Is it just me, or does it seem that we have an abundance of undefeated teams so far this season?
I counted 76 teams playing football in Illinois this fall (71 of whom are eligible for the IHSA state playoff field) who have posted perfect 5-0 records heading toward Week 6 action.
Which teams could have a good path to perfection? Which teams could face trouble ahead?
In the Chicago Public League, both Lincoln Park (5-0) and Goode STEM Academy (5-0) have remained undefeated. Lincoln Park's biggest regular-season test could come Week 7 when the Lions take on Taft (4-1) at Lane Stadium. Goode STEM Academy has won all five games by two points or fewer. The Knights and head coach Keith Miller beat Harlan 28-26, Julian 8-6, Corliss 14-12 and Bowen 8-6 along with a forfeit win over Team Englewood (1-0).
In the Chicago Catholic League Blue, both Loyola Academy (5-0) and Brother Rice (5-0) have perfect records, yet the road to finishing undefeated is tough. Loyola will host St. Rita (3-2) on Saturday. Then they face Leo (2-3) and Providence Catholic (2-3) before a Week 9 showdown at Brother Rice. Brother Rice also still has work to do in hosting rival Mount Carmel (3-2) and St. Joseph (4-1) over the next two weeks, along with a Week 8 game at St. Rita before its Week 9 game hosting Loyola.
De La Salle (5-0) is also perfect, but the Meteors have their toughest portion of the schedule ahead. The Meteors will take on Montini (2-3) on Friday while still having Mount Carmel, Marmion Academy (4-1) and Fenwick (4-1).
Neuqua Valley (5-0) and Naperville North (5-0) enter this Friday's game looking to stay perfect. Neuqua Valley team was expected to be one of the top teams in the DuPage Valley. Naperville North has been a nice surprise after a 2-7 season in 2015.
In the Mid-Suburban West, both Barrington (5-0) and Palatine (5-0) have been ranked all season and will face each other Oct. 14 in Barrington. See you there?
Rolling Meadows (5-0) has been strong all season in the Mid-Suburban East. The Mustangs’ biggest remaining regular-season test could be this Friday against longtime rival Prospect (3-2).
Johnsburg (5-0) is playing well and undefeated in the newly formed Kishwaukee River Conference. Standout Johnsburg senior running back Alex Peete and a fierce Skyhawks defense (they’ve pitched three straight shutouts) are two big reasons to think big come playoff time.
How about Prairie Ridge (5-0)? The Wolves undoubtedly had a very rough early Fox Valley Conference schedule which included wins over Cary-Grove (4-1) and Huntley (3-2). But the biggest tests for Prairie Ridge could be this week and next, as they host McHenry (4-1) and Hampshire (3-2), respectively.
Glenbrook North (5-0) is off to a great start which included last week's 42-28 win over Highland Park (3-2). But the Spartans also have trouble ahead in the last three weeks of the regular season with Deerfield (3-2), Vernon Hills (4-1) and upstart Maine West (3-2).
Both Herscher (5-0) and Wilmington (5-0) have emerged undefeated so far from the Interstate 8 Conference. Hershcer's defense has been on lock down, allowing just 28 points in five games. Wilmington head coach Jeff Reents just won his 200th game last Friday over Seneca. Its calling card is running the football. They score points in bunches, and they’ve also played strong defensively this year.
IC Catholic Prep (5-0) and Aurora Central Catholic (5-0) remain undefeated in the Metro-Suburban Conference. IC head coach Bill Krefft has one of the state's best two-way players in NIU commit Jordan Rowell, who plays running back and linebacker. The Knights have also beaten some real heavyweights, yet more tests await starting this week against Wheaton Academy (4-1). Aurora Central Catholic's biggest remaining test could be hosting Ridgewood (3-2) in Week 7.
Antioch (5-0) is also faring well in its new conference home (Northern Lake County). The Sequoits have two challenges in hosting Lakes (3-2) in Week 7, then hosting Grayslake North (4-1) in Week 9.
Lemont (5-0) just seems to win year in and year out. The Indians will have nothing easy the rest of the regular season in the South Suburban Blue. In particular, look towards the Indians’ Week 7 home game against T.F. South (4-1) as a big test. Adding more intrigue to that one, Lemont head coach Bret Kooi played for T.F. South head coach Bob Padjen.
In the Southwest Prairie, it's all about Oswego (5-0) at Oswego East (5-0) this Friday night. Oswego has been all about the defense (48 points allowed in five games). It’ll match up against an Oswego East offense that has scored 229 points in five games. Don’t overlook the Wolves’ defense. They’ve been tough all season, holding opponents to 61 total points on the year.
Homewood-Flossmoor (5-0) has been impressive all season, including beating three straight 4-1 teams: Lincoln-Way East, Lockport and Lincoln-Way West. Bradley (5-0) pulled out a huge come-from-behind 22-21 win last Friday over Bolingbrook. The Boilermakers will get two big tests at Lincoln-Way Central (4-1) this Friday and hosting Lincoln-Way East in Week 7.
St. Charles East (5-0) was expected to challenge for a state playoff spot, and the Saints have fired off three straight wins against Geneva, St. Charles North and Batavia. Upstart Larkin (3-2) could stand in the Saints' path to an undefeated regular season.
West Aurora head coach Nate Eimers has the Blackhawks on track for a second straight state playoff appearance. The Blackhawks (5-0) are off to their best start since 1994. Their biggest test of the season comes this week at Huntley (3-2) in a non-conference game.
The West Suburban Silver is overloaded with undefeated teams in Lyons Township (5-0), Hinsdale Central (5-0) and Oak Park-River Forest (5-0). Lyons posted its biggest regular season win, 21-7, last Saturday at Glenbard West. But the Lions still have Hinsdale Central and OPRF in Weeks 7 and 8, respectively. Hinsdale Central's schedule hits overdrive starting this Saturday hosting Glenbard West (4-1), while OPRF's last three games of the regular season come at Glenbard West, home against Lyons Township and then at Hinsdale Central in Week 9.