Elgin (0-2) at Larkin (1-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Field
Last week: Bartlett 49, Elgin 7; Larkin 24, West Chicago 7
Last year: Larkin 22, Elgin 21
Outlook: A goal-line stand, a safety, 2 touchdowns, an all-or-nothing 2-point conversion try with 12 seconds to play ... it all happened in the last three minutes of last year's instant classic. Larkin prevailed when Elgin's 2-point conversion pass slipped through a receiver's fingers. Such is the agony and the ecstasy of the Town Jug game. The victory, the Royals' first in the series since 2008, upped their record against Elgin to 31-19. Will fans be treated to another wild finish tonight when this rivalry game is played under Friday night lights for the first time in 10 years? "Every game is different, so we'll see how this one transpires," said Elgin coach Dave Bierman, who has coached both schools to victory in this series. "We're a little more experienced this year. I think that will make a difference." It's been a rough start for the Maroons, but nothing brings out the best in an Elgin player like seeing a blue and white Larkin uniform on the other side of the line of scrimmage. "This game couldn't come at a better time for us," Bierman said. "There's a little more skip in their step at practice this week. It's a pride thing. They want the Jug." Elgin attacks with junior quarterback Ryan Sitter and junior tailback Jaylen Clemons. In last year's meeting, Sitter completed 5 of 6 passes during the late fourth-quarter touchdown drive that gave Elgin the chance to go for 2 points and the win. Sitter has completed 7 of 21 attempts for 104 yards without an interception. Clemons has rushed for 144 yards and 3 touchdowns on 26 carries (5.5 avg.). He also leads the Maroons with 6 catches for 59 yards. Larkin counters with its own dangerous Clemons at tailback -- junior Damion. He was a difference maker last week in Larkin's bounce-back win against West Chicago, running for touchdowns of 70 and 66 yards. Defensively, Damion Clemons returned an interception 65 yards for another score. "It was a team effort last week, but Bubba Clemons had a big part in it," Larkin coach Mike Scianna said. "We need to get our quarterback on track if we're going to compete." Larkin junior QB Kemmerin Blalark completed just 1 of 6 passes for 9 yards last week after throwing for 159 yards and a touchdown in the opener. Scianna said Blalark's issues are a matter of mechanics, not decision making, and he expects improvement this week after adjustments were made. Larkin senior tailback Mo Jackson is a player to watch. He has rushed just 20 times for 59 yards in 2 games, but last year against Elgin he carried 34 times for 143 yards and 2 touchdowns. The Larkin defense is led by defensive tackles Adam Hamiel and Alex Schabert, end Quentyn Jackson and cornerback/safety Jarelle Shipp. Shipp leads the Royals in tackles.
Next: St. Charles North at Elgin; Larkin at Geneva
East Aurora (0-2) at Bartlett (1-1)
When: today at 7:30 at Millennium Field
Last week: Bartlett 49, Elgin 7; Yorkville 41, East Aurora 6
Last year: Bartlett 59, East Aurora 0
Outlook: After being shut out in the opener, Bartlett exploded for 42 first-half points. Senior tailback Aaron Everson raced for 269 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Hawks are trying to bring sophomore quarterback Jordan Flint along slowly, sticking mostly to the running game, which was the basic game plan anyway prior to the season-ending injury to senior quarterback Steve Hrbacek. Flint's only pass attempt against Elgin was an incompletion "Right now we're developing our running game and we'll advance to the passing game," Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. "Everson played just a half and did really well. It always helps to get on the winning side of things. This group really worked hard this week. I think we've turned the corner." Everson and Co. could do more damage this week. East Aurora's defense has yielded 558 rushing yards and 100 points in two outings against West Aurora and Yorkville. However, first-year Tomcats coach Kurt Becker, an offensive lineman for the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears, has some offensive weapons at his disposal. Junior tailback Jamaria Littleton rushed for 113 yards in the season opener against West Aurora, including a 54-yard touchdown. Sophomore quarterback David Fonseco threw his first touchdown pass last week against Yorkville. Four sophomores and 17 juniors populate the 32-man East Aurora roster. "They are a fairly young team, but that (Littleton) can do some things. The quarterback is only a sophomore, but they have a bright future there."
Next: Bartlett at Metea Valley; South Elgin at East Aurora
Marmion Academy (0-2) at St. Edward (1-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Greg True Field
Last week: Aurora Christian 42, St. Edward 10; Fenwick 16, Marmion 6
Last year: Marmion 38, St. Edward 6
Outlook: St. Edward's path to the playoffs would become much clearer with a win over the visiting Cadets. The Green Wave stayed with No. 1 Aurora Christian for a half last week until cramping and injuries took a toll. Junior running back Devontae Elam and tight end/defensive end Andrew Yarwood left the game with injuries, but both will be ready to go against the Cadets, according to St. Edward coach Mike Rolando. Elam has rushed for 225 yards and 3 touchdowns on 39 carries. Yarwood has 4 catches for 27 yards and 16 tackles. "The kids are in good sprits," Rolando said. "It was a tough loss, but we saw our kids play with a lot of heart and desire." Marmion's 0-2 record is misleading. The Cadets played tough competition in undefeated Jacobs and Fenwick, teams far bigger on the line of scrimmage than the Green Wave. Sophomore Jordan Glasgow rushed for 110 yards on 16 carries last week against Fenwick. He'll try to avoid St. Edward linebacker Joe Stump. He leads the Green Wave defense with 29 tackles, a forced fumble, 2 fumble recoveries and an interception. "When I look at them on film, they're big and good and have a lot of kids not going both ways," Rolando said. "but I think we can play with them if the kids play up to their potential. If things go our way and we take care of the little things and don't allow many big plays like last year, we should be able to compete with this team." Marmion has won 10 of the last 14 meetings.
Next: St. Edward at Immaculate Conception; Marian Central at Marmion
Burlington Central (1-1) at Rockford Christian (0-2)
When: today at 7 p.m.
Last week: Stillman Valley 40, Burlington Central 6; Mendota 35, Rockford Christian 27
Last year: did not play
Outlook: The Rockets are not in a particularly enviable spot. Third-year quarterback Ryan Ritchie will not play this week due to a leg injury, coach Rich Crabel said. Since the team's second-string quarterback dislocated his thumb in practice last week, the Rockets turned to third-string quarterback Tyler Majewski to finish the Stillman Valley game. He'll get the start this week. The Rockets will also be without tight end/defensive end Carter Muehling (6-4, 210) due to a concussion sustained last week. "Tyler will do just fine," Crabel said. "It won't be quite the same, but he runs the offense well." The Central defensive secondary will get another test against the Royal Lions, who play their first conference game as the newest member of the Big Northern East. Rockford Christian likes to throw the ball to its tall receivers. They led both Winnebago and Mendota before fading in both games. The school does not have a lower level program, so the varsity is manned by approximately 40 players of all four grade levels. "Their first two losses came down to playing so many kids both ways," Crabel said. "We expect them to bring a lot of people up front to make it so we're not able to do some things." Translation: Crabel expects Rockford Christian's defense to load up the box to stop the run, thereby forcing Majewski into passing situations.
Next: Burlington Central at Harvard; Rockford Christian at Genoa-Kingston
Hampshire (1-1) at Grayslake Central (1-1)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at William Eiserman Stadium
Last week: Hampshire 33, DeKalb 27; Grant 31, Grayslake Central 14
Last year: Grayslake Central 34, Hampshire 0
Outlook: With a much-needed victory under their collective belt, the Whip-Purs seek to build a winning streak in the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division opener. Last week's win was a credit to Hampshire's persistence. The Whips trailed by 8 points in the fourth quarter, went ahead by 7, then yielded the tying score with 40 seconds left. Undeterred, senior quarterback Kyle Anderson connected with Brandon Waterworth for a 52-yard passing play to the 1-yard line, and Anderson scored the winning touchdown on the next play with .4 seconds left. "Many times when things didn't go our way, the kids just kept coming back and coming back and never quit," Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh said. "I was real happy with that. It was important to get that W and we did." Watherworth made 3 catches for 101 yards, and seniors Tyler Crater and Phil Lapoint combined to rush for 163 yards and 3 touchdowns on 32 carries. Grayslake Central was within 10-7 of Grant at halftime last week, thanks to a fumble return for a touchdown by Connor Daly. However, the defense was burned by some big passes in the second half and the veer option offense managed only 133 total yards and 4 first downs. "They really have some guys who fly around defensively," Cavanaugh said. "We'll have our work cut out for us. I know they're young, but what strikes me on tape is how hard they play that 5-2 defense."
Next: Cary-Grove at Hampshire; Grayslake Central at Woodstock
Jacobs (2-0) at Grayslake North (1-1)
When: today at 7:15 p.m.
Last week: Jacobs 41, Johnsburg 7; Grayslake North 55, Round Lake 13
Last year: Jacobs 62, Grayslake North 21
Outlook: This Fox Valley Conference crossover boils down to how well the Golden Eagles can catch Fish. Grayslake North quarterback A.J. Fish is a slippery character. The dual threat already has rushed for 284 yards and 7 touchdowns and has thrown for 351 yards. "He's a good athlete," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. "We played them last year and he does everything for them. We're getting better defensively. We did a lot of things in practice this week to simulate (Fish) running the option. We've done everything well to prepare for him. They have to stop us, too, and we're pretty confident in what we're doing offensively and in the kicking game." The Golden Eagles have outscored Marmion and Johnsburg 76-20. They have rushed for 299 yards, led by seniors Steven Varela and Greg Sidor. Junior quarterback Brett Mooney has thrown for 444 yards and 5 touchdowns. "We hope to continue to improve in both our passing game and our rushing game," Mitz said.
Next: McHenry at Jacobs; Johnsburg at Grayslake North
Dundee-Crown (2-0) at McHenry (1-1)
When: today at 7:15 at McCracken Field
Last week: Dundee-Crown 27, Streamwood 7; Marian Central 38, McHenry 28
Last year: McHenry 33, Dundee-Crown 14
Outlook: The Chargers aim for their first 3-game winning streak since 2008 in the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division opener for both teams. The inspired D-C defense caused 4 turnovers in the win over Streamwood last week, led by junior Sam Franckowiak's 2 interceptions. Offensively, D-C's running game remained strong. The Chargers have rushed for 608 yards as a team, led by junior Cody Lane (32 carries, 297 yards, 6 TD). Dundee-Crown coach Vito Andriola, the current Chicago Bears coach of the Week, returns to McHenry for the first time since his Grayslake Central team lost a second-round playoff game to Mike Noll's Warriors in 2003. His current team is focused squarely on its playoff future. "This game is huge," Andriola said. "Every game is a playoff game for us. That's the way we look at it. It's exciting to play in a game that means something. We've been telling the kids all week McHenry might be the most physical team we play. Our first two opponents were athletic and fast. These guys are physical and fast. It's going to be another battle." McHenry's wing-t attack features running backs John Konstantelos and Jesse Guajardo, tight end Nate Rueckemann and senior quarterback Kyle Snedeker. "Their quarterback throws a good ball and I like their tight ends," Andriola said. "McHenry kids are always tough. It's always been that way. They'll give us all we can handle. If we play like we did in the first half last week, we won't win the game." The Chargers turned the ball over twice on fumbles in the first half against Streamwood.
Next: Prairie Ridge at Dundee-Crown; McHenry at Jacobs
Cary-Grove (2-0) at Crystal Lake South (1-1)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Ken Bruhn Field
Last week: Cary-Grove 21, Lake Zurich 6; Crystal Lake South 16, Crystal Lake Central 6
Last year: Crystal Lake South 10, Cary-Grove 7
Outlook: The date of this game is always circled on the calendars of players from both teams. The Fox Valley Conference's best rivalry of the last decade resumes on the heels of last season's spectacular finish, when CL South senior Brad Walovitch kicked the game-winning, 51-yard field goal with seconds remaining. "It's been a respectful rivalry through the years between two good programs," CL South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "The winner of this game every year since 2005 has won or shared the conference title, so that makes it a big game. I'd like to think we're in the upper echelon of the (Valley Division), but we'll have a better idea after this game." The Gators, the 2011 Valley co-champion and 2010 outright champion, fared far better in their second outing. The defense held Crystal Lake Central's versatile offense to 1 rushing yard and 128 total yards. "(Brendan) Chrystal is a very good inside linebacker," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said of the CL South senior. "South presents problems just because they are so physical. They really try to take you out of what you do." What the Trojans do is run the ball very well, powered by the senior threesome of quarterback Quinn Baker (54 carries, 262 yards, 4 TD), fullback Kyle Norberg (32-240-2) and tailback Ryan Mahoney (17-150-3). They have combined to score 9 of Cary-Grove's 10 touchdowns this season. Defensively, the Trojans have to deal with a size disadvantage against the CL South offensive line. What's new, right? "South is going to have big kids year in and year out and try to move people," Seaburg said. "We have to counter that with our speed and technique. Every year against them we have to play with low pads and play with discipline." Eric Landis is the leading rusher for CL South with 109 yards on 34 carries. The Gators have turned the tide in this series of late, winning the last two meetings. Cary-Grove won 6 of 7 meetings between 2004-2009.
Next: Cary-Grove at Hampshire; Crystal Lake South at Huntley
Huntley (0-2) at Prairie Ridge (2-0)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Prairie Ridge athletic field
Last week: Kaneland 52, Huntley 35; Prairie Ridge 65, Mundelein 7
Last year: Prairie Ridge 43, Huntley 2
Outlook: Huntley coach John Hart is familiar with the Prairie Ridge offense because he coached the same scheme for 15 years, he said. Knowing what the defending Class 6A state champions do and stopping it are two different things. "That's the task," Hart said. "They are very well coached. I know that system and they do it as well as anybody I've seen, though I know Cary-Grove and others run the flex and option very well, too. Our challenge is to play great assignment football and be aggressive. I feel like our defense advanced in the second half last Friday for the first time. We're forcing people to do what they don't want to do offensively, but when they go to Plan B we've not been very good at reacting." Hart said his Raiders have been plagued by missed assignments and mental mistakes by some key offensive playmakers, a trend that must come to an end if Huntley is to challenge the Wolves in the FVC Valley opener. The PR offense is directed by 6-2 junior quarterback Oliver Kremer. Seniors Kingsley Ebirim and Steven Ladd do the heavy lifting in the backfield. "They just don't make a lot of mistakes," Hart said of the Wolves. "When you're an option team and you don't make mistakes, getting the ball away from those guys is a difficult process. If we can prevent the big play from them, it will bode well for us. I think we can compete against any team." Huntley wide receiver Bryce Beschorner has been productive. The 6-foot-3 senior has 13 receptions from quarterback Kam Sallee for 193 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Next: Crystal Lake South at Huntley; Prairie Ridge at Dundee-Crown
Neuqua Valley (2-0) at South Elgin (1-1)
When: Saturday at 4 p.m. at South Elgin athletic field
Last week: Benet 35, South Elgin 21; Neuqua Valley 41, Naperville Central 28
Last year: Neuqua Valley 35, South Elgin 21
Outlook: Neuqua Valley tries to stay on a roll while South Elgin aims for a bounce back performance in the Upstate Eight Valley Division opener for both teams. South Elgin tailback Jeff Broger is expected to play after leaving last week's game in the first quarter with a hamstring strain. He rushed for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns in the season opener. Without Broger, the Storm gained only 34 rushing yards in a loss to Benet. South Elgin's best offensive production through 2 games has come from the duo of junior quarterback Rob Cuda and senior wide receiver Joe Crivolio. They have connected 21 times for 281 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Storm offense goes against a Neuqua Valley defense that has allowed 48 combined points against Naperville North and Naperville Central. "They have an outstanding defense," South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said. "They have three great lineman and five linebackers who reap the benefits. They're big and they are active. Offensively, their line is big and they have a running back (Joey Rhattigan) in his third year on the varsity. He's a talented, impressive runner. We weren't very physical last week and I think we knew it. We have a lot of new faces still learning to play together. This should be a good ballgame and a good challenge." Rhattigan has breakaway speed, demonstrated last week by touchdown runs of 54 and 46 yards. He has carried 57 times for 422 yards and 5 touchdowns in 2 games. This is the fourth meeting between these schools. South Elgin holds a 2-1 series edge.
Next: South Elgin at East Aurora; Neuqua Valley at St. Charles East
Waubonsie Valley (2-0) at Streamwood (1-1)
When: Saturday at 4 p.m. at Millennium Field
Last week: Dundee-Crown 27, Streamwood 7; Waubonsie Valley 54, Oswego 28
Last meeting (2004): Waubonsie Valley 44, Streamwood 14
Outlook: Introductions may be required in this Upstate Eight Conference crossover. Though they play in the same league, this is the first meeting between these schools since 2004. Streamwood wants to get back on track after a tough loss in which the offense was sabotaged by 4 turnovers. The Sabres will start junior Mason Polich at quarterback. The Wheaton Warrenville South transfer entered the Dundee-Crown game in relief in the third-quarter last week. He sparked the offense with 6 completions in 8 attempts, 163 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. His sophomore brother, Noah, caught 4 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown, the bulk of which came on two slant patterns from Mason. "He's been with us long enough to play the position," Streamwood coach Cal Cummins said of Mason Polich. "He'll try to get all the receivers involved. But for us it begins with not having turnovers. That took a lot of wind out of us last week. Every time we'd get started offensively, we were spinning our wheels. Our defense was on the field for a long time in the first half and I think that caught up to us at the end of the game." Cummins said the Sabres were more focused in practice this week in preparation for the Warriors, a favorite to win the UEC Valley Division. Last week they drilled a good Oswego team that had beaten Geneva by 26 points a week earlier. Waubonsie Valley returns several players from the squad that gained a No. 1 playoff seed last season only to lose in the opening round. Three-year varsity running back Austin Guido rushed for over 1,100 yards last season and is on pace to blow away that total in 2012. He has already rushed for 491 yards and 7 touchdowns. All-area linebacker Austin Lacke leads the defense. "They've got a handful of outstanding players surrounded by some very decent players," Cummins said. "They play very aggressive football and certainly make you earn everything. They don't have many breakdowns and they're solid across the board. We'll have to take advantage of what they give us and have a solid performance from beginning to end. We need some of our playmakers to step up and make some big plays."
Next: Streamwood at Batavia; Lake Park at Waubonsie Valley