Here are five thoughts from the high school football weekend:
1. Catholic League earns the regular-season crown: The Catholic League Blue has looked like the strongest area conference during the regular season. All five teams are headed to the playoffs. St. Rita’s out-of-state loss was the conference’s only non-conference loss. Three teams are ranked in the top 10, and two of those are in the top 5. Brother Rice isn’t far off being a top-20 team either. It defeated Marist early in the year and lost by a combined 22 points to Loyola, Mount Carmel and St. Rita. Other top conferences this regular season were the East Suburban Catholic, Fox Valley Valley and Southwest Suburban Blue.
2. It’s down to this: There are plenty of conference races that will be decided in Week 9. It should be an exciting finish. Loyola-St. Rita is the headliner. Loyola upset St. Rita last season, creating a three-way tie for the Catholic League Blue crown. The winner of Saturday’s game will take it all this season. The DuPage Valley title is also up for grabs when Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South meet Friday. Addison Trail and Downers Grove South will be playing for the West Suburban Gold title on Friday. Joliet Catholic, Nazareth and Marist all have one loss in the East Suburban Catholic. Three teams have one loss in the North Suburban Lake and North Suburban Prairie.
3. Upsets galore: There hadn’t been a whole lot of upsets in recent weeks. Week 8 was a good one for it. Marist topped Carmel in two overtimes. South Elgin knocked off Geneva. Grant defeated Antioch. There are a couple possible ones in Week 9, too. Glenbrook South could give Maine South a game. Marist could upset Joliet Catholic. Addison Trail could present a test for Downers Grove South. Cary-Grove going up against Prairie Ridge is another possibility.
4. Playoff plank: Throughout the state, a number of teams will be looking to become playoff eligible with a fifth win in Week 9. Here are some of the notable area teams with 4-4 records and their Week 9 opponents. Notre Dame (will play St. Patrick), Prospect (Buffalo Grove), Schaumburg (Barrington), Vernon Hills (Wauconda), Richards (Argo), Lyons (Leyden) and South Elgin (Waubonsie Valley). The fiercest game this weekend could be Plainfield North vs. Plainfield South. Both are 4-4.
5. Playoffs are here: The IHSA will hold its playoff pairings show on Saturday night. It can be seen on Comcast SportsNet PLUS from 8 p.m-10 p.m. We’ll also have brackets and analysis that evening on ESPNChicago.com.