Marian Catholic (4-1) at Crete-Monee (3-2)
When: 6 p.m. today.
Breaking it down: This is just the fifth overall meeting between these two teams, with Marian holding a 2-1-1 edge. The Spartans won the last meeting, 25-21, on Nov. 6, 1965, a game in which current Marian coach Dave Mattio was a senior on the Spartans team. The Warriors' lone win was 21-20 in the 1962 -- the first time the two schools met. Because of scheduling conflicts, this may be the last game for some time. Mattio, in his 35th year as head coach, will go against former Marian star Jerry Verde, who was a member of Marian's 1993 state championship team. Both teams are on winning streaks -- the Spartans have won four straight, including two in overtime, while Crete-Monee has claimed three consecutive victories as it looks to make its sixth straight playoff appearance. The Warriors topped Southland Athletic Conference foe Kankakee 21-14 last week with a strong second half. DB Lexus Jackson came up big, returning an interception 58 yards to set up the tying score. RB Kenneth Kidd and QB Jaylan Bailey each scored a TD. RB Mike Jamison scored the winning touchdown. Jamison also leads a tough defense that held the Kays scoreless in the second half. Marian beat Notre Dame 21-20 in overtime as Jason Martinez blocked a potential game-tying PAT kick. The trio of Jeruel Taylor, Matt Simmons and Trevor Woolfolk give the Spartans a tough ground game. QB John Rhode is a threat through the air. The defense, led by Byron Munoz, Wes Fleming, Mike Toliver and Jack Ziltz, has come up big. -- Mike Nieto
Bremen (2-3, 0-2 South Suburban Blue) at No. 2 T.F. South (4-1, 1-1)
When: 7 p.m. today.
Breaking it down: The Rebels are coming off a 23-17 loss at Lemont, a game in which T.F. South's defense stepped up -- several times, Lemont had a short field, but had to settle for either a field goal or nothing -- and its offense had success running the ball against a bigger Lemont team by employing a Wildcat formation. This weekend is South's homecoming and the Rebels are looking to get back in the win column. LB Rob Sterling (12 solos versus the Indians) is South's defensive ringleader, but DEs Seth Wielosinski and Justin smith have played well up front, and DBs DeAndre Thurman and Jackson each had an interception last week. The offense struggled early against Lemont, but RB Allante Nelson ended up having a great game as he rushed for 156 yards. RB Kenny Jackson had two rushing TDs. South will be hungry to not only win its homecoming, but to get on a roll and become playoff eligible, which it would with a win tonight. Bremen is led by RB David Smith, QB Dontau Dodson and LB David Gonzales. -- Mike Nieto
T.F. North (4-1, 2-1 SSC Blue) at Oak Forest (4-1, 2-1)
When: 7 p.m. today.
Breaking it down: This is the point at which the Meteors' 2009 campaign began breaking apart, but no signs of imminent disaster are on the horizon. In fact, unlike a year ago, T.F. North enters its Week 6 game on a high note, courtesy of Hillcrest, which continued floundering last Friday by being the rfecipient of a 42-7 beat-down. The Meteors excelled in all phases -- their defense made a goal-line stand, Rob Austin's 86-yard kickoff-return touchdown highlighted the special teams play, and North's offense cranked out over 380 rushing yards. QB Calvin Lindsey accounted for 128 of those and also threw a TD pass to Austin. Three other players gained more than 50 yards on the ground for the Meteors, who pieced together a 94-yard drive to notch one of their scores. Of course, the going will be a little tougher against an Oak Forest program that's been in the state playoffs for 10 consecutive years and averaged eights wins per season over that span. Picking up victory No. 4 this fall was quite a chore for the Bengals, who trailed unbeaten Tinley Park by 15 points at one juncture before rallying for a 35-29 triumph in OT. QB Tim Longawa was a major thorn in the Titans' side as he rushed for 231 yards on 21 carries and accounted for four of Oak Forest's TDs, including the game-winner. Longawa scored twice himself and also threw a pair of touchdown passes to Brian McNamara (five catches, 68 yards). The Bengals and Meteors share similar strengths, so this one could be decided late. -- Ken Karrson
Thornton (4-1, 2-1 SWSC Red) at Stagg (0-5, 0-3)
When: 7 p.m. today.
Breaking it down: When the 2010 schedule first came out, this game was circled as one of interest. Thornton's pedigree was obviously known, but the Chargers figured to be a credible challenger, seeing as how they won four of their last five games in 2009 -- including decisions over Thornridge and playoff-bound Bradley-Bourbonnais -- and appeared to be on the rise. Looks, however, have proven deceiving. Instead of being in the thick of the SouthWest Suburban Red race, Stagg has inexplicably found itself mired in something worse than mediocrity after coming up a 36-12 loser to T.F. North on opening night. Since then, the Chargers have been outscored 173-14. Thornwood did its part to keep Stagg capsized last week as it administered a 26-0 setback. If the Thunderbirds rolled like that, imagine how ugly this contest might become. For sure, the Wildcats enter it in full throttle after blasting previously unbeaten Lincoln-Way North last Saturday. Thornton's defense forced six turnovers -- Jalen Banks had two interceptions, and both David Luster (82 yards) and Tracy Keys (5 yards) returned fumble recoveries for touchdowns -- and RB Damien Bell led an explosive offense with 246 rushing yards on 34 carries and four TDs. Clearly, the 'Cats wanted to put the sting of an unexpected loss at Bradley-Bourbonnais firmly behind them, and it was mission accomplished -- and then some. Expect a running clock to be put into effect at some point tonight. -- Ken Karrson
Thornridge (2-3, 1-2 SWSC Red) at Andrew (2-3, 1-2)
When: 7 p.m. today.
Breaking it down: It's official: This will be Thornridge's final football season, as the school will become a freshman academy next year. If the Falcons are to go out in style with a trip to the playoffs, they will need to win three of their remaining four games. Mike Morrissey's squad may have let one slip away last week against Bradley-Bourbonnais, as a goal-line interception and bad snap on a field-goal attempt kept the game out of the Falcons' reach. Michigan State-bound RB Mika'il McCall had 103 yards rushing against the Boilermakers, a relatively quiet day for the future Spartan, who now has 775 yards on the season. QB Derrick Martin kept his team in the game, recovering nicely from Week 4's debacle against Lincoln-Way West to throw for 137 yards and a touchdown. Andrew, a preseason favorite to win the conference, suddenly finds itself in the same position as Thornridge: needing to win three of four to make the playoffs. With Bradley-Bourbonnais and Lincoln-Way North looming in the season's final two weeks, the Thunderbolts surely look at Friday's tilt with the Falcons as a must-win situation. The 'Bolts are not as bad as their record may indicate, though -- their losses have come by a total margin of just 16 points against Sandburg, Thornton and Lincoln-Way West, teams boasting a combined record of 13-2. Andrew is led by QB Kevin O'Neill and RB Andrew Graham. The Falcons were shredded by West QB Justin Butterfield two weeks ago, and again by Bradley's Ryan Keener last week, so expect Andrew coach Jim Zimmer to rely heavily on O'Neill. Both teams are fighting for their playoffs lives in this one. The Falcons may need McCall to put them on his back if they are to pull off the upset. -- Scott Ritter
Homewood-Flossmoor (3-2, 2-1 SWSC Blue) at Bolingbrook (4-1, 3-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. today.
Internet radio: rrsn.com.
Breaking it down: The Vikings didn't bag a victory last Friday at Lincoln-Way East, but they undoubtedly earned respect from any naysayers who might have remained. H-F refused to back down from its heralded foe, which held a 14-point lead at one juncture and had the advantage of a large, full-throated homecoming crowd behind it. The Vikings eventually forged a 21-all tie, and had a chance to knot the score again at 28 in the late going before falling inches short on a fourth-down play near the Griffins' 5-yard line. If there was one thing H-F coach Craig Buzea wasn't crazy about, it was his club's failure to make better use of four trips inside its opponent's 25. Still, QB Tim Williams operated a solid offense and showed that even when RB Malik Norman isn't running wild, the Vikings remain a threat. The Raiders could be missing their own starting QB this week as sophomore Aaron Bailey suffered an ankle injury during a win over Joliet West. Sub D.J. Pruitt made sure the Tigers were tamed by rushing for 105 yards, scoring once and throwing a TD pass. Malik Snapp (11 carries, 109 yards, two TDs) is another ground-gaining weapon for Bolingbrook and DB Diandre Rhodes (two interceptions, fumble recovery) is solid. This game may be even more important to the Raiders than it is to H-F, since there are no more gimmes on the Bolingbrook schedule. Conversely, the Vikings will close out against hapless Joliet West and Joliet Central, meaning that a win here will pretty much seal their playoff deal. -- Ken Karrson
No. 1 Mt. Carmel (4-1, 2-0 Catholic League Blue) at St. Rita (5-0, 2-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. today.
TV: MeTV (WWME, Ch. 23).
Breaking it down: This is about as old school as it gets between these longtime Catholic League rivals. Class 8A No. 6 Mt. Carmel holds a 52-28-2 advantage in a series that dates back to 1924. Class 7A No. 4 St. Rita has won the last two, including 54-18 at Gately Stadium last year. The Caravan last won 35-19 in 2007. They'll be an overflow crowd on South Western Avenue in the 14th Ward. The Mustangs have yet to lose, while the Caravan have won four straight since dropping their opener to Simeon 47-41 at Soldier Field. They looked impressive on both sides of the ball last week in a 35-14 Catholic League crossover win over De La Salle. RB Brandon Greer rushed for three TDs in place of injured Mike Banks, who Mt. Carmel coach Frank Lenti is hoping will return tonight. Draco Smith scored on a 50-yard run and QB Chris Sujka also scored. The defense has played well and will need another good performance as Kevin Kosiewicz and Pat Casas anchor a tough D-line. St. Rita RB Jahwon Akui has been unstoppable -- he had 146 yards rushing and two TDs in a 41-21 Catholic League crossover win over Bishop McNamara. QB Brandon Jackson threw for 127 yards, two TDs and ran for another. RB/CB Travis Starks rushed for 126 yards. Defensively, the Mustangs have had just 48 points scored against them, while tallying 136. St. Rita has shutouts against Portage (22-0) and Brother Rice (24-0). Mt. Carmel has scored 193 points, while opponents have 100.-- Mike Nieto
Thornwood (3-2, 1-2 SWSC Red) at Bradley-Bourbonnais (4-1, 2-1)
When: 7:30 p.m. today.
Breaking it down: Thornwood shut out SWSC Red doormat Stagg 26-0 last week in South Holland for its third win of the season. It was the program's first shutout since it beat Bloom Twp. 6-0 in overtime to open the 2009 season. With dates against Bradley-Bourbonnais, Andrew, Thornton and Lincoln-Way West rounding out the schedule, picking up a fourth win will be a tall order for the Thunderbirds. RB Raheem Gardner and QB Devonte Singleton will lead Thornwood against a Boilermakers team that will give up some points. B-B did as good a job against Thornridge RB Mika'il McCall as anyone has this season, so the T'birds may need to look more to Singleton for their offense. WR Brandon Lloyd will be his No. 1 option. On the other side of the ball, there is a reason the Boilermakers are giving up over 21 points per game but still sitting at 4-1: QB Ryan Keener. With RB Brandon Moliga out, Keener has stepped up his game, throwing for 246 yards and rushing for 82 last week against Thornridge. Diamond Armstrong, Moliga's replacement, is no slouch himself as he found the end zone twice last week. In a tough conference, no one could fault the Thunderbirds for going 3-6 and winning the games they were supposed to win. But pulling off a huge upset down the stretch would be big for this young group. -- Scott Ritter