No. 9 Naperville Central (0-0) at No. 21 Waubonsie Valley (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Naperville Central 23, Waubonsie Valley 10
Key players: Naperville Central – QB Conor Joyce, LB Bobby McMillen; Waubonsie Valley – DL Kurtis Chione, RB Tony Durns.
Outlook: Naperville Central hands over the quarterback duties to junior Conor Joyce as it begins its defense of last year’s Class 8A state title. Joyce will be working behind a completely new offensive line. Will that line hold up under the pressure of its first game and allow big-time playmakers Kevin Clifford, Emmanuel Rugamba and Michael Kolzow to do their thing? The Warriors are expecting a big season from senior running back Tony Durns. They also have a new QB in Zack Bennema. Linemen Kurtis Chione and Nick Horn will try to take advantage of Naperville Central’s inexperienced O-line.
No. 6 Neuqua Valley (0-0) at Naperville North (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Neuqua Valley 34, Naperville North 27
Key players: Neuqua Valley – WR Isaiah Robertson, QB Broc Rutter; Naperville North – RB Leon Hardy, LB Tom Higgins
Outlook: Neuqua Valley’s T.J Scruggs and Nolan Dean, who combined for 280 carries last fall, have graduated. Aurora Christian transfer Kimani Mobley and Dom Muoghalu (31 carries, 150 yards) are expected to pick up the slack. Will Broc Rutter air it out more often? He did throw 30 TDs last fall. Could Isaiah Robertson be the next Mike Dudek? The Huskies will need Leon Hardy to pick up yards on the ground. Will it be Chris Gajcak or Evan Kujawski, or both, who get him the ball? Neuqua Valley has won its last four games against Naperville North.
Downers Grove South (0-0) at Benet (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Benet 21, Downers Grove South 0
Key players: Downers Grove South – RB Jacob Baker, QB Jordan Skach; Benet – RB Brad Sznajder, QB Jack Sznajder
Outlook: Benet will have to grow up quickly on defense. Bidding farewell to 11 senior starters is one thing; facing a Downers Grove South team is another. The Mustangs feature a big, experienced offensive line, led by 310-pound Michigan recruit Erik Swenson, as well as returning quarterback Jordan Skach, who threw only three interceptions last season. Benet senior running back Brad Szajder will need to pick up yards in early downs to keep some of the pressure off his brother, sophomore quarterback Jack Snzajder, who will be making his varsity debut after playing on the sophomore squad last year.
Plainfield East (0-0) at Metea Valley (0-0), 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Plainfield East 37, Metea Valley 17
Key players: Plainfield East – QB Cole Kotopka, RB Jake Mayon; Metea Valley, RB Bryson Oliver, DL/C Matt Fitzgerald
Outlook: Metea Valley is going to have to put pressure on Plainfield East quarterback Cole Kotopka (6-5, 230 pounds) and avoid mistakes. The Mustangs committed five turnovers in last year’s season opener between the two schools while Kotopka threw a pair of touchdown passes and Jake Mayon rushed for more than 100 yards. Protected by a big and experienced offensive line, the Mustangs will try to control the clock and ease in new starting quarterback Kyle Mooney. Can Bryson Oliver pick up 3-4 yards per carry? Can Mooney get the ball to wide receiver Nick Dodson?