Southland’s top games to watch in Week 8

SHARE Southland’s top games to watch in Week 8
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Brother Rice (5-2, 2-0) at Providence (6-1, 2-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Outlook: Stakes are high. If the Crusaders win their final two games of the regular season, they claim the Catholic Blue outright. If the Celtics win, they earn at least a share of the Blue. Rice will try to produce a balanced attack offensively, mixing the legs of running back Marcus Jones (120 carries, 658 yards) and the arm of quarterback Alex Alarcon (93 of 166, 1,341 yards) to keep an outstanding Providence ‘D’ guessing. The key to the outcome likely will be how Rice’s defense contains Providence’s explosive offense. QB Justin Hunniford (128 of 178, 1,688 yards, 26 TDs) is having a Player of the Year type of season. Rice’s secondary must prevent 6-4 WRs Miles Boykin (43 catches, 655 yards, 16 TDs) and Nate Vejvoda from producing the big play.

Nazareth (7-0, 5-0) at Marist (4-3, 3-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Outlook: If the RedHawks are going to deliver the upset, they’re going to have to apply the clamps to Roadrunners QB Jonah Beauduy, a major dual threat who can deliver the goods with his arm and legs. One of the best ways to accomplish that feat is for Marist’s offense to sustain drives and keep Beauduy and the Nazareth offense on the sideline. That task would simplify if Marist RB Jawill Aldridge returns from injury, which hasn’t been determined. Darshon McCullough has been excellent filling in for Aldridge, but having both on the explosive.

Lemont (7-0, 4-0) at Tinley Park (5-2, 3-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Outlook: The Titans need to win to have any shot at the South Suburban Blue title. Lemont, however, has looked unstoppable. The Indians have outscored opponents 291-65, including 231-39 in conference. It’s a matter of picking your poison with the Indians, who boast RB Anthony Martin (70-434), red-hot QB Ryan Dawson (75 of 111, 1,015, 25 TDs) and one of the state’s best WRs in Flynn Nagel (41, 658, 18). Tinley Park must sustain drives behind RB Jamarai McDonald (113-598) and QB Quinn Kelly (125 of 241, 1,472, 20 TDs) and avoid turnovers.

Bolingbrook (5-2, 4-1) at Lincoln-Way East (6-1, 5-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Outlook: The Griffins can assure themselves of at least a share of the SouthWest Suburban Blue title with a win. In fact, with a Week 9 date against winless Joliet Central, a win over the Raiders pretty much hands East the championship outright. The Griffins offense has been on a roll, keyed by QB Mike Weller (112 of 191, 1,437), RB Liam Morrissey (180-947, 18 TDs) and WR Paul Gossage (50, 722). If East can effectively run the ball and sprinkle in some pass completions, it will find itself in position to achieve victory. East’s defense must contain Raiders RBs Julian Huff and Jacob Huff.

St. Rita (6-1, 1-1) at Loyola (6-1, 1-1)

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Outlook: The team that loses this game will find itself on the outside looking in to the Catholic Blue championship. The key for St. Rita is its offense taking advantage of any opportunities that arise. The Ramblers defense is much too strong to expect to sustain long, clock-chewing drives. If the St. Rita defense can produce a few turnovers or special teams can provide qualify field position, the Mustangs offense must strike. Mustangs QB C.J. Weydeman, RB Tyre Lee (126-868) and WR Brandon Gaston (26, 491) have the ability to do just that.

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