By Scott Taylor | @Taylor_Sports
The highlight of week two of high school football in the state of Illinois was the 45-44 thriller between Loyola and Maine South. The defending 8A state champs won the game at home, but after beating up on the Hawks last year, the game proved the Hawks are back to being one of the top teams in the state.
The Maine South offense has put up 87 points, yes 87, against two defending state champions. That scoring total is impressive no matter the opponents, but against two of the top teams in the state, it is downright incredible.
After a second round playoff loss last year, the Hawks appear destined to be fighting for a state berth this year (of course when it is in Champaign). It will now be an upset if any team can hold them under 40 points in a game, but the best chance for that to happen will be this week against another tough foe in Barrington, which has allowed just 22 points in two blowout wins (with most the points being scored with reserves in the game).
It appears this season will hinge on how good the Maine South defense ends up. It performed well against Montini but struggled against Loyola. Barrington will be another good test. If Maine South wins, an 8-1 season with a ton of playoff points will be likely.
SPC offensive struggles
While Maine South is scoring in bunches, the new Southwest Prairie Conference can’t seem to find the end zone. Eight of the 10 teams have a two game total less than one Maine South game. That is not a good stat. While Oswego East looks head and shoulders above the rest with 97 points through two games, the rest of the league looks about even.
Oswego is 2-0 and yet has scored just 19 points! The only games where 20 points were reached were all in blowouts, where one team was decidedly better than the other, or where the losing team scored late against backups to inflate their point total. The most telling sign are the scores of the close games. There are scores of 12-3, 6-0, 7-6 and 12-0. Otherwise the scores have all been blowouts, with two teams (Plainfield Central and Romeoville last week) breaking into double digits with late touchdowns in already decided games.
In the two games I have seen, I have seen one length of the field touchdown drive, a 9-yard touchdown drive off an interception and an interception returned for a touchdown. That leads to this question: Are the defenses that good, or are the offenses really struggling? The answer to these kinds of questions are almost always a little bit of both and this is, too. But, it is more the struggles of the offenses. There has been a lot of offensive firepower that has graduated the past two years in the conference and replacements across the board are generally young and inexperienced. Teams like Plainfield East, Plainfield North and Oswego are all breaking in new quarterbacks and skill players around them. Joliet West’s top offensive players are sophomores. Plus, it take offenses some time to gel naturally.
What does this mean moving forward? I would expect the offenses to pick up in the next couple weeks. I think overall the defenses will win out this year in the conference (except Oswego East) but next year could be a big year for the offenses with more experience. I expect to see some high scores this week, with the lowest-scoring game being Plainfield East and Minooka in what is the biggest game of the week in the conference.
Taylor’s Top 10, week 3:
- Maine South (1-0)
- Benet (1-1)
- Lockport (2-0)
- Notre Dame (1-1)
- Bolingbrook (1-1)
- Minooka (1-1)
- Plainfield North (1-1)
- Plainfield East (2-0)
- Downers North (1-1)
- Joliet West (1-1)