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Lobos and Shockers Moving Up: College Hoops Weekly Rankings and Outlook

Drew Gordon and New Mexico have taken control of the Mountain West.

WORK IN PROGRESS POWER RANKINGS

1. Kentucky (26-1)

2. Syracuse (27-1)

3. Missouri (25-2)

4. Duke (23-4)

5. Michigan State (22-5)

6. Kansas (22-5)

7. North Carolina (23-4)

8. Ohio State (22-5)

9. Marquette (22-5)

10. Baylor (22-5)

11. Georgetown (20-5)

12. New Mexico (22-4)

13. Michigan (20-7)

14. Wichita State (24-4)

15. Wisconsin (20-7)

16. Florida (21-6)

17. Notre Dame (19-8)

18. Temple (21-5)

19. Louisville (21-6)

20. Saint Louis (22-5)

21. UNLV (22-6)

22. Murray State (26-1)

23. Indiana (20-7)

24. Florida State (19-7)

25. Vanderbilt (19-8)

Just Missing Out: Gonzaga (21-5), Saint Mary’s (23-5), San Diego State (20-6), Virginia (20-6)

GAMES OF THE WEEK

Phil Pressey’s Tigers will be put to the test twice this week.

Tuesday:

Michigan at Northwestern, 7 pm on BTN; Georgetown at Seton Hall, 6 pm on ESPN3; North Carolina at NC State, 7 pm on ESPN3

Three teams currently sitting on the edge of the bubble have great opportunities to notch a win against a ranked opponent at home. Northwestern knocked off Michigan State in Evanston in January, and a win against the Wolverines would go a long way in the Wildcats’ quest to make their first ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament. NC State’s resume is sorely missing a marquee win, and the Wolfpack blew a golden opportunity last week when they let a 20 point lead evaporate against Duke. Seton Hall would probably be in the Tournament if the season ended right now, but currently their best win is either against West Virginia or UConn. A win over the top-1o Hoyas would be a major statement for the Pirates, who have lost eight of their last 11 games.

Kansas State at Missouri, 6 pm on ESPN2

The Tigers were able to avenge one of their two losses on the year by beating Oklahoma State last week. Can Mizzou avenge the other loss this week when K-State comes in to Columbia? It could be a challenge, the Wildcats beat Mizzou by 16 in January and are a fresh off an impressive road victory against Baylor. A win over the Tigers would basically lock the Wildcats into the NCAA Tournament.

Thursday:

Duke at Florida State, 6 pm on ESPN

Having already beaten Duke and North Carolina, the Seminoles will be looking for the their third win against a top-10 team this season. Michael Snaer’s buzzer-beater gave the Seminoles the victory over the Blue Devils when the two teams played last month at Cameron Indoor. Duke has won four straight games since losing to Miami at home on Super Bowl Sunday. The Noles have a pretty good resume, and could be looking at a top-4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Of course, that’s only if they avoid more ugly losses like the one they had against awful Boston College.

Friday:

Marquette at West Virginia, 8 pm on ESPN

It’s a rare college basketball game worth watching on a Friday night. Marquette has been on a role lately, winning 10 of their last 11 games, and suddenly, the Golden Eagles look like a Final Four contender. The Mountaineers on the other hand, have lost five of their last seven contests. While Huggins’ crew is still safely in the tournament field, a win over Marquette would definitely improve their somewhat soft resume.

Saturday:

North Carolina at Virginia, 3 pm on ESPN

Virginia has had a solid season, but the Cavaliers have yet to win a game against any of the other top ACC teams. The Wahoos dropped games on the road against Duke, Carolina and Florida State, but they get the Tar Heels and Noles at home in the next week. The Heels have done a nice job bouncing back from their loss against Duke, but they face two tough road tests this week at Virginia and NC State. A 2-0 week would be very impressive, but that’s the kind of output we expected from the Heels this season.

Missouri at Kansas, 3 pm on CBS

Get ready to hear all about how this could be the last time these two great rivals play against each for a very long time. Like, all of two weeks when they could face off in the Big 12 title game. We got a great, close game when these teams played three weeks ago, and I expect another good one this time around. Hopefully there won’t be as many questionable calls from the refs.

Sunday:

Wisconsin at Ohio State, 3 pm on CBS

The rivalry between the Badgers and Buckeyes has really escalated in the last year and half, in both football and basketball. After knocking of the N0. 1 Buckeyes in football and basketball last season, the Badgers have lost three straight games to Ohio State in the two sports combined. For the rivalry to truly continue, Wisconsin will have to start winning against the Buckeyes. Perhaps that will start this weekend when Bo Ryan’s team travels to Columbus. The Badgers lost to the Buckeyes at home earlier this month, but Ohio State has struggled at home recently, barely beating Purdue before losing to Michigan State. Ohio State will be trying to sweep the season series from the Badgers for the first time since Ryan became head coach of the Badgers.

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Class 7A and 8A Playoff Mini-Previews: AT Is For Real, How Far Will They Go?

CLASS 7A

#6 Addison Trail (8-1, 6-0) vs #11 Carmel (6-3, 6-2), Fri. Oct. 28, 7 pm in Addison

Addison Trail RB Anthony Messina gets stopped against Downers Grove South

Addison Trail finished off a perfect run through the West Suburban Gold last week with an upset victory over previously undefeated and Class 8A 3-seed Downers Grove South. The Blazers’ strong defense was able to shut down Mustangs running back Justin Williams (20 carries, 51 yards), who had run free all season long, totaling close to 2000 yards on the ground. Addison Trail’s only loss came to Glenbard West, one of the two No. 1 seeds in the 7A playoffs. The Addison Trail defense, led by linebackers Mike Imperiale and Kevin Kent, has had a dominant season. The Blazers shut out four opponents and allowed just 48 total points in the regular season. The Blazers are led on offense by running backs Anthony Catanese and Anthony Messina.

Despite their 8-1 record and conference crown, the Blazers did not receive a easy path in the playoffs. AT was only given a 6-seed and they draw a tough Carmel team in the first round. Carmel lost three games this season by a total of eight points. Two of the Corsairs losses came by just one point, including a 64-63 double overtime loss to Marist in week eight. Carmel also handed Nazareth their only defeat of the season in week two.

The Corsairs’ offense, led by running back Jordan Kos, comes into the playoffs having scored 42 points or more in four straight games. Kos, the school’s all-time leading rusher, ran for more than 600 yards and 12 touchdowns in Carmel’s final three games of the season.

The Blazers were able to shut down DGS’ Williams last week, but will they be able to contain Kos? The match-up between Kos and the dominating Blazers’ defense will be fun to watch. No team has scored more than 14 points against Addison Trail this season.

PREDICTION:

Addison Trail 17 Carmel 14

#7 Wheaton North (7-2, 6-1) vs #10 Jacobs (7-2, 4-2), Fri. Oct. 28, 7:30 pm

Wheaton North QB John Peltz

Wheaton North had won six straight games before the Falcons dropped their season finale 27-13 to their crosstown rivals, Wheaton Warrenville South. The Falcons are led on offense by dual-threat quarterback John Peltz and running back Patrick Sharp. Sharp missed a few games in the middle of the season due to injury, but he seems to be healthy and running strong.

The Falcons will face a tough Jacobs squad in the first round. Jacobs defeated Dundee-Crown 49-0 last week after dropping their two previous games to teams with 8-1 records (Prairie Ridge and Crystal Lake South). The Golden Eagles feature a run heavy offense, led by a running back with a sweet name, Caz Zyks. The 5-10 senior ran for 181 yards and three touchdowns last week against Dundee-Crown.

The winner of this match-up will likely play Rockford Boylan, last year’s 6A champion, in the second round.

PREDICTION:

Wheaton North 31 Jacobs 21

Class 8A

#11 Glenbard North (6-3, 4-3) vs #6 Barrington (7-2, 4-1), Sat. Oct. 29, 6 pm

Glenbard North RB Phil Jackson looks for a hole

Glenbard North was able to snap a three game losing streak last week with a 34-10 win over Naperville North. The Panthers, as they have all season, relied on the Jackson brothers to lead them to victory. Phil and Justin Jackson combined for 253 rushing yards and four touchdowns last week. Older brother Phil has been the workhorse for the Panthers, but Justin has made an impact on offense backing up his brother and on defense as a safety.

The Barrington Broncos, second place finishers in the Mid-Suburban West, come into the playoffs on a three game winning streak. The Broncos features a run first offense led by a strong offensive line. The O-line is anchored by Wisconsin commit Dan Voltz. Running back Chase Murdock ran 36 times behind that line for 315 yards and four touchdowns in Barrington’s 29-28 victory over Conant in week seven. The Broncos got a boost from their special teams last week as Dylan Zyzda returned two kickoffs for touchdowns. The Broncos have a marquee win on their resume, they gave 8-1 Elk Grove their only loss of the season in week two.

PREDICTION:

Barrington 28 Glenbard North 14

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Class 6A Playoff Mini-Previews: How Long Will Nazareth’s Dream Season Continue?

#3 Nazareth (8-1, 7-1) vs #14 Deerfield (6-3, 5-0), Sat. Oct. 29, 1 pm in LaGrange Park

Nazareth RB Joshua Moore eludes a tackler against Notre Dame

Nazareth, co-champions of the tough East Suburban Catholic Conference, enters the playoffs on a seven game winning streak. The Roadrunners, appropriately, are a run-first team. Running back Rudy Romagnano was the team’s workhorse to begin the season, but the senior suffered an ankle injury on the first play of Nazareth’s monumental victory over Joliet Catholic. Joshua Moore has taken over the full share of the load in Romagnano’s absence, and the Roadrunners haven’t missed a beat. Moore rushed for 136 yards and three touchdowns last week in the Roadrunners’ lopsided win over St. Viator.

Defensive back Kalium Ewing returned two interceptions for touchdowns last week. It was the second time this season Ewing has done that, having also returned two picks for scores against Notre Dame. Ewing is an all-around playmaker, he has also reached the end zone on offense and special teams.

Nazareth is definitely a threat to win the 6A title, but they face a challenging route to Champaign. The Roadrunners will likely have to beat 2009 champion Cary-Grove in the second round (fresh off a win over previously unbeaten Prairie Ridge) and 8-1 Prairie Ridge in the quarters before meeting 9-0 Bartlett in the semifinals.

#14 Deerfield will also pose a threat to the Roadrunners. Deerfield wrapped up a Central Suburban North championship last week with a 45-21 victory over Highland Park. The Warriors started out the season with three straight non-conference losses, but were able to finish the season with a perfect conference run of five straight wins.

Deerfield also features a run-first offense. The Warriors rushed for 478 yards in their victory over Highland Park. Fullback Tyler Vajdic led the way with 185 yards and two touchdowns while wingbacks Mark Pagano and Ryan Adkins ran for a combined 206 yards and three touchdowns. Deerfield’s win over Highland Park (5-4) was the Warriors’ only victory over a team with a winning record.

PREDICTION:

Nazareth 38 Deerfield 21

#10 Glenbard South (6-3, 4-0) vs #7 Foreman (7-2, 6-1), Fri. Oct. 28, 7:30 pm at Lane Stadium in Chicago

Glenbard South RB Wesley Sanders has made big plays for the Raiders all season long.

Glenbard South, champions of the Metro Suburban Conference, are led by big play machine Wesley Sanders. The senior running back, who has reached the end zone over 20 times this year, leads an offense that has been running on all cylinders during the Raiders five game winning streak. Sanders had 159 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the Raiders’ conference-championship clinching victory over Ridgewood in week eight. Sanders has also had big plays as a receiver and returner this year.

The Raiders’ three losses all came at the hands of playoff teams, including 9-0 Crete-Monee and 8-1 Prairie Ridge. The Raiders knock off Foreman this week, they will likely have a second-round rematch against Prairie Ridge.

The Raiders will travel to Chicago to face Foreman, the champions of the Chicago Public School’s Big Shoulders Conference. Foreman also comes into the playoffs red-hot, winning their last six games of the regular season.

PREDICTION:

Glenbard South 29 Foreman 23

#15 Marmion (5-4, 2-3) vs #2 Prairie Ridge (8-1, 5-1), Sat. Oct. 29, 1 pm in Crystal Lake

Marmion made the 6A championship game last season but the Cadets just squeaked into the playoffs this year with a 5-4 record, albeit against a challenging schedule. The Cadets’ four losses came to playoff teams that combined to lose just four games all season (Marian, Montini, Batavia and St. Francis). The Cadets have a bruising defense and like to control the game with their bruising running attack led by Kyle Kozak, Garret Becker and Cody Snodgrass.

Prairie Ridge cruised through the first eight games of the season, winning every game by at least three touchdowns, before dropping their regular season finale against Cary-Grove, 22-21 in OT. The Wolves outscored opponents 381 to 87 this season. The Wolves, angry and motivated after losing their first game, will likely be too much for the Cadets.

PREDICTION:

Prairie Ridge 31 Marmion 6

#9 Fenton (7-2, 2-2) vs #8 Lake Forest (7-2, 5-1), Fri. Oct. 28, 7:30 pm in Lake Forest

Fenton RB Alan Geneva celebrates with teammates after a touchdown.

First off, I’m really not sure how Fenton received a higher seed than Glenbard South. Yes, I know the Bison have a better record, but the two conference foes played just three weeks ago, and the Raiders won in convincing fashion 40-8. Fenton complied a pretty empty 7-2 record, winning zero games against playoff teams. In fact, the Raiders were the only playoff team they faced, and as I just said, they lost by 32.

Anyway, the Bison are led by running back Alan Geneva, who does most of his damage catching screen passes. Fenton runs an interesting offense that features a lot of screen passes out of a shotgun formation.

Lake Forest won a share of the North Suburban Lake division this season. The Scouts are led by running back Owen Williams who ran for 233 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s victory over Libertyville.

PREDICTION:

Lake Forest 35 Fenton 14

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Class 5A Playoff Mini-Previews: The Quest For A Montini Three-Peat Begins

The IHSA football playoff pairings were announced Friday night, at about the same time I was watching the most painful football game (or sporting event) I have ever witnessed. Damn you Spartans. Anyway, I’m going to post my thoughts on the match-ups involving the teams I saw this season in person. Here is the first installment of my mini-previews, focusing on the 5A games. I’ll post the mini-previews of the 6A, 7A and 8A games tomorrow.

#6 Montini (7-2, 4-1) vs #11 Woodstock North (7-2, 5-1), Sat. Oct. 29, 1 pm in Lombard

Montini WR Jordan Westerkamp dives for a catch in last year’s Class 5A championship game

Montini, the two-time defending 5A state champion, enters the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the state. The Broncos have won five straight games and have outscored opponents 276 to 50 over that stretch.

The Broncos offense has transformed into a powerhouse since John Rhode took over the quarterbacking duties at halftime of Montini’s week six game against St. Francis. Rhode missed the first five games of the season recovering from a broken right thumb. In just over 10 quarters of play this season, Rhode has thrown for 1,100 yards and 22 touchdowns. Rhode has a strong stable of wide receivers to target. Jordan Westerkamp, a Nebraska recruit, is the star of the receiving corp, but Joe Borsellino and Anthony Taylor are talented weapons as well.

“There is really only one expectation for us, that’s to play in the final game,” said Montini Head Coach Chris Andriano after last week’s 54-6 victory over Wheaton Academy.” We’ve been very blessed with some great kids, great coaching staff, great teams and we’ve been able to be in that game and actually win that game the last two years so that’s our expectation, we want to practice on Thanksgiving day and play on Thanksgiving weekend.”

Montini’s two losses came without John Rhode and at the hands of two 9-0 teams (Loyola and Marian Central).

The IHSA didn’t give the Broncos any favors with their seeding. Despite the way Montini has looked in recent weeks, the Broncos were only given a six seed, and a rematch with 9-0 Marian Central likely awaits in the quarterfinals.

Woodstock North won a share of the Fox Valley Fox division crown this season in only the school’s third year as a varsity squad. The Thunder overcame a 15 point halftime deficit last week in their 47-35 victory over Grayslake North.

The Thunder, led by 5-7 fullback Ryan Wade, are a run-first team. They rushed for 333 yards during the second half of their comeback win last week. Wade had 33 carries for 189 yards in total last week.

PREDICTION:

It’s hard to see Montini losing their first round game, but Woodstock North offense will present a challenge. Montini has done well against strong running offenses this season, defeating Marmion and St. Francis, giving up two touchdowns combined in those games.

Montini 38 Woodstock North 17

#8 St. Francis (7-2, 3-2) vs #9 Burlington Central (7-2, 4-1), Sat. Oct. 29 7 pm at College of DuPage

St. Francis WR Michael Hanson against Marmion

This class 5A 8/9 match-up features two teams with run-heavy offenses entering the playoffs with multi-game winning streaks.

St. Francis heads into the playoffs on a three-game winning streak. The Spartans’ two losses to this season came to two highest ranked 5A teams, 9-0 Marian Central and 7-2 Montini.

St. Francis features a run-first offense, led by running backs Jack Petrando and Jeff Rutkowski. Petrando is more the workhorse but Rutkowski scored four touchdowns (two rushing, two receiving) last week against St. Edward.

Burlington Central, second place finishers in the Big Northern East division, have outscored opponents 151-17 during their current four game winning streak. The Rockets have only lost two games this season by a total of five points.

The Rockets offense is led by running back Joel Bouagron. The 6’1, 205 lb. junior has rushed for 376 yards and five touchdowns over the last two weeks.

PREDICTION:

Burlington Central 28 St. Francis 24

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Week Nine Preview: Wheaton Academy at Montini

Wheaton Academy (1-7, 0-4) at Montini (6-2, 3-1), 7:30 Friday in Lombard, IL

Wide Receiver Joe Borsellino tries to break away from a Loyola defender. Photo by Tracy Allen~for Sun-Times Media

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Montini (Second place, Suburban Christian Blue) –

Week One: 26-21 win vs Palatine

Week Two: 41-24 loss at Loyola

Week Three: 13-6 win vs Marmion

Week Four: 21-20 loss at Marian Central

Week Five: 55-14 win vs Aurora Christian

Week Six: 33-14 win vs St. Francis

Week Seven: 59-14 win at St. Edward

Week Eight: 75-0 win at Walther Lutheran

Wheaton Academy (Fifth place, Suburban Christian Blue)-

Week One: 27-14 loss at Westminster Christian (St. Louis, MO)

Week Two: 42-0 loss vs Byron

Week Three: 40-0 loss vs St. Edward

Week Four: 56-12 loss vs St. Francis

Week Five: 41-14 win vs Chicago Christian

Week Six: 24-6 loss vs Marmion

Week Seven: 56-16 loss vs Marian Central

Week Eight: 42-0 loss vs Aurora Central Catholic

OUTLOOK:

Montini comes into this week’s game against Wheaton Academy on a four-game winning streak and fresh off a 75-0 shellacking of Walther Lutheran. The Broncos have outscored their opponents 222 to 42 over that stretch.

Montini’s offense has been on absolute tear since John Rhode took over the quarterbacking duties at halftime of the Broncos’ week six victory over St. Francis. In just over eight quarters of play this season, Rhode has completed 30 his 52 pass attempts for 831 yards and 15 touchdowns. Montini has reached the end zone 21 times and scored 154 points since Rhode entered the lineup. With Rhode healthy and behind center, the Broncos are hitting their stride at exactly the right time. The state playoffs kick-off is just one week away. “John Rhode is a special quarterback. We’ve had him for two full games now. He’s very good at reading defenses and getting the ball to the open guys,” said Montini Head Coach Chris Andriano said after last week’s 75-0 win over Walther Lutheran. “He is a difference maker for us. We should be very well prepared with him when it comes to the playoffs. He’s going to be a big plus.”

Rhode is being helped out by a very talented receiving corp that includes future Nebraska Cornhusker Jordan Westerkamp. In the eight quarters Rhode has played, Westerkamp has caught 15 passes for 328 yards and seven touchdowns. Joe Borsellino has 12 receptions for 170 yards and three touchdowns, and Anthony Taylor has nine receptions for 252 yards and four touchdowns since halftime of the St. Francis game. Borsellino remains a dual-threat as the “JoeCat” offense made an appearance last week. The senior receiver took a direct snap and ran 19 yards for a touchdown on a fourth and two play in the first quarter. Mark Gorogianis, the Broncos’ starting quarterback the first five games of the season, has moved to wide receiver and has caught two passes for 21 yards and a touchdown.

Montini’s defense is also playing at its highest level of the season. The Broncos defensive line, led by Iowa-bound Jaleel Johnson, dominated the line of scrimmage as Walther Lutheran could only muster 24 yards of total offense last week. “That was the best game to date up front defensively. I thought we pretty much snuffed everything out,” said Andriano. “It was very good to see that our run defense and our pass rush became a factor for us today, it was great for our defensive guys.”

If Montini can continue their high level of play on both sides of the ball, the Broncos have an excellent shot at winning a third straight class 5A state championship.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Anthony Taylor, WR, Montini

Taylor has been a big player for the Broncos since Rhode entered the lineup. The senior receiver has caught nine passes from Rhode for 252 yards and four touchdowns. The big-playmaking Taylor has collected most of his yards after the catch, breaking tackles and alluding defenders. Taylor only had three catches last week, but they all went for over 40 yards, including touchdowns of 44 and 56 yards. Taylor combines with Westerkamp and Borsellino to give the Broncos a deep, talented and dangerous group of wide receivers.

PREDICTION:

Get ready for a running clock. Wheaton Academy will not present much a challenge as Montini tries to win their fifth straight game. The Warriors have lost four straight games and their only win this season came against winless Chicago Christian. Rhode should put up big passing numbers again in the Broncos final tune up before the playoffs.

Montini 56 Wheaton Academy 7

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Week Eight Preview #2: Montini at Walther Lutheran

Montini (5-2, 3-1) at Walther Lutheran (2-5, 1-3), 1 pm Saturday in Melrose Park, IL

Montini WR Joe Borsellino looks for a hole

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Montini (Second place, Suburban Christian Blue) –

Week One: 26-21 win vs Palatine

Week Two: 41-24 loss at Loyola

Week Three: 13-6 win vs Marmion

Week Four: 21-20 loss at Marian Central

Week Five: 55-14 win vs Aurora Christian

Week Six: 33-14 win vs St. Francis

Week Seven: 59-14 win at St. Edward

Walther Lutheran (Fifth place, Suburban Christian Gold) –

Week One: 63-32 loss at Byron

Week Two: 41-32 win vs Phillips

Week Three: 34-7 loss vs Guerin

Week Four: 41-6 loss at Immaculate Conception

Week Five: 49-21 loss at St. Francis

Week Six: 48-6 loss vs Aurora Christian

Week Seven: 28-26 win vs Aurora Catholic

OUTLOOK

The two-time defending state champion Montini Broncos are rounding back into championship form just at the right time. The Broncos have won three straight games after starting the season 2-2, and have scored 30 plus points in every game.

The Broncos’ surge is due in large part to the addition of quarterback John Rhode. Rhode, a senior transfer from Marian Catholic, missed the first five games of the year while recovering from a thumb injury. Rhode has been exceptional since he took over the quarterbacking duties at halftime of the Broncos’ week six game against St. Francis. In just six quarters of football, Rhode has thrown 11 touchdown passes including five to star wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp.

Rhode completed 17 of his 21 pass attempts for 349 yards and eight touchdowns last week against St. Edward. Yes, Rhode threw EIGHT touchdown passes in last week’s game. Rhode has a stable of solid targets to throw to, including future Nebraska Husker Westerkamp. Westerkamp caught three passes, all touchdowns, for 101 yards last week. Joe Borsellino, who has also taken snaps in the “JoeCat” offense this season, caught eight passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns. Mark Gorogianis, the starting quarterback for the first six games, has moved to wide receiver and caught a touchdown pass last week.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Joe Borsellino, WR/QB, Montini

The versatile Borsellino has been one of the most important players for the Broncos this season. When the offense was struggling before Rhode came back from injury, Borsellino gave the Broncos a jolt with the “JoeCat” offense. In the Broncos’ week five victory over Aurora Christian, Borsellino had 152 yards of total offense and four touchdowns (he scored them three different ways: he ran for two, threw for one and caught another). With Rhode back and playing well, it will be interesting to see if the Broncos will break out the “JoeCat” again at some point. Even if he’s just needed as a pure wide receiver, Borsellino will still contribute greatly to the Broncos. He caught eight passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns last week.

PREDICTION

Montini 56 Walther Lutheran 7

Walther Lutheran will not pose much of a threat to Montini this week. Get ready for a running clock, Rhode and the Broncos should roll to another dominant victory.

After playing 2-5 Walther Lutheran, Montini finishes off the season with a home game against 1-6 Wheaton Academy. Montini should be heading into the playoffs with a 7-2 record, fresh off a five game winning streak. The addition of Rhode has to make the Broncos one of the favorites to win the 5A title this season.

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Week Eight Preview #1: Nazareth at Riverside-Brookfield

Nazareth (6-1, 6-1) at Riverside-Brookfield (2-5, 1-2), 7 pm Friday night in Riverside, IL

Nazareth play-maker Kalium Ewing hauls in a catch

HOW THEY GOT HERE:

Nazareth (First place, East Suburban Catholic) –

Week One: 17-0 win vs Benet

Week Two: 27-3 loss at Carmel

Week Three: 35-19 win at Marian Catholic

Week Four: 35-32 win vs St. Patrick’s

Week Five: 33-20 win at Marist

Week Six: 24-21 win at Joliet Catholic

Week Seven: 42-13 win vs Notre Dame

Riverside-Brookfield (Third place, Metro Suburban) –

Week One: 20-14 loss at St. Francis

Week Two: 49-0 loss vs Lemont

Week Three: 28-0 win at Roby

Week Four: 30-18 loss at Rich East

Week Five: 25-20 loss at Ridgewood

Week Six: 39-21 loss vs Glenbard South

Week Seven: 28-0 win at Elmwood Park

OUTLOOK

Nazareth has been one of the surprise successes of the 2011 season. The Roadrunners have already clinched a playoff spot and currently sit in first place in the very competitive East Suburban Catholic conference. Nazareth went on the road two weeks ago and handed Joliet Catholic their first loss of their season. Head Coach Tim Racki called it a “legendary win” for the program.

The Roadrunners, appropriately, do the vast majority of their offensive damage on the ground. Nazareth had zero pass attempts in their week four victory over St. Patrick’s. Junior running back Rudy Romagnano, the team’s leading rusher to that point, injured his ankle on the first play of the Joliet Catholic game and has not played since. It has not been announced whether Romagnano will play this week, but backup running back Joshua Moore has done well taking over as the team’s workhorse. Moore had 37 carries for 176 yards and a touchdown against Joliet Catholic and 17 carries for 94 yards and a touchdown against Notre Dame last week.

While the Roadrunners have not gone to the air much this year, quarterback Sam Poulos had his most productive game of the year last week against Notre Dame. Poulous completed six of his eight pass attempts for 98 yards and two touchdowns, including a 66 yard touchdown pass to Sean Maloney.

PLAYER TO WATCH:

Kalium Ewing, DB/WR, Nazareth

The Roadrunner play-maker has scored touchdowns in three straight games in three different phases. Ewing returned two interceptions for touchdowns last week against Notre Dame, caught a 45 yard touchdown pass against Joliet Catholic and returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown against Marist.

PREDICTION

Nazareth 35 Riverside-Brookfield 13

The Bulldogs, coming off their second win of the season last week, might be able to hang with the Roadrunners for a quarter or two, but in the end the Nazareth running game will be too much.

After playing the 2-5 Bulldogs this week, Nazareth will wrap up the season next week against 1-6 St. Viator. The upstart Roadrunners have a great shot of entering 5A playoffs with an 8-1 record.

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