Four Downs: News and notes from Week 4 in high school football

Appreciating the MSL and Wilmington vs. Coal City, another Metro Suburban star and more streak breakers.

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Fremd’s Ryan Saxe (1) is chased by Barrington’s Matt Kolder (91).

Fremd’s Ryan Saxe (1) is chased by Barrington’s Matt Kolder (91).

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

The Mid-Suburban League isn’t one of the glorified football conferences in Illinois. The last state title the MSL captured was in 2005-06, when Prospect beat Mount Carmel 20-14 in the Class 7A championship game.

That leads to lower overall rankings for the teams and less attention from the media. State championships don’t have anything to do with entertainment value and watchability, though.

MSL football is a joy to watch. There’s some high-level talent in the league, excellent coaches and old, high-intensity rivalries. Most crucially, however, the game is wide-open and fun, and most of the teams are evenly matched.

Ask any high school sports reporter, and you’ll hear complaints about chronicling blowouts. Just look at the scores with games involving ranked teams every week. That’s generally not what you get in the MSL, which is refreshing.

Rivalry fun

On Friday, I originally was scheduled to cover Morgan Park against Simeon at Gately. That game ended up being canceled, so I had to make a quick decision about where to head. I came close to heading to Wilmington. I’ve never seen the Wildcats against Coal City, despite growing up relatively close to both towns.

The game didn’t disappoint. Wilmington won 24-21, despite an incredible performance from Coaler Asa Cooper. Joliet Herald-News/Friday Night Drive reporter Steve Soucie was there.

Cooper scored three long touchdowns and totaled more than 250 yards rushing. He scored on a 74-yard run and a 66-yard run.

Wilmington took the lead for good on an 11-yard touchdown run by Matt Sanchez. Coal City drove inside the Wildcats’ 30 but botched a handoff to give Wilmington the victory.

The Coal City-Wilmington game usually is surrounded by a bit of pomp and circumstance, so maybe it will be a better spectacle to take in when all the fans can attend. But Friday sure looked like a fun one.

More streak-breakers

One of the major upsets Friday was Oswego East’s 14-7 victory against then-unbeaten Oswego. It was the first time the Wolves had beaten their crosstown rivals in their 16-year history.

Prospect beat Rolling Meadows for the first time since 2015. The Knights dominated with a 48-14 victory to improve to 4-0 and will face Buffalo Grove (4-0) in a battle for first place in the Mid-Suburban League East and a place in the league’s Week 6 title game.

NIU recruit Luke Zardin had 11 carries for 152 yards and three touchdowns for Prospect.

Metro Suburban star

St. Francis senior quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse, an Illinois State recruit, threw six touchdown passes in his team’s 57-7 rout of host Riverside-Brookfield.

Rittenhouse has been red-hot all season. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for one against Aurora Christian in Week 3 and opened plenty of eyes by leading the Spartans to a 28-0 victory against perennial powerhouse IC Catholic with 232 yards passing and three touchdowns in Week 1.

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