Technically, last week was homecoming for Prospect. But with so much going on aside from the game against visiting Wheeling, tonight will certainly feel like it, too.
Wheeling coach Brent Pearlman will be back to Prospect for the first time as a head coach since leaving the school in 2010 after 12 seasons, which included state championships in 2001, 2002 and 2005.
Current Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen was an assistant on Pearlman's staff for 10 seasons.
"I consider Brent to be a very good friend, not just a colleague in terms of coaching," Sebestyen said. "He has had a very important influence on our entire staff."
Additionally, Prospect will celebrate the 10-year anniversary of its 2002 state title in a halftime ceremony. Before the game, the 2005 team will be back to honor the memory of one of their teammates, lineman Curtis Thomas, who passed away on Aug. 27.
"Curtis was one of those guys that starred behind the scenes," Pearlman said. "He was one of those guys that when you were having your worst day of practice, he could get us going again and bring a smile to your face.
A-Maize-ing season: No amount of work has been too much for Elk Grove's Mikey Maize this season. The Grenadiers knew Maize would be a vital presence on defense from his middle linebacker post, but his impact on offense has been a nice surprise.
In last week's win over Rolling Meadows that put Elk Grove in a 4-way tie atop the East, Maize registered 13 tackles and a forced fumble while also carrying the ball 22 times for 130 yards and a touchdown.
"He's not just handling it, but he's attacking the role," said Elk Grove coach Larry Calhoun. "He loves to play and never wants to come off the field. There are times when you can tell he's gassed and needs a break, but one or two plays and he's ready to roll again."
Palatine powers up: It's no secret that Palatine loves to throw the ball and with its hurry-up offense, Ethan Olles threw for 370 yards on 42 pass attempts last week against Conant.
But when they get down near the goal line, the Pirates like to switch gears and go to more of a power-run game with an unbalanced line, featuring John Serio as the wildcat quarterback. Serio scored 3 times last week from inside the 5-yard line and that package will get even tricker for opponents when Cam Kuksa returns this week because of his ability to run the wildcat.
"That's what we do when we get close," said Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly. "We have an unbalanced package and it's like a whole separate offense. We want to put as much pressure as we can on defenses to prepare for us."
Two-minute drill: Leyden is at its best when quarterback Mike Smith is a dual threat. Last week, Smith ran for 2 touchdowns and threw for 2 more. "If he's having success running the ball, we're hard to stop," said coach Tom Cerasani. "When he's not having much success on the ground, we become more predictable. Teams have to work on containing him and that opens up other things for us." ... St. Viator was glad to make a pit stop before they took the field against South Bend Washington last week. Through a connection within the team, Lions players got the opportunity to take a full tour of Notre Dame Stadium. Said coach Brandon New: "They were just in awe. It wasn't like they were overly excited, but like an 'Oh my gosh' kind of an awe." ... Schaumburg has used big plays to open things up for its offense. And while coach Mark Stilling doesn't mind when Juwaan Richard returns a kick 90 yards or Stacey Smith brings back a punt 60 yards, he was encouraged that his offense didn't need them to score against one of the area's top defenses in Fremd. "We had to put some things together and had to grind it out," Stilling said of the 26-6 win. "Those are the kind of drives you need in big games in October and November. Those drives are always more satisfying to a coach."