Goss: Conference football races begin without clear-cut favorites
By Dick Goss email@example.com September 12, 2013 9:38PM
Shane Briscoe and Minooka will travel to Oswego on Friday for a Southwest Prairie showdown. | Raymundo Luna/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 15, 2013 7:10AM
Joliet Catholic coach Dan Sharp said the East Suburban Conference race will be “a battle of attrition.”
If you don’t like picking the favorites — the Hilltoppers led by area rushing leader Mike Ivlow, or Benet, Marist or Nazareth — dark horse candidates are lurking.
That’s what stands out as Week 3 arrives. We will have conference races involving area teams that are fun to follow, where games are meaningful right through Week 9.
Perhaps eliminate Brother Rice from title contention in the Catholic League Blue, and four of the five teams, Providence included, still will be in the hunt. Mount Carmel, Loyola and St. Rita already are among the state’s best. With Dominic Lagone running behind a strong offensive line and an improving defense, Providence may reach that status.
In the SouthWest Suburban Blue, someone will have to knock Lincoln-Way and Bolingbrook from their perennial perch. Is anyone capable and ready to do that?
The Southwest Suburban Red is a wild scramble that got even crazier when Lincoln-Way Central stepped forward with its showing the past two weeks. Lincoln-Way West, Lincoln-Way North, Andrew and Thornton already were primed for a free-for-all.
However, nothing is more wide open than the Southwest Prairie.
Oswego has been a conference heavyweight for a while now but is not as formidable this season. Yet don’t be fooled by the Panthers losing their two nonconference games, they will be in the mix.
Minooka and Plainfield South lost to strong opponents last week, but that does not mean they will not contend for the title.
Plainfield East coach Mike Romeli noted this week that although Oswego, Minooka and Plainfield South have tasted defeat, all three already are battle-tested and will not be easy to overtake.
Plainfield East and Oswego East are 2-0 and meet Friday night. Romeoville is much improved, and Plainfield North also is a candidate for the first division.
It is interesting to see what Plainfield Central has to offer. The Wildcats lost to two quality opponents, which may help make them stronger for the Southwest Prairie season.
“We all have a chance, everybody, to win our conference,” Plainfield East running back Jake Mayon said. “Whoever anyone plays against, it’s going to be hard.
“Our game against Oswego East is a good one. It feels good to be in a game like that, where both of us are 2-0.”
“We’re a definite contender this year,” Bengals defensive lineman Daniel Jackson said. “Teams should plan for playing us.”
The players at seven other SPC schools could feel the same way.
“We always say there’s parity in our league,” Romeli said. “This year, that’s especially true.”
We have not even mentioned the Interstate Eight Small, where Seneca and Lisle could challenge perennial kingpin Wilmington, or the I-8 Large, where Coal City will attempt to contend with Plano and perhaps one or two others.
Nor have we said anything about the South Suburban Blue, where nobody is head and shoulders above the rest. Lemont may be the best before all is said and done, but at this point, who knows?
We will tackle the playoff picture as it relates to area schools as the season progresses. But along with that, we have a full set of unpredictable conference races to follow.
This 2013 season is a whole lot of interesting.