Here are five thoughts from the high school football weekend.
1. Elite company: There appears to be four teams vying for the top spot in the state through six weeks, but Maine South has been No. 1 all season. While the Hawks had close calls against New Trier and Wheaton Warrenville South, they’ve done enough to get by. Glenbard West also was tested by Wheaton Warrenville South, but has been dominant on both sides of the ball otherwise. Lincoln-Way East has proven the last few weeks with wins over Bolingbrook and Homewood-Flossmoor that it’s a legitimate state title contender. I think you have to put Loyola in that same category. The Ramblers have had impressive wins over Montini and Mount Carmel. St. Rita is right outside that bubble. The Mustangs still have to face Mount Carmel and Loyola. Just outside the elite mix are Mount Carmel, Downers Grove South and Prairie Ridge.
2. Outside the Top 20: This week’s rankings were difficult to figure out. Two of the harder decisions were to drop Crystal Lake South and Glenbard North out of the rankings and find the right teams to fill their spots. Nazareth and Wheaton North were the chosen newcomers. Nazareth was coming off its upset win over Joliet Catholic, and Wheaton North took charge of the DuPage Valley with Glenbard North’s loss. The other teams that were considered for the Top 20 were Addison Trail, Crystal Lake South, Homewood-Flossmoor, Lake Forest, Marian Central, Montini, Morris, Neuqua Valley and Tinley Park.
3. Montini could be back: One of the teams I heavily considered ranking this week was Montini. The Broncos had been without quarterback John Rhode up for the first five weeks. He did not play in their losses to Loyola and Marian Central. During the summer with Rhode, Montini was one of the most skilled offenses I saw. Montini and Maine South were nearly equally impressive. Now that Rhode is back, Montini could be back, too. He returned this past week and threw three touchdowns in a win over St. Francis. Watch out for Montini in the coming weeks.
4. Witnessing Prairie Ridge: Prairie Ridge has proven week after week it’s among the area’s best. I haven’t been able to check the Wolves out yet personally this season, but have been given glowing reports by our other reporters. I will be headed to see them this Friday, and I’m looking forward to it. Jacobs should be another interesting test for Prairie Ridge. I’ll also be at Thursday’s Lake Zurich-Stevenson game.
5. The best is yet to come: The next few weeks should be exciting ones in most conferences. The Catholic League Blue title will be decided with upcoming games of Loyola vs. St. Rita and Mount Carmel vs. St. Rita. The DuPage Valley is nowhere close to being decided. The East Suburban Catholic has a three-way race. The North Suburban Lake race could be an interesting one. The Fox Valley is stacked and still undecided.