richards.
Lemont player to watch: Kyle Krull is one of the defensive stars for the Indians.
Prediction: Lemont 38, Hubbard 17

No. 8 Batavia (11-0) at Lakes (9-2)

Lakes Batavia
When:5 p.m. Saturday
The story: Batavia again looked like one of the area’s best in last week’s win over Lake Forest. The Bulldogs’ run defense especially emerged in the win. That defense will have another challenge this week against Lakes and its bruising running back Direll Clark, who has been one of the biggest stars of the playoffs. He ran for 200-plus yards in last week’s win over Grant.
Batavia player to watch: Alec Lyons had a sack and two tackles for loss in last week’s win over Lake Forest.
Lakes player to watch: Andre Spencer had seven receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown last week.
Prediction: Batavia 38, Lakes 24

No. 9 Nazareth (10-1) at No. 15 Prairie Ridge (10-1)

Prairie Ridge Nazareth
When:1 p.m. Saturday
The story: This game has a state championship feel. Either team could take this game and go onto the win the Class 6A title. Nazareth was expected to be good this season, but no one could have imaged it would be this good. The Roadrunners ran through the gauntlet of the East Suburban Catholic for the league title and has been nearly perfect in the playoffs. Prairie Ridge went through a similarly difficult schedule in the Fox Valley and has cruised in its two playoff games. Both teams have strong run games and can put up points.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Jordan Getzelman only needed five carries to run for 108 yards and two touchdowns last week.
strong>Nazareth player to watch: Aenas White caught a 56-yard touchdown pass in last week’s win over Cary-Grove.
Prediction: Nazareth 31, Prairie Ridge 21

No. 14 Marian Central (11-0) at No.10 Montini (8-3)

Montini Marian Central
When:2 p.m. Saturday
The story: This is the quarterfinal matchup everyone was waiting for in Class 5A. Marian Central defeated Montini 21-20 when they met in Week 4. The question is whether Marian Central can repeat the feat now that Montini quarterback John Rhode has returned from injury. Rhode missed the first game. He’s thrown 28 touchdowns in his six games back. It’s not as if Marian Central pulled off a fluke win, though. No opponent has come within 15 points of the Hurricanes since their win over Montini.
Marian Central player to watch: Wide receiver Scott Stochal had eight receptions for 147 yards and one touchdown last week.
Montini player to watch: There may not be a better player in the state at any position than wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp.
Prediction: Montini 35, Marian Central 28

Rockford Boylan (11-0) at No. 11 Crystal Lake South (10-1)

When:1 p.m. Saturday
The story: Like Nazareth-Prairie Ridge, this game could have been a state championship game. Boylan and Crystal Lake South have been two of the state’s premier teams all season. Boylan, which won last year’s Class 6A title, has won all of its games by 14 or more points and has held 10 of its opponents to less than 10 points. Crystal Lake South’s defense has been just as spectacular. The Gators have allowed only one opponent more than 14 points this season. This game could come down to inches.
Rockford Boylan player to watch: Defensive lineman Dean Lowry is a Northwestern recruit.
strong>Crystal Lake South player to watch: Reese Dziedzic rushed for 127 yards in last week’s win over Carmel.
Prediction: Crystal Lake South 20, Boylan 14

No. 15 Joliet Catholic (9-2) at Washington (10-1)

When:1 p.m. Saturday
The story: Joliet Catholic had its season ended unexpectedly by Peoria Richwoods in the Class 5A quarterfinals last season. The Hilltoppers are looking to take another step this season. Joliet Catholic defeated Washington 49-7 in the opening round last season. This is an improved Washington team, though. The Panthers have been especially impressive defensively this year.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Running back Ty Isaac added to his memorable season with five touchdowns last week.
strong>Washington player to watch: Dakota Bullard returned the opening kick 87 yards in last week’s win over Rich East.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 38, Washington 24

No. 18 Homewood-Flossmoor (8-3) at No. 19 Naperville Central (8-3)

Naperville Central Homewood-Flossmoor
When:7 p.m. Friday
The story: Homewood-Flossmoor and Naperville Central have been two of the most dominant teams through two rounds of the playoffs. Both teams have scored 40-plus points in both of their wins. Naperville Central’s defense has been more consistent that the Vikings’ defense this season. In Naperville Central’s three losses, it didn’t allow its opponent more than 21 points. In Homewood-Flossmoor’s three losses, it allowed 30-plus points in each game. Homewood-Flossmoor likely has the edge on offense between the two teams.
Homewood-Flossmoor player to watch: Tim Williams has continued to be one of the top quarterbacks in the area.
Naperville Central player to watch: Quarterback Ian Lewandowski ran for two touchdowns and threw for one in last week’s win.
Prediction: Naperville Central 38, Homewood-Flossmoor 28

No. 20 Kaneland (11-0) at Rochelle (8-3)

When:1 p.m. Saturday
The story: The saying “a win is a win” is most apt for the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how you survive, as long you survive. Kaneland and Rochelle are well aware of this. Kaneland got by Belvidere with a 51-45 win the first round and edged St. Francis 31-28 in the second round. Rochelle defeated Urban Prep Charter 43-41 in the first round and Sycamore 21-16 in the second round. The two teams met in the regular season, and Kaneland defeated Rochelle 35-14 in Week 5.
Kaneland player to watch: Cornerback Jacob Razo intercepted his ninth pass of the season last week.
Rochelle player to watch: Quarterback Nick Moore had a 91-yard touchdown run in last week’s win.
Prediction: Kaneland 28, Rochelle 17

Football playoffs: 10 intriguing matchups

October, 27, 2011
Robert GregoryScott Powers/ESPNChicago.com Arkansas-bound quarterback Robert Gregory leads Simeon against Lockport on Friday.
Here's a look at the 10 intriguing first-round playoff games.

Grant (6-3) at Antioch (8-1)

Antioch Grant When: 7 p.m. Friday
The story: Grant and Antioch didn’t have to get familiarized with each other’s game tape when the Class 6A pairings were released. The two teams met in Week 8 with Grant pulling out a 22-14 upset win, the Sequoits’ only regular-season defeat. Antioch had trouble holding on to the ball in the first meeting and will look to correct that. Grant scored 22 points in the second half for the win.
Grant player to watch: Kyle Whitman was the game’s hero the first time around. He scored on an 8-yard touchdown run with 45.7 seconds remaining.
Antioch player to watch: Running back Austin Klotter is coming off a four-touchdown game against North Chicago.
Prediction: Antioch 31, Grant 24

Carmel (6-3) at No. 14 Addison Trail (8-1)

Addison Trail CarmelWhen: 7 p.m. Friday
The story: Addison Trail caught everyone’s attention by upsetting Downers Grove South last week. The Blazers are for real, and their defense is among the state’s best. They haven’t allowed an opponent more than 14 points this season, and their schedule also included Glenbard West. On the other hand, Carmel’s offense hasn’t been contained this season. The Corsairs haven’t scored less than 27 points and have averaged 40 points a game. Something will have to give in this Class 7A matchup.
Carmel player to watch: Running back Jordan Kos became the school’s all-time leading rusher last week.
Addison Trail player to watch: Defensive lineman Tom Caputo is among the team’s defensive stars. He returned an interception for a touchdown in last week’s win.
Prediction: Addison Trail 21, Carmel 20

Providence (6-3) at Wheaton Warrenville South (6-3)

Wheaton Warrenville South ProvidenceWhen: 7 p.m. Friday
The story: Wheaton Warrenville South’s rocky regular season put itself on a difficult playoff path. The Tigers will be tested every week if they’re going to make another state championship run. That starts with Providence. The Celtics have returned to the playoffs after going 2-7 last season. It was their first absence from the playoffs since 1990. Providence is hot right now, too, after upsetting Mount Carmel last week.
Providence player to watch: Running back Brandon Price scored two touchdowns in last week’s win over Mount Carmel.
Wheaton Warrenville South player to watch: Linebacker Daniel Roadman returned an interception for a touchdown in last week’s win over Wheaton North.
Prediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 24, Providence 13

York (6-3) at Stevenson (7-2)

Stevenson York When: 7 p.m. Friday
The story: Stevenson has been living on the edge this season. Six of the Patriots’ games have been decided by seven points or less, and they won four of those games. York has been involved in two tight games and lost both. The Dukes have been up and down all season. They are at their best when their passing game is producing. After losing to Lyons and Glenbard West, they did close out the regular season with a strong game against Hinsdale Central.
York player to watch: Quarterback Joe Lucca threw five touchdowns in last week’s over Hinsdale Central.
Stevenson player to watch: Running back Mike Ling ran for a career-high 109 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win.
Prediction: Stevenson 27, York 21

Geneva (7-2) at Lake Zurich (7-2)

Lake Zurich GenevaWhen: 1 p.m. Saturday
The story: Geneva and Lake Zurich were highly ranked at various points of the regular season. Lake Zurich is led by its defense. The Bears have allowed only opponent more than 14 points this year. Their two losses were decided by a total of six points. Geneva’s offense is its strength. The Vikings have averaged 37.9 points a game. Geneva coach Rob Wicinski thought the game felt like a second- or third-round matchup.
Geneva player to watch: Bobby Hess is dangerous in the return game and in the backfield for the Vikings.
Lake Zurich player to watch: Quarterback Zach Till rushed for five touchdowns last week.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 24, Geneva 20

Jacobs (7-2) at Wheaton North (7-2)

Wheaton North Jacobs When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
The story: Jacobs and Wheaton North have been solid throughout the season. They both have won and lost to quality teams. Jacobs has lost twice in its last three games. The Golden Eagles’ offense struggled against Prairie Ridge and Crystal Lake South. Wheaton North’s offense is coming off its worst game of the season. The Falcons scored 13 points against Wheaton Warrenville South.
Jacobs player to watch: Senior quarterback Jason Judson has the arm to beat defenses deep.
Wheaton North player to watch: Quarterback John Peltz will look to rebound from a rough game against Wheaton Warrenville South.
Prediction: Wheaton North 24, Jacobs 17

Homewood-Flossmoor (6-3) at No. 17 Marist (7-2)

Marist Homewood-FlossmoorWhen:7 p.m. Friday
The story: The scoreboard could be lighting up all night with these teams going at it. Marist has put up 37.9 points a game this season and gone over 50 points the last two weeks. Homewood-Flossmoor is averaging 43.2 points a game and has gone over 50 points three times this season. Marist is one of the state’s hottest teams with back-to-back wins over Carmel and Joliet Catholic. Homewood-Flossmoor lost to Sandburg last week.
Homewood-Flossmoor player to watch: Quarterback Tim Williams is the engine to the Vikings’ offense.
Marist player to watch: Wide receiver Nic Weisher is quickly becoming a star.
Prediction: Marist 62, Homewood-Flossmoor 54

Glenbard North (6-3) at Barrington (7-2)

Barrington Glenbard North When:6 p.m. Saturday
The story: Barrington and Glenbard North began the season ranked, but didn’t remain there. Barrington dropped out quickly after losing its season opener to Libertyville. The Broncos also fell to Palatine later on. They are currently on a three-game winning streak. Glenbard North won its first five games, but then went on a three-game skid during its conference season. Their problem during that stretch was getting consistent offense. It should be a physical game. Both teams play smash-mouth football.
Glenbard North player to watch: Defensive back Nicholas Maxwell intercepted a pass in last week’s win over Naperville North.
Barrington player to watch: Dan Voltz is considered one of the top offensive linemen in the country. He’s headed to Wisconsin.
Prediction: Barrington 17, Glenbard North 14

Lockport (6-3) at Simeon (7-2)

Simeon LockportWhen:7:30 p.m. Friday at Gately Stadium
The story: Simeon again appears to be the lone Chicago Public League team with a chance at making a state playoff run. The Wolverines have rolled over their opponents since dropping their first two games of the year. Lockport will be a step up the competition ladder. The Porters’ defense has had trouble stopping elite offenses. This will be another test for them.
Lockport player to watch: Rich Galvin had a 56-yard touchdown run in last week’s loss to Bolingbrook.
Simeon player to watch: Quarterback Robert Gregory is among the area’s best and is headed to Arkansas.
Prediction: Simeon 34, Lockport 24

New Trier (6-3) at Glenbrook South (7-2)

Glenbrook South New TrierWhen:7 p.m. Friday
The story: Glenbrook South topped New Trier 21-10 when the two teams met in a Week 6 Central Suburban South matchup. Glenbrook South’s defense was the difference in the win. The Titans didn’t allow New Trier a first down after its first drive. Glenbrook South has won the team’s last five meetings.
New Trier player to watch: Quarterback Jack Nykaza can run or the pass the ball to get his offense going.
Glenbrook South to watch: Running back Kevin Schroeder ran for 143 yards and three touchdown in the win over New Trier.
Prediction: Glenbrook South 20, New Trier 17

Week 8 prep football preview capsules

October, 13, 2011
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)


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

Week 6 football preview

September, 28, 2011
Here's a look at the sixth week of action in ESPNChicago.com's top 20.

No. 1 Maine South (5-0) at Niles West (2-3)

Niles West Maine South
When: Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The story: Maine South showed it wasn’t invincible last week by trailing New Trier until the second half. The Trevians’ offense got going in the final two quarters and kept their 10-year conference winning streak alive. Maine South will be looking to end this week’s game early. Niles West has lost its last two games.
Maine South player to watch:Linebacker Luke Lenti has been a key defensive player this season.
Niles West player to watch:Wide receiver Jeremiah Jordan can be a threat.
Prediction:Maine South 49, Niles West 7

Proviso West (3-2) at No. 2 Glenbard West (5-0)

Glenbard West Proviso WestWhen: Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: Glenbard West looks more impressive every week. The Panthers have out-scored their opponents 187-30 this season. Quarterback Justice Odom has continued to improve for the Hilltoppers. Proviso West lost to York 31-8 last week. The Panthers weren’t able to score many points in their two losses.
Proviso West player to watch: Running back Jamaal Payton scored his team’s lone touchdown last week.
Glenbard West player to watch: Tight end Nathan Marcus had two touchdowns in last week’s win.
Prediction: Glenbard West 42, Proviso West 10

No. 3 Lincoln-Way East (5-0) at No. 12 Bolingbrook (5-0)

Bolingbrook Lincoln-Way EastWhen: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: All eyes will be on this game on Friday. Both teams have shown few flaws this season, and both took care of Homewood-Flossmoor to set up this undefeated matchup. The game will have plenty of star power. Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey and Lincoln-Way East quarterback Blake Winkler are two of the area’s best. Lincoln-Way East wide receiver Jason Robertson is headed to Illinois, and Bolingbrook linebacker Antonio Morrison is committed to Florida. This game may come down to which team makes the fewest mistakes.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Justin Corbett is one of the Griffins’ many receiving targets.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Omar Stover rushed for 118 yards in last week’s win over Homewood-Flossmoor.
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 45, Bolingbrook 42

No. 4 Mount Carmel (5-0) at No. 6 Loyola (5-0)

Loyola Mount CarmelWhen: Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The story: Loyola, Mount Carmel and St. Rita are all in position to make a run for the Catholic League Blue title again. They shared it last season with one loss each. One of the reasons that happened was Mount Carmel defeated Loyola 31-24 in overtime at Gately Stadium. Now, they meet again at Loyola. Both teams have played well on both sides of the ball. Mount Carmel looks to keep the ball on the ground, and Loyola looks to pass it.
Mount Carmel player to watch: This is one of the biggest games of junior quarterback Don Butkus’ young varsity career.
Loyola player to watch: Wide receiver Charlie Dowdle had two touchdowns in last year’s meeting.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 31, Loyola 28

Nazareth (4-1) at No. 5 Joliet Catholic (5-0)

Joliet Catholic NazarethWhen: Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Joliet Catholic hasn’t been challenged since Week 1, and this could be its toughest game since then. The Hilltoppers are the lone remaining undefeated team in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Nazareth is 4-1 in conference with its lone loss to Carmel. Nazareth’s defense will have to find a way to stop Joliet Catholic’s run game. Nazareth has scored 30 or more points in its last three games.
Nazareth player to watch: Rudy Romagnano is capable of breaking a run any time he touches the ball.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Quarterback Craig Slowik has thrown the ball well when needed to this season.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 42, Nazareth 17

No. 7 St. Rita (4-1) at Hales (3-2)

Hales St. RitaWhen: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: St. Rita gets a break from the Catholic League Blue for the next two weeks. If everything goes according to plan, the Mustangs should be 6-1 headed into their final games against Loyola and Mount Carmel. St. Rita’s defense was stellar again in last week’s 19-0 win over Providence. Hales has scored 44 points in each of its past two games. The problem has been containing opponents. Hales allowed 80 total points in those same games.
St. Rita player to watch: Ryan Leonard and Max Kurucar each returned interceptions for touchdowns last week.
Hales player to watch: Joe Morrow is Hales’ primary offensive weapon.
Prediction: St. Rita 42, Hales 14

No. 8 Downers Grove South (5-0) at Willowbrook (0-5)

Willowbrook Downers Grove SouthWhen: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Downers Grove South’s win over rival Downers Grove North wasn’t as pretty as it would have liked. A fumble at the goal line and a couple late touchdowns ruined Downers Grove South’s day. The Mustangs look for a cleaner game against winless Willowbrook. The Warriors have allowed 221 points this season.
Downers Grove South player to watch: Scott Daly is committed to Notre Dame as a long snapper, but he also plays tight end for the Mustangs.
Willowbrook player to watch: Dom Battaglia has been Willowbrook’s main offensive threat. He’s scored in most games this season.
Prediction: Downers Grove South 49, Willowbrook 7

No. 9 Glenbard North (5-0) at Naperville Central (3-2)

Naperville Central Glenbard NorthWhen: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Glenbard North’s schedule isn’t easy the rest of the way. Naperville Central could easily be 4-1 if it weren’t for last week’s narrow 14-7 loss to Wheaton Warrenville South. Naperville Central’s offense has struggled in its two losses. Glenbard North’s defense is among the area’s best. The Panthers have shut out three opponents this season.
Glenbard North player to watch: Collin Hansen returned an interception for a touchdown in last week’s win.
Naperville Central player to watch: Running back Matt Randolph looks to bounce back from last week’s 60-yard game. He has rushed for 762 yards this season.
Prediction: Glenbard North 28, Naperville Central 14

No. 10 Prairie Ridge (5-0) at No. 16 Crystal Lake South (5-0)

Crystal Lake South Prairie RidgeWhen: Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: No one has been able to stop Prairie Ridge yet. The Wolves have out-scored their opponents 224-14 this season. This will be their greatest test to date. Crystal Lake South’s defense is also among the area’s best. The Gators have allowed 31 points this season, and no one has scored more than 12 points in a game. Something will have to give in this one.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Running back Connor Greenwald is normally good for at least a touchdown a game.
Crystal Lake South player to watch: Brad Walovitch is one of the state’s most versatile players. For the Gators to have a chance, he’ll need to come through in some way.
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 21, Crystal Lake South 14

No. 11 Lake Zurich (4-1) at Libertyville (3-2)

Lake Zurich LibertyvilleWhen: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Lake Zurich’s schedule picks up from here. If the Bears are going to win the conference, the next three weeks will decide that with games against Libertyville, Stevenson and Lake Forest. Lake Zurich has looked good on both sides of the ball the last few weeks. Libertyville lost to Stevenson 13-0 last week. It was the second time this year the Wildcats had been shutout. Their offense will have to step up against Lake Zurich, which hasn’t allowed more than 14 points this season.
Lake Zurich player to watch: Jack Lynn may be going to Minnesota to be a linebacker, but he can catch the ball, too. He had four receptions for 106 yards last week.
Libertyville player to watch: Wide receiver Austin Williams is a consistent target for the team’s quarterbacks.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 24, Libertyville 10

No. 13 Carmel (3-2) at St. Patrick (3-2)

St. Patrick Carmel When: Friday at 8 p.m.
The story: Carmel is coming off a loss to a top team from Minnesota. The Corsairs are still in the East Suburban Catholic race with one loss. They’ll need Joliet Catholic to eventually lose, but they can only control themselves right now. They could be in for an offensive shootout against St. Patrick. The Shamrocks have put up 30-plus points in four of their five games. They’ve lost the last two weeks by a combined 10 points.
Carmel player to watch: Tyler Lees is one of the area’s top linebackers.
St. Patrick player to watch: Guy DiBalsamo is a threat rushing or catching the ball for the Shamrocks.
Prediction: Carmel 45, St. Patrick 31

No. 18 Batavia (5-0) at No. 14 Geneva (5-0)

Geneva BataviaWhen: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Week 6 is definitely not short of marquee matchups. This should be another good one. Geneva had a couple close calls early, but has taken care of business the past few weeks with lopsided wins. Batavia hasn’t had a close game yet this season -- its smallest margin of victory has been 22 points. No opponent has scored more than 13 points against it. This game could very well decide the conference title.
Batavia player to watch: Quarterback Noel Gaspari threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win.
Geneva player to watch: Senior Matt Williams is one of the area’s best quarterbacks.
Prediction: Geneva 27, Batavia 21

Bloom (1-4) at No. 15 Crete-Monee (5-0)

Crete-Monee Bloom When: Friday at 6 p.m.
The story: Crete-Monee hasn’t been troubled yet this season, and that will likely be the case again this week. The Warriors have been steamrolling teams through five weeks. Their offense and defense have been dominant. Bloom has been in some tight games this season, including last week’s 6-2 loss to Rich South, but will have to play at a whole other level to compete with Crete-Monee.
Bloom player to watch: Wide receiver Jason Mendez can make plays.
Crete-Monee player to watch: Linebacker John Fasel recovered two fumbles in last week’s win over Kankakee.
Prediction: Crete-Monee 42, Bloom 7

No. 17 Lemont (5-0) at Bremen (5-0)

Bremen LemontWhen: Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: This game will likely decide the South Suburban Blue. Both teams enter undefeated. Lemont has been more impressive in its wins, but Bremen can’t be overlooked. Bremen hasn’t allowed an opponent more than 13 points this season, and its offense is led by all-area candidate running back David Smith. Lemont was challenged last week by previously-undefeated Tinley Park, but prevailed 49-20. It was the most points the Indians’ defense had given up this season.
Lemont player to watch: Quarterback Damon Aleman was 7-of-10 for 150 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s win.
Bremen player to watch: Davis Smith is one of the area’s top running backs. He has a several Division I schools after him.
Prediction: Lemont 24, Bremen 13

Jacobs (5-0) at Huntley (1-4)

Huntley JacobsWhen: Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: Jacobs proved it was legit with last week’s win over Cary-Grove. It will have a chance to further show that with upcoming games against Crystal Lake South and Prairie Ridge. For now, it should be able to remain undefeated for one more week as its travel to Huntley. Jacobs coach Bill Mitz has quickly turned the program around in two years. Huntley dropped its first four games and defeated Dundee-Crown last week.
Jacobs player to watch: Quarterback Jason Judson has the Golden Eagles’ offense averaging more than 30 points a game. He’s had a long touchdown pass in almost every game.
Huntley player to watch: Junior Ethan Connor rushed for four touchdown in last week’s win.
Prediction: Jacobs 38, Huntley 10

No. 20 Antioch (5-0) at Lakes (4-1)

Lakes AntiochWhen: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Antioch hasn’t been the most dominating undefeated team in the area, but the Sequoits have found a way to get it done every week. They haven’t scored more than 28 points in a game, but they haven’t allowed more than 12 points. They’ve also prevailed in tight games with a two-point win over Lake Forest Academy and a three-point victory over Vernon Hills. Lakes could present a similar type of game. Lakes has a loss to Lake Zurich, but is undefeated in the North Suburban Prairie. The winner of this game will likely win the division.
Antioch player to watch: Danny Arden has rushed for 100-plus yards in every game this season. He had 121 yards and a touchdown in last week’s win over Wauconda.
Lakes player to watch: Andrew Spencer returned a punt for an 80-yard touchdown, which proved the difference in Lakes’ 7-6 win over Vernon Hills.
Prediction: Antioch 23, Lakes 14

Preseason No. 17: Glenbard North

August, 12, 2011

Last season: 8-2 overall, 6-1 DuPage Valley, lost in the Class 8A first round to Palatine, not ranked in the final ESPNChicago.com 2010 poll
Season ahead: The DuPage Valley was arguably the toughest conference in the state last season. That was greatly due to Wheaton Warrenville South and its dominance, but Glenbard North wasn’t far behind.

The Panthers possessed one of the area’s top defenses last season and their only conference loss was to the Class 7A state champions Wheaton Warrenville South.

[+] EnlargeGlenbard North
Scott Powers for ESPNChicago.comPhil Jackson will be the key to Glenbard North's offense in 2011.

In 2011, the Panthers aren’t as experienced as they were a year ago, but their goals are no different.

“We talk about expectations for our program,” Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens said. “They know that it’s a very strong football conference. They have to meet a certain level or we can’t compete with the rest of the conference.”

Star power: Phil Jackson knew he was going to be Glenbard North’s featured running back this season, and he prepared for it that way. Jackson put on nearly 20 pounds and improved his 40-yard dash time. He’s bigger and faster, and that is likely a major problem for his opponents. “He’s worked hard in the offseason,” Wilkens said. “He went and saw a speed coach and he put in the effort in the weight room.”

Breakout performers: Glenbard North’s offensive linemen could be the key to the season. The Panthers return three starters in Cody Burandt, D’Angelo Hodges and Dan McHale. All three are primed for big seasons. “It’s nice to have those three guys back because they’re quality kids, quality players,” Wilkens said.

Defensive difference-makers: Glenbard North doesn’t have a lot of defensive experience returning, but the Panthers do bring back defensive backs Alex Mendez and Tremel Smith. Both have speed and can make plays. “In the secondary, we’re as fast as we’ve been in years,” Wilkens said. “It’ll help us shut down the lanes and reduce the field.”

Newcomer to watch: There will be two Jackson for opponents to deal with this year. Sophomore Justin Jackson, Phil’s younger brother, will start in the secondary and will backup his older brother in the backfield.

Schedule breakdown: The Panthers’ schedule is backloaded. They face Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North and Naperville North in their final three regular-season games. If Glenbard North is going to compete for the conference, it’s going to come down to that stretch.

Key game: Oct. 7 vs. Wheaton Warrenville South -- Glenbard North’s only loss in the DuPage Valley last season was to the Tigers. Wheaton Warrenville South will be the conference favorite again.

What they’re saying: “It’s really a process,” Wilkens said of improving his inexperienced team. “If we’re successful, yes, it’s rewarding. Taking an inexperienced kid, turning him into a quality player is very fulfilling as a coach. There’s also nothing wrong with being very experienced.”

Class 8A playoffs breakdown

October, 29, 2010
Maine SouthScott Powers/ESPNChicago.com Maine South has won seven straight since dropping their first two games of the season.
There was little hope of winning the Class 8A state championship the past two years if your team name wasn’t Maine South.

The Hawks possessed the state’s best offensive weapon in 2008 (quarterback Charlie Goro) and 2009 (running back Matt Perez) and had plenty of talent around them to roll through their competition. Maine South went undefeated both years and won the state title in 2008 with a 41-21 win over Hinsdale Central and in 2009 with a 41-17 win over Marist.

In 2010, there’s finally hope for everyone else. While Maine South is still a state contender, the Hawks aren’t the same dominating team they were the past two seasons.

So who steps into the Hawks’ place? It’s up in the air. There are nearly a dozen teams capable of going all the way.

Here’s a deeper look at Class 8A.

Best opening round game
No. 9 Naperville North at No. 8 Marist: Both teams experienced similar seasons. They come from elite conferences. Both finished third behind highly-ranked teams. Both lost two close games. For Naperville North, it lost by seven points each to Glenbard North and Wheaton North and ended up third in the DuPage Valley. For Marist, it lost to Carmel and Joliet Catholic by a combined 11 points to take third in the East Suburban Catholic.

Top 10 Class 8A teams
1. Loyola (8-1): Earned a share of the Catholic League title with upset of St. Rita
2. Glenbard North (8-1): Only loss to Wheaton Warrenville South
3. Stevenson (9-0): Finished regular season undefeated for second consecutive season
4. Lyons (8-1): Earned a lot of respect with Week 9 win over Glenbard West
5. Mount Carmel (7-2): Caravan roll into 25th consecutive playoff appearance
6. York (8-1): Defeated Lyons during the regular season
7. Maine South (7-2): Has won seven straight since rough start
8. Marist (6-3): Experienced a few tough breaks this season
9. Naperville North (6-3): One of the best defensive teams in the area
10. Downers Grove South (7-2): Playing well after losing first two games of the season

Top 5 players to watch
1. Nick Lifka, SR, LB, Naperville North:A Boston College recruit, he may be the state’s best defensive player. He had 18 tackles against Glenbard North this season.
2. Malcolm Weaver, JR, QB, Loyola: He has flourished in his first year starting for the Ramblers, throwing for almost 30 touchdowns.
3. Chris Sujka, SR, QB, Mount Carmel: He operates the Caravan’s option to perfection, breaking off runs of 50-plus yards nearly every game.
4. Stephen Salata, SR, WR, Stevenson: He has been one of the area’s top receivers this season with 100 yards receiving in almost every game.
5. Brian Bobek, SR, OL, Fremd: At 6 foot 3 and 275 pounds, he is considered one of the nation’s top offensive linemen and is committed to Ohio State.

Sleeper team
Fremd (5-4): After being highly ranked to start the season, the Vikings dropped four of their first five games. With their backs against the wall, Fremd won its last four games, including a 26-12 victory over Barrington, and reached the playoffs for the 16th consecutive season. No one wants to face them right now.

Road for defending champions
Maine South began the season No. 1 in ESPNChicago.com’s rankings. Young and inexperienced, the Hawks probably didn’t deserve that ranking. There was an assumption that because they had won 28 consecutive games and back-to-back state titles that they would continue winning this season. They lost their first two games -- including a lopsided one to Wheaton Warrenville South -- and fell out of the rankings. Since then, Maine South has gained that needed experience and turned itself into a quality team. Led by sophomore quarterback Matt Alviti, the Hawks have won their last seven games all by 21 points or more and are heading into the playoffs with some momentum. They have the highest scoring average of all 8A teams with 40.4 points a game. Being a No. 4 seed, the road isn’t easy, but it isn’t impossible.

Fun fact
The Class 8A playoffs would like to welcome back Barrington, Bartlett, Brother Rice, Dunbar, Evanston, Homewood-Flossmoor, Neuqua Valley, Vocational, Whitney Young and York. All 10 teams missed the playoffs last season. Homewood-Flossmoor made the biggest turnaround from last year. After a 1-8 season in 2009, the Vikings were 7-2 this year.

Coaches’ thoughts
  • Maine South coach David Inserra: “We must continue to take care of the ball offensively and generate the big play. Defensively, we must be able to defend the pass and provide field position for the offense. Mainly, we must keep doing what we have been doing for the last seven games -- play Hawk football and take care of ourselves. Hopefully, two years and 10 games of playoff experience for these seniors will help in the big picture of the playoffs -- high energy, intensity, focus -- that it takes to compete and survive.”
  • Stevenson coach Bill McNamara:“Honestly, I think this can be a wide-open class. There are a lot of great football teams in 8A this year. You always have to take a close look at Maine South as the defending 8A champs. Their 7-2 record is very deceiving. Also, Loyola has had a very strong season. They are always a team that is very talented and well-coached. The Stevenson Patriots are looking forward to the IHSA state football playoffs. This is by far the best time of the year in high school athletics. Good luck to all the qualifying teams. Enjoy every moment.”
  • Loyola coach John Holecek:“A Lyons-Mount Carmel quarterfinal likely will decide the South bracket. Stevenson-Maine South decides the semis with Glenbard North and us also as contenders. Fremd is playing extremely well and will be a good underdog.”

    State championship prediction: Loyola defeats Mount Carmel
  • Week 9 Top 20 preview

    October, 22, 2010
    AM CT
    St.Rita High School footballScott Powers/ESPNChicago.comNo. 2 St. Rita can win the Catholic League outright with a win over No. 14 Loyola on Friday.
    No. 1 Wheaton Warrenville South (8-0) at West Aurora (4-4) on Friday
    The story:Wheaton Warrenville South looks to put the finishing touches on its second consecutive unbeaten regular season. The Tigers have been perfect in the regular season three of the past four years. They will be the favorite to win the Class 7A state championship when the playoff pairings are released on Saturday night.
    Prediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 49, West Aurora 7

    No. 14 Loyola (7-1) at No. 2 St. Rita (8-0) on Friday
    The story:The Catholic League championship will be decided with this game. If St. Rita wins, it takes full possession. If Loyola wins, the Ramblers, St. Rita and Mount Carmel could all finish the conference season with one loss. Mount Carmel is the lone team to defeat Loyola this season. The Ramblers are led by junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver. St. Rita has relied on running back Jahwon Akui. ESPN 1000 will be in attendance.
    Loyola player to watch: Quarterback Malcolm Weaver receives a lot of the press, but his receivers also make him look good. E.J. Webb has been his top target.
    St. Rita player to watch: Mustangs linebacker Matt Mullen came up with a couple huge tackles last week. St. Rita will look for more of the same against a talented Loyola offense.
    Quote:Loyola coach John Holecek -- “Rita’s O-line and running back are awesome. They’re fast and have a physical defense. We must score on all opportunities to keep up and must have no errors in the passing game. Running back Spencer Perry has to have a game if they decide to cover everything. We need to try and limit the big plays and withstand their muscle and speed. … Hope for divine intervention.”
    Prediction: St. Rita 28, Loyola 27

    Lyons (7-1) at No. 3 Glenbard West (8-0) on Saturday
    The story:Lyons stands in the way of Glenbard West’s third consecutive unbeaten regular season. The Lions have been in a handful of close ones this season. Four of their games have been decided by a touchdown or less. Their lone defeat was to York. The Hilltoppers have been dominant on both sides of the ball all season. They’ve out-scored opponents 288-62. They defeated York 27-10 in Week 7.
    Lyons player to watch:Chris Klotz caught a touchdown pass and blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone in the Lions’ win over Leyden last week.
    Glenbard West player to watch: Beau Warden has been one of the best linebackers in the state this season. He has 91 tackles, seven sacks, five forced fumbles and two interceptions.
    Quotes:Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet -- “LT is a well-balanced offense even though they run a four- and five-receiver set. To be successful, we need to be able to run the ball and keep the chains moving.”
    Prediction:Glenbard West 31, Lyons 17

    No. 4 Carmel (8-0) at Elder (Ohio) (2-5) on Saturday
    The story: Carmel closes out its season by traveling to Ohio on Friday. Elder has had a rocky season, going 2-5. The Panthers are coming off a bye week and have had time to prepare for Carmel’s arrival.
    Prediction: Carmel 42, Elder 20

    Brooks (3-5) at No. 5 Simeon (8-0) on Thursday
    The story: Simeon has rolled through the Public League, and this city playoff opener shouldn’t be different. The Wolverines’ focus will be on the state playoffs as they try to become the first Public League team to win a state title.
    Prediction: Simeon 56, Brooks 7

    No. 6 Joliet Catholic (7-1) at Benet (5-3) on Thursday
    The story:In a rare Thursday East Suburban Catholic game, Joliet Catholic travels to play an inconsistent Benet team. The Redwings likely clinched themselves a playoff spot with last week’s 10-7 win over St. Viator. Joliet Catholic’s offense has been unstoppable lately. The Hilltoppers have scored 48 or more points in their last four games.
    Prediction:Joliet Catholic 49, Benet 17

    McHenry (1-7) at No. 7 Crystal Lake South (8-0) on Friday
    The story: Crystal Lake South clinched the Fox Valley Valley title last week. The Gators have won with a balanced offense and defense. They’ve out-scored their opponents 253-86.
    Prediction:Crystal Lake South 42, McHenry 6

    Naperville Central (4-4) at No. 8 Glenbard North (7-1) on Friday
    The story:Naperville Central needs to win this game to have a shot at the playoffs. Glenbard North is looking to bounce back from its 49-6 loss to Wheaton Warrenville South last week.
    Prediction:Glenbard North 23, Naperville Central 17

    No. 9 Lincoln-Way East (7-1) at Joliet Central (0-8) on Saturday
    The story:Lincoln-Way East has been playing well heading into the playoffs. The Griffins have won their past six games since losing to Wheaton North.
    Prediction:Lincoln-Way East 56, Joliet Central 7

    No. 10 Stevenson (8-0) at Antioch (7-1) on Friday
    The story: Stevenson is the top team in the North Suburban Lake, and Antioch is in second place behind Vernon Hills in the North Suburban Prairie. Prairie teams haven’t fared well against Lake teams this season.
    Prediction: Stevenson 35, Antioch 14

    No. 11 Lake Zurich (7-1) at Lake Forest (6-2) on Friday
    The story: Lake Forest is coming off a 21-0 win over previously-unbeaten Vernon Hills. It was the first time Vernon Hills had allowed a point this season. Lake Forest’s two losses came to conference foes Stevenson and Warren. Lake Zurich’s defense has been among the best in the state this season. The Bears have allowed 10 or less points six times this year.
    Prediction: Lake Zurich 24, Lake Forest 10

    No. 12 Wheaton North (6-2) at Glenbard East (3-5) on Friday
    The story:Wheaton North is hoping that this won’t be another nail-biter. The Falcons’ last two wins came down to the final minutes. They defeated Naperville Central 23-21 two weeks ago and Naperville North 14-7 last week.
    Prediction:Wheaton North 41, Glenbard East 13

    Providence (2-6) at No. 13 Mount Carmel (6-2) on Friday
    The story:The season hasn’t gone according to plan for Providence, which was the 6A state runner-up last season. The Celtics began the year 0-4 and never could bounce back. If they could upset Mount Carmel, that might help their offseason. The Caravan have scored 40-plus points in five games this season.
    Prediction: Mount Carmel 38, Providence 20

    No. 15 Plainfield South (8-0) at Plainfield North (6-2) on Friday
    The story:This has the potential to be a fun one. Plainfield South has one of the state’s premier offenses. The Cougars have scored 397 points this season. They haven’t scored less than 41 points in a game. Plainfield North has scored 33 or more points six times this year and possesses running back Kapri Bibbs, who has run for 2,000-plus yard this season. The game will decide the Southwest Prairie championship.
    Plainfield South player to watch:Running back Dondre Adams is the Cougars’ offensive threat.
    Plainfield North player to watch:Bibbs is in the running for the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year award. He has 2,166 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns this season.
    Quotes: Plainfield North coach Tim Kane -- “They have an explosive offense with weapons at quarterback, wide receiver and running back. Defensively, we will need to do all we can to eliminate big plays -- long runs and the deep pass. Offensively, obviously, we will need to get the ball in Kapri Bibbs' hands often. However, we will make some adjustments with formations and plays to maybe get it to him in different ways than we had previously as I am sure South has us very well scouted.”
    Plainfield South coach Greg Banner -- “Gonna be great a high school football atmosphere, two strong teams battling for either a share of the conference title or the outright title. The biggest two keys are who makes the least mistakes, and who can stop the other from making big plays on offense. North has a strong rushing attack led by Bibbs. They have a lot of guys playing both sides of the ball, and they are talented. Should be a really exciting game.”
    Prediction:Plainfield South 63, Plainfield North 54

    Buffalo Grove (4-4) at No. 16 Prospect (7-1) on Friday
    The story: Prospect has been one of the year’s bigger surprises. The Knights lost their season-opener and now have won seven straight, including an overtime win over Elk Grove last week. Buffalo Grove needs to win this game to be playoff eligible.
    Prediction: Prospect 35, Buffalo Grove 20

    No. 17 Schaumburg (6-2) at Hoffman Estates (1-7) on Friday
    The story:Barrington, Fremd and Schaumburg all enter the final week with one Mid-Suburban West loss. Schaumburg’s only MSL West loss was to Barrington.
    Prediction:Schaumburg 41, Hoffman Estates 10

    Clark (4-4) at No. 18 Morgan Park (7-1) on Friday
    The story:Morgan Park opens the Public League playoffs with Clark. The Mustangs are coming off a narrow win over previously-unbeaten Hubbard. Morgan Park quarterback Dae’Shaun Hurley was this week’s ESPNChicago.com Prep Athlete of the Week.
    Prediction: Morgan Park 47, Clark 6

    No. 19 Marmion (8-0) at Montini (6-2) on Friday
    The story:This should be one of the better games in Week 9. Marmion started off the year with a couple of narrow wins and has since been crushing opponents. Montini opened the season with back-to-back losses to Joliet Catholic and Loyola and has been on a roll ever since. The Broncos have allowed six points in their past four games. The Suburban Christian Blue championship will be decided here.
    Marmion player to watch:T.J. Lally ran for 209 yards on just seven carries last week.
    Montini player to watch:Jordan Westerkamp has been one of the state’s top wide receivers this year. He has 52 catches for 967 yards and 12 touchdowns.
    Quote: Montini coach Chris Andriano -- “The key to this week’s game is for our defense to shut down their dangerous running attack. If they are able to sustain long drives and win the time of possession, we will be in trouble. Our defense will need to get off the field on 3rd down to give our offense more possessions. Offensively, we will need to be able to run the ball to keep their defense honest. Our QB will need to continue to make good decisions and distribute the ball to all of our receivers.”
    Prediction:Montini 31, Marmion 24

    No. 20 Lemont (8-0) at Hillcrest (0-8) on Friday
    The story: The Indians haven’t lost more than three games in a season since 2003. That won’t change this season.
    Prediction:Lemont 31, Hillcrest 13

    St. Rita moves into national rankings

    October, 19, 2010
    PM CT
    St. Rita became the second Chicago-area football team to enter ESPN RISE’s FAB 50 in the latest rankings.

    Along with No. 20 Wheaton Warrenville South (8-0), which did not move this week, St. Rita (8-0) was ranked No. 50 this week.

    In the Midwest Region Top 20 rankings, Wheaton Warrenville South remained at No. 2 behind top-ranked Glenville (Cleveland, Ohio). St. Rita (ranked No. 8 in ESPNChicago.com's rankings) and No. 17 Glenbard West also stayed put.

    Glenbard North (7-1) fell out of the Midwest rankings after its loss to Wheaton Warrenville South, and Carmel (8-0) and Simeon (8-0) were on the Midwest bubble.

    Rookie QB leads Glenbard West to win

    October, 9, 2010
    AM CT
    ELMHURST, Ill. – Glenbard West senior Daver Glawe should have felt sick -- maybe even needing to find a garbage can on the sidelines before Friday’s game.

    At least, he could have sweated a bit and showed he had some kind of nerves before stepping foot on the field.

    There were plenty of reasons for Glawe to be an emotional mess. It was his first career varsity quarterback start. He was facing unbeaten York with Glenbard West’s three-year conference undefeated streak on the line. He was also playing before a standing-room-only crowd with the majority of those fans rooting against him.

    [+] EnlargeGlenbard West running back Kendall Johnson carries the ball
    Scott Powers/ESPNChicago.comGlenbard West's Kendall Johnson carries the ball against York on Friday.
    Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet was even nervous for him.

    Not Glawe, though. He showed no hint that he was about to embark on anything significant. Displaying the calmness of a veteran, he completed 9-of-12 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns and led No. 3 Glenbard West to a 27-10 win over No. 20 York in the West Suburban Silver matchup.

    Glawe was even relaxed enough to make a few jokes in the huddle and on the sidelines.

    “He’s a jokester,” said Glenbard West senior wide receiver Mark Hiben, who was the recipient of four passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. “He was having fun. He was making everyone laugh. He really calms everyone down. It’s definitely not normal. That’s why he’s such a great kid.”

    Hetlet was just as impressed.

    “This is a varsity start,” Hetlet said. “It doesn’t get any bigger than this. They were loud. He was poised. He was more poised than I was.”

    York (6-1, 4-1) gave Hetlet and the Hilltoppers plenty of reason to worry early. After Glenbard West fumbled away the ball on the game’s first play from scrimmage, York capitalized with a 37-yard field goal by Sean McDaid. Following another defensive stop, the Dukes went ahead 10-0 in the second quarter on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Jim Nudera to Jordan Preuss.

    York’s fans began chanting, “Overrated.”

    It was too soon, though. From there, it was all Glenbard West.

    Glawe got the Hilltoppers (7-0, 4-0) going three plays after York’s touchdown when he connected with Hiben on a 68-yard score. Running back Nick Burrello scored the first of his two touchdowns at the end of the first half, and Glenbard West took a 13-10 lead into halftime.

    In the second half, it was more of the same. The Hilltoppers’ offense kept rolling, and the defense contained York. Burrello scored again to put the Hilltoppers ahead 19-10, and Glawe later threw a five-yard touchdown to Kendall Johnson and then completed a pass to Nathan Marcus (three catches for 73 yards) for the two-point conversion for the final score.

    “It’s something you dream of, definitely, coming in an environment like this,” Glawe said. “It’s just an awesome time. My O-line said, ‘Trust us, and we’ll give you the time. You’ll make the plays, and we have confidence.’ The coaches were saying all week, ‘We got confidence. It’s your time to shine.’ It’s definitely a big help when your coaches and your teammates give that little boost.”

    The Hilltoppers dedicated the win to former player Pierre Washington Steele, who was killed in a car accident in February. After the win, Hetlet raised a memorial plaque for Steele over his head, and his players cheered.

    “His number was No. 7, so this happened to be Week 7,” Hetlet said. “This is the game we dedicated to him. It was very emotional. I thought the kids played with a lot of heart. It was good to see how hard the kids came out and competed on a big stage.”

    Recap: Glenbard N. 17, Wheaton N. 14

    September, 18, 2010
    AM CT
    CAROL STREAM, Ill. -- No. 9 Glenbard North’s Evin Natick knows what it means to start the season 4-0, especially in the super-competitive DuPage Valley conference. And with the chance to once again start with four consecutive wins, the senior running back relied on his offensive line to get the job done against No. 12 Wheaton North on Friday night.

    “We’ve been working hard in practice and coach keeps telling [the line] they have to get better,” said Natick following the Panthers 17-14 win over the visiting Falcons. “[The offensive line] wore them down, they’re big and they just have to keep moving, They did good, I’m so proud of them.”

    After a first half that featured more punts and fair catches than exciting plays, the Panthers controlled the second half and turned a 7-7 tie into a 17-7 lead. Natick led the way, rushing for 140 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries behind the emerging offensive line.

    Glenbard North quarterback Mark Ng’s biggest play came by way of his leg. Ng converted a 41-yard field goal attempt with just under six minutes to play to cap-off a 14 play, 53 yard drive that would have deflated the home side had it not resulted in points. Ng’s field goal turned out to be a game-winner.

    Wheaton North responded with an equally impressive eight-play, 76-yard drive to cut the lead to 17-14 but the Falcons would not get the ball back the rest of the game.

    After the Falcons scored late, the Panthers dug in once more and drained the clock to cap the victory.

    Player of the game: Natick, with compliments to his offensive line

    Stat of the game: 1:46 -- that’s the amount of time the Falcons had the ball in the fourth quarter, a testament to Glenbard North’s late-game dominance

    It was over when…: Ng dove for a first down on fourth-and-1 with just over one minute to go in the game

    Quote of the night: “It feels great, 4-0! Hopefully we can keep it going.” -- Natick