No. 5 Glenbard West at No. 8 Bolingbrook, Friday 7 p.m.
Be prepared for gritty football in this week’s heaviest hitter. Glenbard West is looking to win its 14th consecutive game after winning last season’s Class 7A state title. Bolingbrook is reloaded with talent, as we’ve come to expect from the Raiders. Standout overall athlete I’Shawn Stewart can make big time plays and the Brook offense will be led by wide receiver Kendall Smith, an Illinois recruit.
No. 3 Marist vs. No. 13 Brother Rice at Soldier Field, Sunday 6 p.m.
A four-loss Marist team rolled to the Class 8A state title game last season and has many of those key players back this season. The RedHawks have a deep defense, led by linebacker Micah Awiodran, a Yale recruit, and defensive back Rob Topps, a Kansas commit. Brother Rice has one of the most electric athletes in the area, senior receiver and Illini recruit Ricky Smalling, an All-Area selection last season. The match-ups in this game could be stellar.
No. 7 Montini at No. 19 Maine South, Friday, 7 p.m.
Montini is coming off an undefeated season, capped by the Class 6A state title. The Broncos will be led by power runner Prince Walker and he has a sizable and talented offensive line to run behind. Maine South advanced to the second round of the playoffs last season and returns offensive lineman Kevin Jarvis, a Michigan State recruit. Quarterback is the biggest question mark for both teams. Maine South senior Nick Leongas showed a lot of potential this offseason. Broncos junior Brad Norgle is in the same boat, inexperienced but with all the intangibles to put together a big season.
East St. Louis at No. 16 Providence, Saturday, 7 p.m.
Providence has the puzzle pieces to make a run this year, especially with strong armed quarterback Jared Drake, who has been waiting in the wings for his opportunity. The Celtics look to gain some experience and quick confidence by playing East St. Louis, always one of the most athletic and top teams in the state.
No. 18 Glenbard North at Naperville Central, Friday 7 p.m.
On paper, Glenbard North has athletes that should make an immediate impact in the DuPage Valley Conference. Headlined by junior corner back Tyrik Henderson and defensive backs Jace James and Greg Newsome, they could be one of the best secondary’s in the area. Conference foe Naperville Central, which lost a lot of talent to graduation, will be a big test for the Panthers and has a chance to burst into the conversation as one of the best teams in the area with a win.