LAST WEEK: The Caravan beat Lane 56-0

PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jeremy Cooper, sr., OL/DL; Alek Thomas, sr., QB

GAME NOTES: One of the best weeks of the high school football season is here, and there are a lot of storylines, as usual. First, it’s the opener of the Catholic Blue schedule, and the winner will have the inside track on the title. Maybe more importantly for the Ramblers, a win alleviates some pressure over the final six games to reach playoff eligibility. Finally, this is the last game in the rivalry for the near future as the Caravan will be in the Green next season. … Although Mount Carmel (2-0) opened with Taft and Lane, the Caravan took care of business, winning both games by a combined 109-0. Meanwhile, the Ramblers (1-1) started with state power Phillips in Week 1 and Bishop Amat, a solid program from La Puente, California, in Week 2. … It shouldn’t be a surprise that the Caravan haven’t surrendered a point as the Caravan welcomed back eight starters on defense. Offensively, Mount Carmel is led by senior quarterback Alek Thomas, perhaps the best athlete in the conference. The 5-foot-11, 175-pounder has committed to Texas Christian to play both baseball and football. He missed the first two games of the season because he was playing with the USA Baseball’s U18 National Team at the World Cup in Thunder Bay, Canada. The tournament runs through Sunday, and it’s not clear if Thomas will be back for Saturday’s game. Last year, Thomas played multiple positions and finished with a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown and passing touchdown in a 35-28 loss at Gately Stadium. Mount Carmel’s offense also features senior Jeremy Cooper, a 6-3, 295-pound lineman who has committed to Cincinnati. … Through two games, Loyola senior quarterback Quinn Boyle (pictured above) has been a positive contributor in his first season as the starter. He’s gone 31-for-44 for 350 yards without an interception. He’s proven his toughness as a runner by rushing for a team-best 146 yards and two touchdowns. Boyle has thrown to eight players in two games, led by junior receiver Rory Boos, who has 10 catches for 192 yards. He’s followed by senior receiver James Joyce’s seven receptions for 28 yards. … Since 2010, Loyola is 5-2 in the series and has won the last two meetings. The Ramblers last won three in a row from 2011-13. … Loyola is ranked No. 5 by the Sun-Times and No. 9 by the Tribune. The Sun-Times has Mount Carmel 20th, while the Tribune has the Caravan ranked 12th.

Photo credit: Geoff Scott