Wheaton Academy (4-4, 1-3) at St. Edward (4-4, 1-3)
Metro Suburban Blue
Game time: 7:15 p.m. Friday.
Last week: Wheaton Academy 53, Fenton 32; Riverside-Brookfield 21, St. Edward 14.
Last year: Wheaton Academy 44, St. Edward 30.
Outlook: A win sends Wheaton Academy into the playoffs for a third straight year. St. Edward needs a victory plus help by nonconference foes Hope and Metamora to add precious "playoff points." As records indicate this figures to be a well-balanced finale, each squad performing about the same against common foes and fielding quality performers at similar positions. Wheaton Academy quarterback Ben Thorson targets receivers Noah Jones and Miles VanderKlok while St. Edward signalcaller Dylan Mlinarich throws to Ryan Pomeroy and Tyler Holte, also a gamebreaker at safety. The Warriors' Cristian Carstens averages about 7 yards per carry while St. Edward running back Angel Garcia has shouldered a heavier load this season. Aiming to make St. Edward one-dimensional, Wheaton Academy defensive linemen Derek Johanik, Sebastian Pares, Kent Harmon and 300-pound Sean Blum look to keep lanes clear for linebacker Dimitrie Skakavac, who made 20 tackles against Fenton. With a victory, St. Edward should return to the playoffs after a one-year absence. The projected cutoff for 5-4 teams is 39 playoff points, which the Green Wave already possess. Thus, a win over the Warriors on Senior Night nets the program's fourth playoff bid in five years and sixth in nine. Likewise, Wheaton Academy makes the playoffs with a victory. The Warriors enter Friday's game with 43 playoff points. "We're already in the playoffs and this week is one of them," St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. "I really want to see these kids get in. They deserve it. It's one of the hardest-working groups I've ever had. We don't have the numbers or the depth but they give us everything they have. We've had two bigger schools on the ropes the last two weeks and we're just a few plays away from being 7-1." The St. Edward ground game is led by running backs Garcia (99 carries, 576 yards, 5 touchdowns) and Nick Wright (53-440-6). Senior quarterback Mlinarich has completed 83 of 154 attempts for 1,651 yards and 16 touchdowns with 5 interceptions. Big-play receiver Holte has 26 catches for 667 yards and 8 touchdowns. Of the senior's 26 receptions, 19 moved the chains. Leading tacklers Wright (57) and David Madden (45) lead the St. Edward defense against a Wheaton Academy offense averaging 23.4 ppg. "Wheaton Academy is a mirror image of us," Rolando said. "Not a lot of kids, they've had some injuries, they all play both ways so they get tired at the end of games like we do. I think this team could make some noise in 4A if we get in, but we have to get in."
Fenton (2-6, 0-4) at IC Catholic Prep (7-1, 4-0)Game time: 7:15 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Fenton senior running back-defensive end Dylan Butts grabs every foe's attention, including ICCP's. Linebackers Kevin Cooke and Kemon Reese lead the Knights with 86 and 60 tackles, respectively, meaning ICCP linemen are doing their jobs.
Glenbard South (5-3, 3-1) at Riverside-Brookfield (7-1, 3-1)Game time: 7:15 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: On its drive for six wins Glenbard South looks to tackle R-B back Nick Del Nodal. Raiders junior Jordan Bolivar is making strides at defensive end on a hard-hitting crew. The Raiders strive to add a run option beside quarterback Jack Crouch.
Elmwood Park (6-2, 4-0) at Aurora Central Catholic (4-4, 3-1)Game time: 7 p.m. Friday
The quick hit: The Chargers enter the final weekend with only 32 playoff points with the cutoff for 5-4 teams projected to be 38 or 39. They likely miss the playoffs win or lose. However, ACC can still forge a three-way tie for the Metro Suburban Red title with a win and a win by Ridgewood (5-3, 3-1) against Walther Christian (1-7, 1-3).