April 19, 2024
Schools | Friday Night Drive

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Schools | Friday Night Drive

Suburban Life area preview capsules for Week 9

Nazareth Academy’s Gabe Kaminski (5) tries to tackle York’s QB Sean Winton before getting a pass off during the second quarter on Friday Sep. 1, 2023, in Elmhurst.


St. Francis (6-2, 1-1) at Nazareth (4-4, 1-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

About the Spartans: St. Francis clinched a playoff bid with its 42-6 win over Leo last week, the Spartans’ fourth straight win. It was a rare opportunity for the Spartans to breathe a little easy. They had relied on dramatic comebacks and wild finishes in stringing together impressive wins over Joliet Catholic, IC Catholic Prep and St. Rita. Now the Spartans have an opportunity to play spoiler to Nazareth. Senior QB Alessio Milivojevic, a Ball State recruit, has completed 73.2% of his passes for 2,073 yards and 23 touchdowns with just three interceptions. Tyvonn Ransom has rushed for 964 yards and seven TDs. Ian Willis has a team-high 48 catches for 648 yards and eight TDs. Defensively, senior LB Dom Beres has 107 tackles, 75 of them solos.

About the Roadrunners: Nazareth last season became the first team in IHSA history to go from 2-4 to 10-4 and a state championship. The Roadrunners are closing in on digging out of an even deeper hole. Nazareth has won four straight games since an 0-4 start, beating Marian Catholic 42-13 last Friday. Junior QB Logan Malachuk threw for 192 yards and five TDs in the win. Jake Cestone, coming off a monster game in a comeback win over Brother Rice, caught two TD passes as did Trenton Walker. Nazareth is in a very good position, playoff points-wise, with 48 already should any 4-5 teams make the playoff cut. A win here, though, would allow the Roadrunners to avoid an anxious 24 hours before pairings are announced.

FND Pick: Nazareth

Fenwick (4-4, 1-1) at IC Catholic Prep (6-2, 1-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

About the Friars: Fenwick is in a must-win position to reach the playoffs after a surprising 44-43 double overtime loss to DePaul Prep last Friday. The Friars, unlike Nazareth, do not appear to have the playoff points, currently 40, to get into the postseason with a 4-5 record. Fenwick, once sitting pretty at 4-1, has dropped three consecutive games. It’s been a rollercoaster season with quality wins over St. Ignatius and St. Francis. Senior quarterback Marek Hill and senior receivers Mikey Caccitolo and Rowan White lead a balanced offense that generated 363 total yards against DePaul Prep. Defensively, the Friars are led by junior defensive end Nate Marshall (10 tackles per game), who holds 22 scholarship offers including Alabama and Michigan, and junior inside linebacker Aiden Burns.

About the Knights: IC Catholic bounced back from a rough Week 7 loss to Loyola by handling De La Salle 55-20 last Friday to clinch a playoff bid. Dennis Mandala and KJ Parker returned to the lineup last week after missing the Loyola game, with Parker catching six passes for 65 yards and two TDs, and contributing five tackles, one pass defensed and one interception defensively. Joey Gliatta rushed for 133 yards and three TDs and has rushed for 109 yards per game and 17 TDs on the season. Foley Calcagno had 11 tackles, two sacks and a QB hurry.

FND Pick: IC Catholic Prep


Montini (5-3, 1-1) at St. Laurence (6-2, 2-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

About the Broncos: Montini, after a 5-0 start, has dropped three consecutive games with a 24-7 loss to Brother Rice last Friday. Still, the Broncos are heading to the playoffs after missing out the last two seasons. Alex Marre rushed for 93 yards and a TD in the loss to Brother Rice. QB Gaetano Carbonara has thrown for 1,446 yards and 13 TDs on the season. Marre has rushed for 809 yards and seven TDs and George Asay has 27 catches for 411 yards and two TDs. Defensively, Jeremiah Peterson has a team-high 70 tackles, 51 of them solos.

About the Vikings: St. Laurence had a four-game winning streak snapped with a 20-9 loss to St. Rita last week. Still, the Vikings are headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2019 and can win the CCL/ESCC White title with a win. Senior RB Aaron Ball, who had 911 yards rushing through seven weeks, left last week’s game in the second quarter with an injury and did not return. Junior Harley Rizzs ran for 52 yards and a TD in Ball’s absence.

FND Pick: Montini

Benet (4-4, 0-2) at Providence (4-4, 1-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Redwings: The rigors of the CCL/ESCC have wore on Benet. The Redwings have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season. Benet’s offense has gone fairly quiet since the first two weeks of the season which produced 88 of the team’s 146 points.

About the Celtics: Providence hasn’t played a team with a losing record this season, and the past two weeks have been particularly arduous with games against Carmel and Mount Carmel, which have a combined record of 15-1 on the season. The Celtics hope to finish the regular season with a flourish. With a win comes a possible playoff berth, and the Celtics might end up with the most playoff points [opponents wins] in the state to help them to a better first-round draw.

FND Pick: Providence

-- Steve Soucie

York's Sean Winton avoids Lyon's Kellen Knop (99) during football game between York at Lyons.   Oct 14, 2023.

West Suburban Silver

Proviso West (0-8, 0-5) at York (7-1, 4-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: York 54, Proviso West 0 (2022)

About the Panthers: Proviso West is coming off a 48-0 loss to Glenbard West. It is the third time the Panthers have been shut out this season. Proviso West has been outscored 341-42 on the season.

About the Dukes: York bounced back from its only loss of the season by beating Lyons 24-14 last Saturday. The Dukes and Glenbard West are tied for the Silver lead going into Week 9. Leading rusher Jake Melion injured his ankle in the second quarter against Lyons, but Jimmy Conners picked up the slack with 66 yards and a score on 17 carries. Senior QB Sean Winton was 17-for-26 passing for 236 yards while running for 34 yards. Illinois State recruit Luke Mailander had nine catches for 135 yards and a 24-yard TD.

FND Pick: York

Glenbard West (6-2, 4-1) at Oak Park-River Forest (1-7, 1-4)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Glenbard West 35, Oak Park-River Forest 14 (2022)

About the Hilltoppers: Glenbard West has won five consecutive games since a 1-2 start, and clinched a playoff bid and at least a share of the West Suburban Silver title with a 48-0 win over Proviso West last Saturday. Jack Moellering rushed for four TDs in the game and Teyion Oriental had a 30-yard TD run. The Hilltoppers, after scoring a total of 27 points the season’s first four weeks, have tallied 173 points over the last four games.

About the Huskies: OPRF is coming off a 46-13 loss to Hinsdale Central. The Huskies have dropped five consecutive games and have given up a total of 224 points in those five games.

FND Pick: Glenbard West

Hinsdale Central (3-5, 2-3) at Downers Grove North (6-2, 3-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Downers Grove North 23, Hinsdale Central 3 (2022)

About the Red Devils: Hinsdale Central is coming off a 46-13 win over Oak Park-River Forest. Sophomore QB Riley Contreras was 11-for-16 passing for 145 yards and four TDs, and rushed for 72 yards and two scores in the win. Downers Grove North won last year’s meeting, but Hinsdale Central won the previous 14 in the Old Oaken Bucket series.

About the Trojans: Downers Grove North snapped a two-game losing streak and clinched a playoff bid by virtue of its 32-0 win over Hinsdale South last Friday. Sophomore QB Owen Lansu threw for three TDs. Owen Thulin had three interceptions and also caught five passes for 60 yards and a TD. A win Friday would give the Trojans seven regular-season wins for the first time since 2005.

FND Pick: Downers Grove North

West Suburban Gold

Addison Trail (6-2, 3-2) at Downers Grove South (5-3, 5-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Downers Grove South 51, Addison Trail 14 (2022)

About the Blazers: Addison Trail’s six wins are the program’s most since 2014, the Blazers’ last postseason appearance. The Blazers are headed back to the playoffs one year removed from an 0-9 season in 2021. Addison Trail is coming off a 20-7 win over Leyden. The Blazers have won four consecutive games since back-to-back losses to Willowbrook and Hinsdale South. Addison Trail’s six wins have come against teams with a combined record of 7-41.

About the Mustangs: Downers Grove South is coming off a 63-6 win over Proviso East, the Mustangs’ fifth straight since an 0-3 start. The Mustangs can clinch an outright West Suburban Gold title, their second straight, with a win. Deon Davis ran for two TDs, Keon Maggit scored two TDs, including a 69-yarder and Kayden Smith scored two TDs for the Mustangs in the win over Proviso East.

FND Pick: Downers Grove South

Leyden (2-6, 2-3) at Willowbrook (6-2, 4-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Willowbrook 35, Leyden 7 (2022)

About the Eagles: Leyden is coming off a 20-7 loss to Addison Trail. The Eagles have struggled to generate offense all season with 81 total points, with a total of 40 in their six losses.

About the Warriors: Willowbrook is coming off a 41-14 win over Morton that clinched a playoff bid, the program’s seventh consecutive playoff appearance. Senior QB Arthur Palicki threw for 171 yards and three TDs and ran for a TD against Morton. The Warriors have won four consecutive games and scored a total of 156 points during that stretch.

FND Pick: Willowbrook

Morton (1-7, 1-4) at Hinsdale South (3-5, 3-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Hinsdale South 27, Morton 17 (2022)

About the Mustangs: Morton is coming off a 41-14 loss to Willowbrook, the Mustangs’ fifth consecutive loss. The Mustangs have been outscored 279-103 this season.

About the Hornets: Hinsdale South is coming off a 32-0 loss to Downers Grove North. The Hornets can match their win total from each of the last two seasons with a win in Week 9. All three of the Hornets’ wins have come by shutout.

FND Pick: Hinsdale South

West Suburban Conference crossover

Lyons Township (5-3) at Proviso East (1-7)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lyons 31, Proviso East 20 (2019)

About the Lions: Lyons is coming off a 24-14 loss to York. Ryan Jackson threw for 199 yards and a TD to Caleb Greer and ran for 69 yards with a 49-yard TD. Travis Stamm had seven catches for 85 yards.

About the Pirates: Proviso East is coming off a 63-6 loss to Downers Grove South, and has been outscored 321-105 on the season. The Pirates’ only win came against Proviso West in Week 2.

FND Pick: Lyons

DuKane Conference

Lake Park (4-4, 2-4) at Wheaton North (5-3, 4-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wheaton North 28, Lake Park 7 (2022)

About the Lancers: Back-to-back losses to Wheaton Warrenville South and St. Charles North have put the Lancers in a tough must-win situation in Week 9 to reach the playoffs. The Lancers last reached the playoffs in 2017. It’s already been a nice bounce-back season in Roselle coming off back-to-back 1-8 seasons. Junior RB Robert Munaco ran for 100 yards and a TD in the loss to St. Charles North and George Tzamouranis threw a 71-yard TD to Matthew Rodriguez. Declan Fortuna, who had an interception and five tackles, is a two-way standout for the Lancers.

About the Falcons: Wheaton North, which became playoff eligible with a 24-7 win over Glenbard North last week, can now play spoiler to Lake Park’s postseason hopes. Matt Kuczaj is a playmaker and two-way standout for the Falcons. Joe Barna and Walker Owens are among the players to watch defensively. The Falcons can clinch their third straight playoff appearance with a win.

FND Pick: Wheaton North

Wheaton Warrenville South (4-4, 3-3) at St. Charles East (1-7, 1-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wheaton Warrenville South 27, St. Charles East 0 (2022)

About the Tigers: WW South’s 28-14 loss to Batavia in Week 8 leaves the Tigers needing a win this Friday to grab a playoff bid. The Tigers should like their chances at a struggling St. Charles East team, but can’t afford to overlook a 1-7 team looking to play spoiler. Chief priority for WW South should be reestablishing its running game. Standout Matt Crider was held to 48 yards and the Tigers 50 as a team against Batavia.

About the Saints: St. Charles East has dropped five straight games since its lone win over Glenbard North in Week 3. Wide receiver Sheko Gjokaj is the man to watch. The 5-foot-9 sophomore has 54 catches for 551 yards and four TDs and had 12 catches for 172 yards and two TDs last week against Geneva. Senior QB Mac Paul has thrown for 1,282 yards with seven TDs and seven interceptions.

FND Pick: Wheaton Warrenville South

Upstate Eight Conference

Bartlett (4-4, 4-4) at Glenbard East (7-1, 7-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last meeting: Glenbard East 41, Bartlett 0 (2022)

About the Hawks: The Hawks’ late-season schedule, which included South Elgin and now Glenbard East Friday night, hasn’t been a kind one. Bartlett dropped a 49-7 decision to South Elgin last weekend, as the lone touchdown came on a 32-yard pass from quarterback Vincent Yario to Nicholas Carlos. Prior to last week’s game, Hawks coach Milan Vuckovich acknowledged the difficult task at hand. “No game is easy, winning high school football games is tough,” said the coach. “Our sole focus is going 1-0 on Friday night.” With a win, Bartlett would become playoff eligible. However, for the second consecutive week, the Hawks will have to find a way to put points on the board against a stingy Glenbard East defense (Rams have allowed a conference-low 64 points in eight games). Glenbard East is currently locked in a 3-way tie with Glenbard South and South Elgin atop the Upstate Eight Conference.

About the Rams: Wins don’t get much bigger than the Rams’ 28-14 victory over previously unbeaten Glenbard South last weekend. “I was impressed most with our 3-phase game – offense, defense, and special teams,” said Rams coach John Walters. “You can’t win big games without all 3 phases playing well. If I had to pinpoint it, defense. Our defense held them to 14 points. They have an explosive offense, so to hold them 30 (points) under their average was huge.” Walters feels strongly that three players – Blake Salvino, Matt Larson, and Gus Winkler deserve more credit. “Blake – playing QB and MLB – this kid has been tremendous on both sides of the ball,” said the coach. “There should be more talk about him. To do what he has done on both sides is amazing. He’s a great kid and a tough football player. Matt – I just don’t think he gets his due. He’s a top RB in DuPage County. On the biggest stages, he has carried our offense in the run game. Twenty-six carries for 177 (yards) in Week 8? Amazing. Gus – he’s a three-year starter who must be leading the area in tackles. He’s the captain of the defense, and the heart and soul of East football.” The Rams will try to keep Bartlett from becoming playoff eligible Friday night.

FND Pick: Glenbard East

-- Craig Brueske, Daily Herald Media Group

Glenbard South (7-1, 7-1) at Elgin (1-7, 1-7)

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last meeting: Glenbard South 43, Elgin 22 (2022)

About the Raiders: Coming off their first loss of the season, a 28-14 decision at the hands of Glenbard East, the Raiders need a victory to clinch a three-way tie for first place in the Upstate Eight Conference. Against Glenbard East, senior wide receiver Cam Williams caught seven passes for 122 yards and a 60-yard touchdown, while senior quarterback Michael Champagne passed for 268 yards. “We still have so much to play for, and this is a special group,” Raiders coach Ryan Crissey told Shaw Local’s Scott Schmid after the loss. “This type of loss puts things in perspective and gets us hyper-focused on what we need to improve on.”

About the Maroons: Elgin showed some heart during last weekend’s 26-6 loss to rival Larkin, stopping the Royals from scoring from the red zone in the final minutes. “I don’t expect guys to make plays, but I do expect them to line up correctly and make the right assignments,” Maroons coach Anthony Mason said. “In a down year, in a year where we have to rebuild and find the guys who are going to lead us 365 days in the offseason and rest of next year, it was good to see a stop there.” Senior 2-way standout Lamyni Spates and junior quarterback Darin Ward lead the Maroons into their season finale.

FND Pick: Glenbard South

-- Craig Brueske, Daily Herald Media Group

South Suburban Blue

Lemont (4-4, 4-1) at T.F. North (6-1, 4-1)

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Last matchup: Lemont 63, T.F. North 6 (2022)

About Lemont: Lemont’s reign as the dominant team in the South Suburban appears to have come to an end. A Week 7 loss to Hillcrest means only a win this week coupled with some defensive point finagling would give them the divisional title. The Week 8 loss to Richards is probably even more concerning, as it puts Lemont in a must-win situation for the playoffs. If that win doesn’t happen, Lemont would be excluded from the playoff field for only the second time since 2004. Maybe that reality will give Lemont the extra juice it needs.

About the Meteors: T.F. North is not only the surprise of the South Suburban Conference but possibly the entire state. The Meteors were 1-7 last season, but the total revolution of the program is just a surprise loss to Bremen in Week 6 away from being undefeated. T.F. North hasn’t won seven games in a season since 2002, and a win here would be the first time T.F. North has reached eight wins since 1980.

FND Pick: Lemont

-- Steve Soucie

Chicagoland Christian Conference

Marian Central (4-4, 4-2) at Wheaton Academy (7-1, 5-1)

When: 7:30 p.m Friday

Last matchup: Marian Central 63, Wheaton Academy 20 (2013)

About the Hurricanes: Marian beat St. Edward 41-0 last week. The Hurricanes need a win to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Marian would be among the top few 4-5 teams in playoff points, but need a lot of teams to lose for that to happen. QB Cale McThenia (Northern Iowa) has thrown for 2,691 yards and is completing 69.6% of his passes with 35 touchdowns. WR Christian Bentancur (Clemson) has 210 career receptions and is tied for eighth with former Crete-Monee receiver Laquon Treadwell. Bentancur has 71 receptions, 1,162 yards and 18 touchdowns.

About the Warriors: Wheaton Academy beat Aurora Christian 30-7 last week. The Warriors, No. 7 in Class 4A, have allowed only 13 points combined in the last four games. QB Brett Kasper leads the team with 419 rushing yards and six touchdowns and has thrown for 1,037 yards and 16 touchdowns. The Warriors are headed to the playoffs for the fourth time in the last five years.

FND pick: Wheaton Academy

-- Joe Stevenson

Chicagoland Prairie Conference

Ridgewood (5-3, 3-3) at Westmont (2-6, 1-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last meeting: Ridgewood 56, Westmont 0 (2022)

About the Rebels: Senior quarterback Jaden Rodriguez accounted for six touchdowns in the Rebels’ 54-3 victory over Elmwood Park last weekend. His favorite target, senior WR Niall Kenny, caught a touchdown passes, while junior WR Luke Melendez had a pair of TD receptions.

About the Sentinels: Westmont snapped a five-game losing skid with last weekend’s 43-6 victory over Walther Christian. Lucas Fears had a fumble recovery for a touchdown, while teammate Lucas Hicks added a pick-6. “Both of those guys have led us offensively all season,” Westmont coach Lee Maciejewski said. “They are the team leaders.” Freshman Brian Baker added a 70-yard touchdown run. “That had to be a real thrill for him,” said the coach. “It was encouraging to see the enthusiasm demonstrated by all the players participating in the win. We want to finish our season on a positive note. We are very thankful to our two seniors, Lucas Hicks and Fedir Krechenko, for their efforts. We would like to send them off with a smile on their faces.”

FND Pick: Ridgewood

-- Craig Brueske, Daily Herald Media Group


Riverside-Brookfield (6-2) at Rich Township (4-4)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

About the Bulldogs: Riverside-Brookfield clinched its eighth playoff appearance since 2014 with a 35-14 win over winless Thornwood in Week 8. Quarterback David Valencia passed for 65 yards and rushed for 52 and two TDs, replacing injured starter Diego Gutierrez. Luke Kumskis rushed for 88 yards on 21 carries after starter Muhammad Salem sprained his ankle on the Bulldogs’ first offensive play. The Bulldogs could be playing for a first-round home playoff game while Rich Township needs this one for a playoff bid.

About the Raptors: Rich Township kept its playoff hopes alive with a 40-0 win over Thornridge last week. Junior QB Charles Brown has thrown for 1,045 yards with 12 TDs and eight interceptions. His top target is senior Qesean Tracy with 24 catches for 373 yards and six TDs. First-year head coach Quincy Woods was a former standout QB at Rich East who went on to play collegiately at USC and overseas in Germany.

FND Pick: Rich Township

Joshua  Welge

Joshua Welge

I am the Sports Editor for Kendall County Newspapers, the Kane County Chronicle and Suburban Life Media, covering primarily sports in Kendall, Kane, DuPage and western Cook counties. I've been covering high school sports for 24 years. I also assist with our news coverage.