Steve Soucie’s Week 5 games to watch: Some power programs find themselves in unfamiliar positions

Focus shifts to teams fighting to stay above .500

Prairie Ridge’s Joseph Vanderwiel looks for an opening against Huntley in varsity football at Crystal Lake Friday night.

With a large number of the state’s 79 undefeated teams playing games in favorable matchups, the focus in Week 5 is going to be on programs that are making their best efforts to stay above the .500 mark.

The group of teams at 2-2 is larger than it usually is at this point. As such, a number of 2-2 teams are playing against one another. The losers will drop below .500, which is a bad place since they will almost certainly need to close the season by winning at least three of their final four games just to get into the playoff conversation.

If one uses the CCL/ESCC as an example, the .500 conundrum becomes a little clearer. Fourteen of the conference’s 24 teams already have at least two losses. Based on this week’s matchups it seems probable that there will be at least nine teams in the league with at least three losses on the their ledgers, possibly more. And with four more weeks on the schedule that is filled with difficult games, teams with three losses already face a massive uphill climb.

While the CCL/ESCC might be an extreme case, there are multiple other games around the state the feature teams trying to avoid putting their playoff hopes in perilous positions.

Here’s a look at some of the top games in Week 5:

Carmel (4-0) at Mount Carmel (4-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday: Carmel is off to its best start in over a decade, but it’s going to require another step up in play to hang with the Caravan, who are simply playing like a well-oiled machine right now.

Prairie Ridge (4-0) at Cary-Grove (4-0), 7 p.m. Friday: It seems inevitable on a yearly basis that these two programs will collide with fairly heavy stakes on the outcome. The winner will take sole possession of the conference lead in the Fox Valley.

Wheaton North (3-1) at Batavia (3-1), 7 p.m. Friday: It seems like there’s at least one pivotal game in the DuKane Conference race every week. The winner here will likely have at least a share of the lead, something that could still pass through several teams’ hands before we’re done.

Warren (2-2) at Lake Zurich (4-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday: Warren has regrouped nicely from an 0-2 start during nonconference play and is now looking to re-establish control of the North Suburban Conference, a league which it has claimed ownership of for much of the last decade.

Lockport (3-1) at Bradley-Bourbonnais (3-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday: All of a sudden the SouthWest Suburban Conference has developed depth from top to bottom making every game challenging and every potential win a valuable commodity.

Other games of note: St. Viator at Brother Rice; Bolingbrook at Lincoln-Way West; Hersey at Buffalo Grove; St. Joseph-Ogden at Carterville; Casey-Westfield at Lawrenceville; Bloomington at Normal Community; Marist at IC Catholic; Palatine at Hoffman Estates; Joliet Catholic at Wheaton St. Francis; Naperville Central at Neuqua Valley; Sandburg at Lincoln-Way Central; Sterling at Princeton; Rochelle at Sycamore; Greenville at Pana.