With three weeks of IHSA football in the books (a third of the regular season, if you will), here are five teams that have started their seasons in surprising fashion.
Providence Catholic (0-3). The Celtics, the defending Class 7A state champs, are off to a rough start. Providence has lost to Joliet Catholic (3-0), Oswego (2-1) and last Friday to Mount Carmel (3-0), and all three of those teams are ranked. The schedule really doesn’t get any easier: St. Rita, Loyola Academy and Brother Rice still loom. If the Celtics can get back injured junior running back Richie Warfield, who left last Friday's game early, and if the offensive line continues to improve, I wouldn't count out this team just yet. Head coach Mark Coglianese has been down this road more than a few times in his tenure, and in more cases than not the Celtics find a way into the state playoff field.
Carmel (0-3). The Corsairs have some big-name recruit types, yet they remain winless so far. The latest setback: a 41-14 loss last Friday at Joliet Catholic. The Corsairs are a run-heavy offense, and putting together long drives and playing the ball-control game is key. The Corsairs must get the running game and, in particular, standout junior running back Rondell Jamison going. They also need to get some help from the defense if they plan on making a late-season run.
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Lake Zurich (0-3). The Bears have been in every game this season, including last week's 38-35 loss to Stevenson. The 0-3 start is the first for Lake Zurich since 2001. Standout running back Ben Klett left last week's loss with an injury. Getting the Bears defense back to its usual stellar self is a top priority, starting this week against Zion-Benton (2-1). Lake Zurich still has the likes of Libertyville (3-0), up-and-coming Mundelein (3-0) and Lake Forest (2-1) left on the schedule.
Downers Grove South (0-3). The Mustangs and head coach Mark Molinari have played a brutal early schedule against the likes of Homewood-Floosmoor (3-0), Hinsdale Central (3-0) and Hinsdale South (2-1) — all of whom are ranked. Up next for DGS is Addison Trail (2-1), and the schedule also includes the traditional showdown with rival Downers Grove North (2-1) in Week 7.
Maine South (1-2). The Hawks always "schedule up" in non-conference play. They suffered losses to Montini Catholic (3-0) and Loyola Academy (3-0) before beating Deerfield last Friday. Was the win over Deerfield the spark that the Hawks offense needed? Also on the line is Maine South's Central Suburban South winning streak (70 games and counting). Are the other sharks in the conference starting to smell blood in the water?