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Friday Night Lights return: Here are our top high school football games to watch this week

With the return of Friday night lights, we bring back our weekly high-five of games to watch …

Brother Rice at Maine South:

The Hawks play their first game since a tumultuous offseason that saw them forfeit their nine wins last year after the IHSA determined multiple players violated rules by playing for the team while living outside the school’s attendance area.

Maine South lineman Zak Stoilov, with multiple Division I offers, and his teammates should get quite a challenge from Brother Rice. The Crusaders easily dispatched Jacobs and Collinsville in the Class 7A playoffs last year before losing to eventual state champion Mt. Carmel.

Maine South is ranked No. 4 in the state’s first 8A poll while Brother Rice is No. 4 in 7A.

Downers Grove North at St. Francis:

A new nonconference matchup that features a larger public school vs. a smaller private — both coming off excellent seasons.

The Trojans held their own against a brutal West Suburban Silver schedule last year while winning their most games in a decade. Sophomore quarterback Owen Lansu is already drawing a recruiting interest from Power Five conference schools.



St. Francis counters with a star quarterback of its own, Ball State recruit Alessio Milivojevic. The Spartans reached the Class 4A semifinals a year ago.

Palatine at St. Charles North:

This marks the fourth straight time these teams opened the season against each other, the North Stars winning the first two before Palatine pulled off a 26-14 victory last year.

St. Charles North recovered from that opening loss to by winning its next 10 games before losing to St. Rita in the Class 7A quarterfinals.

It’s a fun matchup pitting two proud conferences, the DuKane vs. the MSL, and this year’s game should have more star power. Palatine senior RB Dominik Ball, committed to Tulane, is one of multiple Pirates who will be playing on Saturdays at the next level.

Warren at Barrington:

It was an unusual year in 2022 for the Broncos, who missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012.

They have 12 starters back trying to start a new playoff streak, including running back Dillon Fitzpatrick (14 touchdowns last year). It’s not an easy opener against a physical Warren squad who has won three straight in this nonconference, season-opening series.



Warren checks in at No. 5 in the AP’s Class 8A state rankings.

Geneva at Metea Valley:

This might not be the most marquee matchup on paper, but any chance to watch Geneva junior wide receiver Talyn Taylor play is a treat. Rivals’ No. 2 2025 recruit in the state after nearly 1,200 all-purpose yards as a sophomore, Taylor has offers from Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee among many, many others.

For much more on these matchups and the rest of the area action, visit

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