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

Prospect has arrived, Morgan Park’s test, a Morris resurgence and can St. Ignatius do it again?

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Prospect’s quarterback Brad Vierneisel (13) celebrates beating Maine South with Sebastian Wildhart (1).

Prospect’s quarterback Brad Vierneisel (13) celebrates beating Maine South with Sebastian Wildhart (1).

Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

Maine South’s credentials are impeccable. Dave Inserra’s program played for the Class 8A state title last season and is one of the area’s most consistently excellent teams.

So the Hawks are always a great measuring stick, even when playing their backup quarterback, as was the case against visiting Prospect in Week 4.

The game was a thriller and the Knights prevailed thanks to some heroics by junior quarterback Brad Vierneisel in the final minute. The win catapulted the Mid-Suburban League squad into the No. 6 spot in the Super 25, slotting in right behind the area’s established elite teams.

Vierneisel called the game a “defining moment” for his team and running back Gavin Flanagan agreed.

“It means so much to us that we are finally up there and we can compete with the best,” Flanagan said.

Prospect lost Northwestern recruit Frank Covey to an ankle injury after one quarter. Covey didn’t return after a spectacular 83-yard touchdown grab.

The Knights have another test this week against Hersey. The undefeated Huskies have outscored opponents 174-31 and posted two shutouts.

Testing the Mustangs

Morgan Park coach Chris James deserves some credit. Before the season James boldly predicted that this would be “one of the best years CPS has ever had.” James believed that the Public League had four or five teams that could compete in the state playoffs.

I was skeptical. Public League football has been through a rough couple of seasons during COVID and to put it plainly, the Public League powers were too sloppy to compete with good teams. There were too many penalties and too many mistakes.

It’s still early, but James may be correct. Things are trending his way at least. Simeon has been a revelation this season. Dante Culbreath’s team has been rock solid and may be one of the best in the area.

Kenwood (3-1) narrowly lost to Glenbard North and is just outside the Super 25.

James’ Mustangs are 4-0. They’ve defeated Richards, Rich, Phillips and Curie. Now comes the first big test. Kenwood and Morgan Park will face off on Saturday afternoon at Lane.

Can St.Ignatius do it again?

One of last season’s most surprising results was St. Ignatius’ upset of Mount Carmel. The win propelled the Wolfpack into the Super 25 and the squad had enough returning to earn a preseason ranking this year.

But St. Ignatius has slid out of the spotlight since a 19-14 loss to St. Patrick in Week 1. The Wolfpack is 3-0 since that defeat and heads to Mount Carmel on Friday.

The top-ranked Caravan hasn’t shown any weakness this season and has only allowed one touchdown. Revenge is likely on their minds after last season’s defeat. But maybe Iggy’s hard-nosed rushing attack can pull another surprise.

No nickname, no losses

Morris, which has won three state championships, is one of the state’s football hotbeds. The Grundy County city of 14,000 is football-crazed but things have been a bit quiet lately, at least according to Morris standards.

That’s changing. Morris was 10-1 last season and the success is continuing this year. Morris is off to a 4-0 start and is currently the top-ranked team in Class 5A in the Associated Press poll.

The city hasn’t settled on a new nickname for the high school, but that hasn’t slowed down the football team.

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