The St. Edward football team's two-week trend of decimating lesser secondaries seems likely to continue on homecoming this Friday.
The Green Wave return to Greg True Field with a 3-0 record for the second time in three seasons, thanks largely to a passing attack responsible for 754 of their 1,052 total yards in wins over Lindblom (50-14) and Walther Lutheran (63-8), both winless.
In his last 2 games, junior quarterback Dylan Mlinarich has completed 45 of 72 passes for 754 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The left-handed Mlinarich is spreading the opportunities among his receivers. Junior Saveon Smith, who this week announced on social media he will visit Illinois this weekend, paced the group in Weeks 2 and 3 with 10 receptions for 233 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Smith leads a talented group that includes senior Jimmy Harkins (9 rec., 188 yards, 2 TD) and juniors David Madden (8-156-2), Ryan Pomeroy (5-141-2) and Tyler Holte (9-87-2).
St. Edward should face little resistance for a third straight game when Guerin (0-3) visits at 7 p.m. The Crusaders have been outscored 105-0.
Guerin began the season with 20 players on its published roster, but attrition has taken a toll. The Crusaders trailed Fenton 26-0 at halftime of last week's game, but the second half was played with a running clock because Guerin was down to the minimum of 11 available players.
For perspective, Fenton entered that matchup 0-2 after losing its first 2 games by a combined score of 73-0.
While lopsided games are good for morale and can help a team find its rhythm, it's questionable whether such blowouts are good preparation for a high-level opponent like the one St. Edward faces next week in old rival IC Catholic Prep. The Knights (3-0) are the top-ranked team in Class 3A.
St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said winning noncompetitive games by such lopsided margins may not be the optimal way to prepare for a team like IC, but the light schedule leading into what could be their most physical game of the season should benefit his players from a health standpoint.
The Green Wave entered the season with 22 players on the roster, but they are down to 21 and can't afford more injuries. Sophomore Nick Wright broke his arm in two places during the Lindblom game two weeks ago when he was stepped on. Five junior varsity players suit up with the varsity on Saturdays.
"We're very thin, so we need to keep our guys healthy," Rolando said. "While you want to be battle tested, at the same time, if we lose two guys, we become a totally different football team. When Nick goes down we have to bring up a sophomore to play linebacker and we're just not quite as strong. "We're not going to get any more or less physical in the next two weeks. These kids have been playing football for a long time. When we get to IC it's going to be a physical battle and the kids know that. From year to year, kids from both schools look forward to it. It's a tough game. That's why (Saturday) you saw a lot of jerseys coming on and coming of the field so we could get out of there healthy, and that's a good thing."
Hold on tight: St. Charles East wants to continue to win the turnover battle Friday night when the Saints invade St. Charles North in a battle of unbeaten rivals.
The Saints have thrived on turnover differential thus far. Through 3 games the defense has collected 11 turnovers while the offense has given the ball to the opponent once, a plus-10 differential.
The total includes interceptions by senior Matt Bertke, senior Lucson Schneider, senior Sam Grohe, junior Yalon Rogers and a pair by junior Clayton Isbell.
"That's one of our keys, not turning the ball over," St. Charles East coach Bryce Farquhar said. "I think our kids have a good understanding of how to play football in our scheme. They can read the game now and make plays."
St. Charles North has collected 4 turnovers and turned the ball over twice.
Time to shine: South Elgin junior Markee Prude seized his opportunity in last week's 31-7 win over Glenbard East.
A 5-foot-8, 165-pound running back, Prude was elevated to the varsity last year as a sophomore to support featured back Shawn Griffin, but he didn't play much due to injury issues, Storm coach Pat Pistorio said.
Ranked third on the depth chart entering this season, he moved up the ladder due to his strong practice performances. Prude got a shot as featured back last week when fellow junior Pierre Toussaint was nursing an injury.
All the 5-foot-8, 165-pound Prude did was rush 20 times for 137 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown run that staked South Elgin to a first-quarter lead.
"We always knew he had the physical ability to get the job done, but we were just trying to get him to develop more consistency in practices," Pistorio said. "He took the opportunity and did an awesome job of making the most of it.'
Making up ground: In Jacobs' first two games senior quarterback Chris Katrenick was the team's leading rusher with 90 yards.
Katrenick didn't mind giving up the team lead after Friday's 35-28 Fox Valley Conference victory at Crystal Lake South. Junior Loren Strickland gave opponents someone else to think about by rushing for 103 yards on 25 carries.
"That helped a lot," said Jacobs coach Bill Mitz. "Strickland ran the ball hard."
Strickland rushed for 55 yards on 14 carries in his first two games. The Golden Eagles are also young up front with senior Kyle Vega working with juniors Dylan DeMuth, Cade Purifoye and Jimmy Wormsley and sophomore Cade Portell.
Katrenick and junior wide receiver John Farrissey said the running game was a big point of emphasis leading up to Crystal Lake South.
"Every game we need to be able to run the ball because it opens up the pass," Katrenick said. "The O-line played great and they were keeping me protected."
A rough start: There is no break for Crystal Lake South after an 0-3 start as it travels up to undefeated and state-ranked Prairie Ridge on Friday.
The Gators also have 2015 playoff teams Cary-Grove and Huntley still on the schedule, too.
"It's tough because I think we're a decent team and in some conferences we'd probably be a playoff team," said CL South coach Chuck Ahsmann after Friday's last-minute 35-28 loss to Jacobs. "We've been close in every game. Usually you're not 0-3 when you score those kinds of points (78).
"Unfortunately our conference is a meat grinder all the way through and it doesn't get any easier."
What keeps Ahsmann upbeat is the overall effort and working with players such as senior Michael Swiatly. He rushed for 121 yards on 19 carries, caught 4 passes for 29 yards, returned the second-half kickoff 48 yards to set up a touchdown and broke up 2 passes on defense.
"He's a great high school player," Ahsmann said. "He does everything you ask. He's a leader in the weight room. I don't have enough good things to say about the kid. He does everything he can to help us win."
-- Daily Herald correspondent Marty Maciaszek contributed