Mount Carmel players, here celebrating their Class 8A championship in Champaign last season, will open the season in Normal with a game against East. St. Louis Senior. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Mount Carmel players, here celebrating their Class 8A championship in Champaign last season, will open the season in Normal with a game against East. St. Louis Senior. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Storylines are Normal for 2023 high school football

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By Jeff Vorva
Staff Writer

This year, the road to a state football championship ends at Hancock Stadium in Normal.

For Class 7A defending champion Mount Carmel and Class 6A champ East St. Louis, it begins there, too.

The two titans kick off the opening weekend of 2023 against each other at 7 p.m. on Aug. 26 on the Illinois State University campus.

After some offseason switches and changes, the IHSA awarded the football title games in all eight classes to Illinois State from 2023-2027. DeKalb and Champaign are out of the picture for at least the next five seasons.

East St. Louis finished 2022 ranked first in the High School Football of America website, followed by Mount Carmel at No. 2.

The IHSA officially released its football schedule and, as always, there are some fun and interesting things about the coming season including that big game to kick things off.

 

Oh, Brother Rice
Brother Rice plays its first four games on the road against traditionally strong opponents.

The Crusaders open the season with Maine South (Aug. 25), Marist (Sept. 1), St. Ignatius (Sept. 8) and Loyola (Sept. 16).

Rice fans will get a chance to see their team at home for the first time on Sept. 22 versus St. Viator.

 

Road ‘Runners
Defending Class 7A champion Nazareth also plays its first four games on the road. Their first home game in LaGrange Park will be Sept. 22 against St. Ignatius.

The Roadrunners open the season on Aug. 25 at Kankakee (the Roadrunners beat the Kays 2-0 in a bizarre game to open 2022) then follow up with York (Sept. 1), Montini (Sept. 8) and IC Catholic (Sept. 15).

 

Another rough one
Marist opens the season with two out of three games at home, and none of the three are easy games.

The RedHawks visit Glenbard West to open the season on Aug. 26. They come home for a Sept. 1 game against Brother Rice in a huge rivalry game before hosting Class 8A defending champ Loyola on Sept 9.

NAUDEN scaled

Navy-bound Randall Nauden and Brother Rice open the season with four straight road games. Photo by Jeff Vorva

The Blue
Love it or hate it, the four-team Chicago Catholic League-East Suburban Catholic Conference Blue is a powerhouse again, and every game is killer.

The madness gets going Sept. 15 with St. Rita at Mount Carmel, and Brother Rice visits Loyola the following afternoon.

Mount Carmel visits Brother Rice and Loyola is at St. Rita on Sept. 29.

In the final week of the regular season, St. Rita visits Brother Rice on Oct. 20 and Mount Carmel is at Loyola on Oct. 21.

 

Senior moment
Jordan Lynch, who is in his sixth year at the helm at Mount Carmel, is now the dean of CCL-ESCC Blue coaches.

Brother Rice’s Casey Quedenfeld is in his second year, while St. Rita’s Martin Hopkins and Loyola’s Beau Desherow are in their first years after the retirements of Todd Kuska (25 years) and John Holecek (17 years), respectively.

 

CCC debuts
At long last, the Chicagoland Christian Conference makes its debut. Chicago Christian (5-5 in 2022) is in the league that also features Wheaton Academy, Marian Central Catholic, Hope, St. Edward, Bishop McNamara, Christ the King and Aurora Christian.

The Knights have an interesting Week 2 non-conference opponent as South Bend (Indiana) Clay comes to Palos Heights on Sept. 1.

Clay was 0-10 and outscored 509-32 in 2022. The program has lost 28 consecutive games, with its last win coming at home in 2021.

NAZ scaled

Nazareth sophomore Eddie McClain and his teammates will have to wait until mid-September to play at home. Photo by Jeff Vorva

Guess where R-B ended up?
Riverside-Brookfield was without a home when the Metro Suburban Conference blew up. The Bulldogs will play this season in the Southland Conference, which means long trips for pretty much every road contest.

Aside from a trip to Kankakee in Week 4, the Bulldogs will be mixing it up with Bloom, Crete-Monee, Thornton, Thornridge, Thornwood and Rich.

The stay in the Southland will be temporary, as they are slated to join the reconfigured Upstate Eight in 2024.

 

Thursday night football
The South Suburban Red will close out the season in Week 9 hosting three Thursday night games on Oct. 19.

On that night, Reavis visits Richards, Evergreen Park visits Shepard and Argo hosts T.F. South, the latter being a crossover game.

 

Big start for Stagg?
No question Stagg has had its share of troubles on the gridiron, as the program hasn’t had a winning season since 2005.

The Chargers will look for a strong start to 2023 with games at Joliet Central (0-9 in 2023) on Aug. 25, at home versus Oak Lawn (1-8) on Sept. 1 and at home against Belleville West (0-9) on Sept. 8. The Chargers earned one of their two wins last season against the Spartans.

 

Super conference in the city
The Chicago Public League is splintered into various geographic locations in its Blue and White conferences, but there is a super conference of 16 teams in the Red in 2023.

Curie (3-6 in 2022) will play seven league games after opening the season with non-conference matchups against Mather and Marmion.

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