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Top 5 Chicagoland high school football games to watch in Week 9

9 months agoEdgy Tim

“Edgy Tim” O’Halloran provides the Top 5 Chicagoland high school football games to watch in Week 9. Head to EdgyTim.Rivals.com for more coverage.

Several conference races are still to be determined as we enter the final stretch run to the IHSA state football playoffs. 

Mount Carmel (8-0/2-0) at Loyola Academy (8-0/2-0)
Saturday 1p.m.

The Battle for the CCL Blue conference title once again will be decided on Saturday in Wilmette for the second straight season. Mount Carmel and head coach Jordan Lunch haven’t skipped a beat since winning the 2022 Class 7A state title. This fall, the 2023 Caravan features several high profile players and as talented of a roster as anyone in Illinois. The Mount Carmel offense is led by junior QB Jack Elliott along with senior 4 star ranked RB Darrion Dupree (Wisconsin), senior RB Alonzo Manning (Navy) plus senior WR Darron Gilliam (Kent State) and senior Maurice Densmore are very capable big play receivers. The Mount Carmel defense is led by senior ILB Parker Startz (Ohio) along with a top notch secondary which includes senior Charles Miles (Western Michigan), senior Dillon Conway along with senior Jayden Jones and junior Havy Payne.

Loyola Academy and first year head coach Beau Desherow have made the transition going from assistant coach to head coach smoothly in replacing Loyola former head coach John Holecek, and many of the same coaches on Holecek’s staff have remained on board this fall. The Loyola offense is led by junior QB Ryan Fitzgerald, son of former Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald, and the Ramblers have again a wealth of very capable backs and receivers including RB Andrew MacPherson along with senior WR Nicholas Arougundade, junior TE Brendan Loftus and TE/DE Joseph Kelly. The Ramblers defense remains the calling card of the Loyola football program again this fall. The Loyola defense is anchored by senior LB Ethan Hogg plus junior S/OLB Donovan Robinson and senior DB Colin Scheid. 

Can the Loyola defense limit the big play ability of the Caravan offense for four quarters? Can the Loyola offense put together some long, extended drives and control time of possession? Can both Mount Carmel and Loyola limit the turnovers and penalties and not allow the other team extra scoring chances? 

Pick: Mount Carmel 

St. Rita (5-3/0-2) at Brother Rice (4-4/0-2)
Friday 7 p.m.

St. Rita first year head coach Martin Hopkins has the Mustangs headed towards an at-large berth for the upcoming playoffs whether they win or lose this game. However, the playoffs are right now for Brother Rice and second year head coach Casey Quedenfeld needing a win to become an at-large playoff qualifier. St. Rita will look towards getting its running game going while needing to rely on several backups in last week’s 20-9 win over St Laurence. St. Rita starting QB Jett Hilding missed last week’s game along with senior RB DJ Stewart as junior RB Nick Herman stepped up and led the Mustangs running game while sophomore QB Steven Armbruster also stepped up and had a big game in the win. The St Rita defense is always a strength and keep an eye on both senior DE JP Danaher along with junior LB James Kingsbury.

Brother Rice has also dealt with its share of injuries this season but the Crusaders will lean on its balanced offense led by dual quarterbacks in senior QB Marcus Brown along with senior QB Ryan Hartz and senior RB Randall Naughton (Navy) is a standout lead back who will run behind a big and physical offensive line anchored by senior OT Conor Kenzinger. The Crusaders defense will be without junior LB Christian Pierce, who is holding multiple Power 5 scholarship offers this fall, is out for the remainder of the season due to an injury. 

Can the missing starters from the St Rita lineup last week return on Friday night? Can Brother Rice slow down the St Rita run game and keep the Mustangs offense on the sidelines? Can the Mustangs ruin the Crusaders IHSA playoff dreams? 

Pick: Brother Rice 

Crete-Monee (6-2/5-0) at Kankakee (8-0/5-0)
Friday 7 p.m.

This Southland conference showdown has been The Game for the past handful of seasons. Crete-Monee and head coach John Konecki started the season 0-2 but the Warriors have won 6 straight games and the 2 early losses came to playoff teams Carmel Catholic (8-1) and St Charles North (6-2). The Warriors will look towards its young but speedy and athletic core of skills led by QB Derrin Crouch along with senior RB/LB Terrance Sandidge and the Warriors offense has been on fire in conference play.

Kankakee first year head coach Miles Osei has the Kays playing at a very high level this season and QB Larenz Walters is a big key along with senior RB Tony Phillips Jr. whose track sprinter speed plays well in the Kays attack, while senior four star ranked OT Marques Easley (Georgia) is another intimidating presence for Kankakee this season. The Kankakee defense also possesses a ton of speed and athleticism and senior LB Kennarius Chandler is one of several top level linebackers to watch this season for the Kays. 

Can the Crete-Monee offense find a way of keeping the Kays defense on the field and the Kays offense off the field for an extended time on Friday night? Can the Kays get up on Crete early and try to make this game a track meet? Can Crete extended this game into the 4th quarter and how will the Kays (who have yet to be challenges so far this season) react? 

Pick: Kankakee 

St Francis (6-2/1-1) at Nazareth Academy (4-4/1-1)
Friday 7:30 p.m.

St Francis and head coach Bob McMillen have been playing impressive football this season since a Week 4 loss to Fenwick, and the Spartans have beaten powers Joliet Catholic, IC Catholic Prep and St Rita during its current four game winning streak. The Spartans will rely on senior QB Alessio Milivojevic (Ball State), who has several key weapons including WR DeShawn Willaims plus sophomore WR Dario Milivojevic while junior RB TJ Ransom is another big time threat carrying the football.

Nazareth Academy and veteran head coach Tim Racki is one win away from having his Road Runners sitting on the brink of playoff elimination since starting the season with an 0-4 record (including losses to Kankakee, York, Montini and IC Catholic Prep). The Road Runners have a young yet varsity experienced talent led by junior QB Logan Malachuk along with junior DE/OLB Gabe Kaminski and the Class 5A defending state champions was in this same spot a season ago and won out the remainder of the schedule to an 10-4 record and the 5A state title. 

Can the Nazareth Academy defense get pressure on St. Francis and QB Alessio Milivojevic and disrupt the Spartans passing game? Can the St Francis defense also find a way of slowing down a big play offense in Nazareth led by junior QB Logan Malachuk? I fully expect a nail biter type of game and finish here. 

Pick: Nazareth Academy

Sycamore (8-0/5-0) at Morris (8-0/5-0)
Friday 7p.m.

Sycamore and Morris are longtime foes and once again will settle the fate of the Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 White division. Sycamore and veteran head coach Joe Ryan had a younger team to start the season but the Spartans have played like seasoned pros all year long. Sycamore junior 3 star ranked QB/S Burke Gautcher (Iowa commit) is a dangerous dual threat quarterback and athlete who is a threat at all times. Sycamore RB Tyler Curtis has been putting up big yards and the Spartans have a stable full of capable backs and receivers. The Spartans defense has also been impressive this fall and keep an eye on senior two-way starting OL/DL Tristan Countryman along with RB/LB Diego Garcia.

Morris head coach Alan Thorson recently won his 100th game and will look to keep rolling on Friday then into the postseason. Morris will rely on QB Carter Button (1,388 yards passing 22 TDs, 1 INT) whose main target this season has been senior WR AJ Zweeres (33 catches for 704 yards and 12 TDs) and Morris always has a strong running game led by senior RB Jacob Swartz (181 carries for 1,127 yards and 16 TDs). The Morris defense is also strong this season led by junior LB Blaine Beshoar along with senior KB Connor Mettille. 

Can the Sycamore defense limit and slow down the Morris balanced offense? Can the Morris defense win the line of scrimmage and turn away the Spartans power running game? 

Pick: Morris 

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