Hersey (4-4, 2-2) at Rolling Meadows (5-3, 2-2)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Robert A. Hoese Athletic Field
Last week: Hersey lost to Elk Grove 16-7; Meadows lost to Prospect 18-13
Outlook: Hersey would gladly take the opportunity to sweat out its hopes of making the playoffs while Rolling Meadows would rather avoid it with its sixth win. Both teams were hurt by turnovers last week two by Meadows and four by Hersey. "What was a lot different from the other two losses is we had control for a lot of the game," said Meadows coach Matt Mishler. "I thought we did a lot of things well but we put it on the ground a few times again and that kills us." Meadows will look to give QB Jack Milas more time this week and Mishler hopes WR Tyler Bobowski will be able to play after he went out with an injury on the first play last week. Hersey looks to keep its hopes alive for its first playoff berth since 2004 behind QB Brad Zaucha. "The thing that jumps out at me is how hard they play," Mishler said. Meadows won its sixth straight last year in a series Hersey leads 15-11.
Prospect (4-4, 3-1) at Buffalo Grove (1-7, 0-4)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Grant Blaney Stadium
Last week: Prospect d. Rolling Meadows 18-13; BG lost to Wheeling 31-14
Outlook: After two emotion-filled games a loss to Elk Grove and the win over Meadows Prospect looks to complete its recovery from a 1-3 start and put itself in position for a seventh straight playoff trip that would now be the longest streak in the MSL. "We're going to play a dangerous and what I consider a pretty good football team," said Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen. "They have a pretty good offensive line and that will be a challenge for our front four." Two-way lineman Austin Tixier comes off a monster game last week for the Knights and will try to help contain dangerous Bison QB Richie Zirngibl. Prospect QB Sam Frasco and RB Sam Mazukelli helped control the clock for 34:21 last week and DL Shola George came through as injured MLB Mike Etchingham couldn't play last week and is questionable. BG has been hit hard by the injury bug with recent losses of DL Matt Zabrin (knee), OL Tommy Sakkos (shoulder) and RB Alex Fritz (ankle). "I'm just upset for Richie and Mike (LB-RB Catino)," Farrell said. "They're really carrying the load right now and I want something better for them." Prospect's 24-0 win last year was its 12th in 15 meetings in a series it leads 14-11.
Elk Grove (7-1, 4-0) at Wheeling (2-6, 1-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Elk Grove d. Hersey 16-7; Wheeling d. Buffalo Grove 31-14
Outlook: The good news for Elk Grove as it goes for its first outright MSL East title and 8-win season since 2004 is LB-QB Dejan Basara and DB Dylan Edwards were cleared for contact and will see some action tonight to add to a defense that has been stifling all season. "It's the right time to get healthy," said Elk Grove coach Brian Doll. "The momentum is going our way right now getting those kids back. We want to win the conference championship outright so it's a big game for our program." Doll also knows it's big for Wheeling as seniors such as QB Tyler Brady and RB Ed Scanlon would like to send out retiring head coach Dave Dunbar with consecutive victories. "Defensively they're very good," Dunbar said of Elk Grove. "Their front three or four guys are as good as anybody around." Elk Grove has won the last two meetings in a series Wheeling leads 16-11.
Conant (6-2, 2-2) at Palatine (7-1, 4-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Chic Anderson Stadium
Last week: Conant d. Schaumburg 21-14; Palatine d. Hoffman Estates 32-0
Outlook: Both teams will get a solid postseason tuneup and the opportunity to enhance their positions for next week. Conant's emotion-filled win sealed its first playoff trip since 2006 while Palatine is in for the fifth straight year and is looking for its first outright MSL division title and 8-win season since 1997. "We feel pretty good right now but we have to guard against a little bit of a letdown," said Conant coach Bill Modelski. "It was an emotional game for us. We have to play well." There are solid matchups and talented athletes all over the field in Conant QB Matt Cullen, WR and Wildcat QB Tim Manczko, OL Paul Perschon, MLB John Maevski and Gino Prestia and Palatine RBs John Serio and Cam Kuksa, QB Ethan Olles, S-WR Jesse Bobbit and LB-WR Kurt Becker. "We've seen a lot of juniors that didn't start for us last year who aren't playing like juniors anymore," said Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly. "They're playing a lot better." Palatine has won three of the last four in a series Conant leads 18-14.
Barrington (6-2, 3-1) at Schaumburg (4-4, 2-2)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Gary Scholz Stadium
Last week: Barrington d. Fremd 20-7; Schaumburg lost to Conant 21-14
Outlook: A win and Schaumburg is in the postseason for the fourth straight year with 40-plus playoff points. The Saxons won't see Barrington RB-LB Chase Murdock, who has to sit out per IHSA rules after he was ejected for a personal foul penalty last week, but he also missed last year's matchup because of injury and the Broncos won 34-32. "The other deal is who gets the carries for them and how they distribute the ball offensively," said Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling. "It will be interesting how we try to decipher that." Sophomore QB Stacey Smith ran and threw for TDs last week and the Saxons' defense hung tough except for what Stilling said were "two or three plays that crushed us." Barrington still has a shot at a share of the MSL West title if Conant beats Palatine and is trying to improve its postseason status to a potential home game. The Broncos have won eight of the last nine meetings and lead the series 16-8.
Fremd (3-5, 1-3) at Hoffman Estates (0-8, 0-4)
When: 7:30 p.m. today at Dennis Garber Stadium
Last week: Fremd lost to Barrington 20-7; Hoffman lost to Palatine 32-0
Outlook: Both teams are looking to finish on a positive note as retiring Fremd coach Mike Donatucci returns to where his high school career started as an assistant in 1979. The Vikings allowed only 240 yards last week but were unable to get on the scoreboard until the final minutes on Sam Beutler's 15-yard pass to A.J. McGhee. Hoffman had its chances again last week but couldn't convert red-zone chances and lost LB-RBs Alex Proskey and Jared Bruemmer and MLB Alex Garcia to injuries last week. Hoffman coach Bill Helzer said Bruemmer and Garcia should play and hoped Proskey would be able to go as well. "It would be nice to put some points on the board and play with the confidence we had in the second half against Schaumburg," Helzer said. Fremd has won the last 13 meetings in a series its leads 20-5.
CENTRAL SUBURBAN NORTH
Niles North (2-6, 1-3) at Maine West (0-8, 0-4)
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Last week: Niles North lost to Deerfield 39-7; Maine West lost to Maine East 27-7
Outlook: Maine West got nearly one-third of its 123 yards on Tristan Bakulinski's 40-yard touchdown run that gave it a 7-6 second-quarter lead last week but it was all Maine East from there. Now Maine West has its final shot to avoid a winless season for only the second time (1985). Niles North has lost three straight since opening CSL North play with a win over Maine East. The Vikings' other win was 2-0 over cross-town rival Niles West.
EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC
St. Viator (2-6, 1-6) at Nazareth (7-1, 6-1)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last week: St. Viator d. Benet 28-0; Nazareth d. Riverside-Brookfield 44-6
Outlook: The Lions improved to 2-1 in their last three games and two of the area's top junior skill players, QB Mickey Macius and WR John Balas, look to spoil the Roadrunners' hopes of getting a share of the ESCC title. Nazareth has won six straight since a loss to Carmel and is in a three-way tie for the league lead with Joliet Catholic and Marist, which play each other tonight.
Christian Liberty (1-7, 1-7) at CICS/Longwood (6-2, 6-2)
When: 7 p.m. today at St. Rita's Pat Cronin Field
Last week: Christian Liberty d. Kirkland Hiawatha 41-21; CICS/Longwood lost to North Shore Country Day 26-6
Outlook: Can Christian Liberty turn another long trip, this one to Chicago's South Side, into a third straight defeat for Longwood? "We're going to go out there and have fun and try to upset the apple cart," said Christian Liberty coach Jim Calkins. Longwood also lost to 23-14 to Mooseheart, which travels to North Shore on Saturday in an unbeaten showdown for the NAC title. Christian Liberty had a record-setting offensive performance last week led by RB Marcus Silva (168 yards, 2 TDs) and QB Gabe Grob (152 yards passing, 2 TDs).
WEST SUBURBAN CROSSOVER
Leyden (3-5) at Lyons (4-4)
When: 7:30 p.m. in Western Springs
Last week: Leyden d. Proviso East 35-28; Lyons lost to Proviso West 41-14
Outlook: Leyden has 33 juniors and a sophomore looking to carry a four-game winning streak into next season and seniors such as red-hot QB Joe DiFronzo and hard-hitting LB Nelson Lugo can end a Lyons season filled with preseason promise. DiFronzo threw for 239 yards and 2 TDs and his second TD run last week with 4:44 left broke a 28-28 tie. Lugo had 10 tackles and Mike Smith, Adam Morrison and sophomore Keenan Davis had interceptions in the victory at Proviso East.