No. 1 Mount Carmel at No. 2 Loyola, 1:30 p.m. Saturday
The most anticipated game of the season kicks off just hours before the IHSA playoff pairings are revealed, and it will have major implications for the standings. Both teams are 8-0 overall, 2-0 in the CCL/ESCC Blue and have had opponents steaming all year; the only one-score win for either was Mount Carmel’s 28-21 road win over Brother Rice in Week 6. Both have savvy senior quarterbacks: Blainey Dowling of Mount Carmel and Jake Stearney of Loyola, a rookie from Holy Cross. Other playmakers include running back Darrion Dupree and defensive linemen Asher Tomaszewski and Danny Novickas of Mount Carmel; Loyola defensive lineman Brooks Bahr and tight end Jack Parker.
No. 14 Crete-Monee at No. 19 Kankakee, 6 p.m. Friday
Southland’s title is on the line in this meeting of two teams heading into the playoffs. Crete (6-2, 5-0) has won six in a row after early losses to Lincoln-Way East and defending Indiana Class 2A champion Andrean, while Kankakee (7-1, 5- 0) is averaging 45 points per game since losing 2. -0 at Nazareth in Week 1. Crete is paced by a pair of versatile Mid-American Conference rookies: Josh Franklin (Western Michigan ) and Lynel Billups-Williams (Miami, Ohio). Four-star Kankakee cornerback Jyaire Hill, the top uncommitted senior in the state, is No. 3 in Illinois and 202nd nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings.
No. 16 St. Charles North at No. 18 Batavia, 7 p.m. Friday
St. Charles North (7-1, 6-0) is looking to win the DuKane, while Batavia (6-2, 5-1) is looking to share the title with the North Stars and possibly Wheaton North (7-1 , 5-1). Drew Surges, who has a few serving academy deals, is a productive two-way player for North with 681 total yards and 70 tackles. Batavia’s defense, led by Power Five linebackers Tyler Jansey (Wisconsin) and Jack Sadowsky (Iowa State), allowed just 27 points during a five-game winning streak.
Marist No. 10 at No. 23 Brother Rice, 7 p.m. Friday
The Pulaski Road Super Bowl is for playoff seeding as well as bragging rights, with both teams heading 5-3 on aggregate, 0-2 in the CCL/ESCC Blue. Converted receiver Dermot Smyth has 1,352 passing yards and a 104.9 quarterback rating for Marist, while defensive back John Nestor (41 tackles, two interceptions) and lineman Jamel Howard (Wisconsin) lead the defense. Rice also has a defensive lineman hired from Wisconsin: Roderick Pierce III.
No. 24 St. Francis at IC Catholic, 7:15 p.m. Friday
This is Metro Suburban’s unofficial title match, pitting red champion St. Francis (8-0) against blue winner IC Catholic (7-1). Two-way lineman TJ McMillen, an Illinois rookie, sets the tone for St. Francis, who average their opponents 47-9. Versatile junior KJ Parker, who has offers from Iowa and Wisconsin, surveys IC, whose loss was a pointer to Joliet Catholic.