Scouting Week 6 in the Northwest suburbs

  • Prospect's Luke Zardzin (24) is one of the top rushers in the Northwest suburbs. He and the undefeated Knights have a showdown Friday night at unbeaten Hersey.

      Prospect's Luke Zardzin (24) is one of the top rushers in the Northwest suburbs. He and the undefeated Knights have a showdown Friday night at unbeaten Hersey. John Starks | Staff Photographer

and Dick Quagliano
Updated 10/4/2019 6:40 AM


Prospect (5-0, 1-0) at Hersey (5-0, 1-0)When: 7 p.m. Friday


Last week: Prospect def. Elk Grove, 42-7; Hersey def. Wheeling, 78-20.

Last year: Hersey def. Prospect, 55-29.

Outlook: This is a big one in the Mid-Suburban League East. There are three teams in the division that remain undefeated and Prospect and Hersey are two of them. Rolling Meadows, the MSL East champion last year, is the other.

Expect an electric environment in Arlington Heights. A fight to stay undefeated is on the line, it is also Hersey's homecoming, and Prospect and Hersey are natural rivals anyway.

"I'm sure they will be excited and we are, too," Hersey coach Joe Pardun said. "This is the fun thing about sports, with the rivalries and the big games. We had a feeling that they would be undefeated coming in here and they are a tough team playing really well right now. Prospect is tough. We think it's going to be a great game."

Expect a lot of scoring in this game, too. These two teams are the highest scoring teams in the MSL East, with Hersey averaging a whopping 50.6 points per game to lead the league. Prospect is just behind at 42.8 points per game. Hersey is averaging 61 points per game over the last three weeks, putting up 63 points against Maine East, 42 points against Glenbrook North and a school-record 78 points last week against Wheeling.

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"It's been a lot of things," Pardun said about the explosiveness of his offense. "(Quarterback) Jordan (Hansen) has had a great year so far and he's such a dynamic, dual-threat player that he really makes it hard on defenses. We also have a very experienced offensive line, receivers who have really grown since the summer and a great coaching staff that really works hards. And everyone has high expectations for each other. We just have a lot of good things going right now."

Hansen leads the Northwest suburbs in rushing with 862 yards on 74 carries. He also ranks fourth in the area in passing, having completed 51-of-79 passes for 1,047 yards and 14 touchdowns. He's thrown only 1 interception. His biggest targets are sophomore Ben Clawson, who has made 13 catches for 404 yards and senior Jimmy Matanovic, who has made 13 catches for 225 yards.

Meanwhile, Prospect quarterback Gary Moeller has been similarly efficient through the air. He's completed 58-of-91 passes for 956 yards and 15 touchdowns. And like Hansen, Moeller has thrown only 1 interception as well. The Knights, who rely on a fast-paced, no huddle offense, also have a big rushing threat in running back Luke Zardzin, who ranks third in the Northwest suburbs with 724 rushing yards on 99 carries. And Moeller's top target is receiver Noah Marx, who has made 20 catches for 376 yards.

"That Prospect offense is rolling right now," Pardun said. "They put up a lot of points and numbers and they have that tempo going. With that no-huddle, they try to wear you down and try to keep you from doing the things you want to do. We saw that last year. This is a tough team to defend and I think they are even better this year. We try to practice fast and we are trying to practice for their no-huddle, but it's hard to completely replicate their tempo. It will be a challenge."


Buffalo Grove (2-3, 0-1) at Wheeling (0-5, 0-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last week: Buffalo Grove lost to Rolling Meadows 49-17; Wheeling lost to Hersey 78-20

Last year: Wheeling 14, Buffalo Grove 10

Outlook: This is a huge neighborhood battle that Wheeling has won the past three seasons and 8 of the last 11 meetings. Buffalo Grove has found its groove offensively thanks to the play of quarterback Mark Antonetti, running back Max Oberman and wide receiver Ayden Anderson. The Bison have scored nearly 34 points per game the last three weeks. And they need a win here to keep their playoff hopes alive. Wheeling has also scored in droves. The Wildcats are averaging 22 points per game. Unfortunately, Wheeling has also given up an average of 63 points per game.

Rolling Meadows (5-0, 1-0) at Elk Grove (1-4, 0-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last week: Rolling Meadows beat Buffalo Grove 49-17; Elk Grove lost to Prospect 42-7

Last year: Rolling Meadows 42, Elk Grove 20

Outlook: Rolling Meadows continues to get the job done each week. The Mustangs stampeded Buffalo Grove last week with their swarming defense, coming up with 8 sacks, including 3 from Nate Pedraza. Nife Oseni has quietly become one of the Northwest suburbs' best offensive weapons, running the ball for a pair of touchdowns last week and catching another. Elk Grove got off to a good start last week, but the Grens just couldn't keep the momentum going. Ian Ridge continues to be dominant for Elk Grove and had a 213-yard performance last week and scored a touchdown.


Palatine (1-4, 0-1) at Fremd (3-2, 1-0)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last week: Palatine lost to Barrington 24/7; Fremd beat Schaumburg 28-0

Last year: Fremd 35, Palatine 14

Outlook: The annual "Battle of the Tracks" should be another physical contest between the crosstown rivals. Fremd broke a two-game losing streak last season and the teams have split their last 10 meetings. Palatine has played well in spurts this season and when the Pirates put together a full effort, they've been able to come away with a victory. Palatine may be without quarterback Joe Ayala, who was injured last Saturday against Barrington. Ryan Saxe has grown quite nicely at quarterback for Fremd. The junior had his best game last week, running for 3 touchdowns and throwing for another. The Fremd defense, led by Joey Rattin, Jason Haas and Nate Stevens, has also been solid.

Schaumburg (2-3, 0-1) at Hoffman Estates (3-2, 0-1)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last week: Schaumburg lost to Fremd 28-0; Hoffman Estates lost to Conant 31-6

Last year: Hoffman Estates 14, Schaumburg 0

Outlook: Both teams are coming of losses and need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. Schaumburg has to find a way to stop giving up the big play. In the past two weeks, the Saxons have allowed a 90-yard or better touchdown pass. Look for the Saxons, who had just 48 yards rushing last week, to get back to running the ball on the offensive side. Hoffman looks to re-energize its offense, which struggled last week. The Hawks' only score last week came on a 93-yard kickoff return from Jashawn Johnson.

Conant (5-0, 1-0) at Barrington (4-1, 1-0)When: Saturday, 1:30 p.m.

Last week: Conant beat Hoffman Estates 31-6; Barrington beat Palatine 31-6

Last year: Conant 21, Barrington 12

Outlook: Conant's offense has done a fantastic job of playing keep-away with its opponents in the Cougars' first five games this season. The Cougar rushing game, led by Malik Fredrick who has rushed for 859 yards, and quarterback Giuseppe Dugo, who has gained another 309 yards, has enabled Conant to keep opposing offenses off the field. The Cougars will face their biggest test against a Barrington defense, which has been the best group the Broncos have put on the field in the last few years. Led by Iowa-commit Lukas Van Ness, along with Dayben Shinhoster, Matt Reedy, Evan Roperand and Lucas Kozlowski, the Broncos have surrendered just 38 points this season and have posted two shutouts.


Maine West (4-1, 1-0) at Niles North (2-3, 0-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last week: Maine West beat Deerfield 29-6;, Niles North lost to Vernon Hills 34-9

Last year: Did not play

Outlook: Maine West took a huge step to its third consecutive CSL North title with its win last week. The Warriors had their own thunder before the storms hit last Friday as they opened up a 26-0 lead at the half. They cruised to a solid finish on Saturday and appear to be poised to continue. Danny Kentgen continues to shine at quarterback, throwing for 1,157 yards and 15 touchdowns. The Warrior defense, led by defensive ends Isaiah Siem-Davis and Emmanuel Ajose', has allowed just 16 points per game. Niles North, which moved from the CSL South to the CSL North this season, has lost its last three games.

Maine East (0-5, 0-1) at Deerfield (3-2, 0-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last week: Maine East lost to Highland Park 50-6; Deerfield lost to Maine West 29-6

Last year: Deerfield beat Maine East 54-7

Outlook: Maine East had a good opportunity to turn its season around last week. The Demons trailed just 16-6 at the half. But the rains came Friday night and washed away any momentum they had as they succumbed to Highland Park. With the loss, it guaranteed that Maine East will not qualify for the playoffs for the 42nd consecutive year. Things won't get any easier this week when the Demons face a Deerfield team that will be looking to change its playoff direction.


Evanston (2-3, 1-0) at Maine South (3-2, 1-0)When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last week: Evanston beat Glenbrook North 49-10; Maine South beat Niles West 28-0

Last year: Maine South 21, Evanston 13

Outlook: Maine South is back flying high and that is bad news for the rest of the Central Suburban South. The Hawks can take a huge step to another conference championship with a win this week over Evanston. Luke Leongas is healthy again and that should have the Maine South offense back firing on all cylinders. Ryan Kilburg and Dan Lazic are also huge weapons for the highflying Hawks. Evanston broke a three-game losing streak last week. The Wildkits could be dangerous thanks to the return of running back Quadre Nicholson, who rushed for 102 yards and 2 touchdowns last week.


St. Viator (3-2, 1-0) vs. St. Patrick (2-3, 1-0)When: Saturday, 7 p.m. at Triton College

Last week: St. Viator lost to Montini 33-14; St. Patrick lost to Notre Dame 14-0

Last year: St. Patrick 20, St. Viator 0

Outlook: This is a battle of a pair of teams that are tied for first in CCL/ESCC Purple, although winning the conference is no guarantee of a state playoff bid. Despite St. Viator's loss last week to Montini, the game was closer than the final score indicated. Jack Mahoney and Lucas Barissas have been a force running the ball for Viator thanks to an offensive line led by Jeremiah Pittman. The Lions could be catching the Shamrocks at the right time after St. Patrick played Notre Dame last week in their traditional physical rivalry.


Lyons (2-3) at Leyden (1-4)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last week: Lyons beat Proviso West 48-0; Leyden lost to Proviso East 25-20

Last year: Leyden 31, Lyons 3

Outlook: It was a difficult week for Leyden, which culminated in a last-minute loss to Proviso East. It was the first time the Eagles have lost to Proviso East since 2008. With the loss, the Eagles will now need to win out to have an opportunity at the state playoffs. Leyden's running game was at full bloom last week gaining 171 yards, and will look to get things going against Lyons. Leyden has allowed 600 passing yards in its last two games.

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