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Four Downs: News and notes from Week 7 in high school football

What to make of high-scoring games, IC Catholic’s sophs, another MSL star and the Battle of Oswego.

Brother Rice’s Aaron Vaughn (5) runs the ball against Joliet Catholic.
Brother Rice’s Aaron Vaughn (5) runs the ball against Joliet Catholic.
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

Joliet Catholic and Brother Rice put on quite the offensive display Friday on the South Side. The Hilltoppers posted 691 total yards and 56 points.

The Crusaders had 652 total yards and 49 points. The teams were tied at 35 at halftime, so things actually slowed down a bit in the second half. It’s likely the kids just got a bit tired, neither defense buckled down.

It would have felt like a special game if not for the 46-43 Loyola win at Brother Rice in Week 4. That game was extremely similar. Both teams scored at will. That one came down to the final play, while Joliet Catholic had the win in hand for most of the fourth quarter on Friday.

What does this say about the so-called elite teams? Can defenses that porous make a significant playoff run?

Brother Rice allowed Mount Carmel to score 36 points in Week 6, but has held its other opponents to 14 points or fewer.

Loyola held Rochester and St. Rita to just seven points but allowed 24 to Fenwick and 21 to Marist.

Joliet Catholic gave up 27 points to Crete-Monee and 20 to St. Louis Cardinal Ritter but held Simeon, Providence, St. Laurence and De La Salle in check.

So it doesn’t appear that Loyola, Brother Rice and Joliet Catholic have bad defenses, just defenses that have difficulty stopping elite offenses.

That brings Maine South’s 10-2 win against Warren in Week 2 to mind. Both teams have elite offenses. But in a tough, head-to-head matchup the defenses were stout.

That’s worth remembering when it comes time to make playoff predictions.

MSL Star

Hoffman Estates’ 6-1 season has flown under the radar. The Hawks have knocked off Barrington and Fremd this season. Their only loss was a three-point defeat at Downers Grove North way back in Week 1.

Hoffman Estates beat Conant on Friday to take sole possession of first place in the Mid-Suburban League West.

Senior Jashawn Johnson, a Western Michigan recruit, was spectacular against the Cougars.

Sophomores to watch

IC Catholic has been a regular fixture in the Super 25 and at the state finals the past several seasons. The Knights were expected to have a bit of a rebuilding year this season after Kyle Franklin graduated. But they are 7-0 and appear primed to make another run in Class 3A.

Two sophomores, Kareem Parker and Dennis Mandala are leading the charge. Both players posted big numbers against Riverside-Brookfield in Week 7.

Parker caught four balls for 92 yards and a touchdown and had a 15-yard interception return for a touchdown. He’s been a major threat all year as a punt and kick returner as well.

Mandala threw for 270 yards and six touchdowns in the win.

Battle of Oswego

Oswego East (6-1) spent most of the season in the Super 25, falling out after a 33-10 loss at home to Minooka in Week 6. The Wolves host rival Oswego on Friday.

The Panthers (5-2) lost their first two games of the season and everyone kind of forgot about them. They’ve ripped off five wins since then and looking back at those two losses now they are kind of impressive.

Oswego lost 37-26 at Neuqua Valley in Week 1 and 21-13 to Batavia in Week 2. It appears the Panthers can play with the best teams in the area and may have been underrated all season. A win on Friday would open more eyes.