Schaumburg (4-3, 2-1) at Conant (5-2, 1-2)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Charles O. Feutz Field
Last week: Schaumburg d. Hoffman Estates 56-42; Conant lost to Barrington 29-28
Outlook: The postseason tension eases for the winner and increases for the loser going into Week 9 matchups where Schaumburg faces Barrington and Conant is at Palatine. Playoff points in the 40s wouldn't be a problem for Schaumburg with 5 wins and Conant would like the guaranteed sixth win since its playoff points are more tenuous in the mid-30s. "It has huge implications for both of us," said Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling, whose team is looking for a fourth straight playoff berth for the first time in school history. The good news for Conant after last week's last-second loss is QB Matt Cullen (1,265 yards, 14 TDs, 1 INT) practiced this week and should be back after leaving in the second quarter with an injured ankle. "He looks like he's going to go," said Conant coach Bill Modelski, whose team is looking for its first playoff berth since 2006. "For what we ask him to do, he'll be fine. He keeps getting better every day." That allows dangerous Tim Manczko to move back to WR to test a Saxons' defense which Stilling said "since West play started, the kids have responded nicely to being handled by Rolling Meadows and Elk Grove." Schaumburg's offense with electrifying QB Stacey Smith gets a boost this week with the return of senior C Mike Baumhart from injury against one of the league's top defenses led by LBs John Maevski and Gino Prestia. "These guys are different," Modelski said of the Saxons. "They play with speed on offense and our offense has to give us some help." The Cougars lost DE Laderrian Watson (torn ACL) last week and TE Nick Blaha (knee) is also out this week. Schaumburg's 42-21 win last year was its fourth straight in a series it leads 24-16.
Fremd (3-4, 1-2) at Barrington (5-2, 2-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Barrington Community Stadium
Last week: Fremd lost to Palatine 28-7; Barrington d. Conant 29-28
Outlook: For the second straight season, Fremd faces the challenging must-win task of extending the longest playoff streak in Mid-Suburban League history to 17 years. "It's going to take a real solid effort on all three sides of the ball to get this one done," said Fremd coach Mike Donatucci, whose team climbed out of a 1-4 hole that included a 26-12 win over the Broncos last year. "We just have to play well. We told them it's a playoff game for us." Mistakes on both sides haunted the Vikings last week after they tied the game in the second quarter and WR Josh Jyawook, who caught the only TD, is questionable along with DB Keith Browning while OL Nick Loden is out for the year with a recurring knee problem. The defense will be tested by workhorse RB Chase Murdock (1,279 yards, 16 TDs), who surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight year. "Their running game was impressive against Conant," Donatucci said. "Conant's not a bad defensive team and Barrington just took it to them." A win by Barrington would seal its eighth playoff trip in 10 years. Fremd has won six straight meetings and 10 of the last 11 in a series it leads 21-13.
Hoffman Estates (0-7, 0-3) at Palatine (6-1, 3-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Chic Anderson Stadium
Last week: Hoffman lost to Schaumburg 56-42; Palatine d. Fremd 28-7
Outlook: Palatine would clinch at least a share of the MSL West title for the first time since 2008 and could possibly claim it outright if it extends its winning streak to seven games. The diverse offense of QB Ethan Olles, RBs Cam Kuksa and John Serio and receivers Alex Nawrot, Jesse Bobbit and Taylor Hall and 2 interceptions by Dan Riddle has the Pirates on the verge of their fifth straight 7-win season under Tyler Donnelly. Hoffman had one of its most productive offensive games in years after it fell behind 35-0 last week as QB Jordan Hudak had 406 of his team's 520 total yards, Alex Proskey rushed for 111 and junior Anthony Patrick caught 19 passes for 110 yards. Palatine also won nine shared or outright MSL North titles and won conference titles in 1965 and 1952. The Pirates' 49-7 win last year was their fourth straight in a series they lead 14-9.
Rolling Meadows (5-2, 2-1) at Prospect (3-4, 2-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at George Gattas Stadium
Last week: Rolling Meadows d. Buffalo Grove 41-21; Prospect lost to Elk Grove 24-21
Outlook: One of the area's best rivalries has a different coaching look with Meadows' Matt Mishler and Prospect's Mike Sebestyen in their first year in charge. What hasn't changed is a game with a lot of meaning as a win officially puts Meadows back in the playoffs after a seven-year streak of appearances ended last year and Prospect is in must-win mode to extend its postseason streak to seven. The challenge for the Knights' defense led by Austin Tixier, Mike Mayerck and Mike Houghton up front will be keeping QB Jack Milas (1,745 yards, 23 TDs) from having too much time to find his receiving crew of Artie Checchin, Ryan Gundersen and Tyler Bobowski. "They're going to make plays and we need to understand that," Sebestyen said. "When we have the ball we have to take some time off the clock." That didn't happen in the second half last week as Prospect just missed on a couple of potential long TD passes. The Knights also have to contend with healthy Meadows RB Garrett Peterson, who rushed for 162 yards last week. "The thing people forget with all of the passing is when Meadows wants to they can run the football," Sebestyen said. Prospect leads the series 21-18 and its 40-7 win last year was the fourth straight for the road team.
Hersey (4-3, 2-1) at Elk Grove (6-1, 3-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Robert Haskell Stadium
Last week: Hersey d. Wheeling 16-0; Elk Grove d. Prospect 24-21
Outlook: Big wins over Buffalo Grove, Rolling Meadows and Prospect has Elk Grove in position to clinch a share of its first MSL East title since 2004. "We've talked about finishing all week," said Elk Grove coach Brian Doll. "We've put ourselves in position to be the lone dog (in the East). We don't want to share the conference championship. We want to win it outright." Elk Grove sophomore QB Adam O'Malley continues to get more comfortable and the running game of Stefan Skoneczka and Darren Little keeps getting stronger. Hersey senior Jake Mueller had 2 interceptions and a strong all-around game last week and the Huskies will try to give QB Brad Zaucha time to get the offense going against Elk Grove's solid front line led by Greg Johnsen and Dan Egan. "It will be a playoff-type atmosphere," Doll said. "They travel better than anyone else right now so the place will be rocking." Elk Grove's 28-13 win last year was its ninth in 12 meetings in a series it leads 17-10.
Wheeling (1-6, 0-3) at Buffalo Grove (1-6, 0-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Grant Blaney Stadium
Last week: Wheeling lost to Hersey 16-0; BG lost to Meadows 41-21
Outlook: The optimism of starting with victories has long faded as the neighborhood rivals now battle for local bragging rights. But both teams showed they're still fighting to the finish with the way they played teams with a lot at stake. Wheeling allowed only 175 yards of offense and trailed 9-0 Hersey at halftime and BG got 269 yards rushing from QB Rich Zirngibl, John Pallister and Mike Catino as it trailed Meadows 28-21 in the third quarter. Justin Frederick rushed for 54 yards last week for Wheeling, which trails the series 26-11 but beat BG 14-7 last year for the third time in four tries.
CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTH
Maine East (0-7, 0-3) at Maine West (0-7, 0-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Maine East lost to Deerfield 51-0; Maine West lost to Glenbrook North 21-14
Outlook: Bragging rights and a chance to bust losing streaks (Maine East at 15; Maine West at nine) are on the line between the District 207 rivals. Maine West hung tough last week against defending CSL North champion Glenbrook North and was tied in the fourth quarter as QB Jake Korbecki rushed and passed for TDs. Two weeks ago Maine East lost 35-21 to division co-leader Highland Park but RB-OLB Mike Kuzebski missed last week with a concussion after consecutive 100-yard games. Maine West won 26-12 last year and is trying to avoid going winless for only the second time (1985).
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
Benet (1-6, 0-6) at St. Viator (1-6, 0-6)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Forest View Educational Center
Last week: Benet d. South Bend (Ind.) Washington 6-0; St. Viator lost to Carmel 51-32
Outlook: St. Viator was able to ride the momentum of its first win for three quarters against one of the ESCC leaders as it trailed only 27-24 behind 3 TD passes from junior QB Mickey Macius (1,291 yards, 11 TDs, 7 INTs) with two to Kevin Hammarlund and the other to John Balas. "We played for three quarters about as well as we could play but we didn't put four quarters together," said Viator coach Chris Kirkpatrick. "Mickey played up to his potential and he's pretty good when he does that." Benet has been shut out three times this year but has also allowed the third-fewest points in the ESCC (137) behind Joliet Catholic and Nazareth. Last week the Redwings got 109 yards rushing from Porter Ontko and 2 field goals from John Duvic while turning away two red zone trips. "They're tough defensively and they capitalize on people's mistakes," Kirkpatrick said. Benet has traditionally been a Viator nemesis and won 10-7 last year.
Christian Liberty (0-7, 0-7) at Kirkland Hiawatha (0-7, 0-7)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Christian Liberty lost to Rockford Christian 50-6; Kirkland Hiawatha lost to Alden-Hebron 44-0.
Outlook: Christian Liberty found the end zone for the third straight week and got 86 yards rushing from Dan Glad after it was shutout the first four games. Kirkland Hiawatha hasn't scored in the last five games since its 40-10 loss to Hope Academy and has lost 10 straight games. Hiawatha won last year's meeting 14-4.
WEST SUBURBAN GOLD
Leyden (2-5, 2-3) at Proviso East (1-6, 1-3)
When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Last week: Leyden d. Willowbrook 31-0; Proviso East lost to Downers Grove South 38-9
Outlook: Leyden put together a complete game last week as QB Joey DiFronzo threw for 264 yards and 2 TDs and ran for two scores and receivers Dan Schoedel (9 catches, 163 yards) and Mike Lurigio (8 catches, 77 yards) had big days. The defense led by LB Nelson Lugo allowed only 127 total yards and Krystian Chudoba hit a long field goal (47 yards) for the second straight week. Leyden has a chance to finish at .500 in the WSC Gold as it finishes the season with a crossover against Lyons. Proviso East snapped a 14-game losing streak three weeks ago when it beat Willowbrook 48-6. Leyden's 35-0 victory last year was its second in a row against a program that had traditionally been a stumbling block.