High School: Lemont
Here's a look at this week’s area playoff action.
No. 12 Glenbard North (9-3) at No. 1 Loyola (12-0)When: 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)
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)
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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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)
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
Lyons (7-4) at No. 1 Loyola (11-0)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
Here's a look at the final regular-season week of action in ESPNChicago.com's top 20.
Glenbrook South (7-1) at No. 1 Maine South (8-0)
When:Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: Maine South takes a 54-game Central Suburban South winning streak into this game. The Hawks’ last division loss was in 2000 to New Trier. Glenbrook South has often finished second to Maine South and is hopeful to change that this year. The Titans’ lone loss this season was to Stevenson early in the year. Glenbrook South has gone undefeated in conference and put up similar overall numbers to Maine South.
Glenbrook South player to watch: Fullback Kevin Schroeder has been key to the Titans’ offense.
Maine South player to watch: Running back Paul Preston has been stellar all season for the Hawks.
Prediction: Maine South 38, Glenbrook South 28
No. 2 Glenbard West (8-0) at Downers Grove North (2 6)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Glenbard West has already clinched the West Suburban Silver title. The Hilltoppers have shut out their last two opponents. Downers Grove North is better than its record. The Trojans have been in every game this season, but just haven’t found a way over the hump.
Glenbard West player to watch: Senior offensive lineman Johnny Caspers recently committed to Stanford.
Downers Grove North player to watch: Quarterback Riley McGinnis has a big arm.
Prediction: Glenbard West 31, Downers Grove North 7
No. 3 Lincoln-Way East (8-0) at Joliet West (2-6)
When:Saturday at 12 p.m.
The story: Lincoln-Way East should close out its Southwest Suburban Blue title run with an easy win. The Griffins had no trouble last week and beat Joliet Central 42-0. Joliet West has won two conference games, but is coming off a 56-19 loss to Homewood-Flossmoor.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Defensive end Joel Magrum returned an interception for a touchdown last week.
Joliet West player to watch: Wide receiver Korey Rogers knows how to find holes in a secondary.
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 42, Joliet West 7
No. 5 St. Rita (7-1) at No. 4 Loyola (8-0)
When:Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: The Catholic League Blue championship comes down to this game. Loyola has had St. Rita’s number for the past few years. A season ago, the Ramblers beat St. Rita on its home field and forced a three-way tie for the conference crown. Both teams have stellar defenses. It could be a game decided by a field goal or a lone touchdown.
St. Rita player to watch: Defensive back Ryan Leonard is a big hitter.
Loyola player to watch: Quarterback Malcolm Weaver got dinged up last week, but will be needed this week.
Prediction: Loyola 17, St. Rita 14
No. 6 Downers Grove South (8-0) at Addison Trail (7-1)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Downers Grove South hasn’t been tested in the West Suburban Gold in recent years. That could change this week. Addison Trail has proven to be among the area’s top teams, especially with its defense. Its only loss was a narrow one to Glenbard West. Addison Trail will have to find a way to stop Josh Williams, who is approaching 2,000 yards for the season.
Downers Grove South player to watch: Defensive lineman Jeremy Ulrich had a sack and a fumble recovery in last week’s win.
Addison Trail player to watch: Anthony Messina had three touchdown runs in last week’s win.
Prediction: Downers Grove South 24, Addison Trail 10
Cary-Grove (6-2) at No. 7 Prairie Ridge (8-0)
When:Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: Prairie Ridge has been one of the state’s most dominant teams this season. The Wolves have out-scored their opponents 360-65 through eight weeks. Cary-Grove is out of the Fox Valley Valley title race, but it could spoil Prairie Ridge’s outright championship. The Trojans did upset Lake Zurich early in the season and possess one of the area’s top defenses.
Cary-Grove player to watch: Junior quarterback Quinn Baker has the Trojans’ option offense running smoothly.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Corey Barcoft is one of the key players on the Wolves’ defense.
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 31, Cary-Grove 14
Lockport (6-2) at No. 8 Bolingbrook (7-1)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Bolingbrook will likely have to settle for second place in one of the area’s toughest conferences. The Raiders have allowed only three points since losing to Lincoln-Way East. Lockport is headed to the playoffs, but hasn’t fared well against the top talent in the conference. The Porters lost to Homewood-Flossmoor and Lincoln-Way East by a combined 66 points.
Lockport player to watch: Dexter Taylor scored two rushing touchdowns in last week’s win over Sandburg.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Quarterback Aaron Bailey will be in consideration for ESPNChicago.com’s Offensive Player of the Year.
Prediction: Bolingbrook 35, Lockport 14
Providence (5-3) at No. 9 Mount Carmel (6-2)
When:Friday at 7 p.m. at Gately Stadium
The story: Mount Carmel fell out of the Catholic League Blue race last week with a loss to rival St. Rita. The Caravan will be looking to get back on track against Providence. Mount Carmel’s offense has struggled in its defeats this season. Providence is 0-3 against conference opponents this season.
Providence player to watch: Running back Andrew Hoffmeister leads the Celtics’ offense.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Brandon Greer scored the Caravan’s lone touchdown last week against St. Riva.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 28, Providence 20
No. 10 Crete-Monee (8-0) at Rich East (6-2)
When:Saturday at 12 p.m.
The story: Crete-Monee can win the Southland title outright with a win over Rich East, which has one conference loss. Crete-Monee hasn’t scored less than 30 points in a game this season. Rich East has allowed more than 30 points just once. Something will have to give in this game.
Crete-Monee player to watch: Recruiting attention is picking up for wide receiver LaQuan Treadwell.
strong>Rich East player to watch: Running back Rondell Willingham has been key to the team’s offensive success this season.
Prediction: Crete-Monee 35, Rich East 20
Oak Forest (6-2) at No. 11 Lemont (8-0)
When:Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: Lemont has already secured itself the South Suburban Blue title. The Indians have put together a memorable defensive season. They’ve allowed one opponent more than six points. Oak Forest should be another challenge. The Bengals have scored 40 or more points five times this season.
Oak Forest player to watch: Running back Tevin Coleman is one of the state’s best.
Lemont player to watch: Jake Lemming is among the Indians’ defensive playmakers.
Prediction: Lemont 31, Oak Forest 14
Streamwood (6-2) at No. 12 Batavia (8-0)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Batavia can put the finishing touches on its Upstate Eight River title this week. The Bulldogs have held six opponent to seven points or less and are coming off back-to-back shutouts. Streamwood guaranteed itself a playoff spot with a win last week. It’ll be the Sabres’ first playoff appearance since 2002.
Streamwood player to watch: Running back Alex Morrow rushed for 228 yards in last week’s win.
Batavia player to watch: Quarterback Noel Gaspari has been among the area’s best this season.
Prediction: Batavia 42, Streamwood 14
St. Viator (2-6) at No. 13 Nazareth (7-1)
When:Saturday at 1 p.m.
The story: Nazareth will earn a share of the East Suburban Catholic title with a victory over St. Viator. The Roadrunners’ offense and defense have been clicking the past few weeks and out-scored their last two opponents 86-19. St. Viator’s defense has struggled this season, but did shut out Benet in a 28-0 win last week.
St. Viator player to watch: John Balas had four receptions for 129 yards and two touchdown in last week’s win.
Nazareth player to watch: Joshua Moore has been having some remarkable rushing performances.
Prediction: Nazareth 42, St. Viator 14
No. 14 Joliet Catholic (7-1) at Marist (6-2)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: There’s a good chance that this could be a high-scoring affair. Marist put up 64 points in last week’s win over Carmel. Joliet Catholic is among the state’s offensive leaders with 376 points this season. The winner will get at least a share of the East Suburban Catholic title.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Defensive back Brody Wilhelmi blocked a punt last week.
Marist player to watch: Ian Woodworth threw eight touchdowns in last week’s win.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 49, Marist 42
No. 15 Wheaton North (7-1) at Wheaton Warrenville South (5-3)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Wheaton North can win the DuPage Valley outright with a win over Wheaton Warrenville South. The Falcons haven’t done much against Wheaton Warrenville South in recent years. Their last win over the Tigers came in 2002. Last year, Wheaton Warrenville South beat them twice. The Tigers are riding a four-game winning streak since their early struggles.
Wheaton North player to watch: Running back Patrick Sharp gives the Falcons a balanced offensive attack.
Wheaton Warrenville South player to watch: Running back Dan Vitale is one of the area’s most versatile players.
Prediction: Wheaton North 17, Wheaton Warrenville South 14
Wheaton Academy (1-7) at No. 16 Montini (6-2)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Montini’s offense has been scary lately. Last week, the Broncos put up 75 points. Two weeks ago, they scored 59 points. They should have another big offensive day against Wheaton Academy. The Warriors lost 42-0 to Aurora Central Catholic last week.
Wheaton Academy player to watch: Isaiah Rosas is an offensive threat for the Warriors.
Montini player to watch: Wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp is in the running for ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year.
Prediction: Montini 49, Wheaton Academy 0
Conant (6-2) at No. 17 Palatine (7-1)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Palatine can win the Mid-Suburban League West outright with a win over Conant. Aside from a narrow win over Schaumburg, the Pirates have been dominant against conference competition. Conant should be up for the test. The Cougars are playoff bound and their two losses came by a combined five points.
Conant player to watch: Tim Manckzo is the Cougars’ premier offensive weapon.
Palatine player to watch: Linebacker Kurt Becker is playmaker on defense.
Prediction: Palatine 28, Conant 17
Grayslake Central (7-1) at No. 18 Crystal Lake South (7-1)
When:Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: This could be an interesting Fox Valley crossover game. Crystal Lake South has proven itself throughout the season and will be favored. The Gators are one of the area’s top defensive teams and have allowed only one opponent more than 12 points this season. Grayslake Central has the same record, but hasn’t played the same level of competition. This will be a chance for the Rams to earn some respect.
Grayslake Central player to watch: Joel Valdivia was unstoppable last week. He rushed for 365 yards and six touchdowns against rival Grayslake North.
Crystal Lake South player to watch: Reese Dziedzic rushed for two touchdowns in last week’s win over Jacobs.
Prediction: Crystal Lake South 20, Grayslake Central 10
No. 19 Marian Central (8-0) at Marmion (5-3)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Marian Central will take the Suburban Christian Blue with a win. The Hurricanes have proven themselves with narrow wins over Montini and Oswego this season, and they’ve dominated everyone else. Marmion has been up and down this season after reaching the Class 6A title game last year. It defense has been its strength and will need to be again against Marian Central. The Hurricanes have scored 40-plus points in their last four games.
Marian Central player to watch: Quarterback Chris Streveler has been consistent throughout the season.
Marmion player to watch: Running back Jake Ruddy is a threat to run or catch the ball out of the backfield.
Prediction: Marian Central 24, Marmion 14
Kaneland (8-0) at No. 20 Morris (8-0)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: This game will decide the Northern Big 12 East championship. Both teams have been dominant most of the season. Morris’ defense has probably been slightly better than Kaneland’s, and Kaneland’s offense probably has the edge between the two teams. They both were tested last week and prevailed. Kaneland rolled in last year’s meeting, winning 47-7. There isn’t much separating the two teams this season.
Kaneland player to watch: Wide receiver Quinn Buschbacher scored five touchdowns in a game earlier this season.
Morris player to watch: Quarterback Austin Feeney was the difference in last week’s 14-10 win over Rochelle. He scored on a 58-yard run to give his team the lead.
Prediction: Morris 28, Kaneland 24
No. 1 Maine South (7-0) at Waukegan (3-4)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)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
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)
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)When: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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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
Here's a look at the seventh week of action in ESPNChicago.com's top 20.
Evanston (4-2) at No. 1 Maine South (6-0)
When:Thursday at 7 p.m.
The story: Maine South’s offense has lived up to its billing this season. The Hawks have put up 40 or more points in five games. Quarterback Matt Alviti and running back Paul Preston are an elite 1-2 punch. Evanston has won four games, but has struggled against top-tier teams. The Wildkits’ losses were to Glenbrook South and Loyola.
Evanston player to watch: Running back Ray Bahr has had some big days this season. He scored three times in the first half against Maine East.
Maine South player to watch: Quarterback Matt Alviti is coming off a five-touchdown game.
Prediction: Maine South 49, Evanston 10
No. 2 Glenbard West (6-0) at Addison Trail (6-0)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Both Addison Trail and Glenbard West enter their Week 7 matchup undefeated. Glenbard West has proven itself. Addison Trail will look to accomplish that this week. The Blazers have outscored their opponents 172-13, but none of their six previous foes currently has a winning record. A win over Glenbard West -- or even a close game -- would build credibility. Glenbard West quarterback Justice Odom is expected to miss this week after suffering a knee injury last week.
Glenbard West player to watch: Running back Kendall Johnson is dangerous rushing or receiving the ball.
Addison Trail player to watch: Defensive back Vince Beltrano had two interceptions in last week’s win.
Prediction: Glenbard West 27, Addison Trail 10
No. 3 Lincoln-Way East (6-0) at Lincoln-Way Central (1-5)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Lincoln-Way East survived the rough patch of its scheduled, pulling out wins over Bolingbrook, Homewood-Flossmoor and Sandburg. The Griffins should have an easy time closing out the regular season undefeated. Their next three opponents have won a combined three games.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Brian Bayer made a difference last week. He came through on the defensive line and as a short-yardage back.
Lincoln-Way Central player to watch: Brett Ditchman rushed for 201 yards and two touchdowns against Joliet West last week.
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 49, Lincoln-Way Central 7
No. 4 Loyola (6-0) at Fenwick (3-3)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Loyola took a major step toward winning another Catholic League title with last week’s win over Mount Carmel. The Ramblers’ schedule doesn’t get much easier from here on out. After Fenwick, which does have its strengths, they face Brother Rice and St. Rita. Fenwick has won its last two games. In its other matchup against a Catholic League Blue opponent, Fenwick lost 42-0 to St. Rita.
Loyola player to watch: Connor Person is another one of Loyola’s top receivers. He had a 36-yard touchdown against Mount Carmel.
Fenwick player to watch: Jack Stibitch rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win over Gordon Tech.
Prediction: Loyola 42, Fenwick 7
No. 5 St. Rita (5-1) at Bishop McNamara (5-1)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: St. Rita may have the state’s toughest schedule the next three weeks. Bishop McNamara leads the Catholic League White. Its only loss this season was to Brother Rice. After Bishop McNamara, St. Rita closes out the regular season with Mount Carmel and Loyola. The Mustangs haven’t allowed more than 17 points to an in-state opponent.
St. Rita player to watch: Zach Soria led the Mustangs’ rushing attack in last week’s win over Hales.
Bishop McNamara player to watch: Quarterback Channing Dolliger has come through with some key throws this season.
Prediction: St. Rita 31, Bishop McNamara 13
No. 6 Mount Carmel (5-1) at St. Laurence (2-4)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Mount Carmel will look to bounce back from its first loss of the season. The Caravan’s offense was contained in last week’s 12-7 loss to Loyola. Quarterback Don Butkus and company will look to get it going again against St. Laurence, which lost 49-31 to Providence earlier in the season.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Brandon Greer is a major player on both sides of the ball.
St. Laurence player to watch: Andrew Javorka caught two touchdown passes in last week’s loss to Bishop McNamara.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 49, St. Laurence 10
Proviso East (1-5) at No. 7 Downers Grove South (6-0)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Downers Grove South’s last true test of the regular season may be Addison Trail in Week 9. Until then, the Mustangs should have no trouble the next few weeks. Downers Grove South has outscored its opponents 234-34 this season. Proviso East lost to Addison Trail 35-0 last week.
Proviso East player to watch: Quarterback Malcolm Hilliard has produced for the Pirates this season.
Downers Grove South player to watch: Wide receiver Kaylon Miler is one of the Mustangs’ many offensive stars.
Prediction: Downers Grove South 49, Proviso East 7
No. 8 Prairie Ridge (6-0) at No. 19 Jacobs (6-0)
When: Friday at 7:15 p.m.
The story: This could be the game of the week or another Prairie Ridge rout. On paper, Jacobs should give Prairie Ridge a game, but no one has been able to do that so far. Even last week, the Wolves scored 41 points on a tough Crystal Lake South defense. Jacobs has been able to score on everyone this season. The Golden Eagles are averaging 38 points a game.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Collin Corcoran had three tackles for a loss in last week’s win over Crystal Lake South.
Jacobs player to watch: Caz Zyks not only has a cool name, but he leads Jacobs’ rushing attack.
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 35, Jacobs 27
No. 9 Lake Zurich (5-1) at Stevenson (4-2)
When:Thursday at 7 p.m.
The story: These two teams created one of the best games of last season. Stevenson scored in the final seconds to pull out a 24-23 upset of Lake Zurich. Lake Zurich will be favored again this season. The Bears have been dominant on the both sides of the ball since losing to Cary-Grove in Week 2. Stevenson suffered its second loss of the season last week. It lost to Lake Forest 10-7. The Patriots’ offense will need to step up this week.
Lake Zurich player to watch: Mike Shield has been key on both sides of the ball for the Bears.
Stevenson player to watch: Quarterback/kicker Matt Micucci has scored points in a variety of ways this season.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 24, Stevenson 20
No. 10 Bolingbrook (5-1) at Sandburg (5-1)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Lincoln-Way East likely has the conference crown wrapped up now, but second place still is available. Bolingbrook and Sandburg each enter this game with one conference loss. Both teams lost to Lincoln-Way East. Bolingbrook will be favored in this one. The Raiders were up 14-0 against Lincoln-Way East before surrendering 20 consecutive points. Sandburg lost 31-7 to Lincoln-Way East.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey is a threat to run for a touchdown on every snap.
Sandburg player to watch: Quarterback Anthony Adams completed 4-of-6 passes for 110 yards and three touchdowns last week.
Prediction: Bolingbrook 35, Sandburg 13
No. 11 Crete-Monee (6-0) at Rich Central (3-3)
When:Friday at 6 p.m.
The story: Crete-Monee had a battle on its hands for a bit in last week’s win over Bloom. Ultimately, it won 32-7. The Warriors should have an easier time this week. Rich Central hasn’t beat a team with a winning record this season.
Crete-Monee player to watch: Marcus Terrell has been one of the area’s premier quarterbacks this season.
Rich Central player to watch: Wide receiver Brandon Fowler caught six passes for 103 yards last week.
Prediction: Crete-Monee 49, Rich Central 10
St. Viator (1-5) at No. 12 Carmel (4-2)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Carmel is back in the East Suburban Catholic race with Joliet Catholic’s loss. The Corsairs do still have to face Marist, but otherwise shouldn’t be tested. St. Viator has allowed 50-plus points in four games this season. Carmel’s high-powered offense will be another challenge for it.
St. Viator player to watch: Quarterback Mickey Macius has the potential to be one of the area’s best next season.
Carmel player to watch: Quarterback Brian Brennan was impressive running and throwing the ball last week.
Prediction: Carmel 49, St. Viator 17
Hillcrest (0-6) at No. 13 Lemont (6-0)
When:Friday at 7 p.m.
The story: Lemont’s defense continues to be one of the best in the state. The Indians shut out their fourth opponent last week. They’ve allowed 26 points in six games. They should have a good shot at another shutout this week. Hillcrest is winless and is averaging just over 10 points a game.
Hillcrest player to watch: Devonte Brewer will look to give the Hawks an offensive spark.
Lemont player to watch: Mike Anzalone rushed for 183 yards on 24 carries in last week’s win.
Prediction: Lemont 35, Hillcrest 0
Elgin (1-5) at No. 14 Batavia (6-0)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Batavia should win the Upstate Eight River after defeating Geneva last week. The Bulldogs’ remaining games shouldn’t be too difficult. This week’s opponent Elgin has lost its last five games. Batavia quarterback Noel Gaspari’s shoulder injury wasn’t as bad as it appeared last week. He’s expected to play this week.
Elgin player to watch: Running back/defensive back Dennis Moore has scored nearly every way possible this season.
Batavia player to watch: Dom Guzaldo came through last week with 92 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Prediction: Batavia 45, Elgin 10
Notre Dame (3-3) at No. 15 Nazareth (5-1)
When:Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
The story: Nazareth shocked the area with a win over Joliet Catholic last week. The Roadrunners have put themselves in position to make a run at the conference title. Their toughest games are likely behind them. Notre Dame has been good and bad this season. The Dons lost their first three games, but have won their last three.
Notre Dame player to watch: Nick Pieruccini ran for a touchdown and threw for one in last week’s 14-0 win over Benet.
Nazareth player to watch: Joshua Moore rushed for 176 yards and one touchdown on 37 carries in last week’s win.
Prediction: Nazareth 31, Notre Dame 14
Marian Catholic (3-3) at No. 16 Joliet Catholic (5-1)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Joliet Catholic’s offense looked invincible until last week’s loss to Nazareth. With the loss, the Hilltoppers dropped into a four-way tie for first place in the East Suburban Catholic Conference. Their offense will certainly be motivated to pick it back up this week against Marian Catholic. The Spartans lost to Marist 52-27 last week.
Marian Catholic player to watch: Running back Jeruel Taylor has more than 1,000 yards on the season.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Running back Ty Isaac is in the mix for the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 49, Marian Catholic 31
Streamwood (5-1) at No. 17 Geneva (5-1)
When: Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Geneva and Streamwood suffered their first losses of the season last week. Geneva lost to Batavia, and Streamwood fell to St. Charles East. Geneva had its chances against Batavia, but its defense couldn’t contain the Bulldogs in the end. Streamwood’s defense had its own troubles in its 49-34 loss. St. Charles East had been winless.
Streamwood player to watch: Dalton Lundee threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns last week.
Geneva player to watch: Parker Woodworth rushed for more 100-plus yards again in last week’s loss.
Prediction: Geneva 42, Streamwood 20
No. 18 Antioch (6-0) at Round Lake (1-5)
When:Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: Antioch is getting closer and closer to an undefeated regular season. The Sequoits’ only challenge is likely next week’s opponent Grant and should be able to take care of business the other two weeks. They were sharp in last week’s victory over Lakes. Round Lake has been out-scored 206-86 this season.
Antioch player to watch: Danny Arden was unstoppable last week. He rushed for 248 yards and three touchdowns.
Round Lake player to watch: Daniel Vega has been one of the team’s main offensive weapons.
Prediction: Antioch 42, Round Lake 7
Naperville Central (4-2) at No. 20 Wheaton North (5-1)
When:Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The story: The DuPage Valley race is heating up. Wheaton North took sole possession of first place with Glenbard North’s loss to Naperville Central last week. Wheaton North is 4-0 in conference, but four teams trail by just one game. Naperville Central pulled off a major upset last week and will be looking to carry that momentum into this week. Its defense has been its strength this season. Wheaton North has been averaging 32.7 points a game.
Naperville Central player to watch: Senior linebacker John Dulleck is one of the defense’s key pieces.
Wheaton North player to watch: Quarterback John Peltz has had the Falcons’ offense rolling this season.
Prediction: Wheaton North 24, Naperville Central 17
Each week we present a specific question to all of the coaches in ESPNChicago.com’s top 20 poll.
This week’s coaches roundtable question: What coach had the biggest impact on you wanting to become a coach?
Crystal Lake South’s Chuck Ahsmann: Bill Mack was my high school football coach. The way he coached had a big influence on my decision to go into coaching and the way I try to coach my teams. Coach Mack is a hall of fame coach because of his achievements, but I believe he has had a lot of influence on coaches he has coached as well.
Maine South’s David Inserra: Three coaches for this one. Phil Hopkins was my high school coach and an Illinois Hall of Fame coach. He brought passion, intensity, an urge to win at any competition and a great knowledge of the whole game of football. He was extremely personable and so easy to talk with. Glen Van Proyen was a teacher of mine. I never got to play for him, but was the consummate "teaching life through a game" coach. The last one is Bobby Knight. As a young kid I loved how he broke everything down, expected 100 percent out of his players at all times and played by the rules. He was stubborn to a fault, but he was so far ahead of his time with X's and O's and use of film.
Batavia’s Dennis Piron: In high school -- I went to Batavia -- Mike Gaspari was an assistant coach who spent time with me before and after practice to become a better player. He was a new coach at Batavia and went on to become the head coach and develop a very highly respected program at Batavia. I also went on to North Central College and ran track and played football for four years there. Mike invited me back to Batavia after graduation to coach with him, and I have been coaching ever since. Mike is the reason I am doing what I do today.
Antioch’s Brian Glashagel: Although all of the coaches I had at Conant High School were great (Dave Pendergast for football, Tom McCormick for basketball) and the coaches I had at Knox College (Randy Oberembt for football and Bob Prout for track), the coach that most impacted me wanting to become a coach and most impacted my life was Ron Gummerson from Conant. He was my track coach. The reason being is that he didn't only transform me physically from a football and basketball player into a track sprinter/hurdler, but made me mentally tougher. He taught me that you don't always have to perform your best every competition, but just compete every time. If you wait to compete in perfect conditions, you will never compete. He emphasized this every day. He never yelled. Not once. But he had a look. He could just look at you, and you knew you messed up, and it made you like you were letting down a parent. He passed away this past summer. and he obviously impacted the lives of many as the line was out the door, and it was filled with coaches he worked with and against and athletes from over the past four decades.
Geneva’s Rob Wincinski: My college coach Bill Mallory, loved his intensity. I wanted to be him. My old Ottawa High School coach Gary Vancil also influenced me to go into high school coaching. It looked like he was having a blast.
Lake Zurich’s Bryan Stortz: I’ve been so fortunate to have so many great coaches influence how and why I coach, including my high school coaches Don Tanney, Randy Bouris, Jack Esterdahl and Tom Wooden and college coaches John Furlong and Tom Schmulbach. My father Barry Stortz was a high school football and wrestling coach in the 1970’s. We learned the foundation for sports and life from him – work ethic, attitude, commitment and the “little things.” It seemed like every day during the summer he would take my older brother and I out in the yard and hit fly balls and grounders to us. If we did a good job fielding, he would then pitch and let us bat. We learned that defense comes first! He coached many of our youth baseball and football teams. He always seemed to purely love being out there coaching and teaching all of us. He taught us fundamental after fundamental, demanded a great effort and inspired us all. I grew up seeing firsthand how being a teacher/educator and coach was a great profession. People would walk up to my dad in a store or restaurant and say, “Hi coach, remember when…. thanks!” I thought that was the greatest thing, I couldn’t believe the impact that he was able to have on someone’s life. He’s definitely had the biggest impact on why I became a coach.
Crete-Monee’s Jerry Verde: Marian Catholic’s Dave Mattio was my coach in high school and later hired me as his defensive coordinator. He has been a mentor and a friend. Much of what I know about coaching high school football has been just trying to emulate him. His ability to win with class, get the best out of his players and yet still be personable is an example for any coach.
Lemont’s Eric Michaelsen: My high school football coach Marv Gonsiorowski. He helped me to develop a love and respect for the game. He also treated people the right way. He never acted too important to talk to anyone and was always willing to help. An all time great person.
No. 1 Maine South (5-0) at Niles West (2-3)
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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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)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)When: 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)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)When: 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)When: 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)When: 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
Each week we’ll be presenting a unique question to all of the coaches in ESPNChicago.com’s top 20 poll. It’s a new feature we’re calling Coaches Roundtable.
This week’s question: What one IHSA rule would you like changed?
Loyola’s John Holecek: The first three practice days of fall camp being non-padded; it’s completely without merit because summer practices can be whatever a coach chooses. It should be changed to no contact all summer when there are less medical personnel and incomplete supervision at schools.
Batavia’s Dennis Piron: The kids on the team said "touchdown celebrations"! I think that the rules are fine the way they are.
Geneva’s Rob Wicinski: Offensive pass interference – why is this a bigger ‘punch in the gut’ than a personal foul? Fifteen-yard penalty and loss of down and enforced at the line of scrimmage? C’mon.
Crystal Lake South’s Chuck Ahsmann: I would like to see the IHSA do a true seed for the state series. I do not like that we seem to play the same teams from our regular season in the playoffs because of proximity.
Glenbard West’s Chad Hetlet: Playoff seeding should be 1-32 regardless of travel to be fair to those that earn high seeds.
Crete-Monee’s Jerry Verde: The seeding of the playoffs. Just seed 1-32, no North and South and no quadrants. The current system penalizes the Chicagoland area.
Maine South’s David Inserra: Onside kicks. We put all 10 guys on one side of the ball and ‘get 'em’ because it is legal. I proposed several years back that we should adapt the pro or college rule of only five guys on one side for safety reasons.
Lemont’s Eric Michaelsen: I am okay with the IHSA. Maybe having to go three days in August with no pads after the 25 days in the summer.
Bolingbrook’s John Ivlow: Playoff system. I would like to see a seeding system.
St. Rita’s Todd Kuska: The IHSA needs to abolish the regional quadrants. The playoffs should be seeded like they were in the old days -- based on wins and not geography. Some of the best experiences in the playoffs comes from playing teams that you have never played before -- getting on the road and traveling is a great experience. We are depriving our student-athletes of this experience. As a coach, I also enjoyed scouting teams from all across the state and matching up with teams that we had never played before.
Lake Zurich’s Bryan Stortz: I would like to see the playoffs seeded 1-32 and not by region or traveling distance. The reason would be that you may have the true No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in the same quadrant.
Prairie Ridge’s Chris Schremp: I wish the IHSA would have more control over club and travel sports. I would like to see more kids playing two and three sports. I feel too many club and travel coaches are influencing kids into specializing in one sport.
Read the entire top 20.
Curie senior defensive lineman James Adeyanju
Adeyanju was the premier defensive lineman in the Public League and one of the best in the state this season. He had 71 tackles, 19 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He will play at Wisconsin next season.
“He was able to go out and control football games despite being double- and triple-teamed every week,” Curie coach Tyson LeBlanc said. “He’s got a motor. He would fight through the first guy, fight through the second guy and go find the ball.”
St. Rita senior running back Jahwon Akui
Akui capped of his career by becoming St. Rita’s all-time leading rusher. As a senior, he ran for 1,650 yards and 22 touchdowns. He was co-Catholic League Offensive Player of the Year. He is being recruited by a number of schools for football and wrestling.
“He was the most physical running back that I have ever coached and was as sound a blocker as he was a runner,” St. Rita coach Todd Kuska said. “Jahwon was as competitive a player as I have seen and will definitely be hard to replace”
Hinsdale Central senior offensive lineman Jack Allen
In his third year starting for Hinsdale Central, the 6-foot-2, 260-pound Allen continued to be a menace for defensive linemen. Also a star wrestler, Allen possesses a perfect mix of strength and speed. He is committed to Michigan State.
“Jack Allen is one of the most intense players that I have had the pleasure to coach,” Hinsdale Central coach Mike DiMatteo said. “He brings a relentless attitude to practice each and every day. It’s one thing to be a great player, but Jack also has the ability to make those players around him better, thereby making his team better. He is one of a kind.”
Wheaton Warrenville South senior defensive back Caleb Bednarz
A four-year varsity player, Bednarz has been a consistent fixture in the Tigers’ secondary and in their return game. He will play in third state championship game this weekend. He had a team-leading seven interceptions this season. He picked off two passes in the state quarterfinals against Glenbard West.
“Defensively, I think he’s a great playmaker,” Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch said. “He has natural instincts to read and move athletically and jump on passes. He’s very cunning in that regard.”
Plainfield North senior running back Kapri Bibbs
The area possessed a number of quality running backs this season, but Bibbs was at another level. He rushed for 2,654 yards and 38 touchdowns on 300 carries. He also passed for two touchdowns. In his biggest game this season, he rushed for a state-record 520 yards and seven touchdowns against Oswego. He was the ESPNChicago.com Offensive Player of the Year. He is committed to Colorado State.
“Kapri had an outstanding year … the type of year that should put him on anyone’s all-state list and player of the year ballot,” Plainfield North coach Tim Kane said. “He is a well-rounded runner in that he runs between the tacklers for tough yards and has elite speed in the open field. He is ultra-competitive and did all he could to help us win games this year.”
Fremd senior offensive/defensive lineman Brian Bobek
Bobek, who is 6-3 and 275 pounds, is considered one of the top offensive lineman in the country. He helped pave the way for much of Fremd’s offensive attack this season while the Vikings reached the second round of the Class 8A playoffs. He is headed to Ohio State.
“Brian Bobek has lived up to his All-American status,” Fremd coach Michael Donatucci said. “He dominated at center against some of the top teams in the state and was also a mainstay as a defensive tackle. A leader on and off the field, Brian has been a huge part of our success as a program.”
“He just continued to do the things we needed him to do,” Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said. “It’s become harder and harder for him because people continue to focus on him. He didn’t put up the big numbers as he did last year, but he continued to put up the performances that we needed.”
Simeon senior offensive lineman Chris Bryant
The 6-foot-5, 330-pound Bryant was one of the state’s biggest offensive linemen, but also one of the most talented. Bryant was the key piece on a line that led to the Wolverines scoring 40-plus points in 11 games this season. He is being recruited by a number of elite schools.
“He was incredible in the things he was doing out there,” Simeon coach Dante Culbreath said. “He was dominant out there.”
Wheaton North senior quarterback Reece Butler
Butler emerged as one of the area’s top dualthreat quarterbacks this season. He led the Falcons in rushing and passing. He ran for 608 yards and six touchdowns. He was 187-of-275 passing for 1,956 yards and 17 touchdowns.
“I just think he’s more confident,” Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski said. “Last year, he felt a lot of pressure trying to fill in for Taylor Graham, who was a Big Ten recruit. He now feels like this is his team. He’s a senior. Guys look to him as a leader and not a fill-in guy. He’s always been kind of level-headed, a cool character. He doesn’t seem to get rattled too much.”
Kaneland senior quarterback Joe Camiliere
Camiliere had high expectations leading up to the season and met them. He was 194-of-299 passing for 2,955 yards, 36 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also rushed for 687 yards and nine touchdowns while leading Kaneland to the state semifinals.
Vernon Hills senior wide receiver/defensive back DaVaris Daniels
Daniels did a lot of everything for the Cougars this season. He caught 23 passes for 513 yards and five touchdowns. He was 11-of-23 passing for 173 yards and one touchdown. He rushed for 637 yards and 10 touchdown on 59 carries. He returned two punts for touchdowns. He intercepted six passes with one for a touchdown. He also had 20 tackles. He will play at Notre Dame next season.
“He’s the most gifted athlete I’ve coached and an even better person,” Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken said. “ We’re going to miss him, but also can’t wait to watch him on Saturdays.”
Wheaton Warrenville South senior wide receiver Titus Davis
Davis emerged as the Tigers’ No. 1 receiver in the season and continued to flourish throughout the year as Reilly O’Toole favorite target. He caught 52 passes for 1,135 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is being recruited by a number of Division I schools.
“He’s unbelievable, just a great athlete,” Wheaton Warrenville South senior Reilly O’Toole said. “He can always get open. He has great hands. He’s just an unstoppable receiver. I want to get the ball in his hands.”
Prospect senior quarterback Steve Dazzo
Dazzo stepped in perfectly in the shoes of Illinois-bound quarterback Miles Osei and was one of the area’s top dual-threat quarterbacks this year. Dazzo threw for 1,263 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 1,476 yards and 23 touchdown for one of the state’s top offenses.
“It was his first year playing quarterback,” Prospect coach Brent Pearlman said. “He led us not only with arm and his legs, but with his spirit.”
Maine South junior linebacker Tyler Fahey
Fahey was a major reason behind Maine South’s run to the Class 8A state championship game. After missing the first two games of the year – both losses – Fahey was an impact player on the defensive side the rest of the way. He had 81 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss, seven sacks, four interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns.
“He’s very athletic,” Maine South coach David Inserra said. “He probably studies more film than anyone I’ve coached. He’s always so prepared for a game. Sometimes, he’s coaching us. He hits. He’s our second biggest hitter.”
Marist senior kicker/punter Ben Falloon
Falloon was one of the area’s most accurate kickers this season. He connected on 7-of-11 field goals this season with all seven coming from 30-plus yards. His longest was from 50, and all four of his misses were from 50 yards and beyond. He also made 32-of-33 extra points and punted for a 38.2-yard average on 43 punts.
“He is by far the most mentally tough player I’ve been around,” Marist coach Pat Dunne said. “The kicks he’s had in high-pressure situations, I’ve never seen anyone so mentally tough. He also has one of the best work ethics I’ve been around.”
Lemont senior defensive back Clayton Fejedelem
Fejedelem was one of the area’s biggest threats whenever he touched the ball. He returned three punts for touchdowns and one kickoff. He also had 69 tackles, five interceptions, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and blocked three kicks.
“He was the strongest player on the team,” Lemont coach Eric Michaelsen said. “He has a nose for the ball and is physical and fast.”
Joliet Catholic senior running back Josh Ferguson
Ferguson was good for a first down almost every time he touched the ball. He rushed for 1,886 yards on 144 carries, giving him a 13.1 average. He finished with 25 rushing touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns and one kickoff return touchdown. He will play at Illinois next season.
“I think he had to be one of the greatest running backs I’ve had a chance to see let alone to coach,” Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp said.
Gregory was the motor for one of the state’s most high-powered offenses. He completed 84-of-120 passes for 1,600 yards and 28 touchdowns. He also rushed for 919 yards and 16 touchdowns. He is being recruited by a number of big-time schools.
“I was impressed with the way he was able to pick up the offense and run the team,” Simeon coach Dante Culbreath said. “He did a good job with the offense this year. He ran the team better. His decision-making got better. He got stronger. He got faster. I believe he got better overall.” Marmion senior linebacker/running back T.J. Lally
There were few in the state as good as Lally on both sides of the ball. He rushed for 1,264 yards and 16 touchdowns. Defensively, he had 130 tackles and six sacks while leading the Cadets to the Class 6A state title game. He is being recruited by a number of Division II programs.
“He’s an old-school football player,” Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said. “He’s tough, physical and has a great heart. He’s just a playmaker. He has a lot more speed than people give him credit for, and he’s so physical.”
Naperville North senior linebacker Nick LifkaLifka was the Brian Urlacher of Illinois high school football this season. Wherever the ball was, Lifka was. He had 168 tackles (113 solo), 13 tackles for a loss, four sacks, three forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions. He also had an offensive touchdown. He was the ESPNChicago.com Defensive Player of the Year. He is committed to Boston College.
“A throwback player who plays the game the way it was meant to be played,” Naperville North coach Sean Drendel said. “The best player I have ever coached, and quite possibly as good as a person as he is a player. We will never be able to replace a Nick Lifka.”
Schaumburg senior running back Shepard Little
Little made up for lost time after missing last season. He rushed for 1,897 yards and 24 touchdowns. He also caught two touchdown passes. Against Simeon in the playoffs, he rushed for three touchdowns and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. He is uncommitted.
“I think his vision is good,” Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling said. “I think he’s sneaky powerful for his size. I don’t think you expect someone of his size to hit you like he does. His ability to hit you and make you miss, that’s the tough part. His speed is good, but it’s not great. He’s not going to run past everyone on Friday night, but he’s going to make everyone miss.”
Lincoln-Way East senior linebacker Pat Meehan
Meehan led one of the top defenses in the area. He had 123 total tackles with 79 solo. He had 14 tackles for a loss, two sacks, two quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, one interception and one touchdown. He is committed to Illinois State.
“Pat has set a new standard of linebacker play at Lincoln-Way East,” Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar said. “He has every tool necessary to become a dominate college football player. A tremendous young man both on and off the field.”
Elk Grove senior quarterback Nick Meyer
No player in the state may have meant as much to his team as Meyer did to Elk Grove. He was the Grenadiers’ offense. Meyer was 180-of-293 passing for 2,258 yards and 20 touchdowns. He rushed 1,011 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also had 44 tackles and one interception on defense. He is uncommitted.
“Every time Nick touched the ball this season, you realized there was a chance he could do something very special,” Elk Grove coach Brian Doll said. “His ability to change the game so quickly put him in a special class of football players. He broke almost every offensive Elk Grove High School record during his three seasons on varsity. He will be missed.”
Wheaton Warrenville South senior quarterback Reilly O’Toole
Expectations were high for O’Toole this season after starting for last year’s state championship team and committing to Illinois , and he surpassed everything people thought he was capable of this season. O’Toole was named the ESPNChicago.com High School Football Player of the Year after completing 172-of-229 passes for 3,005 touchdowns, 40 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He also rushed 393 yards and six touchdowns. He will play for the Illini next season.
“He’s a special kid,” Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet.
Lake Zurich senior linebacker JJ Raffelson
Raffelson was the catalyst behind the state’s top defense. He had 111 tackles and 23 tackles for a loss while helping the Bears to the Class 7A state championship game. He is being recruited by a handful of Division I schools.
“He spent a tremendous amount of time in the offseason working his speed development as well as in the film room,” Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said. “He has logged a lot of hours studying the opponent. He knows how they’re going to act and what we’re going to do.”
Glenbard West junior defensive lineman Tommy Schutt
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Schutt is considered one of the top junior defensive lineman in the country. He had 67 tackles, 14 sacks, 13 tackles for a loss, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks this past season. He is being recruited by a number of high-profile schools.
Vernon Hills wide receiver/defensive back Evan Spencer
Spencer and DaVaris Daniels made for one exciting pair. Spencer had 23 catches for 410 yards and six touchdowns. He rushed for 266 yards and eight touchdowns. He returned two punts and one kickoff for touchdowns. He also had 25 tackles, two interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. He’s committed to Ohio State.
“He’s one of the best athletes I’ve ever been around, and his ability to play the ball high, run strong with the ball and pull away from defenders sets him apart from all others,” Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken said. “He’s been a tremendous leader and role model for our program, and they’re going to love him at Ohio State.”
Mount Carmel senior quarterback Chris Sujka
No one in the area ran the option offense better than Sujka. A two-year starter for the Caravan, Sujka rushed for 1,344 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. He also was 50-of-104 passing for 728 yards and four touchdowns. He was named the co-Catholic League Offensive Player of the Year.
“He told me right from the beginning of the season that the game had slowed down for him,” Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti said. “As a junior, he was always real frantic. He made me nervous out there watching him. This year when he runs the option, he’s very confident and comfortable with what he does.”
Loyola senior defensive lineman Mark Sullivan
Sullivan was the Catholic League Defensive Player of the Year. He had 88 tackles, 10 sacks and one forced fumbled for one of the area’s top defenses. He is uncommitted.
“Mark is incredibly athletic for a defensive lineman,” Loyola coach John Holecek said. “He has a great motor, good instincts and pursuits to the ball like no other defensive lineman I have coached. He has had a dominant senior year, ending the regular season as the total tackle, sack, and QB pressure leader for one of the best defenses in the area. While not yet the size of a D-I interior lineman, he has the height and frame to gain muscle and be a real force at the next level.”
Carmel senior linebacker Luke Venegoni
Venegoni was the defensive leader for one of the best defenses in the state. He was a three-year starter. He had 120 tackles, 63 solo tackles, six tackles for a loss and two sacks this season. He is being recruited by a number of schools.
“Luke Venegoni is extremely fast and strong,” Carmel coach Andy Bitto said. “He worked very hard in the offseason to position himself to be the defensive player of the year in the ESCC.”
Barrington junior offensive lineman Dan Voltz
The 6-foot-5, 295-pound Voltz was a rock for this year’s Barrington offensive line. He opened many holes for the Broncos’ successful running game this season and helped Barrington turn last year’s losing record until a winning one this season. He is being recruited by some of the country’s top football programs.
“Dan is a relentless performer whose best attribute I believe is that he is a finisher,” Barrington coach Joe Sanchez said. “He is very athletic for his size and is always looking to improve. He is a tremendous role model for our players both on and off the field. I firmly believe his best football is still front of him.”
Glenbard West senior offensive lineman Jordan Walsh
The 6-foot-4, 290-pound Walsh is one of the top offensive linemen in the country. His blocking has been vital to the Hilltoppers’ offensive success the past few seasons. He will play next season at Iowa.
“Jordan, he’s an incredible player," Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet said. "He goes 100 percent all the time. When he gets that helmet on, and he gets between the lines, he flips that switch and gets that attitude. He'll just bury people.”
Montini junior wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp
Coming off a breakout sophomore season, Westerkamp took his game to another level this year and became the most dominant wide receiver in the area. He caught 82 passes for 1,485 yards and 18 touchdowns. He’s being recruiting by a number of Big Ten schools.
“He is a special football player and the best I have ever had in my 32 years at Montini,” Montini coach Chris Andriano said. “A 40-inch vertical jump with great hands and body control, he makes all the catches in traffic with defenders all around him. His toughness and strength are also seen in his yards after catch and his blocking. He is a complete receiver and a Division I player at the college level.”
Glenbard North senior offensive lineman Paul Wisniewski
The 6-foot-4, 300-pound Wisniewski has been a dominant offensive lineman in the DuPage Valley the past three seasons as a starter for the Panthers. He’s uncommitted, but has a number of schools recruiting him.
“He can run and pass block equally well for a player that is 6-4 and 300 pounds,” Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens said. “He has exceptional feet and is a great blocker.”
Richards senior defensive back/wide receiver Jarrell Williams
Williams was a jack of all trades for Richards this season. He had 65 tackles, three tackles for loss, five deflections, two caused fumbles and three interceptions. Offensively, he rushed for 402 yards and six touchdowns, caught 18 passes for 272 yards and four touchdowns and had one punt return touchdown and one kickoff return touchdown. He will play at Northwestern next season.
“Jarrell was asked to do a lot for us this year,” Richards coach Tony Sheehan said. “He did a great job. He is so valuable, he can cover, hit, run the ball, throw the ball and catch the ball, and we asked him to do it all. He very rarely ever came off the field. He is a dangerous player with the ball in his hands.”
Stevenson senior linebacker Brion Wood
Wood anchored one of the area’s top defenses. He had 130 tackles, 17 tackles for a loss, eight sacks and four forced fumbles. He is committed to Penn.
“He does a lot for us,” Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. “He’s basically another coach on the field. He’s a very smart young man. He scored a 33 on the ACT. When we need to make adjustments or an opposition comes out with a unique formation, he has the ability to line us up correctly and be ready to play football. He’s able to combine the physical and mental parts of the game.”
Sandburg senior kicker/punter Taylor Zalewski
Zalewski is ranked among the top kickers in the nation by ESPN. He connected on 11-of-13 field goals this season with his longest coming from 48 yards. He also was 28 for 29 on extra points and sent 41 of 55 kickoffs in the end zone. He is being recruited by Michigan, Minnesota and other Division I schools.
“He was a huge offensive weapon for us because of his ability to score points for us,” Sandburg coach Dave Wierzal said. “He also helped control field position because he also punts for us.”
Honorable mention all-area
Minooka senior running back Kyle Banks
Mount Carmel senior running back Michael Banks
Thornton senior running back Damien Bell
Crystal Lake South senior offensive lineman Jake Bernstein
South Elgin senior running back Brad Birchfield
Prospect senior running back/defensive back Peter Bonahoom
Glenbard West senior running back Nick Burrello
Minooka senior defensive lineman Zach Colvin
Wheaton Warrenville senior defensive lineman Will Davis
St. Patrick junior wide receiver Guy DiBalsamo
Stevenson senior quarterback Kevin Earl
Glenbrook North junior offensive lineman Brian Ermel
Montini senior defensive lineman Ross Ferraro
Mount Carmel senior linebacker Conor Flaherty
Bishop McNamara senior offensive lineman Matt Frazier
Glenbard West senior wide receiver Mark Hiben
Morgan Park junior quarterback Dae’Shaun Hurley
Schaumburg senior quarterback Mark Iannotti
Carmel junior running back Jordan Kos
Naperville North senior quarterback Matt LaCosse
Glenbard West senior defensive back Mike Laning
Warren senior running back Tom Lindal
St. Rita senior offensive lineman Brian Lurquin
Plainfield South senior quarterback Sheldon Magee
Thornridge senior running back Mik’ail McCall
Joliet Catholic senior linebacker Mike Mettille
Stevenson junior kicker Matt Micucci
Lincoln-Way East senior offensive lineman Joe Mizera
Waubonsie Valley senior defensive lineman Devon Morgan
St. Rita senior linebacker Matt Mullen
Maine South senior offensive lineman Victor Nelson
Homewood-Flossmoor senior running back Malik Norman
Crystal Lake South senior quarterback Drew Ormseth
Downers Grove South senior wide receiver Ryan Oruche
York senior defensive back Joe Paparone
Marist senior wide receiver Alex Puhar
Neuqua Valley senior linebacker TJ Rhattigan
Joliet Catholic senior offensive lineman Kyle Rouse
Homewood-Flossmoor senior offensive lineman Michael Rouse
Simeon senior defensive back Darius Scott
Kaneland senior defensive lineman/running back Blake Serpa
Lyons senior defensive back/wide receiver Mark Sewall
T.F. South senior linebacker Robert Sterling
Marian Catholic junior running back Jeruel Taylor
Prairie Ridge senior defensive back Devon Vance
Loyola junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver
Loyola senior wide receiver EJ Webb
Downers Grove South junior running back Josh Williams
Glenbard North senior defensive lineman Alex Wynn
ESPNChicago.com previews all of the top-20 games.
No. 10 Glenbard West (10-1) at No. 1 Wheaton Warrenville South (11-0) on Saturday
The story: The last time Glenbard West and Wheaton Warrenville South met it was the Class 7A state championship game. Last season, Wheaton Warrenville South defeated the Hilltoppers 31-24 in two overtimes in Champaign. Ever since, Glenbard West has been talking about revenge. Both teams have been ranked in the top 10 for most of the season. Wheaton Warrenville South has been the state’s most dominant team. No opponent has scored more than 14 points on the Tigers, and they’ve put up 38 or more points in 10 of their games. Glenbard West has been strong on both sides of the ball as well. It’s coming off a 42-28 win over Lincoln-Way East. Wide receiver Mark Hiben had a state-record 319 receiving yards in the victory. The Hilltoppers are a run-first team, though. The winner will either play Minooka or Belleville East.
Glenbard West player to watch: Junior defensive lineman Tommy Schutt is considered one of the best in the country. He needs to put pressure on Reilly O’Toole for the Hilltoppers to have a chance.
Wheaton Warrenville South: Quarterback Reilly O’Toole was hyped from the start of the season and has lived up to every ounce of it.
Quote: Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet – “We are fast on defense again and maybe more explosive on offense. Wheaton Warrenville South is a lot stronger on offense this year. Their defense is great again with great team speed. Last year is absolutely motivation for us.”
iPrediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 35, Glenbard West 28
No. 11 Lake Zurich (10-1) at No. 2 Simeon (11-0) on Saturday
The story: Simeon’s offense has been unstoppable all season. The Wolverines haven’t scored less than 42 points all year. Last week, they put up 55 in a win over Schaumburg. On the other hand, Lake Zurich’s defense has been among the state’s best this season. The Bears have allowed 8.5 points a game this season. Only two teams have scored more than 14 points against them. The winner will play either Carmel or St. Rita.
Lake Zurich player to watch: Linebacker J.J. Raffelson has been one of keys to Lake Zurich’s defense this season. He’ll need another big game to slow down Simeon.
Simeon player to watch: Quarterback Robert Gregory may be the state’s best dual-threat quarterback. In last week’s win, he threw for five touchdowns and ran for two more.
Prediction: Simeon 38, Lake Zurich 28
No. 3 Carmel (10-1) at No. 6 St. Rita (10-1) on Saturday
The story: Both these teams spent almost the entire year ranked in the area’s top 10. Carmel relies on its defense and multi-back running game. The Corsairs haven’t allowed their last five in-state opponents to score more than seven points. St. Rita has also been tough to score on and is led offensively by all-state running back Jahwon Akui, who scored five times last week. The Mustangs put up less than 21 points only once this season. The winner will play either Lake Zurich or Simeon.
Prediction: Carmel 31, St. Rita 28
No. 4 Joliet Catholic (10-1) at Peoria Richwoods (11-0) on Saturday
The story: Joliet Catholic hasn’t been tested yet through two rounds of the playoffs. The Hilltoppers won both of their previous games by 42 points. Richwoods should present more of a challenge, especially at home. The Knights are undefeated this season and are coming off a 49-13 win over Lincoln-Way West. They haven’t seen a team like Joliet Catholic this season. The winner will either play Glenwood or Springfield.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 49, Richwoods 17
No. 5 Loyola (10-1) Palatine (7-4) on Saturday
The story: Palatine has been the surprise of the playoffs. The No. 14-seeed Pirates upset Glenbard North in the opening round and took down Glenbrook South last week. Their defense has been strong the past three weeks, holding their opponents to 14 points or less. Loyola is riding a seven-game winning streak into Saturday. The Ramblers held off Fremd last week for a 14-7 win. Their defense has been stepping up in recent weeks. The defense scored a touchdown again last week. The winner will play either Maine South or Stevenson.
Prediction: Loyola 31, Palatine 17
No. 19 Prairie Ridge (10-1) at No. 7 Crystal Lake South (11-0) on Saturday
The story: These two teams met up in Week 4, and Crystal Lake South pulled out a 24-20 victory. The Gators’ Brad Walovitch was the hero in the win, catching two touchdown passes, kicking a field goal and gaining a first down on a key fourth-down conversion. The two teams combined for 27 fourth-quarter points. Prairie Ridge has taken care of business ever since. It’s coming off an impressive 20-6 win over Morgan Park. The winner will play either Boylan or Cary-Grove.
Prediction: Crystal Lake South 29, Prairie Ridge 28
No. 14 Maine South (9-2) at No. 8 Stevenson (11-0) on Saturday
The story: Maine South is still the king of Class 8A. The Hawks are two-time defending 8A champs and have won their last 12 playoff games. Maine South has won its last nine games this season by 21 or more points. Stevenson has gotten to where it is by relying on its offense and defense. The Patriots are coming off a close one. They defeated South Elgin 10-7 last week. The winner will play either Loyola or Palatine.
Maine South player to watch: Sophomore quarterback Matt Alviti has improved week after week. He’s been poised throughout the playoffs so far.
Stevenson player to watch: Junior kicker Matthew Micucci has come through in the clutch this season. He had a field goal in last week’s narrow win and in the Patriots’ 24-23 win over Lake Zurich earlier in the season.
Prediction: Stevenson 31, Maine South 28
No. 9 Lyons (10-1) at No. 12 Mount Carmel (10-1) on Friday
The story: Both teams are coming off dramatic wins. Lyons pulled out a 21-20 victory over Sandburg last week, and Mount Carmel defeated Neuqua Valley 21-14 in overtime. The Lions have held nine of their opponents to 20 points or less this season. Mount Carmel’s offense has carried it. The Caravan have scored 35 or more points in eight of their games.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 28, Lyons 24
No. 13 Lemont (11-0) at Marmion (10-1) on Saturday
The story: This could be one of the week’s best games. Lemont has put it together on both sides of the ball this season. The Indians’ defense has especially been good, allowing only three opponents more than 20 points this season. Marmion’s only loss came to Montini in its final regular season game. The Cades have held eight opponents to eight points or less this season.
Prediction: Lemont 17, Marmion 14
Homewood-Flossmoor (9-2) at No. 15 Naperville North (8-3) on Friday
The story: Homewood-Flossmoor is one of the year’s greatest success stories. A year after going 1-8, the Vikings are in the Class 8A quarterfinals. The Vikings’ offense can put up points. They’ve scored 30-plus points seven times this year. Naperville North’s defense has been among the area’s best. Led by all-state linebacker Nick Lifka, the Huskies haven’t allowed an opponent more than 14 points in the last four weeks. The winner will play either Lyons or Mount Carmel.
Prediction: Naperville North 24, Homewood-Flossmoor 14
Marian (8-3) at No. 17 Montini (9-2) on Saturday
The story: Montini defeated Marian 35-6 when they met during the regular season. Marian’s defense will need to contain the Broncos’ offense this time around to have a chance. Montini quarterback Matt Westerkamp and his cousin wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp have been on a tear. They hooked up for 200-plus yards and three touchdowns last week. The winner will play either Kaneland or Vernon Hills.
Prediction: Montini 35, Marian 14
Belleville East (9-2) at No. 18 Minooka (10-1) on Saturday
The story: Minooka avenged its only loss of the season last week with a 41-38 win over Plainfield South. The Indians’ running game stepped up again. Belleville East benefitted from East St. Louis being kicked out of the playoffs. Instead of facing nationally-ranked East St. Louis, Belleville East defeated Belleville West 21-13 last week. The winner will play either Glenbard West or Wheaton Warrenville South.
Prediction: Minooka 38, Belleville East 21
Kaneland (11-0) at No. 20 Vernon Hills (10-1) on Saturday
The story: Kaneland and Vernon Hills have been two of the premier Class 5A teams all season. Led by quarterback Joe Camiliere, Kaneland hasn’t scored less than 30 points in a game this season. It also hasn’t allowed an opponent to come within 14 points this season. Vernon Hills has been just as high-powered offensively. With Ohio State recruit Evan Spencer and Notre Dame recruit DaVaris Daniels leading the way, the Cougars have scored more than 40 points seven times this year. Their defense also shut out their first seven opponents this season. The winner will play either Marian or Montini.
Quote: Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken – “Their quarterback is outstanding, and they have a nice athletic group of receivers that give you a lot to cover and think about. Defensively, they’re quick and well coached. Both of us have scored over 40 a game and given up less than 10 a game, so it should be a good one. The keys are pretty simple. We need to minimize mistakes and communicate on defense.”
Prediction: Vernon Hills 34, Kaneland 31
1) Joliet Catholic senior Josh Ferguson rushed for 257 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries in the Hilltoppers’ win over Marist.
2) Travis Kern was Wheaton Warrenville South’s go-to receiver in the Tigers’ 49-6 win over Glenbard North. Kern had eight receptions for 137 yards and two touchdowns.
3) Elk Grove fell to Prospect 42-41 in overtime, but the loss wasn’t for Nick Meyer’s effort. He was 26-for-41 passing for 288 yards and ran for 148 yards and six touchdowns.
4) Mount Carmel quarterback Chris Sujka has been carrying the Caravan the last couple of weeks. He had touchdown runs of 17 and 81 yards and threw a touchdown pass in Mount Carmel’s 52-7 win over St. Laurence on Friday.
5) Glenbrook North’s Grant Rushing lived up to his name in the Spartans’ 48-0 win over Maine East on Friday. Rushing rushed for a game-high 149 yards and three touchdowns.
1) In a spin on things, Lake Forest’s defense shut out Vernon Hills 21-0 on Friday, snapping Vernon Hills’ shutout streak at seven games. The Cougars had outscored opponents 310-0 before Friday’s loss.
2) Glenbard West’s Mike Laning intercepted two passes in the Hilltoppers’ 47-7 win over Downers Grove North.
3) Bartlett’s Demetrius Coleman recovered two fumbles in the Hawks’ 25-23 win over Neuqua Valley.
4) Wheaton North’s Andy Dietz had two interceptions in his team’s 14-7 win over Naperville North.
5) Lemont’s Clayton Fejedelem intercepted a pass and returned a punt for an 80-yard touchdown in the Indians’ 44-0 win over Thornton Fractional North.
1) Crystal Lake South 28, Cary-Grove 14: The Gators won their first Fox Valley Conference division title since 1993, and they were able to do it by knocking off rival Cary-Grove.
2) Joliet Catholic 49, Marist 42: Playing in the memory of teacher and basketball coach Jeremy Izzo, who recently passed away, the Hilltoppers pulled out an emotional win over Marist. Quarterback Breshion Tucker, who also played basketball for Izzo, threw three touchdowns in the victory.
3) Schaumburg 35, Palatine 27: Mark Iannotti and Shepard Little combined for 357 rushing yards and four touchdowns to propel the Saxons.
4) Fremd 26, Barrington 12: The Vikings kept themselves alive for the postseason with their upset win over previously-unbeaten Barrington. Fremd has made 15 consecutive playoff appearances and needs to still win one more game to keep that streak alive.
5) Marian Catholic 29, Nazareth 28: John Rhode hooked up with Randall Wells for a 40-yard touchdown pass as time expired to give the Spartans the win.