Top games to watch in Week 9


Dunbar vs. King

When: 4 p.m. Friday at Gately.

Outlook: This Public League playoff matchup of two of the city’s most successful coaches — King’s Lonnie Williams, in his 45th season, and Dunbar’s Glenn Johnson — means more for the Mighty Men (4-4). King (6-2) has clinched an IHSA playoff berth, but Dunbar (4-4) — which opened the season with losses to powers Lake Forest and St. Rita — needs a win to keep its season alive. With 43 playoff points, the Mighty Men don’t have to worry about being on the playoff bubble as long as they get to five wins. King RB Lance Robinson and Dunbar QB Demoria Harris, who was a running back till this season, are two of the Public League’s most dynamic players.

Loyola vs Mount Carmel

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gately, Ch. 26.2

Outlook: This shapes up as perhaps the biggest Week 9 game of 31-year Mount Carmel coach Frank Lenti’s career. The Caravan (4-4, 0-3 Catholic Blue) must win to avoid missing the IHSA playoffs for the first time since 1985. They’ve looked brilliant at times, including in a 17-0 second-quarter rally against Brother Rice in Week 6. There also have been inconsistent stretches, but if RBs A.J. Lewis (590 yards, 9 TDs) and Anthony Ries (580 yards, 6 TDs) have productive nights, the Caravan could get on a roll. No. 5 Loyola (7-1, 3-1) relies on a rock-solid defense led by DB Mark Dowdle and beat St. Rita last week in third-string QB Aidan Walsh’s first varsity start.

St. Rita at Brother Rice

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday,

Outlook: Both teams are coming off Catholic Blue losses: Rice, 45-42 to Providence and St. Rita, 38-14 to Loyola. But No. 14 Brother Rice (5-3, 3-1) can still earn a share of its first conference title since 2004 with a win here. The Crusaders have plenty of playmakers on offense, including QB Alex Alarcon (1,791 yards passing, 15 TDs; 473 yards rushing, 7 TDs), RB Marcus Jones (692 yards, 12 TDs) and sophomore WR Ricky Smalling (48 catches, 15.5 average, 9 TDs). No. 15 St. Rita (6-2, 1-2) will try to solve the turnover issues that led to the Loyola game getting away in the fourth quarter. RB Tyre Lee (1,055 yards, 8.0 per carry, 10 TDs) and WR Brandon Gaston (31 catches, 22.0 per carry, 7 TDs) showed their game-breaking ability with scoring plays of 70-plus yards last week.

WW South at Naperville Central

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Outlook: Like Mount Carmel, Wheaton Warrenville South (4-4, 3-1 DuPage Valley has been in playoff mode for weeks now. The Tigers lost four of their first five games but have won three in a row — including 7-3 last week against Glenbard North and 14-7 in OT vs. Lake Park. This will be Round 2 for the Tigers and No. 8 Naperville Central (7-1, 4-0), which beat WW South 10-7 in Week 4 on Connor Assalley’s field goal as time expired. The defending Class 8A champ Redhawks have won seven straight after a 20-6 opening loss to Waubonsie Valley and have allowed only 40 points during the streak. LB Bobby McMillen leads the defense and RB Kevin Clifford (1,084 yards, 8 TDs) has been a durable runner. Tommy Vitale (55 solo tackles, 35 assists) and Solomon Jackson (8 sacks) lead a stingy WW South defense.

Check out more of the area’s best Week 6 matchups here:

Auroa-area’s top games to watch

Elgin-area’s top games to watch

Naperville-area’s top game to watch

Southland’s top games to watch

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