There’s a healthy balance that teams try to achieve when scheduling nonconference games. Teams want to put their roster through a test, but not make things so difficult that they could be staring down an 0-2 record heading into the conference slate.
Here’s some key matchups to look for in Week 2:
Maine South (1-0) at Warren (1-0), 7:30 p.m., Friday: Both of these two teams are always a factor in the Class 8A chase. This will make for an interesting benchmark for both programs so early in the season. Warren’s defense continues to be a wrecking ball and now they have an explosive compliment on the offensive side in running back Maurice Edwards.
Lincoln-Way East (1-0) at Naperville Central (1-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday: Both teams enter ranked in the Top 10 of the latest Friday Night Drive Power Rankings. Lincoln-Way East is following the blueprint that has now allowed it to win 21 consecutive games. The Griffins have a number of new regulars in key positions. New quarterback Brennan Stolarek was fundamentally sound in his debut last week against Crete-Monee. Naperville Central’s defense is certainly putting things together. The Redhawks completely stymied Hinsdale Central in their season-opening win. The biggest question for the Redhawks will be how they replace Niko Gordon, a two-way performer, who suffered a substantial injury in the Week 1 contest.
Coal City (0-1) at Bishop McNamara (0-1), 7 p.m., Friday: This is one of those games pitting a pair of 0-1 squads that probably don’t relish the idea of trying to dig themselves out of an 0-2 hole. Both teams typically do a ton of damage in the Class 4A postseason. Bishop McNamara, however, won’t be a Class 4A team this season if it makes the postseason dance, possibly sliding as far as Class 2A as it is no longer subject to a multiplier.
Batavia (1-0) at Oswego (1-0), 7 p.m., Friday: One of the more interesting things about the Southwest Prairie Conference’s decision to unlock a few games for nonconference scheduling is that is create opportunities for really good matchups like these. These two schools are only separated by 15 miles and both have great football pedigrees. This matchup appears to be a natural fit.
Joliet Catholic (1-0) at St. Louis Cardinal Ritter (1-0), 2 p.m. Saturday: There aren’t typically a lot of volunteers to line up and play Joliet Catholic in the nonconference schedule. It has been so challenging that JCA couldn’t find any takers for Week 2 other than one of Missouri’s elite programs. Joliet Catholic looked even better than the glowing preseason reviews as it trampled Simeon in Week 1. Cardinal Ritter squeaked past Cahokia in its opener, possibly pointing to the fact that it isn’t quite all the way back from an eligibility scandal in 2019 that caused it to forfeit its season and dismiss its coaching staff.
Other games of note: Breese Mater Dei at Breese Central; Chicago Kenwood at Hillcrest; Kankakee at Washington; Lincoln-Way West at Oswego East; Sterling Newman Central Catholic at Rockridge; Neuqua Valley at Wheaton Warrenville South; Chicago Phillips at Chicago Mount Carmel; Nazareth at Lemont.