Football: Week 9 previews, Northwest
Prospect (5-3, 3-1) at Elk Grove (5-3, 3-1)
When: 7 p.m. today at Robert Haskell Stadium
Last week: Prospect d. Wheeling 21-7; Elk Grove d. BG 42-7
Outlook: The winner is guaranteed at least a share of the East and possibly the outright title if BG can pull the upset against Rolling Meadows. A loss would put Elk Grove on the playoff bubble while Prospect has enough points to make the field with 5 wins. The Knights will open the playoffs on the road next week and for a squad that hasn't won a road game all season, this will be a good test against a quality opponent. Mike Houghton, Colin Olson, Shola George and Kevin Kern form one of Prospect's best defensive lines in recent history and will need to stop QB Adam O'Malley and RB Mikey Maize. Devin O'Hara, Stevan Isteefanos and Jack Tuttle will challenge an Elk Grove defense that held Meadows to a season-low 14 points in Week 7.
Rolling Meadows (6-2, 3-1) at Buffalo Grove (1-7, 0-4)
When: 7 p.m. today at Grant Blaney Stadium
Last week: Meadows d. Hersey 28-21; BG lost to Elk Grove 42-7
Outlook: Meadows earns a share of the East with a victory, which was one of their goals coming into the season. The Mustangs aren't sure whether they will be placed in the 6A playoffs or 7A playoffs but a win would go a long way in helping them secure a first round home game. RB's Steven Royster and Alex Niecikowski take some of the offensive load off of QB Jack Milas. A Meadows defensive unit led by Adam Pavlakis, Mario Luchetto and David Sobkowicz will need to stop BG's running attack. Despite not seeing the results on the field, a persistent BG squad won't go down without a fight. Scott Smithern had a 41-yard touchdown run last week for the Bison.
Hersey (3-5, 2-2) at Wheeling (3-5, 1-3)
When: 7 p.m. today
Last week: Hersey lost to Meadows 28-21; Wheeling lost to Prospect 21-7
Outlook: Both teams were officially eliminated from playoff contention last week but both value the importance of going into the off-season on a high note. For Wheeling, it's been about building a foundation and they are starting to see results after nearly spoiling Prospect's East title hopes last week. Sophomore QB Amani Dennis completed 18 of his 24 passes last week and has shown steady improvement after not even playing the position on the freshman team last year. His favorite target was Sam Yoshino, who hauled in 11 passes for 79 yards. The Huskies have played one of the toughest schedules in the area and hope to send out seniors like two-way threat Hunter Rollins on a high note.
Schaumburg (7-1, 3-1) at Palatine (7-1, 4-0)
When: 7 p.m. today at Chic Anderson Stadium
Last week: Schaumburg d. Hoffman 57-7; Palatine d. Barrington 38-6
Outlook: Schaumburg has done everything in its power to stay in the running for a division title since opening West play with a loss to Conant, and now the Saxons get their chance at the defending West champs and preseason favorite. But it won't be easy as Palatine is finally healthy with dynamic Cam Kuksa back in the mix after scoring 2 touchdowns last week. QBs Nick Anzelmo and Stacey Smith have been alternating series and it's a formula that's worked well for the Saxons. Schaumburg has excelled in all phases this season with 4 special teams touchdowns and 3 defensive touchdowns. Palatine has its sights set on a deep playoff run but behind QB Ethan Olles will look to win the West outright again.
Hoffman Estates (0-8, 0-4) at Fremd (4-4, 2-2)
When: 7 p.m. today at Hale Hildebrandt Field
Last week: Hoffman lost to Schaumburg 57-7; Fremd d. Conant 48-7
Outlook: Fremd came through in a big way last week in its rout of Conant and has positioned itself to make the playoffs after missing the postseason last year for the first time in 16 years. The Vikings will have enough playoff points if they can pick up their fifth win tonight. Fremd was without QB Sam Beutler but managed to turn a negative into a positive with its single-wing offense. Fremd coach Lou Sponsel said Beutler could've played if needed last week and will be in the same situation this week. In his absence, Jeff McGlade and Jack Bossong combined for 199 rushing yards and 6 TDs. Hoffman started strong when Harry Wright, who finished with 90 rushing yards last week, scored to tie the game at 7-7, but the Hawks are still trying to put together four quarters of good football.
Barrington (3-5, 1-3) at Conant (5-3, 2-2)
When: 7 p.m. today at Charles O. Feutz Field
Last week: Barrington lost to Palatine 38-6; Conant lost to Fremd 48-7
Outlook: Conant wouldn't have any trouble making the playoff field with only 5 wins, but that doesn't mean the Cougars plan on backing into the playoffs. Last week was a rude wakeup call and Conant is hoping personnel changes, including the promotion of freshman offensive lineman Joe Novak into the starting lineup, will make a difference. Star WR-S Tim Manczko, who tried to play last week but was unable to aside from a few plays, is questionable again this week. Barrington was eliminated from postseason contention but a strong junior class led by QB Daniel Kubiuk and LB Colin Castagna look to gather momentum for next season.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
St. Viator (5-3, 2-3) at St. Patrick (5-3, 3-2)
When: 11 a.m. Saturday at Hanson Stadium
Last week: St. Viator d. Marian 31-21; St. Patrick d. Carmel 6-3
Outlook: St. Viator took care of business in becoming playoff-eligible last week but would love to not have to sweat out Saturday night's selection show by picking up a sixth win. St. Patrick is safely in the field regardless but it appears Viator will be on the bubble. Up 17-14 at halftime last week, the Lions broke free with 14 straight points to open the second half. Bobby Calmeyn and Mayo Arogundade led a balanced offensive attack, with Calmeyn's top target Kevin Hammarlund hauling in 5 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown. The only blemishes on Viator's defense were courtesy of the big play and the Lions will need to contain a Shamrocks squad that has had their share of offensive struggles.
WEST SUBURBAN CROSSOVER
Lyons (4-4, 3-3) at Leyden (7-1, 6-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Lyons d. Proviso West 20-7; Leyden d. Proviso East 18-7
Outlook: Leyden clinched its first outright conference title since 1979 last week. And though it wasn't always pretty, that's not something bothering the Eagles. The defense scored for the fourth straight week, this time on 2 safeties. Mike Smith was solid again in throwing for 208 yards and a touchdown pass to Andrew Garcia, while Mickey Gulo also found the end zone. Even with the Gold wrapped up, Leyden still is aiming for a home playoff game. To get it, the Eagles will have to beat a Lyons squad fighting for their playoff lives. The Lions have played a grueling schedule with 7 of their 9 opponents having at least 5 wins.
CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTH
Maine West (1-7, 0-4) at Niles North (3-5, 1-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Maine West lost to Maine East 13-7; Niles North lost to Deerfield 28-7
Outlook: Maine West looks to finish a difficult season on a high note having lost their last 7 games since a Week 1 victory. The Warriors shored up their defense last week but as it has been all season, finding the end zone remains the biggest issue. Niles North was eliminated from playoff contention last week and has lost its last 3 games. The option attack featuring QB Matt Swanson and FB John Manicke leads the Warrior offense.
CICS/Longwood (0-8, 0-8) at Christian Liberty (0-8, 0-8)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last week: CICS/Longwood lost to North Shore County Day 42-8; Christian Liberty lost to Hiawatha 20-9
Outlook: Christian Liberty closes out their season in hopes of picking up its first victory. The Chargers will look to open it up a bit more against a bigger Longwood squad that may be tough to run on, and QB Gabe Grob has shown the ability to throw downfield. Last week he was 7-of-17 for 111 yards and will need to find Shawn Andersen and Dan Glad again this week for Christian Liberty to achieve the balance that it wants. Marcus Silva has been solid all season and last week was no different as the RB ran for 211 yards and the team's lone touchdown. The Chargers were hurt by 2 drives that stalled on the goal line and hopes to convert those opportunities this week.
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