High School: Loyola
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WILMETTE -- Nothing was going right for the Loyola Ramblers in the first half. Their offense struggled to find a rhythm. Their defense couldn’t contain the edge and let the Glenbard North Panthers’ runners find open space outside the hashes.
Loyola coach John Holecek needed to rally his players if they were going to stay undefeated and head to the Class 8A title game.
“We are not going to give up another point and the offense is going to score three times,” Holecek said he told his team at halftime.
Holecek just about nailed that prediction.
The Ramblers scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to beat the Panthers 28-13.
“We just had to come out and do the fundamentals,” defensive lineman Michael Scott, who registered a sack in the game, said. “We had to come out there harder. We knew what we had to lose playing our last game on this field. We came out emotional.”
The Panthers struck first when a Loyola punt deflected off a lineman and fell into the hands of linebacker Dominic Fornino, who ran it in for the touchdown.
Glenbard North then had its next two drives go deep into Loyola territory but only managed to get six points off those opportunities.
The Panthers saw success early on running outside of the tackles. Quarterback Brian Murphy, who left with an injury late in the fourth quarter, saw his share of big runs in the first half with gains of 12, 18, and 19 yards. The talented backfield duo of Phillip and Justin Jackson (15 carries 35 yards, 8 carries 23 yards respectively) were able to get their share of yards, but neither dashed for a big gain against what seemed like a bend-but-don’t-break defense in the first half for Loyola.
Loyola immediately set the tone in the second half on its first drive. The Ramblers marched 80 yards on eight plays to get their first points of the day. The play that swung the momentum in Loyola’s favor was a pass over the middle to senior running back William Palivos (16 carries 90 yards TD) who ran 33 yards down to the Panthers’ 21-yard line.
Palivos, who only saw a handful of carries in the first half, was able to find lanes in the second half, to balance out Loyola's aerial attack conducted by quarterback Malcom Weaver (14-26 175 yards 2 TDs INT).
“He’s a slippery, real good back,” Holecek said about Palivos. “Obviously, he can squirt you some holes. We are going to get him his touches no matter what.”
On a 4th-and-4 at the Panther 35-yard line to start the fourth quarter, Weaver threw one up for a streaking Charlie Dowdle, who came down with a beautiful one handed catch for a touchdown, giving Loyola the lead for good.
“It’s so fitting for him to make that kind of play on the last time he’s going to play on this field,” Holecek said.
“It was just a fly route,” Dowdle said. “We work on it all the time in practice. We just want to give our receivers a chance. Malcom does a great job.”
The key difference in the Loyola offense from the first to second half was their pace. Speeding the offense up took Glenbard North by surprise and ended up wearing them down by the end of the game.
Loyola, however, suffered a blow to their secondary when senior defensive back Scotty Suhey went down with a broken wrist in the fourth quarter, putting his chances of playing in the state championship game in jeopardy.
Player of the Game: Though nearly invisible in the first half, William Palivos appeared in a big way for his team in the second half. Going over 100 all-purpose yards for the game, Palivos broke arm tackles constantly, wearing down the Panthers’ defense.
It was over when: Charlie Dowdle did what he’s been doing all year: Making big plays. His spectacular one handed touchdown grab put the Ramblers on top for good to start the fourth quarter and the defense clamped down on the Panthers’ rushing attack.
Stat of the Day: 13 – The Ramblers won their 13th game this year, making it the most wins in a season in school history.
Quote of the Day: “We knew that Phil Jackson their running back was playing both ways, and if he wanted to stay playing both ways, we knew that we as an offense had to help out the defense by getting him a little tired. So, we tried to pick up the speed, which also ended up working for us,” – Quarterback Malcom Weaver on speeding up the offense in the second half.
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 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
NEW LENOX -- In its biggest test so far this season, No. 6 Loyola passed with flying colors.
Quarterback Malcolm Weaver and running back Will Palivos each rushed for two touchdowns, and Loyola's defense held its ground in a 32-6 win on Friday over Providence Catholic in both team's Catholic League Blue opener.
The Ramblers' hurry-up no-huddle offense failed to rack up 40 points for the first time this season -- something that wasn't overlooked by the coaches after the game -- but their defense more than made up the difference. After rushing for more than 300 yards the week before, Providence managed less than 50 on its own turf on Friday.
The defensive effort included a highlight-reel sack by Eric Hauser, a late interception by Patrick McDonough and a fourth-quarter safety by a team of tacklers — icing on the cake for the Ramblers (4-0, 1-0).
"They always prepare [the offense] in practice with their stunts and the crazy stuff they do on defense," Weaver said, "so I know once they get on these other teams, they're going to come out here and do a lot. They things that they can do — stunts, schemes, all that — it's great. It's a really good defense."
Weaver shook off an interception of his own on the Ramblers' first drive, and that miscue was the high-powered offense's only speed bump. Taking nearly every snap out of the shotgun formation, he connected with all his receivers and led the team on five straight scoring drives.
Still, the Loyola coaching staff reminded its players that their play wasn't perfect.
"We expect perfection every time," said wide receiver Marquese Martin-Hayes, who led the team with six catches. "Every time we come out here, our goal is perfection. We feel we should have had 60 (points) — at least 40 — and we dropped the ball there."
Loyola may not have reached its scoring goal, but its victory was never in doubt. Up 16-6 to start the second half, Loyola scored right away when Weaver capped a 12-play drive with a 7-yard score. Dylan Brennan kept the Ramblers' next drive alive with 27-yard run on a fake punt on fourth down, his second successful fake punt of the game. Palivos took the next play up the middle of the defense and 32 yards for his second touchdown.
Then, Loyola forced Providence to punt for a fifth time, the second-string offense replaced Weaver and the rest of the starters with more than nine minutes left in the game.
Providence (3-1, 0-1) has already won more games that it did all of last year, the program's first losing season since 1980. Defensive back Troy Sheppard notched his fifth interception of the season, and wide receiver Sean Fitzgerald made several impressive catches. But the few bright spots weren't enough against one of the state's top teams.
"It's really good to come in the Catholic Blue and play some physical ball again," said Weaver, who remembers last year's win over Providence, too. "Providence is a great team. They're humongous. and they're really physical ... so it's good to come out here and play a really physical team and come out of here with a W."
Players of the game: Loyola -- QB Malcolm Weaver (Sr.) 17-for-28, 150 passing yards, 52 rushing yards, 2 TDs; RB Will Palivos (Sr.) 15 attempts, 125 yards, 2 TDs. Providence -- WR Sean Fitzgerald (Sr.) 6 catches, 89 yards.
Stat of the game: One week after Providence racked up more than 300 rushing yards in a win over St. Laurence, Loyola's defense held the Celtics to 46.
It was over when: One play after a successful fake punt, Will Palivos rambled 32 yards untouched to put Loyola up 30-6 with 3:38 left in the third quarter.
Quote of the night: "We had to set the tone," said Loyola wide receiver Marquese Martin-Hayes about the importance of the win. "Everyone always underestimates us. To come out here in the Catholic League Blue — the best conference in the nation — to come out here and get a win, that's very important. It sets the tone for the year, and it sets the tone for us personally."
Payne, a 6-4 shooting guard, chose the Ramblers over Colorado State, Davidson, Georgia Tech, Miami-Ohio, Ohio and Stanford.
Payne is the younger brother of Loyola point guard Cully Payne, who transferred to the Ramblers from Iowa after last season.
"I made my decision on everything else, but he was just a big addition to it," Payne said of his brother. "I've been playing out my options and what was best for me, and I decided Loyola was best for me. It wasn't an easy decision, but it was the way they recruited me, the way they made me feel like a part of the family, the way they made me feel like their No. 1 recruit."
Payne and Cully have never played on the same team together because they've always been four years apart. At Loyola, they'll have one season and possible two to play together. Cully is petitioning to the NCAA for another year of eligibility.
Payne could have waited to make his decision after another high school and club season, but he knew Loyola was the right place for him now.
"I'm not a big-name guy whether it's the Big Ten, ACC," said Payne, who averaged 17 points last season. "I personally feel like if you have the right team and the right personnel and the coaches have love for you, you can be successful anywhere. Look at Butler, VCU, any of them. I'm super happy where I'm at, and I think in the end it'll be perfect."
Payne is Loyola's first Class of 2013 commitment.
The 2010-2011 high school sports year was one to remember for a number of programs.
Maine South’s football team and Bolingbrook’s girls basketball team won their third consecutive state championships. Montini’s football team and girls basketball team captured their second consecutive titles. Wheaton Warrenville South’s football team capped off an undefeated season with another state title. Simeon’s boys basketball team also continued its reign.
But of any of school, no one had the 2010-2011 year New Trier had. The Trevians won five team state championships and four individual state titles to go along with a number of regional and sectional championships.
Here’s a rundown of what New Trier’s teams accomplished this year:
• The boys tennis team won its second consecutive state championship. Robert Stineman repeated as the state singles champion. Jared Hiltzik finished second in singles, and two doubles teams finished in the top five in the state.
• The boys lacrosse team won its seventh consecutive state title. Senior Chad Sawyer became the school’s all-time leading goal scorer this season.
• The girls swimming team won the state championship. Samantha James won the state title in the 100-yard freestyle, and the 400-yard freestyle relay team also won a state title.
• The boys swimming team won the state championship. Max Grodecki won the 100-yard freestyle title, and its 200-yard and 400-yard freestyle relay teams also won state crowns.
• The girls golf team won the Class 3A state championship, and Elizabeth Szokol and Kristin Wright finished fifth and sixth in the state.
• The boys golf team took second place in state in Class 3A.
• Senior Mari Georgiadis went 52-0 this season and won the badminton state championship. The Trevians finished third overall as a team.
• The girls tennis team finished third in the state. It had two doubles teams finish in the top six.
• The softball team finished fourth at state in Class 4A.
• The girls cross country team finished sixth at state in Class 3A.
• The boys cross country team finished in seventh at state in Class 3A.
• The boys volleyball team reached the state quarterfinals.
• The girls soccer team won a regional championship.
• The girls volleyball team won a regional championship.
• The girls lacrosse team won a regional championship.
• Senior centerfielder Charlie Tilson was selected in the second round of the MLB draft.
Other notable schools in 2010-2011
Lyons: baseball -- 4A state champions; girls volleyball – 3A state champions; boys soccer – regional champions; girls soccer – regional champions; boys basketball – regional champions; boys cross country – ninth place in 3A; football – reached state quarterfinals in 8A; boys water polo – reached state quarterfinals; girls golf – 10th place in 3A.
Sandburg: badminton – state champions; boys volleyball – state champions; baseball – regional champions; softball – sectional champions; competitive cheerleading – fourth place in state; boys cross country – 10th place in 3A and individual state champion Lukas Verzbicas; boys bowling – 10th place in state; wrestling – third place in 3A; boys water polo – fourth place in state; baseball – regional champions; football – reached the second round in 8A.
Naperville North: girls soccer – 3A state runner-up; boys soccer – sectional champions; boys volleyball – state runner-up; girls swimming – ninth place in 3A; boys swimming – ninth place in 3A; boys gymnastics – fourth place in state; boys golf – third place in 3A; football – reached state quarterfinals in 8A.
Loyola: girls lacrosse – state champions; boys lacrosse – state runner-up; girls swimming-- second place in 3A; boys swimming – fourth place in 3A; girls golf – fifth place in 3A; football – reached state semifinals in 8A; baseball – regional champion; boys golf – eighth place in 3A; girls soccer – sectional champions.
Palatine: girls cross country – second place in 3A; boys cross country – fourth place in 3A; softball – regional champions; boys cross country – fourth place in 3A; badminton – eighth place in state; baseball – regional champions; boys gymnastics – fifth place in state; football – reached state quarterfinals in 8A.
Montini: girls basketball - 3A state champions; football - 5A state champions; wrestling – 2A state champions.
Lake Zurich: football – 7A state runner-up; competitive cheerleading – state champions; boys cross country – second place in 3A; boys bowling – third place in state; softball – sectional champions.
The Ramblers were one of 12 high school teams invited to participate in the Dublin Friday Night Lights. Loyola will face Dallas Jesuit at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Aug. 31.
Notre Dame and Navy will play the following day in the same stadium.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity,” Loyola coach John Holecek said on Tuesday. “I had the advantage to take a trip to Europe when I was in high school at Marian Catholic. It was just an experience I’ll never forget. It broadens your horizons. What a great opportunity to get your feet on another continent.
“I don’t know much about Dallas Jesuit. I know they’re an extremely good team. It’s Texas football. I know they sent a kid to Oklahoma. It’s more than a football matchup. Hopefully, we want to come and win, but we don’t care who we play. We just want to go.”
Loyola went 11-2 in 2010, won the Catholic League Blue and lost in the Class 8A semifinals. The Ramblers are expected to be among the state’s top teams again in 2011.
Coaches normally want their starting quarterbacks to possess a level of confidence in which they believe they're capable of anything.
Not Weaver, though. Sure, he was optimistic and had some confidence in his ability. But to be passing for 1,513 yards and 22 touchdowns through seven weeks, Weaver couldn't lie about that. A smile crossed his face when asked about it, and he then answered truthfully.
"I didn't think I'd throw for as many touchdowns as I have or as many yards as I have," said Weaver, the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Week. "It's all a blessing right now. I'm going to continue off it and continue to try to do my best this year."
And to think, Weaver wasn't even sure he was going to be Loyola's starting quarterback when the season began. After battling for the position with a few others during preseason camp, Weaver discovered just days before the season-opener from Ramblers coach John Holecek that he would be the starter.
Looking back, Weaver wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
"I love competition," Weaver said. "I don't like things being handed to me. I like to work for things. The whole competition was fun. It kept me on the edge."
Once Weaver won the job, he ran -- or passed -- with it. In his debut, he threw for three touchdowns against his hometown school: Evanston. He added three more touchdowns the next week against Montini. He threw for 234 yards and two touchdowns to knock off defending Catholic League champs Providence in the third week.
The pattern has continued as the weeks have gone by. His career day came against Brother Rice with 370 yards passing and six touchdowns. For the season, he's completed 97-of-172 passes and has Loyola in the Catholic League championship hunt with a 6-1 overall record and 3-1 in conference.
"We didn't know he'd be this good," Holecek said. "He's obviously developed over the season. He's gotten better and better. I think it's been experience. He's seeing a lot more. He sees the blitzes. He know the offense better. He knows the wide receivers better. I think it's everything."
Weaver is more comfortable now, especially in the pocket, than he was to start the season. A year ago, he would have considered himself a running quarterback. Now, he's a dual threat.
"I've always been a running quarterback," said Weaver, who is 5-11. "I've become more of a pocket passer this year. Pocket passing is fun, just watching everything open up in front of you. Everybody might feel pressure in staying in that pocket, but I like it. I like sitting in there knowing that the O-line has my back."
Weaver is quick to give credit where it is due. He may be receiving a lot of the headlines these days, but he believes it has to do more with his offensive line's play and that of his wide receivers, especially his favorite targets Charlie Dowdle and E.J. Webb.
Weaver -- along with his teammates -- weren't expected to achieve what they have this season. After last year's team went 11-2 and graduated a bulk of its players, expectations were lowered by most.
"They didn't rank us," Weaver said. "We came in with a lot to prove. We've proved it so far. There's still a lot of football to played. We're going to try to keep proving people wrong that we're a young team, but we still have what it takes to win a state championship."
Defeating undefeated St. Rita in Week 9 would go a long way in showing that. Even though Gordon Tech is this week's opponent, Weaver knows what's ahead for the Ramblers. Again, he wouldn't lie.
"Everybody knows about Rita," Weaver said. "We're not going to lie and say we're just looking at Gordon Tech. We know what Rita can do. There's obviously going to be doubters. We're a young team. St. Rita is more experienced, a lot of things like that."
No. 6 Glenbard North (7-0) at No. 1 Wheaton Warrenville South (7-0) on Friday
The story: Wheaton Warrenville South has faced four ranked teams this season and has defeated them by a combined score of 155-40. Now, the Tigers will meet possibly their greatest challenge of the season in Glenbard North. The Panthers have remained undefeated thanks to a versatile running game and one of the area’s best defenses. They’ve allowed 73 points this season and have also defeated three ranked teams. Quarterback Reilly O’Toole and Wheaton Warrenville South’s offense will be unlike anything Glenbard North has seen this season. ESPN 1000 will be in attendance.
Glenbard North player to watch: Offensive right tackle Paul Wisniewski has been a major reason for the Panthers’ running success. He recently received an offer from Wyoming.
Wheaton Warrenville South player to watch: The Tigers’ passing game receives a lot of attention, but running back Matt Rogers has also done his part. He’s burned plenty of opponents this season.
Quotes: Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens – “ Offensively, they do everything. They run the ball from under center and the gun with Rogers and O’Toole. They use play-action pass, sprint outs and straight drop backs using multiple receivers. Defensively, they rally to the football, they fight the pressure well and take down double-teams.”
Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch – “Glenbard North is a very good power-running team. Their offensive line is very big and good at the run game. [Phil] Jackson and [Evin] Natick are very solid
runners and can break a long run anytime. Their defense is a solid unit that has been very good at keeping people out of the end zone with less than 10 points a game. Their defensive backs match up well with our offensive skills. It’s going to be a tough game for the Tigers.”
Prediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 35, Glenbard North 20
St. Ignatius (5-2) at No. 2 St. Rita (7-0) on Friday
The story: St. Rita won’t be overlooking crossover opponent St. Ignatius, but the Mustangs are fully aware that they close out the regular season with Loyola next week. The Ramblers are the only team keeping them from an outright Catholic League championship.
Prediction: St. Rita 41, St. Ignatius 10
Downers Grove North (1-6) at No. 3 Glenbard West (7-0) on Saturday
The story: Glenbard West will be looking to put together a clean game from opening kick to final whistle this week. They had their share of miscues in last week’s win over York. The Hilltoppers have another test in Lyons next week.
Prediction: Glenbard West 40, Downers Grove North 14
Notre Dame (5-2) at No. 4 Carmel (7-0) on Friday
The story: If someone’s looking for a possible upset this week, this could be one. Notre Dame has hung with everyone it has played this season. The Dons lost by 12 to Marist and by one to Marian Catholic. The Corsairs have shown, though, not to be a team that overlooks opponents. They would win the East Suburban Catholic title outright with a victory.
Prediction: Carmel 31, Notre Dame 20
Lane (3-4) vs. No. 5 Simeon (7-0) at Gately on Thursday
The story: Simeon hasn’t been tested since the opening week. That might not change until the playoffs either. The Wolverines look as if they can make a real run this season.
Prediction: Simeon 50, Lane 20
Marist (5-2) at No. 7 Joliet Catholic (6-1) on Friday
The story: These two teams created a great one last year with Marist pulling out a 24-17 win. The RedHawks went on to the Class 8A state championship game while Joliet Catholic advanced to the Class 5A one. That could happen again this season with both being contenders in their respective classes. Joliet Catholic has been putting up a whole lot of points all season. The Hilltoppers scored 73 of them in last week’s win over St. Patrick. Marist has only one in-state loss and is on the verge of being in the top 20 again.
Marist player to watch: RedHawks quarterback Luke Oosterbaan displayed his running ability in last week’s win over St. Viator. He scored three rushing touchdowns.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Josh Ferguson is one of 11 remaining players in the running for the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year award. He had three touchdowns in last week’s win.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 38, Marist 34
Cary-Grove (5-2) at No. 8 Crystal Lake South (7-0) on Friday
The story: Crystal Lake South has won’t the Fox Valley Conference title since 1992. With two games remaining, the Gators are nearing that achievement, but they have to go through Cary-Grove as always for it. After winning the Class 6A state championship last season, the Trojans had a rough start to this season, losing their first two games. They’ve since won their last five, including a 23-20 overtime win over McHenry last week. On paper, Crystal Lake South may be the better team, but this is one of those games where anything can happen.
Cary-Grove player to watch: Quarterback Corey Latkas has continued to improve as the season has unfolded. He’s been consistent in running the team’s option attack and completing key passes when needed.
Crystal Lake South player to watch: Quarterback Drew Ormseth has been one of the area’s best this season. He’s a threat to run and pass the ball.
Quotes: Cary-Grove coach Bruce Kay – “The key to the game is ball control and turnovers. Their defense is very talented, and it will be difficult to make big plays. We need to keep the South QB on the sideline. Our kicking game has been very good all year, and we will need to make South play on long fields.”
Prediction: Crystal Lake South 28, Cary-Grove 27
Lincoln-Way Central (1-6) at No. 9 Lincoln-Way East (6-1) on Friday
The story: Lincoln-Way East is on the verge of winning the Southwest Suburban Blue. The Griffins’ next two opponents have a combined record of 1-13.
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 49, Lincoln-Way Central 7
No. 10 Barrington (7-0) at Fremd (3-4) on Friday
The story: Fremd’s season hasn’t gone as expected. The Vikings were thought to be a state contender before the season, but now they must defeat highly-ranked Barrington just to keep their playoff hopes alive. Fremd has made 15 consecutive playoff appearances. As for Barrington, it has been one of the season’s bigger surprises. Just a year ago, the Broncos missed the playoffs after going 3-6.
Barrington player to watch: Running back Nico Martinez is returning to his old form after breaking his hand and missing the season’s first four games. He and Chase Murdock make up a tough backfield.
Fremd player to watch: Offensive lineman Brian Bobek is considered one of the best in the country. He’s headed to Ohio State.
Quote: Barrington coach Joe Sanchez – “As for keys for both teams, it will come down to which group can sustain and finish drives. I also believe special teams will play a key part in the game with regards to field position for both teams. Turnovers, which team can create extra opportunities and take advantage of them, will be big.”
Prediction: Barrington 24, Fremd 17
No. 11 Stevenson (7-0) at Libertyville (3-4) on Friday
The story: Stevenson looks to remain undefeated while Libertyville hopes to stay in the playoff hunt. Stevenson is known for its offense, but the Patriots have only allowed 83 points this season.
Prediction: Stevenson 35, Libertyville 17
Lake Forest (5-2) at No. 12 Vernon Hills (7-0) on Friday
The story: Can Vernon Hills shut out an opponent for the eighth consecutive week? This is will be its toughest challenge. Lake Forest has scored 256 points this season, which ranks second in the North Suburban Lake, and hasn’t been held to less than 13 points all season. The Cougars should be happy with just a win against Lake Forest.
Lake Forest player to watch: Junior running back Owen Williams can be tough to stop. He had 272 yards on 18 carries against Libertyville earlier this season.
Vernon Hills player to watch: Do-everything senior DaVaris Daniels has scored in almost every way possible this season. It’ll be interesting to see if he can find another way against Lake Forest.
Quote: Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken – “The difference in Lake Forest is they have a better balanced offense than we’ve played this year. When we crossover over to the big-school North Suburban division, we only play them once every seven years. It’s an uphill battle for us because they have more numbers than our program. When we have a crossover game, we try to sneak up on them. I don’t think we can sneak up on anyone this year. I think it’s going to be a heck of a ballgame.”
Prediction: Vernon Hills 34, Lake Forest 21
No. 20 Prospect (6-1) at No. 13 Elk Grove (6-1) on Friday
The story: The winner of this clinches at least a share of the Mid-Suburban East title. Prospect lost its season-opener, but has been winning big ever since. The Knights have one of the state’s most potent offenses with 292 points this season. Elk Grove’s offense isn’t too shabby itself. Led by quarterback Nick Meyer, the Grenadiers have scored 212 points a game. Prospect has won the last five meetings between the two teams.
Prospect player to watch: Quarterback Steve Dazzo threw for two touchdowns and ran for four in last week’s win over Wheeling. This will be a chance to really make a name for himself.
Elk Grove player to watch: Joey Bishoff has been Meyer’s favorite target this season. He has 33 catches for 455 yards and three touchdowns.
Quote: Elk Grove coach Brian Doll – "Prospect is very sound on offense. With great offensive line play and two strong running backs in Steve Dazzo and Peter Bonahoom, they force you to defend both of them on every play.”
Prediction: Elk Grove 42, Prospect 38
Mundelein (0-7) at No. 14 Lake Zurich (6-1) on Friday
The story: Lake Zurich’s defense has held opponents to 59 points this season. Outside of Libertyville and Stevenson, the Bears’ opponents have only scored 13 points.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 31, Mundelein 0
Naperville North (5-2) at No. 15 Wheaton North (5-2) on Friday
The story: Neither team may still be in the running for the DuPage Valley title, but there are playoff points to still be earned. Neither team wants to fall to 5-3 either. Both have lost to Glenbard North and Wheaton Warrenville South this season.
Naperville North player to watch: Antonio Owens can score in a variety of ways. He caught a touchdown pass and rushed for one last week.
Wheaton North player to watch: Wide receiver Johnny Daniels was the hero last week. He caught a game-winning touchdown as time expired.
Quote: Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski – “We don’t have the big-name players that Naperville North does, but I do feel that we’re coming together well as a team right now. I’m hoping that the kids are starting to see that it takes offense, defense and special teams to win close ball games. In addition, it takes solid backups at several positions for a team to get good results on Friday nights.”
Prediction: Naperville North 27, Wheaton North 20
No. 16 Mount Carmel (5-2) at St. Laurence (4-3) on Friday
The story: The Caravan still have an outside hope of earning a share of the Catholic League title. The Corsairs have defeated Loyola and fell to St. Rita this season.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 35, St. Laurence 13
Gordon Tech (1-6) at No. 17 Loyola (6-1) on Saturday
The story: Like St. Rita, Loyola has taken Gordon Tech seriously this week, but also has taken a peak at next week’s all-important Catholic League game.
Prediction: Loyola 42, Gordon Tech 6
Plainfield East (1-6) at No. 18 Plainfield South (7-0) on Friday
The story: Plainfield South is tied for third in the state with 342 points this season. The Cougars have scored 50 or more points three times this year.
Prediction: Plainfield South 52, Plainfield East 10
No. 19 Schaumburg (5-2) at Palatine (4-3) on Friday
The story: Palatine may not have the record to show for it, but it’s been a handful for every one of its opponents this season. The Pirates’ losses have included a 28-21 to Lake Forest, 41-27 to Prospect and 17-16 to Fremd. They close out the season with Schaumburg and Barrington.
Prediction: Schaumburg 35, Palatine 17
The ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year race has been trimmed down to 18 spots after Week 6. Most notably, Kapri Bibbs put himself right with Reilly O’Toole at the top after rushing for a state-record 520 yards this past week.
1. Wheaton Warrrenville South senior quarterback Reilly O’Toole (previously ranked No. 1)
Last week: A day before making a visit to his future school Illinois, O’Toole completed 14-of-15 passes for 291 yards and four touchdowns in a 42-14 win over Wheaton North. Wheaton Warrenville South improved to 6-0.
Season: 71-of-98 passing for 1,373 yards, 19 touchdowns, one interception; two rushing touchdowns.
Last week: No one had a bigger week than Bibbs. He rushed for a state-record 520 yards and seven touchdowns in a 49-43 win over Oswego. Plainfield North improved to 5-1.
Season: Rushed for 1,689 yards and 26 touchdowns on 158 carries.
3. Vernon Hills senior wide receiver DaVaris Daniels (2)
Last week: Daniels had a quiet week for his standards. He rushed for 43 yards and one touchdown on three carries, was held without a reception and scored a 68-yard touchdown on a blocked field goal.
Season: 4-of-6 passing for 71 yards and one touchdown; 10 receptions for 277 yards and four touchdowns; 246 rushing yards and six touchdowns; one punt return touchdown; three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns.
4. Naperville North senior linebacker Nick Lifka (4)
Last week: Lifka was all over the field again on Friday. He made 11 tackles, including one for a loss and forced one fumble in Naperville North’s 27-24 win over Naperville Central. Naperville North improved to 4-2.
Season: 77 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, three sacks, four forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
5. Elk Grove senior quarterback Nick Meyer (5)
Last week: Despite throwing a career-high four interceptions, Meyer completed 24-of-41 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns in Elk Grove’s 35-14 win over Wheeling. Elk Grove improved to 5-1.
Season: 100-of-173 passing for 1,328 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions; 618 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 87 carries.
6. Simeon junior quarterback Robert Gregory (8)
Last week: Gregory was back to being a do-everything quarterback for Simeon after an average Week 5. He completed 5-of-8 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 114 yards and two touchdown on four carries in the Wolverines’ 63-32 win over Dunbar. Simeon improved to 6-0.
Season: 39-of-69 passing for 708 yards and 10 touchdowns; 611 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns.
7. Schaumburg senior running back Shepard Little (7)
Last week: Schaumburg stuck right with Barrington thanks to Little. He rushed for 184 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries in the Saxons’ 34-32 loss. Schaumburg fell to 4-2.
Season: 1,175 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 143 carries, 11 receptions for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
8. Joliet Catholic senior running back Josh Ferguson (10)
Last week: Ferguson didn’t need the ball much to do his thing on Friday. He ran for 185 yards and two touchdowns on six carries in Joliet Catholic’s 48-19 win over St. Viator. Joliet Catholic improved to 5-1.
Season: 779 yards and 12 touchdowns on 63 carries.
9. Lake Zurich senior running back Jacob Brinlee (6)
Last week: Brinlee had a couple of long runs, but was contained for much of the night in Lake Zurich’s 24-23 loss to Stevenson. He rushed for 101 yards and one touchdown on 19 carries and caught one pass for 35 yards. Lake Zurich fell to 5-1.
Season: 835 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 76 carries; one receiving touchdown.
10. Glenbard West senior running back Nick Burrello (12)
Last week: Burrello continued making big plays in Glenbard West’s 41-7 win over Addison Trail. He ran for 157 yards and two touchdowns, which included an 80-yarder, on 16 carries. Glenbard West improved to 6-0.
Season: 699 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 74 carries, 12 receptions for 284 yards and one touchdown; two punt/kick return touchdowns.
11. Carmel junior running back Jordan Kos (14)
Last week: Kos continued his recent success in Friday’s 42-0 win over Benet. He rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Carmel improved to 6-0.
Season: 842 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 92 carries.
12. Loyola junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver (19)
Last season: Weaver had his biggest game of the season in Friday’s 49-27 win over Brother Rice. He completed 18-of-29 passes for 370 yards and six touchdowns. Loyola improved to 5-1.
Season: 84-of-150 passion for 1,362 yards and 20 touchdowns.
13. St. Rita senior running back Jahwon Akui (9)
Last week: Mount Carmel concentrated on stopping Akui after he burned the Caravan last season. He ran for 69 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in St. Rita’s 35-14 win over Mount Carmel on Friday. St. Rita improved to 6-0.
Season: 722 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 152 carries.
14. Wheaton Warrenville South senior wide receiver Titus Davis (13)
Last week: Davis again was Reilly O’Toole’s favorite target in Friday’s 42-14 win over Wheaton North. Davis had seven catches for 137 yards and one touchdown.
Season: 27 receptions for 644 yards and 10 touchdowns.
15. Wheaton North senior quarterback Reece Butler (11)
Last week: Wheaton Warrenville South troubled Butler like it has all of its opponents this season. Butler completed 25-of-37 passes for 186 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions in Wheaton North’s 42-14 loss. He also ran 68 yards on 23 carries. Wheaton North fell to 4-2.
Season: 111-of-153 passing for 1,262 yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions; 276 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
16. Thornridge senior running back Mik’ail McCall (20)
Last week: McCall was the hero in Thornridge’s 31-25 win over Andrew. He rushed for 283 yards and four touchdowns, including one in overtime, on 42 carries. Thornridge improved to 3-3.
Season: 1,173 yards and 14 touchdowns.
17. Stevenson senior running back Joe Cassata (16)
Last week: Cassata didn’t pick up a whole lot of yards, but he got them when they were needed most in Stevenson’s 24-23 win over Lake Zurich. He rushed for 61 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner, on 15 carries. Stevenson improved to 6-0.
Season: 655 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on 84 carries; six receptions for 84 yards and one touchdown.
No. 18 Crystal Lake South senior quarterback Drew Ormseth (17)
Last week: Ormseth did enough for the Crystal Lake South to get by Jacobs with a 28-14 win. He completed 6-of-13 passes for 93 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Crystal Lake South improved to 6-0.
Season: 33-of-65 passing for 697 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions, 318 rushing yards and three touchdowns.