Breaking down Week 4’s top high school football gameson April 9, 2021 at 2:10 pm

No. 6 Marist at No. 11 Nazareth, noon Saturday

Nazareth’s roster is a lot different than expected because of the pandemic. Players have moved out of state to play, graduated early or did both (quarterback JJ McCarthy, a national champ last fall at IMG Academy and early enrollee at Michigan). But the Roadrunners (2-0) still have plenty of talent, including by four-star receiver Tyler Morris. Coastal Carolina-bound quarterback Dontrell Jackson Jr. leads Marist (2-1), which is playing a third straight high-profile game after beating neighborhood rival Brother Rice and falling to Mount Carmel the past two weeks.

No. 21 Hillcrest at No. 1 Loyola, 3 p.m. Saturday

One of the unexpected consequences of COVID-era football is on-the-fly scheduling of intriguing replacement games that never would happen in a typical season. This north suburban/south suburban matchup is a good example. Hillcrest (3-0) has one of the state’s premier backs in Minnesota recruit Mar’Keise Irving. Loyola (3-0) faces its fourth straight ranked opponent after earning wins over St. Rita, Mount Carmel and Brother Rice. Vaughn Pemberton’s running and a throwback defense have been among the keys to the Ramblers’ success.

No. 16 Wheaton North at St. Charles North, 6:30 p.m. Friday

The second half of the DuKane Conference season kicks off with a good one. Wheaton North (3-0) is solid now and will be even better this fall, with sophomore linebacker Ross Dansdill sparking the defense and a bunch of junior playmakers — quarterback Mark Forcucci and running back Brayton Maske among them — on offense. St. Charles North (2-1), the only team to test Batavia this season, is experienced with 17 starters back. Receiver/defensive back Jordan Nubin will be a preferred walk-on at Minnesota.

No. 8 Naperville Central at No. 20 DeKalb, 2 p.m. Saturday

It’s been a scramble in the DuPage Valley Conference, with the three top teams (Naperville Central, DeKalb and Neuqua Valley) playing only four of nine scheduled league games so far. That raises the stakes for this one between the Redhawks (3-0, 1-0) and Barbs (2-0, 2-0). Naperville Central has some gamebreakers on offense, including a pair of juniors: four-star receiver Reggie Fleurima, a Northwestern recruit, and running back Antonio Torres. Tucker Ikens , Toriano Tate and Trenton Kyler have combined for seven rushing TDs in two games for DeKalb.

Wauconda at Antioch, 7 p.m. Friday

The winner of this matchup of 3-0 teams has an inside track to the Northern Lake County Conference title. Antioch coach Brian Glashagel might have his best team ever — and he’s had four clubs go unbeaten in the regular season. Minnesota-bound brothers Athan and Dino Kaliakmanis, a quarterback and receiver respectively, lead a potent offense. Wauconda has a productive quarterback in senior Nick Bulgarelli.

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