High School: Mount Carmel
The IHSA state football championships shouldn’t disappoint again this season. It’s full of all of the essentials, and all of the games can be seen on WatchESPN.com on Friday and Saturday.
All-American player? Check. Crete-Monee wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, ESPN’s top-ranked wide receiver, will be playing in the Class 6A state championship. There are plenty of other D-I players throughout the title games.
Defending champions? Check. Aurora Christian (3A), Rochester (4A) and Montini (5A) are all back in their respective classes’ title games after winning state last season. Montini is attempting to grab its fourth consecutive state title, and Rochester is going for its third.
Traditional powerhouses? Check. Mount Carmel (8A) has won nine state titles. Montini (5A) has won four. Belleville Althoff Catholic (2A) and Morris (5A) have won three. Rochester(4A) and Stockton (2A) have won two. Aurora Christian (3A), Cary-Grove (6A), Glenbard West (7A), Lincoln-Way East (7A) and Maroa-Forsyth (1A) have won one.
Legendary coaches? Check. Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti has gone 325-59 with nine state titles in 29 years. Montini coach Chris Andriano has gone 255-119 with four state championships in 34 years.
Former NFL player coaching? Check. Former NFL wide receiver Don Beebe is in his ninth year as Aurora Central Christian’s coach. He’s gone 87-22, finished runner-up once and won one state championship. His son Chad is a senior on the team.
Here are the links to watch this weekend’s games, including all eight IHSA state championship games:
Chicago High School Football Prep Bowl: Friday at noon, Watch!
Class 1A Championship: Friday at 11 a.m., Watch!
Class 2A Championship: Friday at 2 p.m., Watch!
Class 3A Championship: Friday at 5 p.m., Watch!
Class 4A Championship: Friday at 8 p.m., Watch!
Class 5A Championship: Saturday at 11 a.m., Watch!
Class 6A Championship: Saturday at 2 p.m., Watch!
Class 7A Championship: Saturday at 5 p.m., Watch!
Class 8A Championship: Saturday at 8 p.m., Watch!
ESPNChicago.com’s high school football reporters hand out their “Best of 2011” awards.
BEST INDIVIDUAL PERFORMANCE
BEST OVERALL PLAYER
FAVORITE PLAYER TO WATCH
MOST MEMORABLE PLAY
All eight state championships and the Prep Bowl will be shown on ESPN3.com and can be found at ESPNChicago.com.
No. 2 Bolingbrook (12-1) vs. No. 1 Loyola (13-0)
When:Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Class 8A state championship
The story: When Maine South was upset in the second round, this was the best possible remaining game, and both teams took care of business to get here. They both have dynamic dual-threat quarterbacks. Bolingbrook quarterback Aaron Bailey is most dangerous keeping the ball. Robbie Bain, who recently committed to Illinois, is an offensive lineman to watch. Loyola quarterback Malcolm Weaver prefers to pass it, but he’s also possesses plenty of speed. Weaver has a plethora of wide receivers to throw it to, too. Defensively, both teams have been dominant throughout the season. Bolingbrook faced some of the state’s best offensive teams in the Southwest Suburban Blue and contained them. Loyola may have been the state’s premier defensive team this season. The Ramblers allowed 8.2 points a game this season and only gave up more than 13 points once. Bolingbrook linebacker Antonio Morrison, who is committed to Florida, is questionable for the game after suffering an injury during the quarterfinals.
Prediction: Loyola 24, Bolingbrook 20
Rockford Boylan (13-0) vs. No. 3 Wheaton Warrenville South (10-3)When:Saturday at 4 p.m. in the Class 7A state championship
The story: This is a rare game between one defending state champ against another defending state champ. Boylan won the Class 6A state title last season, and its enrollment placed it in Class 7A this season. Wheaton Warrenville South is the two-time defending Class 7A state champs. Boylan has been as impressive as any team in the state this season. After rolling through its Rockford-area competition in the regular season, the Titans have knocked off one Chicago-area team after another throughout the playoffs. They’ve defeated Libertyville (40-0), Wheaton North (37-20), Crystal Lake South (30-13) and Lake Zurich (16-10) on their way to the title game. All four of those teams were ranked in ESPNChicago.com’s poll at one point this season. Wheaton Warrenville South has had a fairytale season. After graduating nearly everyone from last season’s title team, the Tigers began this year 1-3, putting even a playoff berth in jeopardy. Relying on its defense and running back Dan Vitale, the Tigers turned their season around and have won their last nine games. Most of the victories haven’t come easily, but they’ve found a way to pull out each game. It’s almost as if they’ve been a team of destiny this year as they shoot for a 3-peat. Wheaton Warrenville South may be forced to start sophomore quarterback Jordan Davis due to injuries. Davis was on the sophomore team this season.
Prediction: Boylan 14, Wheaton Warrenville South 10
No. 6 Joliet Catholic (11-2) vs. No. 4 Montini (11-2)
When:Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Class 5A state championship
The story: Joliet Catholic and Montini don’t need to familiarize themselves with each other. This is the third consecutive year the two teams have met. In 2009, Montini upset Joliet Catholic 29-28 in the Class 5A state championship. Joliet Catholic jumped out to a 14-0 advantage in the game, but Montini battled back. With Montini trailing in the fourth quarter, it scored in the final minute to tie the game, and the Broncos won it on a 2-point conversion. Last year, Joliet Catholic topped Montini in the regular season, but Montini went on to win its second consecutive title. Now, they meet again. Joliet Catholic is still powered by its rushing attack. Malin Jones and Ty Isaac are two of the state’s top running backs. Montini’s game is throwing the ball. John Rhode has delivered 35 touchdown passes, and that’s despite missing time early in the season with an injury. Montini wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp is one of the best to ever come through the state. This game could be a shootout. It may come down to which defense can make a stop or two.
Prediction: Montini 36, Joliet Catholic 35
Peoria Richwoods (10-3) vs. No. 5 Prairie Ridge (12-1)When:Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Class 5A state championship
The story: The third time was the charm for Prairie Ridge. After falling in the semifinals the last two years, the Wolves finally broke through to the title game. Their offense has been unstoppable most of the season. They’ve only been held to less than 29 points once. They’ve scored 33 or more points throughout the playoffs. Running backs Connor Greenwald and Jordan Getzelman and quarterback Nick Nissan have combined for 3,132 rushing yards and 54 touchdowns. Peoria Richwoods has had an interesting season. The Knights dropped their first three games, including a 63-34 loss to Joliet Catholic, and responded by winning their next 10 games. Their offense is potent. They’ve averaged 39.5 points a game.
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 38, Peoria Richwoods 28
Mt. Carmel (12-1) vs. Aurora Christian (12-1)When:Friday at 4 p.m. in the Class 3A state championship
The story: Aurora Christian has cruised through the Class 3A playoffs. The Eagles have won all their playoff games by 13 or more points. Their offense, which is led by Western Michigan quarterback recruit Anthony Maddie, has averaged 42 points this season. Mt. Carmel, which is in southern Illinois, lost its first game of the season and has won its last 12 contests. Its schedule included six teams from Indiana. Its offense hasn’t scored less than 29 points since that opening week.
Prediction: Aurora Christian 42, Mt. Carmel 24
Simeon (10-3) vs. Mount Carmel (9-4)
When:Friday at 12 p.m. in the Prep Bowl
The story: It’s only fitting Simeon and Mount Carmel close out their seasons with each other. The two teams also met to start the season. Mount Carmel took that game 23-14 at Soldier Field. This time around they’ll play at Gately Stadium for the Prep Bowl. Both teams have been up and down this season, but their offenses have been rolling the past few weeks. This should be another highly competitive game between the two South Side schools.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 28, Simeon 21
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
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 (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
Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti broke the state record for football coaching wins when he recorded his 307th victory in the Caravan’s 62-8 win over St. Joseph on Saturday.
Lenti surpassed former Richards coach Gary Korhonen to become Illinois’ winningest coach.
Lenti downplayed the milestone earlier in the week.
“I really haven’t given it much thought to tell you the truth,” Lenti said. “I haven’t played a down of football in years. To me, it’s about everyone who has been involved. It’s not just me.”
Lenti has been Mount Carmel’s head coach since he took over for Bill Barz in 1984. In 28 seasons, Lenti has put together a 307-54 record, won nine state championships and played in 14 state title games.
“My mantra has never changed,” Lenti said. “As long as I’ve been coaching, I’ve wanted the kids be the best people they can be, the best students they can be and then the best athletes they can be. Ultimately, when they graduate from Mount Carmel, we want them to be responsible young adults.”
Mount Carmel has the makings of another state championship run this season. The Caravan improved to 4-0 with the win over St. Joseph and are ranked No. 4 in the ESPNChicago.com top-20 poll.
Lenti has been Mount Carmel's head coach since he took over for Bill Barz in 1984. In 28 seasons, Lenti has put together a 306-54 record, won nine state championships and played in 14 state title games. His 306th win tied former Richards coach Gary Korhonen.
On Thursday, Lenti talked about his upcoming historic day, his career to date, when he hopes to retire and much more.
What does this record mean to you?
Frank Lenti: I really haven't given it much thought to tell you the truth. I haven't played a down of football in years. To me, it's about everyone who has been involved. It's not just me. I probably had to deal with the pressures more than anybody else. It's about the kids. It's the parents, the Carmelites, the faculty, definitely my own family -- Kim, Frankie, Lauren -- the assistant coaches, in particular my brother David and Pete Kammholz, who have been coaching with me the entire time, so many other coaches who played for me. First and foremost, it's the players and their parents. It's the parents who invested in their son's education to come to Mount Carmel.
Has the record been a distraction this season?
FL: I have never mentioned it to any of the kids on the team. We didn't mention tying the record to the kids last week. I don't want the kids to have any burden. Those things just happen because you have good assistants and good kids and good family. It's always been about the ‘we' thing, not the ‘me' thing as long as we've run the program.
What do you credit to having achieved so much success?
FL: I don't think you can credit that to one particular area. The fact we're always striving to raise the standards. My mantra has never changed. As long as I've been coaching, I've wanted the kids to be the best people they can be, the best students they can be and then the best athletes they can be. Ultimately, when they graduate from Mount Carmel, we want them to be responsible young adults.
What are you most proud of having achieved so far?
FL: I've never thought of anything in regard to a single thing as the greatest achievement. I really haven't. The focus has always been on making the kids the best they can be in those three areas, raising those standards, pushing the kids as leaders from behind or in front and pushing the kids to be the best they could be.
When you began coaching, is this the type of career you had hoped to have?
FL: I never envisioned anything like what's happened. As a young assistant coach, you hope to have the opportunity to be a head coach if it's the right fit. For me to come back to my alma mater and to be an assistant for a couple years and then to take over for Bill Barz was an awesome responsibility. When I took over, people asked me why I wanted to follow coach Barz. He had won a state and was the winningest coach in Mount Carmel's history. They said, ‘You're not going to be able to follow that.' I said my idea was not to maintain what Bill had built, but to enhance it.
How much longer would you like to coach?
FL: We know we're still having a positive impact on the kids. I'm hoping I have another 7-8 years to go.
Anything else you wanted to add?
FL: From my end, it's a big thank you for anyone involved the past 27 ½ years of the program. I wish coach Frank Kiszka was here to see it. He was a statistician from 1965 to when he passed away a few years ago. As his mother said, he was married to Mount Carmel. He was the hockey moderator. He was the football statistician. He and my brother coached baseball for many years. He's one of those deemed Mr. Mount Carmel.
Here are my five thoughts from the high school football weekend that was.
1. 2011 may lack that dominant team: Wheaton Warrenville South was by far the top team in the state last season. Maine South was that two years ago. In 2011, I’m not sure if we have that type of team. There are a lot of really good teams – Maine South, Glenbard West, Lincoln-Way, Mount Carmel, Joliet Catholic, etc. -- but there seems to be more parity. Of course, it’s still early. It’s just an early thought.
2. The Catholic League Blue could be scary good: I’ve seen Loyola and Mount Carmel so far, and both are undoubtedly Class 8A title contenders. Both possess talent on both sides of the ball. St. Rita took a bump with a loss to a top team in Tennessee, but the Mustangs are still a top-10 team. Then, you throw in Brother Rice and Providence. Both are 2-0 and look like they could be ranked at some point. After Week 4, we should know more whether Brother Rice and Providence can compete for the Catholic League. That’s when Providence faces Loyola and Brother Rice goes up against St. Rita.
3. How good is Montini wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp?: I haven’t been around as long as some sportswriters, but Westerkamp is as good of a wide receiver as I’ve seen since I began my professional reporting career in 1996. Loyola coach John Holecek, a former NFL player, described Westerkamp as special after he caught three touchdowns despite being constantly double-teamed on Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see what type of college receiver he’ll be at Nebraska. At the high school level, he’s incredible.
4. Teams coming and going: One of the more entertaining aspects of the first few weeks is moving teams in and out of the rankings. It’s interesting for us poll-makers to see who we were right about and who were wrong about. So far, Cary-Grove is the obvious surprise. The Trojans were thought to have a good team, but they shocked a lot of people by knocking off Lake Zurich last week. Bolingbrook, Geneva and Waubonsie Valley all also entered the rankings this week. All three have been impressive so far. I also considered Barrington, Brother Rice, Crete-Monee, Lockport, Providence, among others.
5. Less grand Week 3: With so many ranked teams playing each other the first two weeks, there were a lot of great games to be seen. In Week 3, there aren’t as many blockbuster games with no ranked teams playing each other, but there are some good ones. Crystal Lake South at Cary-Grove certainly has the potential to be good. Lockport could give Lincoln-Way East a test. You can’t go wrong with seeing Glenbard West at Lyons. Peoria Richwoods ended Joliet Catholic’s season last year. Marmion and Montini played in state championship games last season. Waubonsie Valley at Bartlett is another good one.
Greer, a 6-foot, 196-pound safety, chose Central Michigan over interest from Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Toledo and Western Michigan.
"I liked the school," Greer said. "I liked the coaches. I liked the program. I think I was comfortable with Central Michigan."
Greer had 66 tackles and three interceptions last season for the Caravan. Mount Carmel went 11-3 and lost in the Class 8A state championship game to Maine South in 2010. Greer will be one of six defensive starters returning for Mount Carmel.
"We expect to go downstate again and take it all this year," Greer said. "I'm looking to having a great season."
Greer joins Brother Rice junior running back Martez Walker in Central Michigan's 2012 recruiting class.
No. 13 Wheaton North (8-2) at No. 1 Wheaton Warrenville South (10-0) on Saturday
The story: This will be the second time these DuPage Valley foes meet this season. The first time around Wheaton Warrenville South ran away with a 42-14 win. Quarterback Reilly O’Toole threw only one incompletion in the win. Wheaton North was within seven points at half, but will need to put together a full game against the top-ranked Tigers.
Wheaton North player to watch: Quarterback Reece Butler is the key to the Falcons flying. He needs to have another off-the-charts game for Wheaton North to have a chance.
Wheaton Warrenville South: Wide receiver Travis Kern has emerged as a playmaker this season. He and Titus Davis have been major targets for O’Toole.
Prediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 35, Wheaton North 17
No. 2 Simeon (10-0) at No. 16 Schaumburg (8-2) on Saturday
The story: Simeon’s path to the Chicago Public League’s first state championship becomes more difficult starting with this game. The question is whether the Wolverines can turn it on again against another top team. They haven’t been truly challenged since the season-opener against Mount Carmel. Schaumburg is coming off a big win over Elk Grove. The Saxons will have to contain Simeon’s big-play offense to pull off the upset.
Simeon player to watch: Offensive lineman Chris Bryant is a major reason the Wolverines have had so much offensive success. He’s 6 foot 3, 330 pounds and is being recruited by a number of schools.
Schaumburg player to watch: Shepard Little has been one of the state’s top running backs this season. Schaumburg will need to score in this game, and Little is the man to do it.
Prediction: Simeon 46, Schaumburg 42
Hononegah (9-1) at No. 3 Carmel (9-1) on Saturday
The story: Carmel has been consistently good offensively and defensively this season. The Corsairs were especially impressive on the defensive side in last week’s first-round win. Hononegah has put some points this season, and its only loss was to undefeated Boylan. Hononegah is coming off a 51-7 win over Taft.
Prediction: Carmel 31, Hononegah 13
Sterling (8-2) at No. 4 Joliet Catholic (9-1) on Saturday
The story: There are few teams in the state playing as well as Joliet Catholic right now. The Hilltoppers have scored 45-plus points in their last six games. Big Ten-bound running backs Malin Jones and Josh Ferguson have been piling on the yards. Sterling defeated Morton 28-21 last week.
Prediction: Joliet Catholic 63, Sterling 10
No. 5 Loyola (9-1) at Fremd (6-4) on Saturday
The story: If there’s an upset this week, a lot of people are looking at this game as a possibility. It speaks nothing of Loyola’s play, but rather what Fremd has been up to. The Vikings seem like that team of destiny this season. After starting out 1-4, Fremd has won its past five games. Loyola will be a tough match up for Fremd. The Ramblers have also been among the area’s hottest teams.
Prediction: Loyola 28, Fremd 17
No. 6 St. Rita (9-1) at Harlem (8-2) on Friday
The story: St. Rita has to travel to Machesney Park on Friday after Harlem upset Glenbrook North in the first round. Harlem has scored 30-plus points in seven games this season. St. Rita escaped with a narrow win over Highland Park last week. Star running back Jahwon Akui is expected back after missing last week’s game.
Prediction: St. Rita 34, Harlem 17
Lake Forest (7-3) at No. 7 Crystal Lake South (10-0) on Saturday
The story: Lake Forest is one of the sleeper teams in 6A. The Scouts have played well the last quarter of the season with a win over Vernon Hills and a narrow loss to Lake Zurich. As they showed in their 45-25 opening-round win over Shepard, their offense has big-play capabilities. Five of their touchdowns were scored on 50-yard-plus plays. Crystal Lake South is the team to beat in Class 6A and has played consistently.
Prediction: Crystal Lake South 27, Lake Forest 21
No. 8 Lincoln-Way East (9-1) at No. 11 Glenbard West (9-1) on Saturday
The story: There are so many potentially great games in the second round, but this one could be the best. Both teams were ranked in the top 10 for most of the season, and both have been among the state’s best defensive teams. While Wheaton Warrenville South is still the favorite in Class 7A, both of these teams are capable of giving the Tigers a game.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Wide receiver J.J. Robertson returned from injury last week and scored two touchdowns. He’s among the area’s best at his position.
Glenbard West player to watch: Do-everything senior Nick Burrello is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball. He’s coming off a big game.
Prediction: Glenbard West 21, Lincoln-Way East 20
South Elgin (7-3) at No. 9 Stevenson (10-0) on Saturday
The story: Stevenson continues to put it together on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the Patriots are led by ESPNChicago.com Prep Athlete of the Week Brion Wood. Offensively, they’ve used a balanced running and passing attack. South Elgin ended the regular season with back-to-back losses, but bounced back with a win over a tough Warren team last week.
Prediction: Stevenson 24, South Elgin 13
Sandburg (8-2) at No. 10 Lyons (9-1) on Saturday
The story: Lyons has been on a roll. It has out-scored its last three opponents, which included Glenbard West, 143-20. Sandburg’s only losses this season were to Lincoln-Way East and Homewood-Flossmoor, two teams still alive in the playoffs. The Eagles are 3-1 this season in games decided by 10 points or less.
Prediction: Lyons 28, Sandburg 14
No. 12 Lake Zurich (9-1) at No. 15 Prospect (9-1) on Saturday
The story: Prospect puts up a lot of points; Lake Zurich doesn’t allow many. Something will have to give in this game. The Knights have scored more than 40 points seven times this season. Lake Zurich has only given up more than 14 points twice.
Lake Zurich player to watch: Senior Jacob Brinlee became the school’s all-time leading rusher last week. He has more than 3,000 yards in his career.
Prospect player to watch: Quarterback Steve Dazzo can burn a team in so many ways. He’s been phenomenal the past few weeks.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 31, Prospect 28
No. 14 Mount Carmel (8-2) at Neuqua Valley (7-3) on Friday
The story: Mount Carmel’s offense is relentless. The Caravan have scored 30-plus points in eight of their games this season. Only St. Rita was able to contain them. Neuqua Valley is better than its record. The Wildcats’ three losses have come by a combined 10 points. They have an impressive 43-6 win over Waubonsie Valley on their resume.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 38, Neuqua Valley 28
No. 17 Morgan Park (9-1) at Prairie Ridge (9-1) on Saturday
The story: Like Simeon, Morgan Park is out to become the first Public League state champion. Prairie Ridge will have something to say about that. Its only loss came to Crystal Lake South and has been one of the area’s best defensive teams. Morgan Park has scored 30 or more points in six games this season.
Prediction: Morgan Park 33, Prairie Ridge 24
Geneva (8-2) at No. 18 Lemont (10-0) on Saturday
The story: Geneva has been on a tear. The Vikings have scored 69 points in their last two games and are on an eight-game winning streak. Lemont is one of the favorites in Class 6A. The Indians have allowed one opponent more than 21 points this season.
Prediction: Geneva 35, Lemont 27
No. 19 York (9-1) at Naperville North (7-3) on Friday
The story: Naperville North put it all together in last week’s win over Marist. If the Huskies can play a total game again, they have the talent to pull off an upset against York. The Dukes rallied to defeat a tough Lockport team last week 21-14. They’ll need to play at a higher level this week.
Prediction: Naperville North 21, York 17
Bartlett (8-2) at No. 20 Maine South (8-2) on Saturday
The story: Maine South has won its last 11 playoff games, and the Hawks are shooting for their third consecutive state championship. Bartlett lost two close games early in the season and now has won seven in a row.
Prediction: Maine South 38, Bartlett 28
The story:Wheaton Warrenville South looks to put the finishing touches on its second consecutive unbeaten regular season. The Tigers have been perfect in the regular season three of the past four years. They will be the favorite to win the Class 7A state championship when the playoff pairings are released on Saturday night.
Prediction: Wheaton Warrenville South 49, West Aurora 7
No. 14 Loyola (7-1) at No. 2 St. Rita (8-0) on Friday
The story:The Catholic League championship will be decided with this game. If St. Rita wins, it takes full possession. If Loyola wins, the Ramblers, St. Rita and Mount Carmel could all finish the conference season with one loss. Mount Carmel is the lone team to defeat Loyola this season. The Ramblers are led by junior quarterback Malcolm Weaver. St. Rita has relied on running back Jahwon Akui. ESPN 1000 will be in attendance.
Loyola player to watch: Quarterback Malcolm Weaver receives a lot of the press, but his receivers also make him look good. E.J. Webb has been his top target.
St. Rita player to watch: Mustangs linebacker Matt Mullen came up with a couple huge tackles last week. St. Rita will look for more of the same against a talented Loyola offense.
Quote:Loyola coach John Holecek -- “Rita’s O-line and running back are awesome. They’re fast and have a physical defense. We must score on all opportunities to keep up and must have no errors in the passing game. Running back Spencer Perry has to have a game if they decide to cover everything. We need to try and limit the big plays and withstand their muscle and speed. … Hope for divine intervention.”
Prediction: St. Rita 28, Loyola 27
Lyons (7-1) at No. 3 Glenbard West (8-0) on Saturday
The story:Lyons stands in the way of Glenbard West’s third consecutive unbeaten regular season. The Lions have been in a handful of close ones this season. Four of their games have been decided by a touchdown or less. Their lone defeat was to York. The Hilltoppers have been dominant on both sides of the ball all season. They’ve out-scored opponents 288-62. They defeated York 27-10 in Week 7.
Lyons player to watch:Chris Klotz caught a touchdown pass and blocked a punt and recovered it in the end zone in the Lions’ win over Leyden last week.
Glenbard West player to watch: Beau Warden has been one of the best linebackers in the state this season. He has 91 tackles, seven sacks, five forced fumbles and two interceptions.
Quotes:Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet -- “LT is a well-balanced offense even though they run a four- and five-receiver set. To be successful, we need to be able to run the ball and keep the chains moving.”
Prediction:Glenbard West 31, Lyons 17
No. 4 Carmel (8-0) at Elder (Ohio) (2-5) on Saturday
The story: Carmel closes out its season by traveling to Ohio on Friday. Elder has had a rocky season, going 2-5. The Panthers are coming off a bye week and have had time to prepare for Carmel’s arrival.
Prediction: Carmel 42, Elder 20
Brooks (3-5) at No. 5 Simeon (8-0) on Thursday
The story: Simeon has rolled through the Public League, and this city playoff opener shouldn’t be different. The Wolverines’ focus will be on the state playoffs as they try to become the first Public League team to win a state title.
Prediction: Simeon 56, Brooks 7
No. 6 Joliet Catholic (7-1) at Benet (5-3) on Thursday
The story:In a rare Thursday East Suburban Catholic game, Joliet Catholic travels to play an inconsistent Benet team. The Redwings likely clinched themselves a playoff spot with last week’s 10-7 win over St. Viator. Joliet Catholic’s offense has been unstoppable lately. The Hilltoppers have scored 48 or more points in their last four games.
Prediction:Joliet Catholic 49, Benet 17
McHenry (1-7) at No. 7 Crystal Lake South (8-0) on Friday
The story: Crystal Lake South clinched the Fox Valley Valley title last week. The Gators have won with a balanced offense and defense. They’ve out-scored their opponents 253-86.
Prediction:Crystal Lake South 42, McHenry 6
Naperville Central (4-4) at No. 8 Glenbard North (7-1) on Friday
The story:Naperville Central needs to win this game to have a shot at the playoffs. Glenbard North is looking to bounce back from its 49-6 loss to Wheaton Warrenville South last week.
Prediction:Glenbard North 23, Naperville Central 17
No. 9 Lincoln-Way East (7-1) at Joliet Central (0-8) on Saturday
The story:Lincoln-Way East has been playing well heading into the playoffs. The Griffins have won their past six games since losing to Wheaton North.
Prediction:Lincoln-Way East 56, Joliet Central 7
No. 10 Stevenson (8-0) at Antioch (7-1) on Friday
The story: Stevenson is the top team in the North Suburban Lake, and Antioch is in second place behind Vernon Hills in the North Suburban Prairie. Prairie teams haven’t fared well against Lake teams this season.
Prediction: Stevenson 35, Antioch 14
No. 11 Lake Zurich (7-1) at Lake Forest (6-2) on Friday
The story: Lake Forest is coming off a 21-0 win over previously-unbeaten Vernon Hills. It was the first time Vernon Hills had allowed a point this season. Lake Forest’s two losses came to conference foes Stevenson and Warren. Lake Zurich’s defense has been among the best in the state this season. The Bears have allowed 10 or less points six times this year.
Prediction: Lake Zurich 24, Lake Forest 10
No. 12 Wheaton North (6-2) at Glenbard East (3-5) on Friday
The story:Wheaton North is hoping that this won’t be another nail-biter. The Falcons’ last two wins came down to the final minutes. They defeated Naperville Central 23-21 two weeks ago and Naperville North 14-7 last week.
Prediction:Wheaton North 41, Glenbard East 13
Providence (2-6) at No. 13 Mount Carmel (6-2) on Friday
The story:The season hasn’t gone according to plan for Providence, which was the 6A state runner-up last season. The Celtics began the year 0-4 and never could bounce back. If they could upset Mount Carmel, that might help their offseason. The Caravan have scored 40-plus points in five games this season.
Prediction: Mount Carmel 38, Providence 20
No. 15 Plainfield South (8-0) at Plainfield North (6-2) on Friday
The story:This has the potential to be a fun one. Plainfield South has one of the state’s premier offenses. The Cougars have scored 397 points this season. They haven’t scored less than 41 points in a game. Plainfield North has scored 33 or more points six times this year and possesses running back Kapri Bibbs, who has run for 2,000-plus yard this season. The game will decide the Southwest Prairie championship.
Plainfield South player to watch:Running back Dondre Adams is the Cougars’ offensive threat.
Plainfield North player to watch:Bibbs is in the running for the ESPNChicago.com Player of the Year award. He has 2,166 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns this season.
Quotes: Plainfield North coach Tim Kane -- “They have an explosive offense with weapons at quarterback, wide receiver and running back. Defensively, we will need to do all we can to eliminate big plays -- long runs and the deep pass. Offensively, obviously, we will need to get the ball in Kapri Bibbs' hands often. However, we will make some adjustments with formations and plays to maybe get it to him in different ways than we had previously as I am sure South has us very well scouted.”
Plainfield South coach Greg Banner -- “Gonna be great a high school football atmosphere, two strong teams battling for either a share of the conference title or the outright title. The biggest two keys are who makes the least mistakes, and who can stop the other from making big plays on offense. North has a strong rushing attack led by Bibbs. They have a lot of guys playing both sides of the ball, and they are talented. Should be a really exciting game.”
Prediction:Plainfield South 63, Plainfield North 54
Buffalo Grove (4-4) at No. 16 Prospect (7-1) on Friday
The story: Prospect has been one of the year’s bigger surprises. The Knights lost their season-opener and now have won seven straight, including an overtime win over Elk Grove last week. Buffalo Grove needs to win this game to be playoff eligible.
Prediction: Prospect 35, Buffalo Grove 20
No. 17 Schaumburg (6-2) at Hoffman Estates (1-7) on Friday
The story:Barrington, Fremd and Schaumburg all enter the final week with one Mid-Suburban West loss. Schaumburg’s only MSL West loss was to Barrington.
Prediction:Schaumburg 41, Hoffman Estates 10
Clark (4-4) at No. 18 Morgan Park (7-1) on Friday
The story:Morgan Park opens the Public League playoffs with Clark. The Mustangs are coming off a narrow win over previously-unbeaten Hubbard. Morgan Park quarterback Dae’Shaun Hurley was this week’s ESPNChicago.com Prep Athlete of the Week.
Prediction: Morgan Park 47, Clark 6
No. 19 Marmion (8-0) at Montini (6-2) on Friday
The story:This should be one of the better games in Week 9. Marmion started off the year with a couple of narrow wins and has since been crushing opponents. Montini opened the season with back-to-back losses to Joliet Catholic and Loyola and has been on a roll ever since. The Broncos have allowed six points in their past four games. The Suburban Christian Blue championship will be decided here.
Marmion player to watch:T.J. Lally ran for 209 yards on just seven carries last week.
Montini player to watch:Jordan Westerkamp has been one of the state’s top wide receivers this year. He has 52 catches for 967 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Quote: Montini coach Chris Andriano -- “The key to this week’s game is for our defense to shut down their dangerous running attack. If they are able to sustain long drives and win the time of possession, we will be in trouble. Our defense will need to get off the field on 3rd down to give our offense more possessions. Offensively, we will need to be able to run the ball to keep their defense honest. Our QB will need to continue to make good decisions and distribute the ball to all of our receivers.”
Prediction:Montini 31, Marmion 24
No. 20 Lemont (8-0) at Hillcrest (0-8) on Friday
The story: The Indians haven’t lost more than three games in a season since 2003. That won’t change this season.
Prediction:Lemont 31, Hillcrest 13
St. Rita is ranked No. 2 by ESPNChicago.com and is undefeated entering the matchup. The Mustangs have been led by their defense, which has allowed 48 points through five games, and senior running back Jahwon Akui, who has rushed for 652 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Mount Carmel is ranked No. 12 and is on a four-game winning streak since falling to Simeon in the season opener. The Caravan have scored an average of 38.6 points a game, which leads the Catholic League. Senior running back Michael Banks has accumulated 527 yards and five touchdowns on just 35 carries.
Last season, St. Rita defeated Mount Carmel 54-18 in one of the more lopsided games in the rivalry's history. Akui rushed for 206 yards and five touchdowns in the victory.
1) Mount Carmel running back Michael Banks is hard to catch when he gets going. He ran for 199 yards and two touchdowns in the Caravan's overtime win over Loyola. He had runs of 33, 57 and 82 yards against the Ramblers.
2) Plainfield North running back Kapri Bibbs has to be in the running for ESPNChicago.com's Player of the Year. He ran for another 306 yards and four touchdowns in the Tigers' win over Plainfield Central.
3) Minooka's 1-2 backfield punch was too much for Plainfield East. Running backs Kalvin Hill and Kyle Banks combined for 308 yards and six touchdowns in the Indians' win.
4) Prospect's Peter Bonahoom showed again why he's one of the area's most dynamic players. He ran for 206 yards and three touchdowns and returned a kickoff for a 97-yard touchdown in the Knights' win over Palatine.
5) Taft's Omar Ramirez, who is 5-4 and 145 pounds, ran for 148 yards and scored three touchdowns in the Eagles' win over Steinmetz.
1) Lincoln-Way West's Kevin Kintzel had 11 tackles and one interception in the team's win over Thornridge. He also had two touchdown catches.
2) Glenbard North's defense held its fourth consecutive opponent to 14 points or less in Friday's 17-14 win over Wheaton North, which had scored 30-plus points heading into the game.
3) Notre Dame's Nick Bascom blocked a Benet punt, and Conner Gavin recovered the ball and scored for a key touchdown in the Dons' 35-31 win.
4) Stevenson's defense had seven sacks and forced three turnovers in the Patriots' shutout win over Mundelein.
5) Pat Foley recovered two Hinsdale Central fumbles, which both later lead to Lyons' touchdowns, in the Lions' conference win.
1) St. Rita 14, Fenwick 13: Mustangs defensive lineman Joe Filomeno stopped Fenwick quarterback Patrick Hart from entering the end zone for a 2-point conversion with 28.7 seconds remaining to give St. Rita the win.
2) Crystal Lake South 24, Prairie Ridge 20: Gators quarterback Drew Ormseth connected with Brad Walovitch for an 80-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to provide the difference in the game.
3) Carmel 31, Joliet Catholic 28: The Corsairs' defense held Joliet Catholic scoreless for nearly three quarters after a rough start in the all-important East Suburban Catholic game.
4) Elk Grove 36, Schaumburg 34: Quarterback Nick Meyer threw for 231 yard and three touchdowns and ran for 142 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Grenadiers to the Mid-Suburban League upset win.
5) Richards 13, Shepard 12: Richards fought back from a 9-0 fourth-quarter deficit and pulled out the win when Andre Gallion dove for a 16-yard touchdown catch with 1:12 left in the game.
Elk Grove (2-1) at No. 6 Schaumburg (3-0) on Thursday
The story: It's no surprise the Mid-Suburban League has proven to be among the state's top conferences again. What is surprising is that different teams from a year ago are leading the way. Last year, it was Fremd and Prospect. Now, it's Barrington, Elk Grove and Schaumburg. In Thursday's crossover game, Elk Grove and Schaumburg have dynamic offenses and can put up points. Defense will be the key in this one.
Elk Grove player to watch: Linebacker Joey Bishoff won't be able to contain Schaumburg's offense alone, but he has the ability to do a lot .
Schaumburg player to watch: With a lot of the attention going to running back Shepard Little, it's important to remember the Saxons also have one of the area's top quarterbacks in Mark Iannotti.
Quote: Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling – "We have not had a consistent [offensive line] lineup, but the seven kids who have played there have been steady, which has paved the way for Shepard's performance. ... Our defense has been tackling well individually and collectively, running to the ball very well, executing their assignments. Consequently, we have given up very few big plays."
Prediction: Schaumburg 36, Elk Grove 35
No. 12 Wheaton North (3-0) at No. 9 Glenbard North (3-0) on Friday
The story: After three weeks, we know Wheaton North's offense can score, and Glenbard North's defense doesn't allow offenses to score. Something will have to give in this one. The Falcons have scored 116 points this season and are coming off a 50-7 win over West Chicago. Glenbard North has allowed 17 points this season, and its defense was impressive in last week's 10-3 win over Naperville North.
Wheaton North player to watch: Wide receiver Richard Finley is one of quarterback Reece Butler's favorite targets. He had six catches for 152 yards last week.
Glenbard North player to watch: Safety Sean Fogarty was the difference in last week's win over Naperville North. He picked off two passes with one going for a touchdown and had a diving catch that set up a field goal.
Quote: Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens – "We must establish some type of run game. We need to disrupt their timed-passing game, try to pressure the quarterback and keep their offense off the field."
Prediction: Glenbard North 17, Wheaton North 10
No. 4 Joliet Catholic (3-0) at No. 7 Carmel (3-0) on Friday
The story: This is the game of the week for many reasons. For one, they're two top-10 teams. Secondly, they're East Suburban Catholic foes. Finally, last year's game came down to Joliet Catholic kicking a 35-yard field goal in the final seconds for a 19-16 win. This year's game could be just as exciting. Both teams have been dominant so far and have been led by their talented backfields. Both teams have capable quarterbacks, too.
Joliet Catholic player to watch: Josh Ferguson is one of the state's premier running backs when he's healthy. He was hampered by an injury in Week 1 and had cramps in Week 3. The Hilltoppers will likely need him the whole way this week.
Carmel player to watch: Michael Panico is putting together a memorable season at running back after moving from cornerback. He has 496 yards and five touchdowns.
Quote: Carmel coach Andy Bitto – "We need to run the ball and prevent the big plays."
Prediction: Carmel 24, Joliet Catholic 21
No. 14 Lincoln-Way East (2-1) at Lockport (2-1) on Friday
The story: Lockport fell out of the top-20 rankings with last week's 14-7 loss to Bolingbrook. The Porters will need to get their offense going if they're going to win this game. Lincoln-Way East dropped its first game of the season in Week 2 to Wheaton North and bounced back last week with a victory over Joliet West. The Griffins' defense struggled against Wheaton North and will need to be more consistent against Lockport.
Lincoln-Way East player to watch: Running back Max Bayer is one of the keys to the Griffins' offense. He scored twice last week.
Lockport player to watch: Running back Dan Holman was held to under 100 yards last week. That doesn't happen often. Look for him to try and get back on track this week.
Prediction: Lincoln-Way East 24, Lockport 17
Prairie Ridge (3-0) at No. 11 Crystal Lake South (3-0) on Friday
The story: Prairie Ridge is one of the teams on the cusp of the top 20, and it would improve its stock with a win here. Crystal Lake South is highly ranked, but its schedule isn't the toughest around and could use a quality win like this. Prairie Ridge's offense has been especially strong in the first half of games. It put up 27 points in the opening quarter in last week's win over Jacobs. Crystal Lake South had a scare in Week 2, but came back with a big win last week.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Senior quarterback Stephen Covalt has found ways in the air and on the ground to score points for Prairie Ridge. He'll be looked at to do the same against Crystal Lake South.
Crystal Lake South player to watch: Kicker Brad Walovitch could come into play in a tight game. He has made three field goals this year, including a 42-yarder.
Prediction: Crystal Lake South 20, Prairie Ridge 14
No. 15 Mount Carmel (2-1) at No. 16 Loyola (3-0) on Saturday
The story: With Providence struggling early on, it appears as if there will be a new Catholic League Blue champion this season. St. Rita is the favorite, but Loyola and Mount Carmel aren't too far behind. Loyola has been solid on both sides of the ball this season and is coming off a win over Providence. The Caravan stumbled in the opening week as they lost to Simeon, but have rebounded nicely since. Loyola beat Mount Carmel twice last season.
Mount Carmel player to watch: Running back Michael Banks is extremely fast. He could give Loyola fits if it allows him to get outside.
Loyola player to watch: Wide receiver E.J. Webb has the size (6-5, 200 pounds) and ability to give defensive backs trouble. He had four catches for 152 yards last week.
Prediction: Loyola 31, Mount Carmel 28