Palatine (5-1, 2-0) at Conant (5-1, 2-0)
When: 7 p.m. today at Charles O. Feutz Field
Last week: Palatine d. Fremd 24-17; Conant d. Hoffman 48-20
Outlook: The stakes are high in this West showdown as the winner moves into the driver's seat in the division race. Both teams became playoff-eligible last week in impressive fashion as Palatine came from behind to top rival Fremd while Conant scored 41 first quarter points to claim their third Mayor's Cup of the season. The Pirates trailed last week for the first time since a Week 1 lost to Montini but the defense bore down behind Bradley Bauer's 2 interceptions. Ethan Olles found his usual suspects in Eric Theis and Alex Nawrot to aid the comeback. Cam Kuksa has been cleared by doctors to practice, but Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly will hold him out one more week to ensure he's completely healthy for a potentially deep playoff run. The Cougars need plenty of Tim Manczko, who scored touchdowns on both of his touches last week and now has 14 on the season. Jacobi Sims and Brayson Brown each rushed for 2 touchdowns. Conant will also need another solid game from QB Danny Modelski, who threw for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Barrington (2-4, 0-2) at Hoffman Estates (0-6, 0-2)
When: 7 p.m. today at Dennis Garber Stadium
Last week: Barrington lost to Schaumburg 20-14; Hoffman lost to Conant 48-20
Outlook: The Broncos are looking to pick up their first road win. QB Daniel Kubiuk looked to sophomore Matt Moran in key spots last week, converting 2 key third-downs, one of which was a 27-yard touchdown. The Broncos can also pound the ball with a big offensive line as Kubiuk is a big running threat along with Justin Dragosz. Hoffman regrouped after allowing 41 points in the first quarter last week and saw a lot of bright spots, most notably from Harry Wright, Eric Brooks and Mike Jackson, who had 113 receiving yards, including a 78-yard touchdown. The challenge for the Hawks this week is to put together four quarters of good football, something that has eluded them all season.
Fremd (3-3, 1-1) at Schaumburg (5-1, 1-1)
When: 7 p.m. today at Gary Scholz Stadium
Last week: Fremd lost to Palatine 24-17; Schaumburg d. Barrington 20-14
Outlook: The Saxons got back on track last week and will throw many different looks at a stingy Fremd defense. Schaumburg can use Nick Anzelmo or Stacey Smith at quarterback to throw off defenses. Anzelmo threw a perfect deep ball last week to Juwaan Richard and Smith took over the game in the second half with his ability to run. While it wasn't enough to win, Fremd held Palatine to a season-low 24 points last week as Stephen Helbing and Jack Bossong had interceptions. Schaumburg can pound the ball with Sadarriss Patterson but the Saxons have been able to score in a variety of ways this season so the Vikings will need to limit mistakes on offense and special teams. Fremd will also need Sam Beutler to make good decisions and be effective running the ball along with Jeff McGlade.
Elk Grove (3-3, 1-1) at Rolling Meadows (5-1, 2-0)
When: 7 p.m. today at Robert A. Hoese Athletic Field
Last week: Elk Grove d. Wheeling 48-0; Meadows d. Prospect 49-28
Outlook: Last year's East champ isn't ready to hand over the crown quite yet. To beat Meadows, Elk Grove will have to contain QB Jack Milas, who threw for 338 yards and 4 touchdowns last week. Milas is surrounded by plenty of options in Steven Royster, Andre Campbell, Matt Campbell and Jacob Grant. Mikey Maize and Kishan Patel will need to make big plays like Patel's 74-yard interception return for a touchdown last week. The Meadows defense gets a tough assignment with a versatile Elk Grove attack. QB Adam O'Malley is dangerous with threats out wide like John Pass and Mike Bishoff, who combined for 4 touchdowns last week. The Grenadiers can also do damage on the ground in a variety of ways with power runner Maize and speed threats Patel, Emmanuel Amofa, and Travon Royal.
Hersey (3-3, 2-0) at Prospect (3-3, 1-1)
When: 7 p.m. today at George Gattas Memorial Stadium
Last week: Hersey d. BG 44-0; Prospect lost to Meadows 49-28
Outlook: Prospect hopes to learn from a fourth quarter in which they were outscored 22-0 by Rolling Meadows and will look to rebound by running the ball like they have all season long. The challenge will be there against a Huskie defensive unit that allowed only 104 yards last week and is coming off their first shutout of the season. QB Devin O'Hara eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards for the season last week, but Prospect must cut down on their penalties, of which they had 11 for 100 yards last week. Nikko Gountanis can help take pressure off running threats Jack Tuttle, Stevan Isteefanos and O'Hara with big plays like the 80-yard touchdown reception he had last week. The Huskies are playing their best ball of the season and that begins with QB Quinn Orlandi, who found Ed Miklasz for 3 touchdowns last week. Miklasz caught 9 passes for 139 yards in addition to kicking a 34-yard field goal and converting 5-of-6 extra points.
Buffalo Grove (1-5, 0-2) at Wheeling (2-4, 0-2)
When: 7 p.m. today
Last week: BG lost to Hersey 44-0; Wheeling lost to Elk Grove 48-0
Outlook: Both teams are hungry for a win in this neighborhood rivalry. BG had trouble moving the ball last week and will need to do a better job against Wheeling's defense, which has been a bright spot for coach Brent Pearlman. The Bison plan to keep it on the ground with Scott Smithern, John Pallister, Ryan Schumi and QB Andrew Apel. Wheeling's Sam Yoshino was excellent on kick returns last week and setting the offense up with good field position could be a huge advantage for the Wildcats. Mike Yoshino started at QB last week but was relieved by sophomore Amani Dennis. Isaac Branch ran for 63 yards last week.
CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTH
Glenbrook North (5-1, 2-0) at Maine West (1-5, 0-2)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Glenbrook North d. Niles North 56-17; Maine West lost to Deerfield 35-7
Outlook: The first place Spartans have won five straight since a season-opening loss at Hersey. Maine West has lost their last five games and in order to pull the upset against Glenbrook North, the Warriors will need to stick to their running game, led by QB Matt Swanson and fullback John Manicke. The Warriors will look to Swanson to make good decisions about when to keep the ball and when to option to Manicke, who carried 29 times for 189 yards and the team's lone touchdown last week.
WEST SUBURBAN GOLD
Leyden (5-1, 4-0) at Willowbrook (5-1, 3-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Leyden d. Morton 28-0; Willowbrook d. Downers Grove South 29-27
Outlook: It doesn't get much bigger than this as the winner guarantees themselves at least a share of the Gold title. A win for the Leyden would be huge with the only conference game remaining on the schedule being next week against winless Proviso East. Leyden hasn't shared the title since 1998 and hasn't won it outright since 1979. The Eagles followed a familiar script last week against Morton as the defense earned their third shutout and also returned 2 interceptions for touchdowns, courtesy of Ivan Nevarez and Michael Szopinski. QB Mike Smith threw touchdown passes to Javier Rhoades and Andrew Vernola. Willowbrook's top running threat is Jeremy Barnes, who ran for 177 yards and 2 touchdowns last week. Dom Battaglia added 62 yards and a touchdown.
Christian Liberty (0-6, 0-6) at Marquette (6-0, 6-0)
When: 7 p.m. today at Gould Field
Last week: Christian Liberty lost to North Shore County Day 30-8; Marquette d. Alden-Hebron 34-14
Outlook: The Chargers get another tough opponent with the first place Crusaders, who have shown significant improvement from a 2-7 record in 2011. Marquette has outscored their opponents 240-62 this season and has given Mooseheart and North Shore County Day their only losses this season. Christian Liberty will need good performances out of skill players like Gabe Grob, Marcus Silva, Shawn Andersen, Dan Glad and Alex Glynn.
St. Viator (3-3, 1-3) at Washington (South Bend) (1-6)
When: 6:30 p.m. today
Last week: St. Viator lost to Benet 17-0; Washington (South Bend) lost to Clay 38-21
Outlook: St. Viator wasn't happy with the way they played two weeks ago in a loss to Notre Dame but in last week's loss to Benet, coach Brandon New was pleased with the way they played. The Lions will look to continue that improvement in an out-of-state trip, a favor which South Bend Washington will repay next season when they come to Arlington Heights. Viator wasn't able to put together much offense last week against a tough Benet defense, managing just 170 total yards. Kevin Hammarlund caught 5 passes for 75 yards and Mayo Arogundade ran for 52 yards