The area’s three best teams were identified in the preseason and nothing has changed after three weeks of football.
Mount Carmel, Loyola and Lincoln-Way East have dominated ranked teams at home and on the road.
The Ramblers and Griffins are both Class 8A schools and appear destined for a showdown in Champaign this November.
But which team is the top contender to face Mount Carmel in Class 7A?
Batavia seemed like the best bet in the preseason. The Bulldogs returned a ton from the squad that lost that controversial overtime game at Mount Carmel in the playoffs. But things did not go well for Batavia over the first three weeks.
The Bulldogs opened with a three-game road trip due to some construction on their home field. They dominated Phillips in the season opener and then lost 31-16 at Lincoln-Way East and 27-24 at Wheaton North.
Those are two high-quality losses. It’s likely Batavia rights the ship and becomes the top challenger to Mount Carmel in Class 7A. But there are chinks in the armor.
Wheaton North just proved it is a serious contender. Prospect and Jacobs are also off to nice starts.
St. Rita has played a horrifically difficult schedule early on but they’ve already been trounced by the Caravan so it is hard to get excited about a rematch.
Prairie Ridge rolling
The Fox Valley’s playoff pedigree has been firmly established over the last decade, so it is an easy call to put the favorite in the conference into the preseason top 10.
This season that was Prairie Ridge. The Wolves didn’t have a ton of success last season, but the program’s history and the amount of returning starters was enough to count on.
Prairie Ridge is 3-0 but started a little slowly. That’s over now. Quarterback Tyler Vasey was expected to become a big play threat and he’s delivering.
Vasey rushed for 226 yards in the win against Huntley in Week 3. He had touchdown runs of 45 and 71 yards and threw for a touchdown. Fullback Nathan Greetham added 166 yards.
All of Class 6A, even might East St. Louis, knows how dangerous a Fox Valley power is when its option offense is posting those rushing numbers.
The Wolves face No. 17 Jacobs on the road Friday.
What a finish Friday night in Lake Zurich.
Danny Vuckovic nailed a 52-yard field goal to give the Bears a 13-10 win against Stevenson. The senior had a 50-yard attempt blocked earlier in the game.
Lake Zurich (2-1) has won the last six meetings against the Patriots.
Thursday night football
Public League football has generally been the only game in town on Thursdays. That changed this season after the Illinois High School Association requested that schools schedule more Thursday games due to the shortage of referees. But very few schools obliged.
Word is that the Southwest Prairie conference, which scheduled a fair amount of Thursday games this season, has voted to return to Friday and Saturday games only next year. That’s a shame, but understandable considering they saw that most of the other schools in the area decided not to make the sacrifice.
I’ve been at a suburban game each of the first three Thursdays and the crowds have been excellent. Joliet West, Round Lake and Marian Catholic all had packed stands and big student sections. It doesn’t appear that fans mind an occasional Thursday game. Perhaps the IHSA should require every school to play a Thursday game next season if the schools won’t figure it out themselves.