It becomes showdown time in the Mid-Suburban East and West this week.
After four weeks of nonconference football foes, the MSL teams will get into the meat of their schedules with give consecutive weeks of divisional contests to finish the regular season.
The last three weeks were dominated by West teams, as they posted a 14-4 mark over their East rivals.
The West has held an advantage over the East since the Mid-Suburban League broke into the divisions split by District 214 schools in the East, and District 211 schools plus Barrington in the West.
Since that split, in 1998, the West has won 60 percent of the games played with a mark of 173-115.
That record weighs even more heavily in favor of the West over the last eight years. Since 2006, the East has never won more games than it lost in crossover play, winning 34 percent of the games played.
"It is all about school size and demographics," Fremd coach Lou Sponsel said. "There are almost 2,900 kids here and that changes the playing field a little bit. We have to, at some point, as a conference, sit down and look at this."
This year, all six teams in the West head into conference action with a .500 record or better. Five of those teams could qualify for the state playoffs at the end of the season. Both Barrington and Schaumburg remain unbeaten, with the teams changing that this weekend when Schaumburg hosts on Friday.
Schaumburg has been the area's best team thus far. The Saxons' ground assault has been formidable, averaging nearly 360 yards per game. They are led by the area's leading rusher in quarterback Stacey Smith, who has gained 717 of those yards while scoring 10 touchdowns.
Barrington has played well in its first four games while Fremd (3-1)needs to overcome the loss of quarterback Sam Beutler, who tore his ACL and MCL last week. Beutler is hoping to rehab and return later in the season.
Conant and Palatine are both 3-1 and have received great play at quarterback from Danny Modelski and Nick Orlando, respectively. Hoffman Estates, which is 2-2, also got strong play at its quarterback spot from Jeff Mayes, but the junior may be sidelined with an ankle injury.
The East has no clear-cut favorite after the first four games.
Elk Grove (2-2), the preseason pick of many, has played well offensively with Adam O'Malley leading the way in its last two games. But now the Grenadiers have to worry about their defense.
Rolling Meadows (2-2) bounced back strong last week thanks to the passing of Bobby Suchecki and a strong defensive effort and is averaging nearly 31 points.
Hersey (2-2) is coming off games with Schaumburg and Fremd where the Huskies were able to battle both teams before succumbing late in the game. Still, the Huskies could challenge thanks to the play of quarterback Jack Warner.
Buffalo Grove (1-3) has struggled offensively in its last three games while Prospect (0-4) is off a slow start.
In the East Suburban Catholic Conference, St. Viator has already played two conference games, losing to Joliet Catholic in a spirited matchup and then beating Carmel last week on a last-second field goal. The Lions (3-1) are looking to qualify for the state playoffs for the second consecutive year. If they accomplish that, they would most likely end up in Class 4A, after competing in 6A last year.