No. 1 Loyola at No. 9 Brother Rice, 4 p.m. Thursday
No team in the state has a tougher first three games than Loyola (2-0, 1-0 CCL/ESCC Blue), which already owns top-10 wins over St. Rita and Mount Carmel. Coach John Holecek’s Ramblers always have been built around lockdown defenses and this team is no different. Marty Auer and Artist Benjamin have had big takeaways in the first two weeks. And Vaughn Pemberton, one of the area’s premier backs, has been especially dangerous out of the Wildcat formation. Toledo-bound Willie Shaw, who can line up at receiver or running back, leads Rice (1-1, 0-1), which is coming off a 20-16 loss to Pulaski Road rival Marist.
No. 3 Marist at No. 8 Mount Carmel, 4 p.m. Saturday
Two multi-talented senior quarterbacks will be in the spotlight in this CCL/ESCC Blue showdown. Marist (2-0, 1-0) has Coastal Carolina recruit Dontrell Jackson Jr., while Mount Carmel (1-1, 0-1) counters with Temple recruit Justin Lynch. But don’t forget about Marist senior Jamari Grant, who ran for 154 yards and a touchdown last week against Brother Rice. Mount Carmel also has a productive back in Illinois recruit Kenenna Odeluga.
No. 4 Batavia vs. Geneva, 5:30 p.m. Friday at Northern Illinois
Whenever these two rivals get together it’s special, and their 102nd meeting will play out on the big stage at Husky Stadium. Batavia (2-0, 2-0 DuKane) will be without quarterback Kyle Oroni, who suffered a broken leg in last week’s win over St. Charles North. Josh Dornink and Dondre Phillips are a pair of backs capable of picking up some of the slack for the Bulldogs’ offense. Geneva (1-1, 1-1) snapped a 10-game losing streak in decisive fashion last week, blanking St. Charles East 30-0 as its defense had six takeaways.
No. 15 Wheaton Warrenville South at Wheaton North, 1 p.m. Saturday
This crosstown rivalry is heating up again with both teams 2-0 overall and in the DuKane Conference. Wheaton North has a promising running back in Brayton Maske. who averaged 10 yards a carry and scored twice against Lake Park last week. Eddie Robinson and the Wheaton Warrenville South offense heated up after a scoreless first half to get past Glenbard North last week.
Eisenhower at Shepard, 7 p.m. Thursday
The arrow is pointing up for these District 218 rivals. Shepard (1-1, 1-1 South Suburban Red) is coming off its first win over Richards in 28 years, a 42-8 romp that featured six takeaways and 50- and 83-yard TD runs by junior Kendrick Washington. Junior quarterback Nashon Johnson, a transfer from Proviso East, has been a nice addition for Eisenhower (2-0, 2-0), which also has a productive back in Jhajuan Lott.