Analysis | Friday Night Drive

Week 3 games to watch: Lots of undefeated teams remain, but 1-1 squads are where intrigue is

Huntley's Sam Deligio throws a pass during a Fox Valley Conference football game Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, between Crystal Lake Central and Huntley at Crystal Lake Central High School.

There are 148 teams in Illinois that have not yet taken a loss this season. But with a number of 2-0 squads playing one another and other 2-0′s facing viable 1-1 threats, the list of teams that remain undefeated after the dust settles in Week 3 will likely be just over 100.

And while it’s always interesting to keep an eye on the list of undefeated teams, the real intrigue is held by 1-1 teams in Week 3.

Although we remain fairly early in the regular season, teams that drop to 1-2 almost certainly will need to finish the season by winning four of their last six games just to get into the playoff field. That’s an uphill climb for almost anyone, and for the ones that have a rigorous schedule yet to come, suddenly the pressure starts to set in a little bit.

The strangest thing that starts to materialize after Week 3′s finals all come in is that with less than 500 teams eligible for playoff qualification, it seems unlikely that their will be more than 256 teams with records above the .500 mark after three weeks of play. If that number is significantly below 250 teams, that points to a possible need for 4-5 teams to fill out the playoff field at the conclusion at Week 9. That’s most definitely going to be a trend to keep an eye on.

Let’s look at a few of the Week 3 matchups of interest.

Loyola (2-0) at St. Rita (1-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday: Loyola has had virtually no trouble through two games. Can a long time Catholic League rival put up a better fight? Odds are Loyola won’t make many mistakes especially with seasoned QB Jack Stearney at the controls, but St. Rita would like nothing more than to make a splash in a crossover game because going under the .500 mark is never ideal considering the number of obstacles that remain on almost any CCL/ESCC schedule over the course of the final six regular season games.

Batavia (1-1) at Wheaton North (2-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Batavia won’t have any time to lick its wounds after a rough first half at Lincoln-Way East in Week 2, but the Bulldogs bounced back with a solid second half and will likely get a boost from the return of WR Drew Gerke, who sat out last week with an injury. Wheaton North has been workman like as it goes about its Class 7A title defense. North has gotten great play from its defense. It’s giving an offense full of new faces time to find its footing.

Marist (1-1) at Nazareth (1-1), 7:30 p.m. Friday: An intriguing pairing of two teams with one loss already on the ledger. Both squads face ominous remaining schedules, so dropping to 1-2 with a loss here is certainly not the ideal for either. Marist has gotten a great start to the season from RB Marc Coy, but WR Ryan Sims, a Miami (Ohio) recruit, is likely the bigger problem for opposing defenses. Despite a Week 2 loss to Lemont, Nazareth did make some offensive strides behind sophomore QB Logan Malachuk. The Roadrunners will need yet another big step forward in order to trade punches with Marist.

Huntley (2-0) at Prairie Ridge (2-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Is Huntley back? Can Prairie Ridge stay above the chaos the has already hung up a few teams expected to be at the top of the Fox Valley Conference race? Huntley has a workhorse runner in Haiden Janke. For the Red Raiders to be successful, he’ll likely play a big part. Prairie Ridge will counter with the two-headed monster of RB Nathan Greetham and QB Tyler Vasey.

Decatur St. Teresa (2-0) at Moweaqua Central A&M (2-0), 7 p.m. Friday: Six of the eight teams in the Central Illinois Conference have emerged from the first two weeks without a loss. But there are few that would argue that this game doesn’t feature the top two teams in this league, as well as two of the top small-school programs in the state. St. Teresa is currently ranked No. 2 in the Class 2A Associated Press, while Moweaqua is the No. 3-ranked squad in 1A.

Other games of note: Mount Carmel at Niles Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m. Friday; Normal Community West at Normal Community, 7 p.m. Friday; Mahomet-Seymour at Mount Zion, 7 p.m. Friday; Glenbard North at Geneva, 7 p.m. Friday; Warren at Libertyville, 7 p.m. Friday; Murphysboro at Carterville, 7 p.m. Friday; Bolingbrook at Lincoln-Way West, 7 p.m. Friday; Oak Park-River Forest at Glenbard West, 1:30 p.m. Saturday; Maine South at Barrington, 7:30 p.m. Friday.