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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Mike Clark

Previewing Week 1’s top high school football games

Lincoln-Way East’s Max Cioffi, Josh Janowski, and Mike Lombardo take part in a drill during practice. (Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times)

Mount Carmel and East St. Louis face off in a major showdown on Saturday at ISU, but there are plenty of other excellent games around the area in Week 1. Here’s a look at five of the best matchups.

No. 12 Brother Rice at No. 6 Maine South, Fri., 7:30

This North Side vs. South Side matchup features teams with ambitions of deep playoff runs in Class 7A (Brother Rice) and 8A (Maine South). Rice linebacker Christian Pierce is one of the state’s top juniors and his 12 offers include Ohio State and six more Big Ten schools, plus Texas and Missouri. Running back Randall Nauden, a Navy commit, leads the Crusaders’ offense. Maine South has all the ingredients for success: experience, good skill players such as junior running back Michael Dellumo and senior quarterback Jack Defilippis; and dominant lines anchored by 6-4, 270-pound Zak Stoilov and 6-2, 290-pound Jakub Keita. 

No. 5 Nazareth at Kankakee, Fri., 7

This matchup produced the oddest score of the 2022 season, a 2-0 win for Nazareth. More scoring this season seems like a given. Defending Class 5A champ Nazareth is loaded with veterans, including junior quarterback Logan Malachuk, who has started since he was a freshman. Ethan Enriquez and Alex Angulo are proven running backs. Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Tennessee and USC are among the Power Five teams that have offered junior edge rusher Gabe Kaminski. Former Elk Grove coach Miles Osei takes over at Kankakee, whose best player is four-star offensive lineman Marques Easley. Nicknamed the Big EZ, the 6-5, 335-pounder is committed to two-time defending national champ Georgia. 

No. 2 Lincoln-Way East vs. No. 24 Kenwood at Gately, Sat., 10 a.m.

This marquee matchup was supposed to open the season on Thursday but was pushed back to a rare Saturday morning kickoff because of the excessive heat. Returning 8A runner-up Lincoln-Way East has possibly the most experienced team in three-time state champion coach Rob Zvonar’s 23 seasons. Among the difference makers are Iowa-bound offensive lineman Josh Janowski; edge rusher Caden O’Rourke, whose offers include Illinois, Iowa and Northwestern; and savvy quarterback Braden Tischer. Kenwood has as much high-level talent as any team in the state. They include edge rusher Marquise Lightfoot, a Miami commit; receiver I’Marion Stewart (Michigan); and running backs Mako Grant and Ethan Middleton.

Simeon at Wheaton-Warrenville South, Sat., 1

There’s a rare leadership change at Simeon, where former Wolverines defensive coordinator and King head coach Derrick Hunter Sr. takes over on an interim basis after the resignation of Dante Culbreath. Simeon has two elite defensive linemen in senior Mikeshun Beeler and junior Chris Burgess. WW South returns 10 starters and is led by a strong group of offensive skill players including running back Matt Crider (also a starting linebacker), quarterback Luca Carbonaro and receiver Amari Williams. Cornerback Connor Sliwa is a defensive mainstay. 

Marist at No. 16 Glenbard West, Sat., 1:30

When Glenbard West is good, it usually features a talented, veteran running back and an experienced defense. Both pieces are in place this fall as four-year starter and reigning West Suburban Silver offensive player of the year Julius Ellens returns along with linebackers Ben Starmann and Sam Cesario and defensive end Danny Coffee among others. Marist has some good building blocks in senior running back Marc Coy, linebacker Duke White, defensive back Darrell Jackson-Mitchell and defensive lineman Brad Fitzgibbon. 

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