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Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Mike Clark

Previewing Week 9’s top high school football games

Mount Carmel’s Matthew Markett (11) and Darrion Dupree (6) celebrate Dupree’s touchdown against St Rita. (Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times)

Here’s a look at some of Week 9’s best games.

No. 1 Mount Carmel at No. 2 Loyola, 1 p.m. Saturday

The most anticipated game of the regular season is finally here. The CCL/ESCC Blue rivals are both 8-0 overall and 2-0 in the league. It’s the second straight year they’ve both been unbeaten heading into this showdown; last year, Mount Carmel won 42-37 en route to a 14-0 run to the Class 7A title. Loyola went on to win the 8A championship. Both teams have junior quarterbacks who have stepped in and kept their respective offenses humming along: Mount Carmel’s Jack Elliott and Loyola’s Ryan Fitzgerald. Each club also has a productive ground game, thanks to playmakers such as Mount Carmel’s Darrion Dupree, a Wisconsin commit, and Loyola’s Drew McPherson.

No. 10 Morgan Park vs. Simeon, 1 p.m. Saturday at Gately

Morgan Park (7-1, 6-0), whose only loss was to Mount Carmel, looks to complete an unbeaten run to the Public League Red title. Marcus Thaxton is one of the area’s more dynamic quarterbacks, Bremen transfer Keshawn Lewis-Hunt is a proven back and Wyoming commit Chris Durr is an elite receiver. Three-star junior safety Jovan Clark leads the Mustangs defense. Multitalented Illinois recruit Tysean Griffin has been slowed by injury, but coach Chris James has said he’ll be ready for the IHSA playoffs. Simeon (5-3, 5-1) is part of a four-way tie for second in the Red with Young, Amundsen and Kenwood. The Wolverines have relied on a defense led by Power Five prospects Mikeshun Beeler and Chris Burgess.

Crete-Monee at No. 10 Kankakee, 7 p.m. Friday

Opposing defenses have had a hard time slowing down Kankakee (8-0, 5-0 Southland), who have multiple players with game-breaking speed. Running back Tony Phillips, a four-time state track champ in the sprints, and quarterback Larenz Walters lead the way. The Kays haven’t been tested since the first two weeks, when they beat Nazareth 33-26 and downstate Washington 7-3. Ditto for Crete-Monee (6-2, 5-0), which has ripped off six straight wins since opening 0-2 with losses to Carmel and St. Charles North — both ranked teams.

No. 14 St. Francis at Nazareth, 7:30 p.m. Friday

St. Francis (6-2, 1-1 CCL/ESCC Orange) was sitting at 2-2 after a last-minute loss to Fenwick in Week 4. Instead of folding, the Spartans ran off successive quality wins over Joliet Catholic, IC Catholic and St. Rita to solidify their playoff prospects. Ball State-bound quarterback Alessio Milivojevic is one of the state’s best, completing 73% of his passes for 2,073 yards and 23 TDs with a 135.1 passer rating and just three interceptions. Nazareth (4-4, 1-1) started 0-4, with the last two losses coming by a combined three points against Montini and IC Catholic. But the Roadrunners have won four straight since, including 31-30 over Brother Rice, to keep their postseason hopes alive. They also have a productive quarterback in three-year starter Logan Malachuk.

No. 20 Sycamore at No. 21 Morris, 7 p.m. Friday

Both teams are 8-0 overall and 5-0 in the Kishwaukee River/Interstate Eight White. The only serious challenge faced by either was provided by Kaneland, which lost 22-21 to Sycamore and 43-33 to Morris and led in the fourth quarter of both games. Sycamore junior quarterback/defensive back Blake Gautcher, a recent Iowa commit, has passed for 712 yards and eight TDs and has a team-best 47 tackles. Jacob Swartz had 156 rushing yards and three TDs in Morris’ win over Ottawa last week.

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