No. 13 Glenbard North (2-0) at No. 6 Naperville North (2-0) on Friday
The story: Naperville North was thrown near the top of the rankings by everyone this season because of what the Huskies had returning on both sides of the ball, not their 5-5 record last season. So far, they’ve lived up to expectations with back-to-back wins. This week, though, they’ll face their toughest challenge to date. Glenbard North was one of the state’s best defensive teams last season and has continued that reputation this season. The Panthers allowed six points in their opening-week win over Oak Park and eight in last week’s victory Plainfield East. If Naperville North is going to win this game, quarterback Matt LaCosse, a Minnesota recruit, will have to put points on the board.
Glenbard North player to watch: It’s pick your poison with Phil Jackson and Evin Natick at running back. Both are capable of giving a defense headaches.
Naperville North player to watch: Naperville North senior Nick Lifka is one of the best linebackers in the state. He’s headed to Boston College next year.
Quotes: Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens -- “Our defense is playing well, only giving up two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter of our last two games. Our run game needs to be more cohesive with one returning starter up front.”
No. 17 Loyola (2-0) at Providence (0-2) on Friday
The story: Providence’s schedule doesn’t get any easier this week. After losing to Morgan Park and Joliet Catholic , who are now both highly ranked, the Celtics have to face another tough team in Loyola. The Ramblers have outscored their opponents 66-9 after two games. Providence will need for its offense to limit its turnovers for it to have a chance.
Loyola player to watch: Ramblers quarterback Malcolm Weaver has been one of the top newcomers this season. He’s thrown six touchdowns.
Providence player to watch: Linebacker Ray Ames is one of the best defensive players in the Catholic League. He had 124 tackles last season.
Quote: Loyola coach John Holecek – “Our strength has been a balanced offensive attack with lots of playmakers. Defensively, we have played disciplined and smart and guys have been giving great efforts.”
Prediction: Loyola 21, Providence 20
Notre Dame (2-0) at Marist (2-0) on Friday
The story: For anyone who thought Marist’s run to the Class 8A state championship was a fluke last season, this year’s team is out to prove otherwise. Despite graduating all-state quarterback Mike Perish, the RedHawks’ offense has picked up where last year’s team left off. Marist defeated Plainfield 31-6 last week and Urban Prep 48-6 in the opening week while rotating two quarterbacks. Notre Dame should be more of a match for the RedHawks. The Dons have looked impressive in their wins over Fenwick and Mt. Vernon.
Notre Dame player to watch: Jeremy Burgos is a load on both sides of the ball. He plays running back and linebacker.
Marist player to watch: If Friday’s game comes down to a last-second kick, Marist has the man for the job in Ben Falloon. A three-year starter, Falloon has connected on a number of clutch playoff kicks and has made field goals from 40, 43 and 50 yards this season.
Quotes: Notre Dame coach Mike Hennessey – “Our opponent Marist is a tough, physical team. They’re well-balanced on offense and have an aggressive, hard-hitting defense. They have no weak spots.”
Marist coach Pat Dunne – “This year’s team is creating their own identity. Last year, there were obviously a lot of great moments. Last year is in the past. This year’s group took the great work ethic and leadership of those seniors, and now they want to create their own identity.”
Prediction: Marist 24, Notre Dame 21
Warren (1-1) at Stevenson (2-0) on Friday
The story: Stevenson hasn’t lost a beat under new coach Bill McNamara. The Patriots have out-scored their opponents 84-7 in two games, and their offense has been equally good in the air and on the ground. This will be Stevenson’s biggest challenge this season. Warren has struggled a bit so far this season, but is still among the area’s best. The Blue Devils’ defense has been keeping them in games.
Warren player to watch: Fullback Tom Lindal hasn’t had the season so that people expected out of him. He’s rushed for 52 yards on 23 carries. Watch for this to be his breakout game. He has the ability to be among the area’s best running backs.
Stevenson player to watch: Joe Cassata has carried on Stevenson’s running tradition. He ran for 266 yards and five touchdowns in last week’s win over Glenbrook South.
Quotes: Stevenson coach Bill McNamara – “After two weeks, I am pleased with the progress of our football team. Our players work very hard and seem to be getting better each week. The greatest positive is that we play as a team in all three phases of the game – offense, defense, and special teams. I would like to see us improve our consistency from play to play. We play very hard, but at times make small mental mistakes.”
Prediction: Stevenson 34, Warren 27
Bolingbrook (1-1) at No. 18 Lockport (2-0) on Friday
The story: Lockport surprised many when it ran over Bolingbrook for a 41-14 win last season. This season, the Raiders will be looking for revenge. Bolingbrook opened the year with an upset win over Downers Grove South, but fell last week 31-8 to Belleville East. The big plays hurt Bolingbrook in the loss. Lockport is coming off a close win over Richards and could really prove itself as a state contender with a win here.
Bolingbrook player to watch: Sophomore quarterback Aaron Bailey showed off his ability in the opening week when he ran for 191 yards on 18 carries against Downers Grove South.
Lockport player to watch: Dan Holman is one of the state’s top running backs. Few teams have been able to contain him the past two seasons.
Prediction: Lockport 33, Bolingbrook 26
No. 3 Glenbard West (2-0) at Hinsdale Central (1-1) on Friday
The story: Hinsdale Central gave the Hilltoppers their toughest regular-season challenge last year with Glenbard West pulling out a 28-25 win at home. Glenbard West has been impressive on both sides of the ball so far this season. Hinsdale Central has gone through some growing pains with a young team. The Red Devils bounced back from their opening-week loss to Wheaton Warrenville South with a 28-0 win over Proviso East last week. They did commit four turnovers in the win, though.
Glenbard West player to watch: Junior offensive lineman Johnny Casper has played well for the Hilltoppers. Coach Chad Hetlet described his early play as “absolutely dominating.”
Hinsdale Central player to watch: Quarterback Alex Hodakowski threw two touchdown passes and ran for another in last week’s win over Proviso East.
Quotes: Hinsdale Central coach Mike DiMatteo – “I think that we are still in the process of discovering who we are. We have the vast majority of our kids without varsity playing experience, and we begin the season against the top two teams in the state. It is an opportunity for growth. We have made some strides, but not as many as I would like. The hope is that we will be better prepared for our conference schedule in totality as a result of our schedule. We do have a solid work ethic and a willingness to do well … we just have to get it done.”
Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet – “We’re getting better. We have great team speed, and we’ve been very physical in our first two games. What needs to improve is penalties have really plagued us the first two weeks. We must clean that up.”
Prediction: Glenbard West 28, Hinsdale Central 10
Elk Grove (1-1) at Fremd (0-2) on Friday
The story: This game was once highly anticipated, but lost some steam with Elk Grove being upset last week and Fremd losing its first two games of the season. Right now, it appears Barrington and Schaumburg are the teams to beat in the Mid-Suburban League. If Elk Grove and Fremd are going to get back in the picture, a win here would be nice for either. Fremd will be looking to get its offense going after scoring a combined 24 points in its first two games. The Grenadiers will need to step up defensively after last week’s loss.
Elk Grove player to watch: Quarterback Nick Meyer is the key to everything the Grenadiers do offensively. He can run and pass with the best of them. Barrington disrupted his rhythm last week and pulled off the upset.
Fremd player to watch: The Vikings’ running game was held to 44 yards in last week’s loss to Prospect. For Fremd to bounce back, running back Justin Wallace will be the key. He did rush for 100-plus yards in the season-opener.
Quotes: Elk Grove coach Brian Doll – “We’ve played extremely well in the first two weeks, and we lost a heartbreaker last week after completely dominating the game. Two big plays cost us in an overtime game. Our offense has outgained our opponents by a yardage totals of 838 yards to 386 yards. We need to improve our consistency on special teams and limit the big plays.”
Prediction: Elk Grove 34, Fremd 17
Jacobs (2-0) at Prairie Ridge (2-0) on Friday
The story: Coach Bill Mitz has Jacobs believing. After coming over from Stevenson following last season, Mitz has already had an impact in his short time at Jacobs. The Golden Eagles are 2-0 after having only won two games in each of the past two seasons. Prairie Ridge will be the most talented team they’ve seen this year. The Wolves have won their games by the scores of 55-0 and 26-6. Their defense has been dominant, and their offense has been scoring early and often.
Jacobs player to watch: Linebacker Grant Rizza has emerged as one of Jacobs’ top defensive players. He had three sacks in last week’s win over Johnsburg.
Prairie Ridge player to watch: Senior nose guard Tyler Bebber has been a key to Prairie Ridge allowing six points over the first two games.
Quotes: Prairie Ridge coach Chris Schremp – “We need to get off to quick start. Their kids are confident. Both teams are coming into the game 2-0. I really think this game will be dictated by how you start. Hopefully, we can start fast again this week.”
Stevenson coach Bill Mitz – “We have come together and believe in each other. Our tackling and blocking have improved a ton since June. I feel we have the players in the right position. We are eager for the game Friday.”
Prediction: Prairie Ridge 14, Jacobs 10
No. 11 Morgan Park (2-0) vs. No. 9 Simeon (2-0) at Gately on Saturday
The story: This should be the biggest Public League game of the season. Both teams are coming in undefeated after knocking off Catholic League teams in the opening week and following up those wins with strong Week 2 victories. Both have athletic quarterbacks and proven they can put up points. Whichever team steps up defensively could decide this game.
Morgan Park player to watch: Dae-Shaun Hurley is one of the area’s top dual-threat quarterbacks. He’s been beating defenses the past two week in a variety of ways.
Simeon player to watch: Quarterback Robert Gregory has been of the state’s top players after two weeks. He accounted for more than 500 yards of offense in the team’s opening-week win over Mount Carmel.
Prediction: Simeon 40, Morgan Park 33