By: Eric Van Dril ||| Sept. 29, 2016
Games previewed: Hubbard-Perspectives, Solorio-Westinghouse, Back of the Yards-Catalyst-Maria, Vocational-Raby, Pritzker-Rowe-Clark.
WORD COUNT: 1,328
No. 7 Hubbard (4-1, 2-0) vs. No. 5 Perspectives (4-1, 2-0) at 7:15 p.m., Thursday, at Gately.
The BIG question: Can Perspectives take command of the Illini Prairie State and continue a season of firsts?
Perspectives has been in the Illini Prairie State for four seasons now. Before this year, the Warriors had never defeated Morgan Park or Hubbard. They had never even finished above .500 in the conference.
Perspectives accomplished one first earlier this year when it beat Morgan Park 18-6. It has the chance to check off two more this week by beating Hubbard, which would also clinch its first-ever winning record in the Illini Prairie State.
A win over Hubbard would put the Warriors in excellent position to win the conference outright, with games against Kenwood (3-2) and Brooks (1-4) remaining.
Matchup to watch: The Hubbard rushing attack vs. Perspectives’ run defense.
The Greyhounds are going to run the ball. That’s what they do. It’s up to Perspectives to slow down senior running back Joshua Land and a high-powered Hubbard offense that has scored 131 points in its last two games.
Land rushed for four touchdowns against Perspectives last season. You can see all four in the following video.
The Warriors appear to have the personnel capable of slowing Land and Hubbard’s run game, however.
Their defense held Morgan Park to six points on Friday, Sept. 16. One week later, Urban Prep-Englewood finished with -17 yards rushing against Perspectives. Senior linebackers Montrel Kennedy and Johnathan Wordlaw were flying around against the Lions, and senior defensive lineman Jamauri Spivery was wreaking havoc up front.
No. 4 Solorio (4-1, 2-0) at No. 8 Westinghouse (4-1, 2-0) at 2 p.m., Saturday, at Westinghouse.
The BIG question: Can Westinghouse score enough points to hang with Solorio?
As The Public League has noted multiple times in recent weeks, Solorio has the highest-scoring offense of any team in the Public League. The Sun Warriors are averaging 52 points-per-game through five weeks.
The Warriors can score, too.
They scored 40 points in double overtime against Kenwood in Week 3 — the same Broncos defense that held Morgan Park to eight points on Saturday, Sept. 24.
The Warriors will likely have to score somewhere around that number to have a chance to pull off an upset against Solorio. It would be very surprising if this game ends up as a 16-14 defensive struggle.
Matchup to watch: The Solorio rush offense vs. Westinghouse’s run defense.
This was the same key matchup highlighted in Week 4, when the Public League listed Solorio-Vocational as one of its top-5 games of the week. The Sun Warriors rushed 19 times for 206 yards and seven touchdowns against the short-handed Cavaliers on Friday, Sept. 16, en route to a 55-14 win.
The same matchup is key for Westinghouse this week.
If the Warriors — or any team, for that matter — don’t slow down junior quarterback Quincy Patterson II and senior running back Justin Members on the ground, Solorio’s offense becomes pretty much impossible to stop.
Catalyst-Maria (5-0, 4-0) vs. Back of the Yards (5-0, 4-0) at 4:15 p.m., Thursday, at Back of the Yards.
The BIG question: What will be the score at halftime?
Catalyst-Maria’s offense is high-powered. It features senior quarterback Tyler Vargas (15 passing touchdowns), running back James Ward (308 yards rushing, five touchdowns) and 6-foot-3 wide receiver T.J. Hayes (24 catches, 421 yards, nine touchdowns).
The Wolves have scored the second-most points (254) of any team in the Public League. Only Solorio (260) has scored more.
Catalyst-Maria has not only piled up points, it’s essentially put all five of its games out of reach by halftime. The Wolves’ smallest lead at halftime was 30-12 against Richards on Sept. 17, according to maxpreps.com. They’ve outscored their opponents 172-28 in first halves thus far.
Back of the Yards will likely have to be within striking distance at halftime in order to have a chance to win.
Matchup to watch: The Catalyst-Maria offense vs. Back of the Yards’ defense.
Catalyst-Maria’s offense has been prolific, but Back of the Yards is the best team the Wolves have faced thus far. Their first five opponents are currently 6-18, combined.
The Bobcats’ defense shut out previously-undefeated Chicago Tech 42-0 last week. It is led by senior inside linebacker Kevin Franco, who is first on the team in tackles.
The Bobcats’ defense will have to play well in order to win a game that will likely determine the Inter-City 5 champion.
Raby (0-5, 0-2) vs. Vocational (2-3, 0-2) at 4:15 p.m., Thursday, at Gately.
The BIG question: How will Raby handle the disappointment of being eliminated from the postseason?
A lot was expected from the Raiders this season. They went 8-4 in 2015 and made it to the second round of the Class 3A playoffs. They have a lot of talent. The Public League had them ranked No. 5 in the preseason.
Injuries have really hurt Raby, however. The Raiders have also had to deal with eligibility issues and a very difficult non-conference schedule that included Curie (4-1), Wheaton Academy (4-1) and Hubbard (4-1).
Those three things — along with a forfeit vs. King in Week 4 — have led to Raby being eliminated from the state playoffs after just five weeks.
The Raiders have fought hard in recent weeks, however. They beat King 50-0 on Sept. 17 in a game that was later forfeited. They played right with No. 4 Solorio in the first half a week ago before the Sun Warriors pulled away en route to a 57-34 victory.
The talent and play-making ability is still there for Raby. But the x-factor in this game is: Will the Raiders have an emotional let down because they’ve already been eliminated from the playoffs? Or will they be able to play with fire and record their first win of the season?
Matchup to watch: Vocational’s run game vs. Raby’s rush defense.
The Cavaliers have lost their first two conference games by a combined score of 109-14, but those two games were against No. 4 Solorio and No. 1 Phillips.
This week’s game against Raby is much more manageable for a team that will still be without senior Everett Henderson, its best running back.
The rushing attack, which features junior Marquell Peggs and senior Malik Haynes at running back, is the key to Vocational’s offense.
This game should be a good measuring stick for it, looking ahead.
If Vocational can move the ball on the ground this week, that bodes well for the Cavaliers as they try to close out conference play with wins over Raby, King and Westinghouse. Winning all three would bring the Cavaliers to the five-win mark teams need to reach in order to qualify for the state playoffs.
Noble-Pritzker (4-1, 3-1) vs. Noble-Rowe-Clark (4-1, 3-1) at 3:45 p.m., Saturday, at Hanson.
The BIG question: Can Rowe-Clark win its first-ever conference title by upsetting Pritzker, which has been the clear-cut best team in the Inter-City 3 over the last six seasons?
Pritzker has been the dominant team in the Inter-City 3 since 2010. The Jaguars have won five out of the last six conference titles, according to ihsa.org. That includes 2015, when they went 9-0.
Pritzker lost 6-0 to ITW Speer on Sept. 10, however. Pritzker, Rowe-Clark and ITW Speer are all currently 3-1 in the Inter-City 3. ITW Speer beat Pritzker and Rowe-Clark, according to ihsa.org, but lost to Noble-Muchin 24-14 on Sept. 24.
That has created an opening for Rowe-Clark. It controls its own destiny as it chases its first-ever conference championship. Rowe-Clark will have to win this game, then likely win the rest of its games in the Inter-City 3, in order to do so.
Matchup to watch: The Rowe-Clark defense vs. Pritzker QB Elijah Cortez and Pritzker RB Yoluis Chamorro.
Pritzker’s backfield features Cortez and Chamorro, who are both excellent runners that can elude tackles and score at any time.
Their highlight films from last season show that.
It’s a big task for defenses to slow down both players, but that’s what Rowe-Clark will likely have to do in order to upset Pritzker.