Fremd (2-2) at Conant (4-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Charles O. Feutz Field
Last week: Fremd d. Buffalo Grove 31-10; Conant d. Hersey 18-7
Outlook: The only unbeaten team in the MSL opens division play against the team defending a league-record eight straight outright or shared West titles. "They're not as big as they usually are - but it's still them," said Conant coach Bill Modelski of Fremd. "They have some weapons offensively that make you take notice and it's certainly maybe the best team we've seen so far, so we have to play well." Fremd senior RB A.J. McGhee and the offensive line have taken some pressure off sophomore QB Sam Beutler and coach Mike Donatucci likes how the defense has come around. The Vikings will be tested by Conant QB Matt Cullen, WR Tim Manczko, RBs Jacobi Sims and Cordell Smith and an aggressive defense where Danny Lampert and Gino Prestia combined for 7 sacks last week. "It looks like the old Conant quality-wise," Donatucci said. "They have good skill kids and they're tough up front on both sides. They're the real deal." Fremd's 31-10 win last year was its seventh straight in a series it leads 14-13.
Palatine (3-1) at Schaumburg (2-2)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Gary Scholz Stadium
Last week: Palatine d. Prospect 28-8; Schaumburg lost to Elk Grove 20-7
Outlook: Palatine would like to duplicate last week where it had no turnovers as QB Ethan Olles threw for 290 yards and RB John Serio returned from a one-game absence with a rib injury to rush for 116. But the Pirates would also like to eliminate the 16 penalties for 135 yards against a Schaumburg team that has been a roadblock the last two years. "The important thing is we have to play good defense again," said Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly of his team allowing 21 points in a three-game winning streak. "Schaumburg can always score points and we have to limit our turnovers and penalties." Schaumburg moved the ball for 341 yards last week as QB Jon Anzelmo threw for 247 and Stacey Smith had 8 catches for 162 yards. But Smith's second-quarter TD run was its only trip into the end zone. "We did enough good things offensively to put ourselves in position but we didn't finish," said Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling. "Defensively we did some really good things at times. It seems so easy to say consistency but that's what it really is." Schaumburg's 35-27 win last year was its second straight in a series Palatine leads 13-11.
Hoffman Estates (0-4) at Barrington (3-1)
When: 2 p.m. Saturday at Barrington Community Stadium
Last week: Hoffman lost to Meadows 53-7; Barrington d. Wheeling 37-15
Outlook: Hoffman knows it has to give itself a chance to have a shot at an upset similar to the 21-14 win in 2007 on Barrington's homecoming. "It's like groundhog day for us," Hoffman coach Bill Helzer said of 19 turnovers the first four games. "We get down in the red zone and we feel the need to score and take advantage of this. It's one of those things where we're not making the easy play and we're not letting the game come to us. I feel bad for the defense being put in bad situations time and time again." But Hoffman is definitely more diverse and capable with QB Jordan Hudak and a big target in Eric Saubert. Barrington won its third straight last week as it didn't allow a point the first three quarters and QB Mark Bennett and WR Sam Handler teamed up to give some balance to the running game led by Chase Murdock. "The good news for us is we know we're better and it's all correctable," Helzer said. "At some point we have to put it all together. The kids believe that and they haven't given up." Barrington's 17-6 win last year was its third straight in a series it leads 19-3.
Elk Grove (3-1) at Buffalo Grove (1-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Grant Blaney Stadium
Last week: Elk Grove d. Schaumburg 20-7; BG lost to Fremd 31-10
Outlook: BG coach Jim Farrell compared starting MSL East play "to getting a fresh set of downs on offense" after a three-game losing streak that included 10 turnovers the last three weeks and costly special-teams mistakes. "The first four games have definitely gotten us prepared," Farrell said of starting against teams a combined 11-5. "We know a lot of things that have set us back are our own doing. We have the potential to do things right and we're ready to go and make a run at the East." Senior MLB Mike Catino has been playing well and the Bison have also been getting some good work up front but they may have to adjust on the fly since Elk Grove will be without QB Dejan Basara (broken collarbone). "If you think you're going to scout us this week, good luck," Elk Grove coach Brian Doll said with a laugh. "We're still trying to figure it out." Whoever starts at QB junior Jon Ebert or sophomore Adam O'Malley will be helped by solid play up front from Greg Johnsen and Dan Egan. "Those are tough things to overcome," Farrell said of Elk Grove's rash of injuries last week, "but I'm sure they'll be fired up and ready to play." Elk Grove's 23-7 win last year was its third straight in a series BG leads 16-7.
Prospect (1-3) at Hersey (2-2)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Roland Goins Stadium
Last week: Prospect lost to Palatine 28-8; Hersey lost to Conant 18-7
Outlook: Both teams come in off tough nonconference stretches and games they didn't believe were indicative of their capability. "Palatine's a good football team but we didn't play the most disciplined game we could have and we paid for it," said Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen. "Here's a second chance and an opportunity - and another tough game against what I think is a good football team." Defending East champion Prospect was hurt by some big plays on defense last week and couldn't fully capitalize on the 176 combined rushing yards running of Sam Mazukelli and QB Sam Frasco. Hersey has lost consecutive games to Barrington and Conant and the key is giving QB Brad Zaucha time to find receivers such as Justin Jobski, David Jackowski and Brian Kiss after he was sacked nine times last week. "His stats when he's getting time are through the roof," said Hersey coach Dragan Teonic. "We had a really solid week of practice and (Prospect's) record doesn't mean anything. The kids they have on the field are pretty good and they're tough." Prospect's 48-6 win last year was its sixth straight and 11th in 13 tries in a series Hersey leads 15-13.
Wheeling (1-3) at Rolling Meadows (3-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Robert A. Hoese Athletic Field
Last week: Wheeling lost to Barrington 37-15; Meadows d. Hoffman 53-7
Outlook: No one knows that it would be a mistake to be fooled by Wheeling's record than first-year Meadows coach Matt Mishler. He coached many of Wheeling's top skill kids such as QB Tyler Brady, RB Eddie Scanlon and WR Jeremy Frederick two years ago. "They play hard and they definitely fly around to the football," Mishler said. "Brady is one of the best quarterbacks around, Scanlon is as hard a runner as there is in the area and Frederick is a great talent." Wheeling did suffer a setback in practice this week when it lost WR-DB Sam Yoshino to a sprained ankle but coach Dave Dunbar saw some encouraging signs at the end of a tough crossover schedule against Conant, Palatine and Barrington. "Even though things didn't go well early there was improvement offensively and defensively," Dunbar said. "But now we've got the beast of the East. They're pretty good over there." Hoffman took WR Artie Checchin out of the mix last week but Meadows QB Jack Milas spread the ball around with Ryan Gundersen, Tyler Bobowski and John Burkiewicz. Meadows' 28-0 win last year was its 11th in 12 tries in a series it leads 18-9.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
Notre Dame (1-3, 0-3) at St. Viator (0-4, 0-4)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Forest View Educational Center
Last week: Notre Dame d. Leo 28-7; St. Viator lost to Joliet Catholic 63-3
Outlook: Both schools have some common ground against Joliet Catholic, the top-ranked Class 5A team by The Associated Press. Notre Dame lost 42-0 to the Hilltoppers in Week 2 and Viator avoided a shutout last week on Will Solimene's fourth-quarter field goal. Two weeks ago the Dons trailed Carmel by 5 points early in the fourth quarter before losing 26-7 despite 253 yards passing by Nick Pieruccini. He threw for 99 yards last week and Chris James rushed for 118 yards and 2 TDs. Viator will try to get it going again offensively behind junior QB Mickey Macius.
WEST SUBURBAN GOLD
Hinsdale South (2-2, 1-1) at Leyden (0-4, 0-2)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at West Campus, Northlake
Last week: Hinsdale South lost to Addison Trail 21-0; Leyden lost to Downers Grove South 49-0
Outlook: Hinsdale South has a chance to match its best win total in the last five seasons while Leyden tries to stop its worst start since the 2002 team finished 0-9. The Hornets, in their first year under coach Mike Barry, have a shot at their first playoff berth since 2005 with 2-point wins over Romeoville and Proviso East but have averaged only 201 yards per game. Junior QB D.J. Deolitsis has thrown for 254 yards and rushed for 174 and 4 TDs and Keonte Hall has rushed for 245 yards. Leyden has also struggled offensively but got 86 yards rushing last week from Mickey Gulo.
CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTH
Maine West (0-4) at Highland Park (1-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Wolters Field
Last week: Maine West lost to New Trier 62-0; Highland Park d. Niles West 47-14
Outlook: The struggles have gone beyond the scoreboard for Maine West as it is also banged up after losing B.J. Lambert (knee) a couple of weeks ago and losing QB Jake Korbecki in the second half last week to a knee injury. Highland Park has also been injury-plagued as it lost OL Mike Beauchamp (separated shoulder) in the opener and starting TB Nate Echt (bruised knee) missed last week, but junior RB Andrew Sledd did more than just fill in with 6 TDs against Niles West that included a pair on kickoff returns. The Giants have been splitting time at QB with Jason Goldstein and Max Mordini and their losses are to teams with a combined record of 9-3 (Elk Grove, Lake Forest and New Trier).
Christian Liberty (0-4, 0-4) at Alden-Hebron (1-3, 1-3)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Christian Liberty lost to Mooseheart 42-0; Alden-Hebron lost 27-21 to CICS/Longwood
Outlook: Christian Liberty is still looking for its first points this season and is the only team in the state that has played four games that hasn't scored. Alden-Hebron's start is surprising on the surface for a team that has made the playoffs in all eight of its seasons under head coach John Lalor, but its losses are to the NAC's three unbeaten teams (Mooseheart, North Shore Country Day and CICS/Longwood). Connor Schroeder has rushed for 278 yards and 4 TDs, QB Bryce Lalor is 16-for-45 for 237 yards with a TD and 2 INTs and Shane Engelbrecht has caught 6 passes for 126 yards and a TD.