Buffalo Grove (2-7) at Leyden (3-6)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Buffalo Grove 28, Leyden 14
Outlook: This is a homecoming of sorts for Buffalo Grove coach Mike DiMatteo, who grew up in nearby Melrose Park. Both teams are looking to get off to a good start in an attempt to turn their seasons around from last year. Buffalo Grove will look to junior quarterback Trey Cervantes to get the Bison, who averaged 14 points per game last year, to get the offense in gear. Cervantes will be looking to three-year starter Tommy McSorley, Chris Beck, Mike Kleczynski and sophomore Jim Trieb. Leyden put up some points last year, but the Eagles had trouble on defense, allowing 25 points per game. Leyden returns quarterback Tom Pajor, who is a three-year starter and could end up breaking many of the passing records at the school this year. Tight end Alex Rose and wide receiver John Robles should be favorite targets for Pajor.
Rolling Meadows (7-4) vs. St. Viator (5-4)Where: Robert Morris Field, Arlington Heights (Forest View)
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Did not play
Outlook: The first meeting between two offensive-minded teams could end up being an aerial show. Viator, which just missed the playoffs last season, returns two of the top receivers in the area last season in all-area picks Ben Dickey and Matt Darling. Tyler Johnston takes over the reins at quarterback and has looked very comfortable in third-year coach Brandon New's offense. Also look for sophomore sensation running back Darrreonte Jackson, who can be"electrifying," according to New. Rolling Meadows lost 15 starters from a team that lost to state champion Batavia in the state playoffs last year. But the Mustangs seem to reload each year, especially at quarterback where RJ Mattuci takes over. "He is ready for the challenge," Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler said. Jeremy Leander, Kevin Adair, sophomore Jose Camacho and junior Jack Swindell will be Mattucci's main targets while Antonio Atencio and slotback Jack O'Neil will be running the ball.
Jacobs (7-3) at Barrington (10-2)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Barrington 22, Jacobs 15
Outlook: This is an early season treat to area football fans with a pair of teams that should not only contend for their respective conference titles, but are a threat to go deep in the playoffs. Barrington, which lost in the 8A quarterfinals last year, has retooled at quarterback. But the Broncos have a quartet of running backs led by Dylan Abel and Nate King who will get to work behind an offensive line that averages 252 pounds. But the real strength comes from the Broncos defense where there are eight returning starters, including the entire linebacking group. Those linebackers will be busy since Jacobs will look to run the ball with Josh Walker, who has received interest from Division I schools.
Fremd (6-4) at Lake Zurich (12-2)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Lake Zurich 24, Fremd 0
Outlook: Fremd is not only looking to break through on the win side against the Bears, but also to get into the end zone. Lake Zurich has dominated this series in recent years, which stands in favor of the Bears 5-2. Fremd has lost the last four contests and has not scored a touchdown in the last 3 meetings, while being shut out in last two games. Nick Bossong takes over for the Vikings, who hope to get that huge offensive line that averages 260 pounds to move the Bears out and give Darius Burchette some running lanes. Lake Zurich, which was second in the state last year in 7A, will look to Ben Klett, who scored more than 20 touchdowns last year. Klett will seek running room behind a line anchored by Wyoming-bound Zach Wallace.
Streamwood (1-8) at Hoffman Estates (2-7)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Hoffman Estates 28, Streamwood 20
Outlook: Hoffman looks to break a 7-game losing streak, and the Hawks are poised to do more than that this season. With nine returning starters on offense and on defense, second-year head coach Mike Donatucci brings a veteran squad to the field. "We have a solid senior and junior group," Donatucci said. Leading the way for the Hawks will be quarterback Jeff Mayes, who was injured part of last season. Connor McCreary and Dante Cleveland also figure to spark an offense that scored just 99 points last year. Streamwood features quarterback Max Draper, a 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior who has drawn interest from Dayton.
New Trier (5-5) at Schaumburg (10-2)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Schaumburg 34, New Trier 20
Outlook: After the team completed an ice bucket challenge on Wednesday, Schaumburg will look to cool off New Trier. That would spoil the return of former Elk Grove coach Brian Doll, who now heads up the Trevians. Schaumburg has won four consecutive opening games, including three over the Trevians. The Saxons will have a new look offensively after losing quarterback Stacey Smith and four offensive linemen. Schaumburg will have more of a ground-and-pound mentality with an offensive line that averages 235 pounds ahead of Justice Macneal-Young at tailback. New Trier may look to run the ball as well, with the return of all-conference running back Kevin Mulhern.
Libertyville (4-5) at Palatine (4-5)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Palatine 25, Libertyville 7
Outlook: Both teams are way up in the numbers with palatine rostering 68 players and Libertyville 73. Both teams need this win, since both failed to make the playoffs last year and each face a rugged conference schedule ahead of them. After missing the playoffs last year after qualifying for the previous six years, the Palatine looks to step it up a notch. The Pirates backfield of quarterback Nick Orlando and running back Chris Cornelius return to an offense that averaged 23 points last fall. Palatine also looks to break out with receivers Joey Roy, Javone Stricker, Dan Garcia and Dionte Neustadter. Libertyville return three offensive linemen who will block for junior quarterback Riley Lees.
Conant (7-4) at Lake Park (3-6)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Conant 28, Lake Park 14
Outlook: Conant looks to keep its five-year playoff streak alive by getting off to a good start against neighborhood rival Lake Park. Conant has won the last four meetings between the schools and has won 5 of 7 games against the Lancers. Conant will have the same look with on offense but will be operating without quarterback Danny Modelski, who has graduated. The Cougars will be junior-dominated, but many played on the varsity last season as sophomores, including Kyle Bradley, who played defensive back last season and has been moved to quarterback this year. "He could be very good," Conant coach Bill Modelski said. The Cougars' offensive line will be senior-dominated, with four seniors starting, including returnee Mike Meier.
Mundelein (1-8) at Wheeling (2-7)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Mundelein 29, Wheeling 22
Outlook: Last season got off to a rough start for Wheeling as Mundelein posted its only win of the season. But if Wheeling is going to contend for the playoffs, it needs to start here for the Wildcats. Wheeling has a great core returning in running back Isaac Branch, who was the second-leading rusher in the area, along with three-year starting quarterback Amani Dennis. But coach Brent Pearlman says that his team needs to change the mindset at Wheeling. "They have to believe in themselves and their teammates," Pearlman said. Mundelein, which has won just one game in the last two years, hopes to rebound behind 13 returning starters.
Glenbrook South (7-3) at Prospect (1-8)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Glenbrook South 41, Prospect 14
Outlook: Prospect looks to right the ship after a subpar season last year, which began with a big day loss to the Titans. Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen says that the attitude is good on his young squad. "This is a great group who cares for one another," Sebestyen said. Matt Drew, who is a junior, returns to quarterback a team that has 28 sophomores and juniors. An area of strength is the defensive front, where the Knights return the entire group from last year. Glenbrook South, which has won two of the last three meetings with Prospect, return four starters on offense and defense but has no returning players at wide receiver, running back or defensive back.
Elk Grove (6-4) at St. Charles North (4-5)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Elk Grove 23, St. Charles North 22 OT
Outlook: Elk Grove does not have much margin for error with a schedule that includes St. Charles North, Barrington, Fremd and Schaumburg as nonconference opponents. Elk Grove nipped St. Charles North in overtime last year, helping propel the Grenadiers to the playoffs. St. Charles North lost a pair of overtime games, costing the North Stars a postseason spot. Elk Grove will be playing without graduated three-year starting QB Adam O'Malley. The Grens, who have not settled on a starter yet at QB, feature an offensive line that averages 265 pounds. Look for junior tackle Daniel Dalenberg (6-foot-3, 290), who coach Larry Calhounn said is "the real deal." Matt Wary, one of the area's top receivers last year, returns to spark the offense and play linebacker on defense.
Glenbrook North (6-4) at Hersey (6-4)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Hersey 47, Glenbrook North 7
Outlook: Hersey has dominated this series, outscoring the Spartans 117-34 in the three meetings. In the final meeting of their contract, Hersey will look to continue its supremacy as Joe Pardun takes over for the Huskies. Hersey, which is a defending conference champion for the first time in 37 years, will have Joe Caputo guiding its offense. Caputo will have double duty, retaining his outside linebacker spot. Chase Bandolik will get the opportunity to carry the ball behind an offensive line that returns three starters. Glenbrook North, which has won the Central Suburban North the last two years, returns seven starters from last year.
Maine West (2-7) at Proviso East (0-9)When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Did not play
Outlook: The Jason Kradman era begins at Maine West where he takes over a program that hasn't had a winning season in eight years and not been to the playoffs since 2002. But optimism is high in Des Plaines where the Warriors have a strong offensive line, which is led by Kyle Cook. Matt Acevedo and Joe Swanson, who each played some quarterback last year, are battling for the leadership role this season. Chris Asuncion, who is a tough, inside runner, will handle most of the ground work. Proviso East has been winless the last two seasons and have won just 2 games in the last 4 years.
Christian Liberty Academy (0-9) at Alden Hebron (6-4)When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Last year's result: Alden Hebron 40, CLA 0
Outlook: New coach Dave Daniels is looking to turn things around for the Chargers. CLA has won three games in its four-year football history and is hoping to pick up some firepower on offense after getting shut out seven times and scoring a total of 40 points last season. Linebackers Jack McMahon and Caleb Graham lead a team that looks to improve each week. Alden Hebron has qualified for the playoffs in 10 of its last 11 seasons.
-- compiled by Dick Quagliano