Rolling Meadows (5-2, 2-1) at Hersey (3-4, 2-1)
When: 7 p.m. today at Roland Goins Stadium
Last week: Meadows lost to Elk Grove 24-14; Hersey lost to Prospect 35-0
Outlook: Both teams are part of a four-way tie for first in the East but more importantly, neither is pleased with the way they played last week. Meadows hopes QB Jack Milas has a short memory of last week's 3-interception performance after throwing just 2 in the first 6 games. The Mustangs also need to get the Steven Royster-led running game going again, which produced only 60 yards after 187 the week before. Hersey, fighting for their playoff lives, had a similar letdown with only 118 total yards last week but like Meadows, are capable of turning it around in a hurry with QB Quinn Orlandi, RB Mario Thomas and WR's Ed Miklasz and David Jackowski.
Buffalo Grove (1-6, 0-3) at Elk Grove (4-3, 2-1)
When: 7 p.m. today at Robert Haskell Stadium
Last week: BG lost to Wheeling 12-8; Elk Grove d. Meadows 24-14
Outlook: Elk Grove is responsible for the four-way tie in the East and over the last two weeks have started to perform the way many thought it would all season. The Grenadiers must get through the Bison to become playoff-eligible and set up a showdown with Prospect in Week 9. RB-LB Mikey Maize has dominated on both sides of the ball and his power running game has helped Elk Grove control the clock. Quarterback Adam O'Malley directs a balanced offense that can score through the air with John Pass and Mike Bishoff or use Emmanuel Amofa and Maize on the ground. Johnny Assimakopoulos and Dan Egan will look to stop BG's triple-option attack, led by quarterback Andrew Apel, Scott Smithern and John Pallister. The Bison will need a strong effort from their secondary like last week when Mario DiCarlo picked off 2 passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Wheeling (3-4, 1-2) at Prospect (4-3, 2-1)
When: 7 p.m. today at George Gattas Memorial Stadium
Last week: Wheeling d. BG 12-8; Prospect d. Hersey 35-0
Outlook: Prospect looks to become playoff-eligible and remain in a first place tie with Elk Grove waiting in Week 9. The Knights' defense played its best game of the season last week against Hersey. Led up front by Mike Houghton, Colin Olson and Kevin Kern, the Knights allowed just 118 total yards and allowed the offense to find its rhythm in the second half. Giving that defense a lift was a familiar face in Devin O'Hara, who shadowed Ed Miklasz all game long. O'Hara played defense last year and should see plenty of action on that side of the ball the remainder of the season. The Knights also liked the way O'Hara expanded his game on offense as he rushed for 60 yards but threw for a season-high 215 yards. Sophomore Isaac Branch is coming off perhaps his best effort of the season against BG in which he ran for 76 yards and a touchdown. Sam and Mike Yoshino are also offensive weapons for sophomore quarterback Amani Dennis.
Conant (5-2, 2-1) at Fremd (3-4, 1-2)
When: 7 p.m. today at Hale Hildebrandt Field
Last week: Conant lost to Palatine 42-27; Fremd lost to Schaumburg 26-6
Outlook: Conant didn't give Palatine its best shot last weekend and may be short-handed this week as Tim Manczko is questionable after suffering a low-ankle sprain. If Manczko is unable to go, the Cougars hope Jacobi Sims can shoulder a big load after rushing for 96 yards and a touchdown last week. Linebackers Tyler LaBarbera, Joe Faso, Troy Piccinini and Mike Kos will be key in shutting down the Vikings ground game, which is led by Jeff McGlade. Fremd showed its age in last week's loss to Schaumburg and will look to get into manageable third-down situations this week in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. Three-year starter Sam Beutler will most likely play at quarterback after separating his shoulder last week.
Palatine (6-1, 3-0) at Barrington (3-4, 1-2)
When: 7 p.m. today at Barrington Community Stadium
Last week: Palatine d. Conant 42-27; Barrington d. Hoffman 49-19
Outlook: The good news for Palatine last week was that they won and moved into sole possession of first place in the West. But committing 4 turnovers and 10 penalties for 148 yards aren't trends they would like to see continue, especially with the playoffs just weeks away. The Pirates are at their best when QB Ethan Olles is spreading the ball around to Alex Nawrot, Eric Theis and company. Once Palatine gets down the field, look for them to pound the ball with John Serio, who last week had 33 yards rushing but 3 touchdowns. Cam Kuksa will play for the first time since injuring his ankle Week 1 and will line up at receiver and safety. Barrington's defense, led by Colin Castagna, has allowed more than 24 points just once this season and will have its work cut out against a Palatine squad averaging over 40 points. To pull the upset, the Broncos will need QB Daniel Kubiuk and Andrew Matella be on the same page again after last week's effort of 11 completions for 182 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Schaumburg (6-1, 2-1) at Hoffman Estates (0-7, 0-3)
When: 7 p.m. today at Dennis Garber Stadium
Last week: Schaumburg d. Fremd 26-6; Hoffman lost to Barrington 49-19
Outlook: Schaumburg will look to avoid a letdown against winless Hoffman before a Week 9 matchup with first place Palatine. Though the Saxons left a few points on the board against Fremd, Schaumburg's offense was able to move the ball against one of the top defenses in the area. Schaumburg is capable of scoring at any time with Juwaan Richard, who scored touchdowns on both of his touches last week. The Saxons have rotated quarterbacks and keep teams off guard with the combination of Nick Anzelmo and Stacey Smith. Sadarriss Patterson has rushed for a touchdown in 6 straight games and has 10 on the season. Hoffman led early last week but was unable to hold off Barrington, though quarterback Eric Brooks played exceptionally with 3 touchdown passes.
WEST SUBURBAN GOLD
Proviso East (0-7, 0-4) at Leyden (6-1, 5-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Proviso East lost to Downers Grove South 34-7; Leyden d. Willowbrook 42-0
Outlook: Leyden clinched at least a share of the Gold for the first time since 1998 with last week's thrashing of Willowbrook. But the Eagles have bigger things on their mind because a victory tonight against the winless Pirates gives them the title outright for the first time since 1979. The best part about last week for Leyden was they played a complete game. The defense was dominant as usual in its fourth shutout of the season, and the Eagles scored a defensive touchdown for the third straight week, this one courtesy of a Javier Rhoades 32-yard interception return. And the offense may have established an identity as QB Mike Smith ran for 77 yards and 2 touchdowns and threw for 148 and 2 more touchdowns. Mickey Gulo had 96 total yards and is capable of running and catching the ball out of the backfield.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
Marian (1-6, 0-4) at St. Viator (4-3, 1-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Forest View Educational Center
Last week: Marian lost to St. Patrick 41-14; St. Viator d. Washington South Bend 52-20
Outlook: St. Viator got back in the win column on its out-of-state trip and is looking to carry over that momentum back into conference play. Mayo Arogundade rushed for over 200 yards as the Lions led 39-0 at halftime. Viator's defense will look for a similar performance to last week, when it scored 2 touchdowns. Offensive line play will be crucial for the Lions as Oge Udeogu, Jack Brandt, Andrew Hansen, and Masterson help open holes for Arogundade and give quarterback Bobby Calmeyn time to find Kevin Hammarlund and the rest of his receivers. A victory would go a long with for the Lions in helping them improve their playoffs chances before a Week 9 matchup against St. Patrick.
CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTH
Maine West (1-6, 0-3) at Maine East (2-5, 0-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Maine West lost to Glenbrook North 41-3; Maine East lost to Deerfield 48-6
Outlook: It's been a tough season for Maine West as the Warriors have lost their last 6 games, but if they can continue to move the ball like they have been in recent weeks, they should be right in the mix with a Maine East squad that has lost it last 5 games after starting 2-0. Piling up the yards hasn't been the issue for Maine West, which had 218 yards rushing last week. Scoring, on the other hand, has been more challenging. John Manicke and Matt Swanson lead the Warriors ground game while Mike Kuzebski and Javed Lukovic are the Blue Demons' top runners.
Kirkland Hiawatha (2-5, 2-5) at Christian Liberty (0-7, 0-7)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Hiawatha lost to Alden-Hebron 44-19; Christian Liberty lost to Marquette 48-7
Outlook: The Chargers close the season with two home games. After going 0-9 in 2011, Hiawatha has shown the improvement that Christian Liberty hopes to emulate with two victories this season. The Hawks' offense is led by quarterback Mike Mercardo, receiver Derek Ross and running back Dakotah Quimby. The Chargers will need Marcus Silva to jumpstart the offense the way that he did in Week 3 against Mooseheart when he ran for 199 yards. Christian Liberty will also need contributions from quarterback Gabe Grob and playmakers Dan Glad, Shawn Andersen and Matt Glynn.
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