Providence (4-0, 1-0) at St. Rita (4-0, 1-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Outlook: No one has been able to put the brakes on Providence’s explosive offense. St. Rita, though, might have the personnel, led by safety Marty Bechina, to slow down quarterback Justin Hunniford & Co. Hunniford has been on target all season, connecting on 77 of 99 passes for 1,032 yards and 16 touchdowns. For the Mustangs to have a chance, they must apply some pressure on Hunniford and keep receivers Miles Boykin (30 catches, 478 yards, 11 TDs) and Nate Vejvoda in check. What gets lost in the Celtics’ success is just how well its defense has performed, allowing 44 points all season. Tyre Lee (71 carries, 529 yards) has carried much of the load offensively for St. Rita, which has allowed 55 points all season.
Homewood-Flossmoor(3-1, 2-0) at Lincoln-Way East (3-1, 2-0)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Outlook: In a perfect world, the Griffins would like to hand the ball off to Liam Morrissey (105 carries, 511 yards) and methodically make their way down field. That would kill time off the clock and keep the Vikings’ speedy offense on the sideline. The last thing East wants to do is get into a shootout with H-F, though Griffins QB Mike Weller (65-for-113, 715 yards) and Paul Gossage (32 catches, 347 yards) are a lethal combo. H-F QB Bryce Gray (38-for-59, 563 yards) is coming into his own and has multiple targets in tight end James Sheehan and WR Kendric Pryor. The Vikings have a pair of lightning-quick running backs in twins Devonte and Deante Harley-Hampton (28-225).
Lincoln-Way North (4-0, 2-0) at Thornton (2-2, 1-1)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Outlook: North’s first four opponents are a combined 3-13. A road game against Thornton in Harvey provides the first major test of the season. Thornton is coming off an embarrassing 52-13 shellacking by Bradley, so the Wildcats will be seeking redemption. North has scored 207 points, largely behind a massive offensive line. QB Ryan Arthur is a savvy three-year starter and RB Jaylen Branch has the skills to take over games. Thornton must avoid turnovers and penalties to derail the Phoenix.
Rich East (4-0, 0-0) at Rich Central (3-1, 1-0)
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Outlook: The two Southland foes have nearly identical points scored — Rich East 127, Rich Central 124 — and points allowed — Rich East 48, Rich Central 49. There’s no secret to what the Rockets are going to do: run the football. It’s just a matter of the Olympians’ defense remaining disciplined. Rich East has a powerful one-two punch out of the backfield in Marcel McDonald and Brian Stewart. On the rare occasion it passes the ball, TE Tyler Gregory has been the go-to receiver. Rich Central RB DeShon Kelly, WR Dequan Dudley and slot back Jordan Fuqua are playmakers.
De La Salle (1-3) vs. Mount Carmel (1-3)
When: 7:15 p.m. Friday, Gately Stadium
Outlook: Both teams are playing for their playoff lives. The Meteors have remaining games against Marmion (3-1), Bishop McNamara (3-1) and Wheaton St. Francis (2-2), so a loss here puts their playoff hopes in serious peril. The Caravan still have to play Loyola and Brother Rice. De La Salle QB Tom Duddleston (96-for-148, 1,212) leads the area in passing yards and WR Bryce Sutherland (29, 403) is second in receiving. Mount Carmel has allowed 90 points — or six less than it did during its 13-1 march to the Class 7A state championship last season. The offense, led by QB Anthony Thompson and RBs A.J. Lewis (65-375) and Jaquan Buntyn (50-311), is due to explode.