Illinois High School Football News

Scouting Week 1 suburban Cook County matchups

Prospect's quarterback Frank Covey runs over the Hersey defense for a touchdown in boys football at Hersey on Friday.

Maine East at Addison Trail

When: Friday, 6 p.m.

Last year: Did not play

Outlook: This may be a great opportunity for Maine East to break its 41-game losing streak. The Blue Demons have many things on the rise. They have 11 returning starters and the program numbers are the highest they have been in years. Addison Trail was winless last season and allowed 44 points per game. The Blazers have lost 14 of their last 15 games and have not had a winning season since 2014.

Leyden at Highland Park

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last year: Highland Park 26, Leyden 3

Outlook: The first home game for Highland Park should be meaningful for the players and the community. The Giants will look to get off to a great start this season with 17 starters returning. But 12 of those were sophomores last season. Leyden has great hopes for this season thanks to returning running back Diego Mendoza and wide receivers Mario Reyes and Damian Salazar. The key will be the play of senior quarterback Ethan Corral, who missed most of last season with an injury.

Barrington at Warren

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last year: Warren 19, Barrington 0; Warren 27, Barrington 9

Outlook: The Broncos are coming off a 5-5 campaign a year ago and a third-place finish in the Mid-Suburban West where the top two teams (Palatine and Hoffman Estates) went into the second round of the state playoffs. “Barrington is always a tough opponent that is well-coached, plays extremely hard and is fundamentally sound,” Warren coach Bryan McNulty said. “We will have to match their intensity, take care of the football and execute the basics of blocking and tackling.” As for Warren, McNulty has noticed a close bond with this 2022 group. “Our biggest progression has come in the form of togetherness,” he explained. “Our kids are close and care for each other on and off the field.” Look for a pair of three-year starters in Kole Weinberg and Justin Kretz (two-way player) to be squarely in the fray for the Blue Devils Friday. McNulty also said to keep an eye on Jaden Turner. “Jaden is a little-known player with a big upside,” he said.

Lyons at Buffalo Grove

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last year: Did not play

Outlook: Lyons qualified for the playoffs last year for the first time since 2017. They also return one of the top juniors in the state in defensive lineman Eddie Tuerk, who has 16 D-1 offers. Buffalo Grove is beginning its 50th year as a program and is coming off one of their best seasons in years. But graduation has hit the Bison hard losing 37 seniors. Still, they return speedy quarterback Michael Cervantes, who is always a threat when he has the ball in his hands. Anthony Palano also is back at wide receiver for Cervantes and junior Payton Diaz if the Bison opt to use Cervantes at running back.

Sandburg at Prospect

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last year: Prospect 37, Sandburg 14

Outlook: Sandburg won its final four regular season games last year to qualify for the playoffs for the first time in six years. Prospect is coming off a terrific run last season that saw the Knights advance to the 7A semifinals. They did it without Northwestern-commit Frank Covey who is back after a season-ending injury. The Knights also boast one of the largest offensive lines in the area, averaging 6-foot-3 and 276 pounds.

Rolling Meadows at Glenbrook South

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last year: Glenbrook South 37, Rolling Meadows 22

Outlook: Despite the loss in the opener last season, Rolling Meadows was still able to find its way to the playoffs for the 11th playoff season in a row. The Mustangs will be looking to make it an even dozen behind the solid play of returning quarterback Evan Grace, who is one of eight returning starters. Glenbrook South is coming off its best season in 12 years and returns nine starters.

Wheeling at Round Lake

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last year: Wheeling 27, Round Lake 15

Outlook: Round Lake coach Scott Blecha said Wheeling has a natural advantage with its quarterback and running back returning. “Our biggest challenge on the field will be facing an offensive backfield that returns a starting quarterback and running back,” he explained. “Having that consistency already puts them a step ahead, and is something that we have to be prepared for. We know who their playmakers were last year and we have to be prepared to stop them. We must be prepared to adapt and adjust on the fly. Football IQ will play a huge role in Week 1 success for any team.” Saul Ugarte, Easton Nixon and Anthony Bishop are the Round Lake captains “and our team leaders,” Blecha said. “They all look to make an impact in all three phases of the game and it will be hard to find a time when any one of the three is not on the field. Saul will anchor the offensive line as a three-year starter, while also playing some defensive line and linebacker. Anthony is a playmaker at all the skill positions on offense and was a team leader in interceptions last season. Easton Nixon will split time at quarterback with Isaac Jackson where both bring their own unique skill set to the position. We still have a lot of learning and growing to do as a team and Week 1 will tell us a lot about our team and our individual players.” Round Lake has 8 sophomores up on the varsity. “We will definitely be leaning on all our returning varsity players to be leaders on the field and ease the transition for our underclassmen,” Blecha said. “Watching the sophomores improve and realize that they do belong on this varsity team has been great to watch.”

De La Salle vs. St. Viator

When: Friday, 7 p.m. (at Forest View)

Last year: Did not play

Outlook: De La Salle is coming off a season where the Meteors dropped six of their final games of the season. They are making their first visit to play St. Viator. The Lions look to get things rolling this year with wide receiver Michael Nix, who has a pair of D1 offers, leading the way. Quarterback Charlie Dolsen, who stepped in quite nicely as a sophomore, is also poised to have a big season. The Lions need a good start to get their playoff hopes on track.

Fremd at Lake Zurich

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last year: Lake Zurich 21, Fremd 9

Outlook: One of the area’s longest opening night rivalries continues this season. Fremd and Lake Zurich have met 13 previous times with Lake Zurich leading the series 9-4. Fremd comes in after a tough 1-8 campaign last year. The Vikings do have 10 starting positions back including Caiden Suchy at quarterback. The Bears, who qualified for the playoffs for the fourth consecutive playoff season last year, return 12 players, eight of which will be on defense, and includes two-way starter and North Dakota commit Tyler Erkman.

Hersey at New Trier

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last year: Did not play

Outlook: Hersey has alum Ton Nelson making his head coaching debut. Nelson’s first major decision will be to go with senior Carter Hansen or sophomore Colton Gumino at the quarterback position. Keep an eye on sophomore tight end Logan Farrell, who is already drawing D-1 interest. The Huskies have qualified for the playoffs the last four consecutive playoff seasons. They have drawn a tough opener against a New Trier team that returns nine starters from a playoff qualifying squad.

Stevenson at Maine South

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Last year: Maine South 41, Stevenson 10

Outlook: Stevenson is coming off its worst record since 1988. The Patriots look to turn that around thanks to 13 returning starters including quarterback Matt Projansky and running back Mike Maloney. Stevenson has drawn a tough opener in Maine South, the defending 8A runners-up. The Hawks lost a lot to graduation but will still have seven returning starters, including wide receivers Evan Agosto and Ryan Pothast. They will have a pair of key newcomers in quarterback Ryan Leyden and wide receiver Maurice Densmore, who transferred in from Homewood-Flossmoor.

Maine West at Elk Grove

When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.

Last year: Elk Grove 36, Maine West 14

Outlook: The Mt. Prospect Road border war is back for the second consecutive year. Numbers are they key for both schools as Maine West returns 11 starters and has over 50 players on its roster including defensive lineman Josh Emeka, who has been offered by Dayton. Elk Grove has 92 players in its program and returns 13 starters with nine of those seniors including quarterback Mitch Jansczak.

Downers Grove North at Hoffman Estates

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last year: Downers Grove North 24, Hoffman Estates 21

Outlook: Downers Grove North returns 15 starters from a team that lost its final four games to miss the playoffs. Hoffman rebounded from its opening day loss last year to win its first MSL West title since 1994. Aiden Cyr, who had a great season last year, has one of the best wide receiving corps I the area to throw to. Running back Quincy Williams, who moved back to Hoffman after a year in Florida, could also be very explosive.

Lake Park at Conant

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last year: Conant 35, Lake Park 20

Outlook: The Devon Avenue border war takes a new turn as Lake Park coach Chris Kirkpatrick will look to turn things around for the Lancers who were 1-8 last year. Conant is coming off a season where it just missed the playoffs. Dominick Mininni, who was a major factor in the Cougars offense last season, will look to reprise that role this year.

St. Charles North at Palatine

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last year: St. Charles North 24, Palatine 0

Outlook: St. Charles North opened last season with a pair of shutout victories. But the North Stars faded down the stretch. Palatine was just the opposite. After losing its first two games last year, Palatine found its stride. The Pirates went 7-2 from there to share in the MSL title. They have their top offensive threats back in running back Dominick Ball and quarterback Grant Dersnah. Sophomore defensive lineman Jaylen Williams has already attracted a lot of D-1 buzz.

Schaumburg at York

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Last year: York 37, Schaumburg 7

Outlook: Schaumburg draws a tough assignment in its first game of the season. The Saxons face a York team that is streaking. The Dukes’ 90-man varsity roster is led by dual-threat quarterback Matt Vezza. Schaumburg is hoping to get off to a good start this season after losing its last six games a year ago. The Saxons have 12 starters back from last season, four of which will be in their third year as a varsity starter.