Four Downs: News and notes from Week 4 in high school footballMichael O’Brienon April 11, 2021 at 7:50 pm

Fremd’s Ryan Saxe (1) is chased by Barrington’s Matt Kolder (91).
Fremd’s Ryan Saxe (1) is chased by Barrington’s Matt Kolder (91). | Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Appreciating the MSL and Wilmington vs. Coal City, another Metro Suburban star and more streak breakers.

The Mid-Suburban League is not one of the state’s glorified football conferences. The last state title the MSL captured was all the way back in 2005-06, when Prospect beat Mount Carmel 20-14 in the Class 7A championship game.

That leads to lower overall rankings for the teams and less attention from the media. State championships don’t have anything to do with entertainment value and watchability though.

MSL football is just a joy to watch. There’s some high-level talent in the league, excellent coaches and old, high-intensity rivalries. But crucially, the game is wide open and fun and most of the teams are evenly matched.

Ask any high school sports reporter and you’ll hear complaints about chronicling blowouts. Just look at the scores with games involving ranked teams every week. That’s generally not what you get in the MSL, which is so refreshing.

Rivalry fun

I was originally scheduled to cover Morgan Park vs. Simeon at Gately on Friday night. That game ended up being canceled, so I had to make a quick decision on where to head. I came close to heading to Wilmington. I’ve never seen the Wildcats vs. Coal City, despite growing up relatively close to both towns.

The game did not disappoint. Wilmington knocked off Coal City 24-21 despite an incredible performance from Coaler Asa Cooper. Joliet Herald-News/Friday Night Drive reporter Steve Soucie was there.

Cooper scored three long touchdowns and totaled more than 250 yards rushing. Cooper scored on a 74-yard run and a 66-yard run. Wilmington took the lead for good on an 11-yard touchdown run by Matt Sanchez. Coal City drove down to inside the Wildcats’ 30 but botched a handoff to give Wilmington the win.

The Coal City-Wilmington game is usually surrounded by a bit of pomp and circumstance, so maybe it will be a better spectacle to take in when all the fans can attend. But Friday night sure looked like a fun one.

More streak breakers

One of the major upsets on Friday included Oswego East’s 14-7 win against ranked, unbeaten Oswego. It was the first time the Wolves had beaten their crosstown rivals in the school’s 16-year history.

Prospect beat Rolling Meadows for the first time since 2015. The Knights dominated with a 48-14 win and are now a perfect 4-0 on the season and will face Buffalo Grove (4-0) in a battle for first place in the Mid-Suburban League East and place in the league’s Week 6 title game.

NIU recruit Luke Zardin had 11 carries for 152 yards and three touchdowns for Prospect.

Metro Suburban star

St. Francis quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse, an ISU recruit, threw six touchdown passes in his team’s 57-7 win on the road against Riverside-Brookfield. The senior has been red hot all season. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for one against Aurora Christian in Week 3 and opened plenty of eyes by leading the Spartans to a 28-0 win against perennial powerhouse IC Catholic and Kyle Franklin in Week 1.

Rittenhouse had 232 yards passing and three touchdowns against IC Catholic.

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