Scouting Week 9 in the Northwest suburbs
Rolling Meadows (8-0, 4-0) at Hersey (8-0, 4-0)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Rolling Meadows def. Wheeling, 63-14; Hersey def. Elk Grove, 56-21.
Last year: Rolling Meadows def. Hersey, 38-35.
Outlook: Well, it has come to this. The high school football game of the year (or at least so far anyway) in the Northwest suburbs involves two longtime rivals who battled each other as unbeatens last season, too.
But that game was in Week 8, so the stakes are even higher this year. Rolling Meadows and Hersey have been the powers of the Mid-Suburban League East in recent years and this year, their Week 9 battle loomed from Day 1 as a possibility for one heck of a dramatic regular season finish. Not only are bragging rights on the line, so is a magical undefeated season, and top seeding implications for the playoffs.
"This is fun," Hersey coach Joe Pardun said. "I remember the feeling we had last year (before the Rolling Meadows game), and I remember telling them to enjoy the week, and that's what we're saying now. With something like this, a rivalry game where you have 8-0 vs. 8-0, it's exactly where we wanted to be by the end of the season."
Rolling Meadows was also eying a Week 9 battle against Hersey for a perfect season and MSL East supremacy.
"This is a big game for us no matter what," Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler said. "But the fact that it's the situation it is this year makes it even bigger."
Rolling Meadows, which has won or tied for six of the last seven MSL East championships, held on to defeat Hersey last year in a furious finish in which Hersey rallied from a big first-half deficit but couldn't finish the job. Over the last five years, Rolling Meadows and Hersey have faced each other six times (once in the playoffs) and the series over that time is currently tied 3-3.
Rolling Meadows boasts two undefeated regular seasons in the last three years (2016 and 2018) while Hersey must go back to the early 1970s for its last undefeated regular season.
"When Hersey won a state championship in 1987, the team wasn't undefeated and didn't even win conference," Pardun said. "We're trying to teach the kids about the history of the program without overdoing it. We want them to know where they come from and what they can do (to be a part of history)."
Quarterback Jordan Hansen, who recently committed to Northern Illinois, is hoping to lead the charge for history for the Huskies. He is a dual-threat nightmare for defenses and is among the leading rushers and passers in the area.
"He's special," Mishler said of Hansen. "When you have the best player in the conference as your quarterback, it makes you a team that is tough to beat. His ability to throw and run is dangerous and we are going to have to make sure that every single guy on our defense is doing his job and that we really tackle him well. And sometimes, it's going to take two to three guys to bring him down."
The Rolling Meadows defense is up for the challenge. The Mustangs boast the stingiest defense in the MSL East, allowing 13 points per game. They've rolled up nearly 30 quarterback sacks and are surrendering fewer than 100 rushing yards per game. The strength of the defense starts with an aggressive, attacking line, which is anchored by Nate Pedraza, a Ball State commit, and Jose Aleman.
"I think the defensive line is Rolling Meadows' strength," Pardun said. "Everyone talks about that. Their defense is very good and it starts with the line. They play with great leverage. They are strong and they come off the ball hard. But they play low and they are still in control. We're going to have to have a really good balance of offense."
Meanwhile, the Rolling Meadows offense has been balanced between the passing of Carson Schiller, who is growing each week after spending the last couple of years as a reserve, and running backs Chris DiVito, Noah Wilson and Charlie Schmidt. The Hersey defense, led by linebacker Blake von der Lippe, is the second-stingiest in the MSL East (behind Rolling Meadows) and is allowing 18.5 points per game. Stingy defenses may not matter though in this game, where scoring should happen on the regular. Hersey leads the MSL East in scoring at a whopping 49.5 points per game. Rolling Meadows ranks second at 40.8 points per game.
"It's going to be a great atmosphere and I know our fans, which are called the Stampede and have been awesome all year, will be there. They've been a big part of what we've done all year," Mishler said. "It's going to be great and our message to our kids is to take it all in. A lot of teams right now don't have much to play for in Week 9. We are blessed to be playing in such a big game like this."
Elk Grove (2-6, 1-3) at Buffalo Grove (3-5, 1-3)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Elk Grove lost Hersey 56-21; Buffalo Grove lost to Prospect 51-35
Last year: Buffalo Grove 17, Elk Grove 7
Outlook: This was not the season either team had hoped for as they play in their final game of the 2019 campaign. Elk Grove has already doubled its win total from last year and should have a ton to build off with junior running back Ian Ridge, who has rushed for over 1,300 yards. Buffalo Grove will miss the playoffs for the first time in three years. The Bison have also looked good on the offensive side of the ball with Max Oberman rushing for 563 yards and sophomore Cole Nixon with 413 yards. Mark Antonetti has thrown for 1,334 yards.
Prospect (6-2, 2-2) at Wheeling (0-8, 0-4)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Prospect beat Buffalo Grove 51-35; Wheeling lost to Rolling Meadows 63-14
Last year: Prospect 36, Wheeling 33
Outlook: Prospect will look to get some momentum as the Knights are assured of heading to the playoffs for the second consecutive year. The Prospect offense has been thriving with Gary Moeller at the helm, throwing for 21 touchdowns and 1,794 yards. Noah Marx, who had two touchdown receptions last week and 32 catches on the season and Matt Meyer, who has 20 receptions, are his two favorite targets while Luke Zardzin has now rushed for 1,113 yards. They all figure to augment those stats against a Wheeling team that has allowed an average of over 60 points per game.
Schaumburg (3-5, 1-3) at Barrington (5-3, 2-2)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Schaumburg lost to Palatine 22-9; Barrington beat Hoffman Estates 28-0
Last year: Barrington 27, Schaumburg 13
Outlook: The loss by Schaumburg last week ended the Saxons' hopes at a playoff spot. Schaumburg's offense struggled at times with the running game producing only 55 yards. After losing two games in a row, Barrington may have turned the corner last week with its victory. It came at the right time for Barrington, which will look to secure its seventh consecutive playoff appearance. The Broncos' offense, which had been stymied the prior week against Fremd, produced 452 yards of total offense against Hoffman. The defense was nearly as impressive, posting its third shutout of the season and has allowed just over 9 points per game.
Conant (6-2, 2-2) at Palatine (3-5, 2-2)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Conant lost to Fremd 20-12; Palatine beat Schaumburg 22-9
Last year: Conant 41, Palatine 7
Outlook: Conant has dropped its last two games and the Cougars look to rebound before heading into the state playoffs. Penalties and fumbles have been Conant's undoing in its last two games. The Cougars look to rally behind running back Malik Frederick, who has rushed for 1,137 yards. Palatine is not dead yet. The Pirates have won their last two games with a swarming defense and a nice, balanced offensive attack. They also have a slim hope at the playoffs thanks to the CPS teachers strike. Palatine has to win first and then have a number of other games go its way.
Hoffman Estates (4-4, 1-3) at Fremd (6-2, 4-0) When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Fremd beat Conant 20-12; Hoffman Estates lost to Barrington 28-0
Last year: Fremd 31, Hoffman Estates 9
Outlook: Fremd has wrapped up the MSL West. Now the Vikings are looking to run the table and secure a higher seed in the Class 8A playoffs. Fremd has won its last five games thanks to a defense led by Jack Hipchen, Chris Skaria, Jason Haas, Trey Castella, Jack Walsh and Will Kristo. The Vikings have posted two shutouts and allowed just 37 points during that span. Hoffman needs a win to become playoff eligible and keep its playoff streak of three consecutive years alive. The Hawks have lost their last two games and their offense has struggled as they have not scored in 9 consecutive quarters.
Central Suburban South
Maine South (6-2, 4-0) at New Trier (4-4, 3-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Maine South beat Glenbrook South 28-13; New Trier beat Glenbrook North 31-13
Last year: Maine South 38, New Trier 21
Outlook: Maine South has clinched a share of the CSL South for the 17th time in the last 18 years. But the Hawks aren't looking to share anything and a win over New Trier will give them the title outright. Maine South will be looking to avoid penalties like the ones that cost them three touchdowns last week in its win over Glenbrook South. Peter Skoronowki, who was awarded his jersey for January's All-American Bowl, anchors a fierce offensive line that has the Hawks averaging over 30 points per game. New Trier made a quarterback change a few weeks back and the Trevians have won three straight since then. They also need a win to qualify for the playoffs.
Central Suburban North
Maine West (7-1, 4-0) at Highland Park (4-4, 2-2)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Maine West beat Vernon Hills 59-38; Highland Park lost to Deerfield 22-0
Last year: Maine West 28, Highland Park 7
Outlook: Danny Kentgen continues to sling it well for the Warriors and has upped his season school- record to 27 touchdown passes. He has also thrown just 2 interceptions while passing for 1,876 yards. Jaden Dolphin, who had 3 interceptions, last week, upped his season total to five. Maine West has already earned a share of the CSL North for the third consecutive year. With a win, the Warriors will have claimed the conference title outright for the second consecutive year.
Vernon Hills (4-4, 1-3) at Maine East (0-8, 0-4)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Vernon Hills lost to Maine West 59-38; Maine East lost to Niles North 59-16
Last year: Vernon Hills 57, Maine East 6
Outlook: Maine East has an opportunity to act like a spoiler if the Blue Demons can find a way to come out on top in their final game of the season. It has been a difficult year for Maine East, which has now lost 25 consecutive games. The Demons did have a few late highlights last week with Isaac O'Neil catching a pair of touchdown passes and lineman Kevin Wingate with a conversion run. Vernon Hills, which won its first three games of the season, has lost three in a row and 4 of its last 5.
Carmel (1-7, 0-2) vs. St. Viator (4-4, 2-0) at Robert MorrisWhen: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Carmel lost to Brother Rice 32-3; St. Viator lost to Mt. Carmel 37-7
Last year: Carmel 27, St. Viator 14
Outlook: Viator, which has won both of its previous division games in overtime, has the Purple division championship on the line in what has been a very even CCL/ESCC division this season. More importantly, a win puts the Lions back in the playoffs. After a sparse home crowd attended last week's game with Mt. Carmel, the Lions expect a huge turnout for the Mundelein version of the Carmelites. Viator is hopeful it can get the offense back on track after injuries at quarterback have slowed the Lions in recent weeks. Carmel has lost 5 in a row and has been outscored in those games 183-68.
West Suburan Gold
Hinsdale South (3-5, 2-3) at Leyden (3-5, 3-2)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Last week: Hinsdale South lost to Addison Trail 26-13; Leyden lost to Downers Grove South 20-3
Last year: Hinsdale South 20, Leyden 14
Outlook: It was a mixed week for Leyden, which lost last weekend but then picked up a win on Wednesday when the IHSA awarded the Eagles a forfeit win over Proviso East. It still won't be enough as Leyden will sit out the playoffs this season. The Eagles hope to pick up another win in their final game of the season. They will need to keep their running game going as quarterback Jim Lonigro has been a force running the ball the last few weeks. Hinsdale South enters the game on a three-game losing streak.