High-SchoolIllinois: Malcolm Weaver

Week 9 preview: Loyola vs. St. Rita

October, 21, 2011
For the Catholic League Blue, this is the game of the year — two Illinois heavyweights battling on the final day of the regular season. Both teams have serious state title hopes, but a win here would be a serious lift heading into the postseason. One of the biggest questions heading into the game is the health of Loyola's star quarterback, but the Ramblers are talented enough to compete with or without their top player.

The Game:
No. 5 St. Rita (7-1) at No. 4 Loyola (8-0)
Saturday, 1 p.m.

The Players:
St. Rita —The Mustangs have playmakers all over the defense, with senior linebackers Dan Fitzgerald and Will McNamara leading the way. If Loyola QB Malcolm Weaver plays, it will be up to Fitzgerald and McNamara to keep him from breaking off huge plays.

Loyola —It's all about Weaver. After leaving last week's game with an injury, his status hasn't been announced, and no one expects it to be — we'll find out when the starting offense runs out on to the field on Saturday afternoon. If he doesn't play, you would naturally expect Loyola to turn to its rushing attack, with someone like senior RB Will Palivos getting more carries.

The Stakes:
The winner is the Catholic League Blue champion. It's as simple as that. Loyola has won the last four meetings between these teams, but Weaver's injury status leaves a question mark hanging over the Ramblers.

The Prediction:
I think Weaver guts it out and gives Loyola enough of a spark to move the ball consistently, though I expect the game to be low-scoring.

Click here for the rest of the Week 9 picks.
With just one week remaining in the regular season, most of the teams in the Top 10 of the POWERADE state rankings are starting to turn their attention to the playoffs. The top three teams all look ready for the postseason, as Maine South, Glenbard West and Lincoln-Way East all posted shutout victories over the weekend.

No. 5 St. Rita won the game of the week, turning back Mt. Carmel, 17-7. Rita showed a stiff defense in the second half, and the Mustangs have to be taken seriously as a threat once tournament play begins.

Aside from the results, the biggest story of the week will probably be Loyola Academy QB Malcolm Weaver. He was forced to leave the Ramblers' 20-13 win over Brother Rice with a head injury, and Loyola's offense wasn't nearly the same without Weaver at the controls. He's one of the best players in the state, so it's not hyperbole to say that he could change the entire course of the playoffs.
  1. Maine South (8-0) — Defeated Waukegan, 49-0 (last week: No. 1)
  2. Glenbard West (8-0) — Defeated York, 45-0 (last week: No. 2)
  3. Lincoln-Way East (8-0) — Defeated Joliet Central, 42-0 (last week: No. 3)
Click here for complete POWERADE state rankings.
There are two games worthy of the top spot in our weekend preview, with both matchups pitting undefeated teams against each other in games that could shake up the Illinois POWERADE state rankings. I decided to spotlight No. 4 Mount Carmel vs. No. 6 Loyola, but you should also definitely keep an eye on No. 3 Lincoln-Way East, which is traveling to take on 5-0 Bolingbrook.

The Game:
No. 4 Mount Carmel at No. 6 Loyola
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

The Players:
Mount Carmel — The quarterbacks are the players to watch in this contest. Junior Don Butkus has been effective this season, but he'll need to be more than that in order for Mount Carmel to win this one. He'll need to make plays, or else things could get one-sided very quickly.

Loyola —It's all about Malcolm Weaver, the senior quarterback making a run at Player of the Year honors. He's a threat to account for five touchdowns every time he steps on the field, and Mount Carmel will devote everything to slowing him down.

The Prediction:
Mount Carmel won this meeting in overtime last year, but Loyola is back with an offense that has to be considered among the best in the state. Weaver is too good, and he has too many weapons at his disposal. I think he finds a way to break down the Mount Carmel defense and leads Loyola to victory.

Other notable games:

No. 3 Lincoln-Way East at Bolingbrook
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Two loaded teams go at it in the second-biggest matchup of the week. I have to believe QB Blake Winkler wins it for the Griffins. LINCOLN-WAY EAST 35, BOLINGBROOK 19

No. 1 Maine South at Niles West
Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
No scare for Maine South this week. Alviti and Co. light it up early. MAINE SOUTH 48, NILES WEST 9

No. 10 Prairie Ridge at Crystal Lake South
Friday, 7:15 p.m.
Another matchup of two undefeated teams. Prairie Ridge has the edge on defense. PRAIRIE RIDGE 20, CRYSTAL LAKE SOUTH 7
This weekend's slate of games have the potential to shake up the POWERADE state rankings, starting with No. 10 Lincoln-Way East's matchup against Homewood-Flossmoor.

Lincoln-Way East is 3-0 and looks ready to break through into the elite level. Though I have them ranked 10th, ESPNChicago has them at No. 3. A win over 3-0 Homewood-Flossmoor could vault them to that area in our rankings as well. Homewood-Flossmoor has allowed just 13 points on the season, so the Lincoln-Way East offense will have to earn this one.

The Game:
No. 10 Lincoln-Way East at Homewood-Flossmoor
Friday, 7:30 p.m.

The Players:
Lincoln-Way East — Senior receiver J. J. Robertson returned from a two-game suspension last week and made game-changing plays, racking up more than 100 yards and catching a long touchdown pass. Senior quarterback Blake Winkler has more than enough arm strength to stretch the field against Homewood-Flossmoor.

Homewood-Flossmoor — Much like Lincoln-Way East, the Vikings have an elite QB-WR combo to spark the passing game. Senior Tim Williams has been one of the most productive passers in the area this season, and receiver Gerald Butler is capable of making big plays.

The Stakes:
This game could end up deciding the Southwest Suburban Blue, as it did last year. Expect both teams to bring everything.

The Prediction:
Both teams have explosive offenses, but I believe in Lincoln-Way East's defense more. I think they'll get a couple more stops than Homewood-Flossmoor, and that will be enough.

Other notable games:

No. 4 Loyola Academy at Providence
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
I'm a big believer in Loyola Academy QB Malcolm Weaver. That's enough for me in this matchup of 3-0 teams. LOYOLA ACADEMY 41, PROVIDENCE 28

No. 8 Wheaton South at Naperville North
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Both teams are 1-2, and falling to 1-3 is not an enticing option for either. I think Wheaton South's defense will stand up and win this one. WHEATON SOUTH 24, NAPERVILLE NORTH 7

No. 7 Montini at Marian Central
Friday, 7 p.m.
Montini barely squeezed past Marmion last week, and I see another close win this week. MONTINI 20, MARIAN CENTRAL 18

Week 3 Fantasy: Start Weaver, Ford

September, 8, 2011
As part of our weekly football coverage, I offer up my hypothetical fantasy football picks every Thursday. Note: This league is completely made up. If you are in a high school fantasy football league, please seek professional help.


QB — Malcolm Weaver, Loyola Academy, Sr.
Coming off a convincing takedown of Montini last week, Loyola Academy is one of the hottest teams in the state. And Weaver is the guy doing most of the damage, as he threw three touchdown passes in Week 1 and five (!!) TDs in the win over Montini. He also ran for 115 yards and a score against Montini. Going up against the Lake Forest Academy defense this week, I like Weaver to attempt north of 20 passes and put some points on the board.
Projection: 16-23, 215 yards, 3 TDs

RB — Perez Ford, Romeoville, Sr.
I know, Ford carried just 13 times for 30 yards last week against Joliet, but that was a blowout victory (35-0). In a tighter Week 1 loss to Hinsdale South, Ford toted it 24 times for 154 yards. Against Oswego tomorrow, I see him putting up numbers more in line with his Week 1 performance. Classic bounce-back potential.
Projection: 20 carries, 112 yards, 2 TDs

WR — Zach Grant, Rochester, Sr.
It doesn't matter that star quarterback Wes Lunt has missed the first two weeks with a foot injury, as backup QB Austin Green has stepped in and looked sharp. Grant was unstoppable last week, making 16 catches for 258 yards and five TDs in a 41-28 win over Jacksonville. Rochester isn't afraid to air it out no matter who's under center, so Grant is a safe bet to see a good amount of targets again this week against Jersey.
Projection: 9 catches, 110 yards, 2 TDs


RB — Patrick O'Malley, Cary-Grove, Jr.
Cary-Grove's defense was impressive in a 10-7 win over Lake Zurich last week, but the offense didn't look so hot. O'Mally got the bulk of the carries and finished with 71 yards on 16 attempts, which isn't bad. But it's also not going to win any fantasy leagues. Going up against Crystal Lake South tomorrow, I don't expect those numbers to take a huge leap. Crystal Lake South won last year's meeting, 28-14, and Cary-Grove's option offense isn't a mystery in this matchup. I like O'Malley and Cary-Grove's offense overall, just not this week.
Projection: 14 carries, 75 yards, 0 TDs

* Projections based on 1 QB, 2RB, 2 WR format; No PPR

Want to join my (nonexistant) Illinois high school fantasy league? Find me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

Stock is rising for Greer, Weaver

September, 7, 2011
In this week's edition of All-State Stock Watch, we're looking at All-State football players who saw their potential value rise or fall over the summer. A player could have had a huge game, gotten a big-time scholarship offer, or broken a leg. Whatever the case, I chart all the data (in my head) and give you the biggest movers of the week.


UP — Brandon Greer, Mount Carmel DB/RB
Greer has easily been one of the most valuable players through the early part of the season. He plays tremendous defense in the secondary, and he's proven to be a sparkplug for a Mount Carmel team that came into the season searching for offense. If he can hold up while pulling double duty all season, Mount Carmel should be a tough out in the postseason.

DOWN —Mike Shield, Lake Zurich RB
I was high on Shield after an impressive performance in Week 1, but there were few positives in Week 2. The entire Lake Zurich offense looked out of sorts in a 10-7 upset loss to Cary-Grove, and the running game was particularly ineffective. Shield only managed to scratch out 12 yards in the loss. The senior should bounce back this weekend, but for now it has to be a DOWN grade.

UP — Malcolm Weaver, Loyola Academy QB
So this may be cheating a bit, since Weaver didn't make the preseason All-State team. But maybe he should have — the senior has made a pretty convincing case through the first two weeks of the season, including last weekend's 41-24 victory over Montini. Weaver passed for 257 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 98 yards and another score. For someone that was somewhat overlooked at the beginning of the season, Weaver has seen his stock go way up.

Have an insider stock tip? Don't keep it a secret — hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).