Maine South over Loyola
Stevenson over Barrington
Marist over Oswego
Naperville Central over Neuqua Valley
First you have No. 5 Maine South (9-2) at No. 1 Loyola (10-1). The Hawks dropped their first two games of the season, to Montini and Wheaton Warrenville South, before running the table in the (not so great) Central Suburban Conference. The Park Ridge squad defeated Glenbrook North and South, New Trier, Niles West (twice), Evanston and Oak Park River Forest. Loyola, meanwhile, competes in the Catholic League Blue, arguably one of the toughest conferences in the state. The Ramblers lost only to St. Rita while beating Marquette (WI), O'Fallon, Providence, Mount Carmel (!), De La Salle, Lane and Notre Dame. So why am I picking Maine South? Because coach Dave Inserra has John Holecek's number (home team in CAPS):
2010: Maine South 29, LOYOLA 22
2009: MAINE SOUTH 21, Loyola 14
2008: MAINE SOUTH 26, Loyola 7
Next there's No. 6 Stevenson (9-2) at No. 2 Barrington (10-1). Even though the Patriots also lost their first two games, against Indian Trail (WI) and Homewood-Flossmoor, they came roaring back to defeat Warren, Lake Forest, Lake Zurich, St. Charles East and Glenbard North. (I don't care how many injuries Stevenson has; if you can take down Justin Jackson you're good.) Barrington, for its part, lost to Schaumburg but beat Jacobs, Rolling Meadows, Fremd, Conant, Evanston and Warren. The last meeting between the two was in 2004, when the Pats blanked the Broncos, 30-0. Today's contest should be closer but with the same result.
The next game features No. 4 Oswego (9-2), a team of which I know very little, at No. 8 Marist (8-3). What's more, I can't find any previous meetings between the two schools. The Wolves lost their first two games of the season (is there a pattern here?) to Geneva and Waubonsie Valley. But they went on to beat Romeoville, Oswego East, Plainfield East and South, Hinsdale Central and Waubonsie in a rematch. Marist lost to St. Rita (I was there), Joliet Catholic and Notre Dame. The RedHawks defeated Nazareth, St. Patrick, Benet, Plainfield South and Bolingbrook. The way I look at it, if you can beat the Brook you deserve to make it to the semis.
Finally we have No. 3 Neuqua Valley (10-1) at No. 7 Naperville Central (8-3). This was the hardest one of all for me to call. (And, either way, I'm going to alienate Bill Andrew or Ed Crotty.) Neuqua lost to Central, 58-35, in Week Two (I was there) but beat Naperville North, St. Charles East, Waubonsie, O'Fallon and Simeon. The Redhawks lost three straight in the middle of the season to Wheaton Warrenville South, Glenbard North and Wheaton North. But Central defeated Waubonsie, Neuqua, Naperville North, Downers Grove South and Homewood-Flossmoor. So why am I picking Naperville Central? Because, in this matchup, the home team always wins:
2012: NEUQUA 41, Central 28
2011: CENTRAL 28, Neuqua 14
2010: NEUQUA 20, Central 18
2009: CENTRAL 21, Neuqua 17
Gotta run, everybody. I'm off to Lombard for the Joliet Catholic - Montini game. (Hope it doesn't rain too much.) If I get shut out at the gate I'll just drive farther on down I-88 to Sycamore for the rematch with Lincoln-Way West. Then it's down south to Oak Lawn for the Lincoln-Way North - Richards contest. Why can't football go on all year long?
I'll be live tweeting both contests @BoringOldWhtGuy.