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Loyola's shutout win over Phillips sets stage for exciting Week 6

High School Sports Weekly
Thank you for subscribing to the High School Sports Weekly newsletter! Here’s the latest from our staff as the shortened football season enters its final week.

Good morning,
Lincoln-Way East is a perfect 5-0 this season, has nice wins against Homewood-Flossmoor and Bolingbrook and has outscored opponents 176-24. 
The Griffins have only allowed 10 points since the Week 1 win against Bolingbrook. That’s total domination. Their opponents are just 8-14 on the season, though, and that has kept them firmly entrenched in the No. 2 spot in the rankings for awhile. 
Rob Zvonar’s squad will wrap up the season on Friday at Lincoln-Way West. The district rival Warriors are 4-0 and should provide a fun final game of the season. 
The question is, if Lincoln-Way East wins that one and Loyola loses at Marist, which team finishes on top in the rankings?
The Griffins haven’t defeated a team that is currently ranked. H-F and Bolingbrook were ranked when Lincoln-Way East beat them. The Ramblers have defeated four teams currently in the rankings (St. Rita, Mount Carmel, Brother Rice and Hillcrest). And Marist is currently No. 5. 
Loyola’s opponents are 18-6 this season and five of those losses were handed to the teams by Loyola. The strength of schedule isn’t even close. Would that be enough for the Ramblers to even lose to Marist in a tight game and hold onto the ranking?
Who knows. We will deal with that if it happens, but it’s an interesting question.
— Michael O'Brien, high school sports editor (@michaelsobrien)
Top story
Loyola’s Marco Maldonado (4) runs the ball during the game against Phillips. | Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
Loyola’s Marco Maldonado (4) runs the ball during the game against Phillips. | Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times
There will be no playoffs in this pandemic-shortened season, but it might feel otherwise to Loyola.
The No. 1 Ramblers are navigating their way through the state’s toughest schedule — six straight ranked opponents — with matchups materializing only days in advance against opponents they’ve rarely seen, if ever.
Loyola passed another test in an unusual Friday afternoon home game, shutting out No. 25 Phillips 30-0 behind another dominating performance from running back Vaughn Pemberton and the defense.
Playing only every other series, Pemberton nonetheless piled up more than 100 yards of total offense: 10 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown, and one catch for 11 yards.
Aidan Brownlee scored on an end-around, and quarterbacks JT Thomas and Jake Stearney each threw a touchdown pass for Loyola (5-0).
Phillips and Hillcrest were last-minute schedule additions when the Ramblers’ original week four and five opponents were unavailable. Had they not stepped in, Loyola would have had three weeks off before playing Marist in the regular-season and CCL/ESCC Blue finale.
“When we got Phillips scheduled, we were all really happy,” Pemberton said. “I got the Hudl message from coach (John) Holecek when I was in my bed. I was like, ‘Oh! I’m playing a game.’”
Super 25 update
The top of the rankings look the same as last week with no movement in the top 10.
I’ve kept a Public League team at the bottom of the rankings all year, but Simeon and Phillips are out now. The future is bright for several of the city’s powerhouse programs, but the Public League just hasn’t been Super 25 quality this season. (More on this in the next section!)
Check out the full Super 25 below:
Super 25 high school football rankings for April 18
Week 5 news and notes
There are no Public League football teams in the Super 25 this week. That might be jarring to some, but it is my honest take on the state of things.
I’ve detailed everything Public League football has been up against in the last year in recent stories. There’s enough talent for the high-level Public League teams to be ranked, but they just aren’t there right now, and it’s important to keep the Super 25 legitimate.
I’ve kept a Public League team or two in the bottom of the rankings for most of the season, choosing to give the powerhouses from the city the benefit of the doubt. There are several highly ranked suburban teams that haven’t been challenged at all, either.
Phillips lost to Loyola 30-0 on Friday, and Simeon squeaked past Kenwood 23-18 on Saturday. I was at both games and safely can say that the teams are just a few steps behind the rest of the area’s elite right now.
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What to watch this week
The absence of a playoff means this Friday night serves up some of the most important matchups of the season. The full Week 6 schedule isn’t up yet as I’m awaiting details from several conferences, but here are some of the expected key games for later this week.
Key matchups set for Friday:
  • No. 1 Loyola vs. No. 5 Marist
  • No. 2 Lincoln-Way East vs. Lincoln-Way West
  • No. 4 Mount Carmel vs. No. 11 Brother Rice
  • No. 14 Prospect vs. No. 13 Barrington
  • No. 3 St. Rita vs. Notre Dame
Key matchups set for Saturday:
  • Marmion vs. No. 10 Joliet Catholic
  • Richards vs. No. 20 Hillcrest
With most of the big games slated for Friday, there’s not as much action set for this weekend.
Team of the week
Johnson Pumas
Johnson Pumas team captain Wayne Sanders (44) with the team logo in the top left corner
Johnson Pumas team captain Wayne Sanders (44) with the team logo in the top left corner
Johnson (1-1) has battled through some adversity this spring. The team had a 14-day quarantine after playing Ag. Science on March 27. The Pumas practiced for three days, looking forward to a game against Catalyst Maria on Thursday. Then it was rescheduled to Saturday night. Johnson had just 18 players (six are out with injuries) but managed to pull out a 14-12 win. 
Team captain Wayne Sanders, a running back and linebacker, has rushed for 225 yards this season, caught two passes for 36 yards and has made 23 tackles. QB/DB Marvel Williams has thrown for 261 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 223 yards and one score. Lineman Will Anderson has 16 tackles, two sacks and a pair of fumble recovery TDs. Other standouts for Johnson include WR/DB Davontaye Walker and Christian McKorkle. 
— Johnson coach Andrew Frierson
Want your school featured in Team of the Week? Send us an update on your team’s season, your name and hometown, and (if possible) a photo to newsletters@suntimes.com.
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