Rolling Meadows vs. St. ViatorWhere: at Robert Morris University, Arlington Heights
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Rolling Meadows 19, St. Viator 18
Outlook: Last year's game set the stage for a pair of teams that went in opposite directions. Meadows won went on to claim the MSL East title while Viator's loss sent the Lions into a 1-8 tailspin. Meadows won the MSL East last year. They have quarterback Asher O'Hara and running backs Kevin Lacosse and Nick Delporte to spearhead their high-powered offense. New Viator coach Dave Archibald will counter defensively with MLB Austin Ruetsche, who has committed to Air Force, and Cole Kmet, who is considered by most to be the top tight end in the state and will attend Notre Dame. The last two games between these teams has been decided by a total of 3 points.
Conant vs. BarlettWhere: Millennium Field, Streamwood
When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Conant 25, Bartlett 22
Outlook: Conant will have an entirely new team when it takes the field. The Cougars graduated all 22 of their starters from last season and lost Tyler Jackson to a knee injury. Coach Bill Modelski begins his final year as head coach after 12 seasons at the helm. He is changing up his offense and going to more of an option, with junior running back Jack Reiger being the focal point of the Cougars' offense. Bartlett will also be inexperienced. The Hawks graduated 50 of the 73 players on their roster from last year. It will also be the first game for new head coach Eric Ilich, who was the head coach at Hoffman Estates for one year.
Glenbrook South at BarringtonWhen: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Barrington 50, Glenbrook South 23
Outlook: With four Division I players on their team, Barrington will be garnering lots of interest this season. And while many eyes will be on Josh Babicz (North Dakota State), Jackson Perkins and Blake Holley (Navy) and Nick Bart (uncommitted), the real scrutiny will be on Ray Niro. A junior, Niro will be making his first start at quarterback, replacing two-time all-area choice Johnny Davidson. Niro has all the support of head coach Joe Sanchez. 'We have a ton of confidence in him," Sanchez said. "He is in tough spot, but I know he is more than capable." Glenbrook South will be in new era as well with the retirement of Mike Noll, who was the Titans' head coach for 12 years. Former Palatine assistant coach Dave Schoenwetter will take over.
Streamwood at Hoffman EstatesWhen: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Hoffman Estates 34, Streamwood 0
Outlook: This will be the final game of a six-year contract between the schools. Streamwood won the first 2 games. The Sabres have yet to break though against the Mike Donatucci-coached Hawks. Hoffman has averaged 35 points per game in those victories and they hope to keep that trend going. Hoffman has just 9 seniors, but look for running backs Jaylyn Johnson, Tyae Grace and Jaylin Alexander to lead the way for the Hawks. Streamwood is led by 6-foot-5 junior quarterback Brendon Marten, who started last season as sophomore and threw for 959 yards.
Fremd at Lake ZurichWhen: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Fremd 10, Lake Zurich 7
Outlook: These teams renew their open-season rivalry for the 10th consecutive year. Fremd broke a five-game skid last year but still trails in the series 5-3. The Vikings look to get off to a great start this year by returning to their roots on offense. Expect to see them in many double-tight sets and running the football behind an offensive line that averages 265 pounds. If Lake Zurich, which returns nine starters on defense, decides to stack the box, expect the Vikings to throw downfield behind two-year starter Tom Josten. Lake Zurich will be unveiling its new offense. The Bears, traditionally a run-first speed option squad, is going to a spread offense led by junior quarterback Evan Lewandowski.
Palatine at StevensonWhen: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Stevenson 26, Palatine 24
Outlook: This is an early season between a pair of powerhouse teams that most likely will be playing late into the season. Expect lots of offense from squads with plenty of weapons. Palatine returns the core of its offense with quarterback Zach Oles, running back Josh Turner and a pair of 6-foot-5 receivers in Jack Grochowski and Johnny O'Shea. Palatine led Stevenson last year before quarterback Aidan O'Connell stepped in quite nicely to rally the Patriots to a win. O'Connell is back, and he also has a pair of sure-handed receivers to throw to in 6-3 twins Henry and Michael Marchese.
St. Charles North at SchaumburgWhen: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: St. Charles North 30, Schaumburg 15
Outlook: Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling is extremely high on his defense, which returns eight starters. The Saxons look especially good in the defensive backfield, where six of seven starters return from last year. Linebackers Matt Eaker, John Macneal-Young and Austin Anzelmo all return. The Saxons also welcome back Anthony Nix at corner and Dan Golovich and Logan Nox at safety. Schaumburg is hoping its experience wll be enough to slow down the North Stars. St. Charles North boasts quarterback Zach Mettetal, a Memphis recruit for baseball. Mettetal will look for Colorado State committ Griffin Hammer along with four sophomores at wide receiver.
Hersey at Highland ParkWhen: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last year's result: Hersey 41, Highland Park 34
Outlook: Hersey is synonymous with fast starts. That's because the Huskies have won their last six openers. Hersey will try to make it seven straight against a Highland Park team that is on the rise this year. Owen Goldsberry, who is one of six starters that return on offense, will look to get the Huskies' offense in gear. Head coach Joe Pardun's 3-5-3 defense is led by Matt Abfall, Jake Mailloux and Gibby Eshoo. Highland Park will be moving to more of a spread offense this season with quarterback David Adelstein. The Giants, who were 3-6 last season, will still be a threat to run the ball thanks to the return of DJ Penick.
Buffalo Grove at Niles WestWhen: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Buffalo Grove 45, Niles West 41
Outlook: Things looked great for Buffalo Grove last year after its opening-game victory. But the season went south for the Bison as they dropped their final eight of the season. New head coach Jeff Vlk has plenty of talent on his outside with wide receivers Johnny Carpinelli, Jimmy Trieb, Tommy Trieb, Cam Adams, Thomas Kelly and Troy Nelson. Vlk has his choice at quarterback between Matt Majeski and Connor Adams. Niles West, which was 2-7 last season and missed the playoff for the first time in four years, will be looking to rebuild under coach Scott Baum.
Libertyville at Elk GroveWhen: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Libertyville 55, Elk Grove 28
Outlook: Elk Grove, which won just one game last season, will get a tough opener against 7A runnerup Libertyville. The good news for Elk Grove is that all-everything quarterback Riley Lees and his 61 touchdowns are gone. But the bad news is that Libertyville boasts a huge offensive line and has a pair a of D-1 players in Tyler Jost (6-foot-6, 275 pounds), who has committed to Iowa State, and Charlie Schmidt (6-foot-5, 270 pounds), who has drawn interest from Northwestern and Iowa State. Elk Grove will counter will some size up front and some smashmouth football of its own with Louis DiPietro (5-foot-7, 225), Luke Radkte (6-0, 225) Dan Powell (6-3, 245) and Matt Varga (6-2, 290), who moved in from Texas, leading the way.
Hinsdale South at ProspectWhen: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Did not play
Outlook: Prospect and Hinsdale South will find out very quickly how much experience means. The Knights return 18 starters from a team that went 3-6 a year ago. Meanwhile, Hinsdale South lost 17 starters from its Class 6A semifinal team that went 9-5 last year. Prospect is hoping a move from running back to quarterback by Andrew Shafis will pay huge dividends. Prospect will also have a huge offensive line with Billy Matzek (6-3, 260), Alex Palczewski (6-7, 260) and Vince Shields (6-6, 272).
Glenbrook North at WheelingWhen: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Glenbrook North 40, Wheeling 34
Outlook: Coach Brent Pearlman and his Wildcats have waiting nearly 300 days for this night. The Wildcats, who won their final 4 games of the season last year to just miss the playoffs, figured this was a game that got away from them and cost them a playoff spot last fall. Wheeling quarterback Jalen Dennis figures to be even tougher to stop than he was a year ago and Jason Shannon, Blake Greenberg, Mao Gurney and TJ Best figure to share the running duties for a team that looks like it can score points like it is a pinball game. Glenbrook North has a stout offense as well, led by running back John Clark, who rushed for 1,046 yards and 15 touchdowns last year.
Fenton at LeydenWhen: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Leyden 42, Fenton 7
Outlook: Leyden coach Tom Cerasani feels that this is the team he and all the Eagle fans have been waiting for. They will have an opportunity to strut their stuff against a Fenton team that scored just 89 points last season. Leyden, which lost four games by a total of 12 points last season, looks to get off to a great start behind running backs Fabian Vega and Proviso West transfer Donovan Brown. Leyden, which allowed just 15 points per game last year, returns seven starters including Dom Fredrickson and SIU commit Jalen Moore.
Maine West at Proviso EastWhen: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.
Last year's result: Maine East 23, Proviso East 0
Outlook: Maine West looks to get things off and running. The Warriors should get tremendous production from running back Marteen Robinson along with Evanston transfer Anthony Henley. Quarterback Sam Kindle will be throwing to tight end Matt Kentgen along with wide receivers Will Lowery and Ricky English. Proviso East was 0-9 last year and the Pirates have won just 7 games in the last 7 years. One of those wins came two years ago when Proviso beat Maine West 29-7.