Kankakee (1-3, 0-1 Southland Athletic Conference) at Crete-Monee (2-2, 1-0)
When: 6 p.m. today.
Breaking it down: Wins over King and Rich East have Crete-Monee back at .500 after it dropped the first two games of the season. Coach Jerry Verde's defense has now turned in two stellar performances in a row. Offensively, QB Jaylan Bailey (140 yards, two TDs) and WR LaQuon Treadwell (60 yards, TD) broke out against Rich East. The Warriors were equally impressive on the ground, as Julius Spicer and Kenneth Kidd combined for 154 rushing yards. Kankakee, last season's conference runner-up, represents the toughest test on the Southland schedule for Crete-Monee. The Kays beat Thornridge in Week 2, but after losses to Hubbard and Rich South, that remains their only win of the year. Led by senior RBs Calvin Phillips and Lamont Hawkins, Kankakee will be looking to run, first and foremost. Multi-talented QB Marcus Pope can also pick up big gains on the ground. But the Warriors' defensive wall of Aaron Davis and John McCaskel will make running the ball a difficult task for the Kays, especially at the goal line, where Crete-Monee has made big stands in each of the last two weeks. The Kankakee defense has allowed 111 points through four games, so if Bailey and Co. can roll like they did in Week 3, the game could be put out of reach early. -- Scott Ritter
No. 1 T.F. South (4-0, 1-0 South Suburban Blue) at Lemont (4-0)
When: 7 p.m. today.
Breaking it down: The Rebels are looking for their first 5-0 start since they went undefeated in the 2005 regular season. South is coming off a 38-13 win at Reavis and the Class 6A No. 4 Indians were 35-21 winners at Oak Forest. This is just the second time the two have met, as Lemont won 16-0 last year in Lansing. Look for a hard-fought game between two well-coached programs. South QB Kevin Hallberg and RBs Allante Nelson and Kenny Jackson have come through with the help of a solid offensive line of Emanuel Brucelas, Rob Sterling, Cameron Brown, Ryan Templeton, Clifton Hubbard and Seth Wielosinksi. WRs Justin Smith, Cody Krilich and DeAndre Thurman give the Rebels an air threat. Defensively, Sterling has been a dominant force and will have to be tonight. Smith is also on the defensive line, while Nelson and Jackson are part of a good secondary. South has outscored its opponents 127-56, while the Indians have outscored foes 159-49. Lemont QB Michael Medwed rushed for 85 yards and passed for 96 as the Indians had 411 yards of offense last week. RB Jack Forrest had 104 yards and Mike Anzalone added 88 to give the Indians a tough running game. WRs Lee Taylor and Josh Ferry are a threat to any secondary. Kyle Krull leads the defense, while DB Clayton Fejedelem is tough in the secondary. -- Mike Nieto
Hillcrest (0-4, 0-2 South Suburban Blue) at T.F. North (3-1, 1-1)
When: 7 p.m. today
Breaking it down: What a difference a year makes. In 2009, Hillcrest won eight times and outscored foes 247-120; four weeks into the 2010 campaign, the Hawks have lost every game thus far and already surrendered 144 points while amassing a mere 40 themselves. Tinley Park administered the latest defeat last Friday, and Hillcrest could be in trouble again, particularly if Meteors QB Calvin Lindsey comes close to duplicating the efficiency he displayed in T.F. North's 26-20 Week 4 win over Bremen. The junior completed 15-of-20 passes for 242 yards and two touchdowns, including a game-winning 40-yard throw to Rob Austin with under two minutes to play. Seeing as how Tinley QB Kyle Sheridan burned the Hawks for 255 yards, Lindsey would seem to have good reason for optimism entering this contest. QB Breyonte Brewer (12-of-20, 164 yards versus Tinley) and RB Teron McKinley (13 carries, 96 rushing yards) give the Hillcrest attack a little punch, but probably not enough to create many difficulties for the Meteors. One thing North must do better than it did a week ago is go for the jugular if given the chance -- it got up 14-0 on Bremen early, but couldn't put the Braves away and was nearly forced into overtime. -- Ken Karrson
De La Salle (2-2) at No. 2 Mt. Carmel (3-1)
When: 7 p.m. today.
Where: Gately Stadium.
Breaking it down: This is the Caravan's first Friday game of the year as they face the Meteors in a Catholic League crossover game. Class 8A No. 7 Mt. Carmel leads the series which dates back over a half-century, 50-11-2. De La Salle last won in 1995. Last week, the Caravan beat Loyola 34-27 in overtime as DBs Mike Banks and Brandon Greer came up big. Both had a hand in stopping Loyola from scoring. Banks also ran for 200 yards and two TDs as the Caravan have won three straight. QB Chris Sujka was again on his game and DL Pat Casas made several key stops for Mt. Carmel. De La Salle lost 23-7 to St. Ignatius and was without QB Juan Martin (broken arm). He may also be out tonight. RB Gerrick Ratiff is having a successful season and scored the Meteors' touchdown last week. Mt. Carmel needs this one to continue its momentum as it travels to St. Rita next week. One key will be the offensive line continuing to develop. Last week was a big win for the team's confidence. -- Mike Nieto
Homewood-Flossmoor (3-1, 2-0 SWSC Blue) at Lincoln-Way East (3-1, 2-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. today.
Breaking it down: The next three weeks will tell the Vikings' story. With the hapless duo of Joliet Central and Joliet West pulling up the rear of the schedule, Homewood-Flossmoor is all but guaranteed to get the requisite five wins and become playoff eligible. Before reaching that point, however, the Vikings must navigate much more turbulent waters as they get matched up with Lincoln-Way East, Bolingbrook and Lockport in succession. Two of those clashes are on the road, beginning tonight in Frankfort. H-F certainly enters the game in good shape mentally, having beaten Sandburg (29-24) and Lincoln-Way Central (42-7) in its first two SouthWest Suburban Blue encounters. Last week's rout of the Knights was fueled by RB Malik Norman (92 rushing yards, four TDs), WR Gerald Butler (50-yard TD catch), and defenders Derrick Caldwell (eight solo tackles), Ryan Anderson (seven) and Antione Dantzler (six). The Class 8A No. 10 Griffins blasted Lockport 45-14 behind QB Blake Winkler's 260 aerial yards and three TD passes, including ones covering 84 and 65 yards. Five different Lincoln-Way East players scored and its defense did a great job of locking up Porters RB Dan Holman, save for one long scoring run. If the Vikings can solve that defense and exit with a victory, they'll position themselves for a shot at the division title and prove to remaining doubters that their revival under first-year coach Craig Buzea is the real deal. -- Ken Karrson
Notre Dame (3-1, 1-1 ESCC) at Marian Catholic (3-1, 2-0)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Breaking it down: It is homecoming, and the Spartans are on a three-game winning streak after a 49-33 decision over St. Patrick last week, game in which Marian rushed for a school-record 514 yards and had 571 yards of total offense. RBs Jeruel Taylor (210 yards, 3 TDs), Matt Simmons (148 yards, 2 TDs) and Trevor Woolfolk (137 yards, 2 TDs) all had big games and the defense came up with some key second-half stops. The Dons beat Benet Academy 35-31 last week. The Spartans lead the series 9-6, which dates back to 1992. The winner has scored more than 23 points just once, according to Marian's website. Ten of the games have been decided by 15 points or less. The Dons won 13-10 in Chicago Heights in 2008. The Spartans, who do not have more first downs than their opponent in any of their four games, are averaging 7.5 yards per carry on the ground. Woolfolk is averaging 15.6 per carry and Simmons 12.9. -- Mike Nieto
Lincoln-Way North (4-0, 2-0 SWSC Red) at No. 3 Thornton (3-1, 1-1)
When: Saturday 1 p.m.
TV: Comcast 100 (tape delay at 4 p.m.).
Breaking it down: Before the 2010 season got underway, the Wildcats were a popular pick to rule over the SouthWest Suburban Red in their initial year within the division. That may still happen, but the road to the top suddenly got a lot bumpier after Bradley-Bourbonnais ambushed Thornton last Friday. On the heels of their narrow escape from Andrew the week before, that loss gave the 'Cats a middle-of-the-pack identity, at least for the moment. Dealing with a 20-0 halftime deficit against the Boilermakers didn't do Thornton any favors, but more important is this: Have the Wildcats sprung a defensive leak? If so, the upstart Phoenix may be in a position to exploit it. QB Jack Irace (12-of-14, 157 yards, three TDs) was the picture of consistency in Lincoln-Way North's 41-8 romp past Thornwood last Friday, and the Phoenix's prevention unit was also staunch as it forced four Thunderbirds turnovers. Adding more misery was a pair of punt blocks by North's Colin Hannigan, both of which set up Phoenix scores. Being at home will help Thornton, especially since North will be out of its element playing a Saturday afternoon game. Will the time change matter? Not as much as a renewed focus by the 'Cats' defense and continued offensive contributions from RB Damien Bell (138 rushing yards, one TD against Bradley), QB Charles Knowles (11-of-20, 100 yards) and WR Dimitrius Hardwick. -- Ken Karrson
Bradley-Bourbonnais (3-1, 1-1 SWSC Red) at Thornridge (2-2, 1-1)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Breaking it down: After losing to Lincoln-Way West last week, the schedule won't get any easier for Thornridge with SouthWest Suburban Red foe Bradley-Bourbonnais. The Falcons could not get their passing game rolling last week, as QB Derrick Martin was just 3-of-19 for 43 yards. Mika'il McCall rushed for 201 yards, giving him 672 for the season, but it wasn't enough as the Falcons' secondary was carved up by Warriors QB Justin Butterfield in the first half. Bradley-Bourbonnais was pegged as one of the conference favorites going into the season, and the Boilermakers' only loss was by one point to the emerging Lincoln-Way West team. The Bradley-Bourbonnais offense is a force with which to be reckoned as it has put up 131 points through four games, including 35 last week against Thornton. The Falcons have allowed a 100-yard rusher in three of their four games, and Boilermakers RB Brandon Moliga may be the best back they have seen all season. Thornridge has shown the ability to shut down the run at times -- doing so against both Kankakee and Lincoln-Way West in the second half -- but coach Mike Morrissey would like to see that kind of performance over the entirety of Saturday's game. QB Ryan Keener has the tools to get things done through the air for B-B as well, and the Thornridge secondary will need a better performance than the one it put up against Butterfield. The Falcons will certainly be the underdogs on their home field, and an upset could make their season. -- Scott Ritter
Stagg (0-4, 0-2 SWSC Red) at Thornwood (2-2, 0-2)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday.
Breaking it down: Thornwood has dropped its first two SouthWest Suburban Red games, but a home contest against winless Stagg might be just what the doctor ordered. Last week was a low point for the Thunderbirds, as they were crushed by Lincoln-Way North. Raheem Gardner rushed for 86 yards and Brandon Lloyd had the T'birds' lone score, but defense and special teams killed Thornwood. The Phoenix have a multitude of offensive weapons that any team would have trouble stopping, but the T'birds also allowed two blocked punts -- mistakes that coach Wilbur Milhouse would like to see fixed moving forward. As tough as last week's 33-point loss was for Thornwood, things have been worse for Stagg all year long. The Chargers are averaging just 6.5 points per game while their opponents are averaging nearly 46. A 36-12 loss to T.F. North on opening night was the closest Stagg has come to the win column. The Stagg offense will be led by RB Drake Estrada, but after facing Lincoln-Way North last week, defending Stagg will seem like a walk in the park for the Thornwood players. A murderer's row of Bradley-Bourbonnais, Andrew, Thornton and Lincoln-Way West awaits Thornwood after Saturday's game. If the T'birds are to pick up their third win, which would be their highest mark since 2001, this will be their best chance. -- Scott Ritter