Burlington Central (3-0, 1-0) at Harvard (1-2, 0-0)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Dan Horne Field
Last year: Burlington Central 14, Harvard 0
Last week: Burlington Central 36, Rockford Christian 3; Byron 41, Harvard 13
Outlook: Taking their cue from no-excuses head coach Rich Crabel, the Rockets have been succeeding despite injuries to approximately 10 players since the season began. The latest player on the injured list is defensive back/flanker Damyan Vasquez. The senior is likely out for the season, Crabel said, after he sustained a knee injury in the victory at Rockford Christian. Quarterback Ryan Ritchie, who missed last week's game due to injury, could be cleared today to return to action, though the Central coaching staff will proceed cautiously with their three-year starter. "We'll take it day by day with him," Crabel said Wednesday. "He's got to do some things before we would let him get in a game. We're planning on Tyler Majewski starting again." Majewski, who quarterbacked at the lower levels, performed well last week in his first varsity start at the position. The senior completed 4 of 7 attempts for 58 yards. "He did a nice job controlling the game last Friday," Crabel said. "He did what we asked him to do." Ritchie's eventual return will allow Majewski to return to flanker and the defensive secondary. The running game got on track last week, thanks to solid performances from junior tailback Reilly Marino and recent sophomore call-up Trevor Davison. Marino carried 18 times for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. Davison rushed for 85 yards and a score on 15 carries in his first varsity game. Central travels to Harvard for the second of 6 contests in the Big Northern East, a league now up for grabs following Genoa-Kingston's 24-20 road victory over defending league champion Richmond-Burton last week. The Hornets have lost two straight road games at Oregon and Byron since their season-opening, 25-20 home win against Rock Falls. "There's a lot of parity in the conference with people beating people," Crabel said. "We look at every game like it's the conference championship game."
Next: Genoa-Kingston at Burlington Central; Marengo at Harvard
Cary-Grove (3-0) at Hampshire (2-1)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Hampshire athletic field
Last year: Cary-Grove 35, Hampshire 6
Last week: Cary-Grove 17, Crystal Lake South 3; Hampshire 46, Grayslake Central 20
Outlook: Two teams on winning streaks vie to extend their respective momentum. Both teams are bracing for a more competitive contest than last year's Fox Valley Conference crossover. "I think it will be," Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh said. "Last year we played with them for a half. Coming off the last two weeks we have some confidence. It's obviously a great challenge against a great team and a great program." The Trojans are ranked No. 7 in this week's Associated Press Class 7A poll, up two spots from last week. Nevertheless, they've taken notice of Hampshire's improvement, led by senior Kyle Anderson. The Whip-Purs already have as many wins as they managed the last two seasons combined. "The kids are very aware of that," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "Their quarterback (Anderson) is very talented and he plays free safety for them, too. He makes some very noticeable plays on film. And on offense they're putting up a lot of points. They've got some players. They're thin in numbers, but the guys they have are playing tough. They have some size up front. Their defensive line is big. They're solid." Cary-Grove will take the field without third-year running back Ryan Mahoney due to a high-ankle sprain sustained in the third quarter last week. Casey Fields, who also plays strong safety, finished the CL South game in Mahoney's place and will see action in that role again this week. A Hampshire offense averaging 28.7 points per game must contend with a Cary-Grove 3-3-5 defense that continues to evolve schematically under the direction of veteran defensive coordinator Don Sutherland. Seaburg credited the outstanding play of the Cary-Grove defense thus far, including the efforts of senior Patrick O'Malley and junior Matt Hughes. "They're wrestlers and they play with real good leverage," Seaburg said. "The whole defense has been unbelievable. They've caused offenses fits because of the different movements that they have. "Hampshire will try to chip away at that defense one play at a time. "They give every team different looks," Cavanaugh said of the C-G defense. "They'll line up differently, slant differently. We have to be able to control the ball, get some first downs, use the clock and keep the ball away from them."
Next: Jacobs at Cary-Grove; Grayslake North at Hampshire
McHenry (2-1, 1-0) at Jacobs (2-1, 0-0)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Jacobs athletic field
Last year: Jacobs 42, McHenry 19
Last week: Grayslake North 56, Jacobs 21; McHenry 40, Dundee-Crown 30
Outlook: It shouldn't have happened, in the opinion of veteran Jacobs coach Bill Mitz. A team that returned most of it's defensive starters from last year's playoff squad should not have allowed 56 points to any team. Why did it happen? "It's one thing if you lose and give a great effort, but we were going through the motions," Mitz said. "We all learned a big lesson, starting with me. When we got on the field there was no intensity and no focus at all. We didn't go up there ready to play. Not to take anything away from Grayslake North and their quarterback, but our poor tackling made him look better. Hopefully, we got everything out of our system and that's it. We've had three physical days of practice this week so it'll be interesting to see which Jacobs team shows up Friday night." The Golden Eagles defense faces another test against McHenry, which scored 60 points against Larkin (2-1), 28 points in a loss to Marian Central (3-0) and rallied for 26 unanswered points in the second half of last week's game to upend Dundee-Crown (2-1). The Warriors are averaging 42.7 points per game under first-year coach Dave D'Angelo, led by running backs John Konstantelos and Jesse Guajardo and quarterback Kyle Snedeker, all seniors. "The biggest concern to me is us," Mitz said. "We got punched in the mouth last week. I expect the guys to come back very, very strong and very, very hungry. I'll be very, very disappointed if we do not."
Next: Jacobs at Cary-Grove; McHenry at Crystal Lake South
Prairie Ridge (2-1, 0-1) at Dundee-Crown (2-1, 0-1)
When: today at 7:30 at the D-C Bowl
Last year: Prairie Ridge 55, Dundee-Crown 0
Last week: McHenry 40, Dundee-Crown 30; Huntley 30, Prairie Ridge 7
Outlook: Dundee-Crown was unable to finish off McHenry last week. The Chargers extended their halftime lead to 24-14 early in the third quarter, but the McHenry offense rushed for 168 second-half yards and scored 26 unanswered points to offset 219 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns by D-C junior Cody Lane. "I give McHenry credit because they did play harder in the second half," D-C coach Vito Andriola said. "It wasn't like they reinvented the wheel, but for us that's part of building a program that is consistent. We can't let opportunities go like that. If we do that against Prairie Ridge, it'll be tough." Prairie Ridge is coming off a sobering defeat to Huntley, which dominated the Wolves on both sides of the line of scrimmage. PR allowed 219 rushing yards last week. Dundee-Crown's run-oriented offense will try to pound the ball behind Lane, senior JT Beasley and junior TJ Moss. "It would be nice to keep the ball away from them, so I hope we can do that," Andriola said. "Our offense hasn't been bad. It's hasn't been great but not bad. I'd like to see a little more consistency controlling the ball, but I'll still take big plays like we've been getting. I think this will be a matter of two physical teams beating the heck out of each other. That's a good thing because that's what we hang our hat on. We have to be physical. We're not going to out-talent most teams."
Next: Prairie Ridge Dundee-Crown at Huntley
Crystal Lake South (1-2, 0-1) at Huntley (1-2, 1-0)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Huntley athletic field
Last year: Crystal Lake South 48, Huntley 12
Last week: Cary-Grove 17, Crystal Lake South 3; Huntley 30, Prairie Ridge 7
Outlook: Two-time FVC Valley champion Crystal Lake South seeks to avoid an 0-2 start in division play in this matchup with the Red Raiders, who are fresh off a breakthrough performance at Prairie Ridge last week. Huntley snapped the defending Class 6A champions' 7-game winning streak with a balanced effort. The defense forced 4 fumbles and limited the Wolves to 138 total yards, 66 rushing. The offense gained 402 yards and scored 4 touchdowns, led by quarterback Kam Sallee. The senior rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Among Sallee's 8 completions were touchdowns of 56 yards to Jake Lackovic and 30 yards to Bryce Beschorner. The latter finished with 6 catches for 119 yards. Junior running back Jake Scalise rushed for 125 yards and a touchdown on 26 attempts behind Huntley's formidable offensive line "I think they've got some talented kids," Crystal Lake South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "And they might be one of the few teams that are bigger than us up front. They took it to Prairie Ridge and controlled the line of scrimmage." The Gators' overall size was diminished somewhat this week when starting tackle Boston Mathews was ruled out for this game and possibly for the season due to injury. A Toledo recruit, Mathews (6-4, 265) has a partial fracture and partial ligament tear in his ankle, Ahsmann said. Mathews sustained what was originally thought to be a sprain when he was rolled up in practice three weeks ago. He played through increasing pain the last two games until an MRI this week revealed the extent of the injury. The physical Gators nevertheless present a problem for Huntley. CL South's first three opponents have a combined 8-1 record. Last week the Gators finished with more rushing yards and passing yards than Cary-Grove. The difference? They lost the turnover battle 2-0. Also, they reached the red zone three times but failed to capitalize. The Gators held elusive Cary-Grove quarterback Quinn Baker in check, limiting him to only 37 yards on 15 carries, led by senior linebacker Brendan Chrystal (6-2, 210) and senior nose guard Nick Amren (6-2, 245). "Their nose tackle is definitely a concern of ours," Huntley coach John Hart said. "They play great run defense. I think at this point they are the best defense we've faced and a huge challenge for us. They are the best power running team we've faced, too. Those are both huge concerns for us." Huntley running back Ethan Connor will miss this game. The senior returned from an ankle sprain last week only to sprain the other ankle. "We're just going to make sure he gets healthy," Hart said.
Next: McHenry at Crystal Lake South; Dundee-Crown at Huntley
Larkin (2-1, 1-0) at Geneva (0-3, 0-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Burgess Field
Last year: Geneva 50, Larkin 6
Last week: Larkin 40, Elgin 12; Batavia 35, Geneva 21
Outlook: Coming off their second straight victory, the Royals face a Geneva team in an unfamiliar position after an 0-3 start. However, Geneva's level of competition thus far has been steep. The Vikings were defeated by Oswego, Wheaton North and rival Batavia, teams with a combined 8-1 record. "They're the scariest 0-3 team I've ever seen," Larkin coach Mike Scianna said. "You can tell they're capable of making a nice playoff run. We're expecting a big dogfight." The Vikings will take the field without starting quarterback Michael Santacaterina, who sustained a broken collarbone in the Batavia game. He could be replaced by junior T.J. Miller, who threw 2 passes in relief, one for an interception. The Royals have their own injury concerns. Speedy running back Damion Clemons did not practice until late in the week due to a wrist injury but is expected to play, according to Scianna. Clemons rolled over the wrist while making a tackle in the second half of the Elgin game and did not return. Prior to the injury Clemons scored on a 53-yard pass from quarterback Kemmerin Blalark and rushed for 61 yards in 8 attempts. Larkin running back Mo Jackson broke out last week. A four-year varsity player who transferred to Larkin from St. Edward as a junior, Jackson demonstrated a combination of power and quickness to the edge in rushing 14 times for 106 yards and 3 short touchdowns. Those speedsters, along with receiver Anthony Blarlark and safety JD Darke should be able to utilize their speed on the artificial turf. Larkin has a more stout line than in past seasons when the Royals were unable to match the brute strength of Geneva's bulky linemen. Can they match up better this time? "If we had guys going one way only, I'd say yes," Scianna said. "but we have a lot of guys going both ways so it's going to get tough. They are bigger and stronger, so we may have to finesse a little bit.
Next: Streamwood at Larkin; Geneva at St. Charles North
Streamwood (1-2, 0-0) at Batavia (3-0, 1-0)
When: today at 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Batavia 49, Streamwood 6
Last week: Waubonsie Valley 56, Streamwood 0; Batavia 35, Geneva 21
Outlook: Streamwood was overwhelmed by Waubonsie Valley last week and faces another physical test in unbeaten Batavia, the defending UEC River champion. In order to better compete, the Sabres need big plays out of their best players early in the ballgame. "We didn't help ourselves again last week," Streamwood coach Cal Cummins said. "We struggled with a lot of the little things that shouldn't bother a team. We gave people a lot of opportunities early, but we go three and out and then have a punt go off the punter's shoulder inside the 20. The first few ballgames our own miscues have really set the tempo." Streamwood's rushing game must show improvement to stay competitive with the Bulldogs. They rushed for negative 11 yards last week, though that total included multiple sacks of quarterback Mason Polich, who finished the Waubonsie Valley game with minus 37 yards rushing. "There was a lot of pressure on him," Cummins said. "I'm sure he'd like to have some plays back, but it was a time thing. We allowed to much pressure. We'll chalk that one up to experience and come out better this game against another good team. Batavia's not quite the size they've been, but they always play aggressive and always play physical ball. We have to go out and make some things happen early and get some points." Batavia attacks offensively with junior running back Anthony Scaccia, who has rushed 53 times for 415 yards (7.8 avg.) and 4 touchdowns. Junior quarterback Micah Coffey (6-2) has completed 53 of 89 attempts for 703 yards and 7 touchdowns. He has been intercepted only once. His top receiver, 6-4 senior Zach Strittmatter, leads the Bulldogs with 20 receptions for 342 yards and 4 scores.
Next: Streamwood at Larkin; Batavia at Lake Park
St. Charles North (0-3, 0-1) at Elgin (0-3, 0-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Field
Last year: St. Charles North 37, Elgin 13
Last week: Larkin 40, Elgin 12; St. Charles East 23, St. Charles North 13
Outlook: These Upstate Eight River teams are in the same boat, seeking their first win of the season after a loss to their chief rival. Elgin was defeated by Larkin but demonstrated a quantitative improvement offensively. The Maroons entered that game with only 98 team rushing yards, but they ran for 218 yards. Junior tailback Jaylen Clemons leads Elgin with 238 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns in 40 attempts. Junior quarterback Ryan Sitter threw for 100 yards for the second straight week. He also rushed for 62 yards, highlighted by an 18-yard touchdown run on which he adeptly faked an option pitch to deke a closing defender. "All we're looking for is to keep improving every week and we've done that," Elgin coach Dave Bierman said. "Offensively, 200 yards on the ground and 100 in the air is respectable. We had a punt blocked for a touchdown and we gave up some big plays, but the defense is getting better. We're not where we need to be yet, but we can see improvement by the numbers and on tape." St. Charles North, directed by retiring coach Mark Gould, is averaging 201 yards per game on offense and has rushed for only 150. Meanwhile the North Star defense has surrendered an average of 355 yards and 19 points per game. "Even though they are 0-3 they are still a pretty solid ballclub," Bierman said. "They have good people up front and a quarterback who can throw a little bit. It's our homecoming, so that will add a little spice for us. At the same time we're just looking to keep improving."
Next: Streamwood at Larkin; Geneva at St. Charles North
South Elgin (1-2, 0-1) at East Aurora (0-3, 0-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m.
Last year: South Elgin 52, East Aurora 6
Last week: Neuqua Valley 35, South Elgin 21; Bartlett 67, East Aurora 0
Outlook: The Storm aim for their first division victory in this UEC Valley matchup. South Elgin's passing game is a proven commodity. Junior quarterback Robert Cuda has already thrown 10 touchdown passes to four different receivers, headed by 5 scoring receptions by 6-foot-3 senior Joe Crivolio. The running game must get on track if the Storm expect to compete for the Valley title. "If we get that running game going, we can get back to where we were in Game 1," South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said. The Storm rushed for 219 yards in a season-opening in against Downers Grove South, led by senior Jeff Broger's 160 yards and 2 touchdowns. However, since Broger left early in the Week 2 game with a leg injury, the team has rushed for just 87 yards combined in losses to Benet and Neuqua Valley. Broger could return in this game, said his coach. The Tomcats allowed 463 rushing yards last week against Bartlett, and have surrendered 167 points in 3 games. South Elgin is playing on the road for the first time, whereas East Aurora and new coach Kurt Becker are making their home debut. "It's their home opener, so there will be a lot of excitement," Schabert said. "We're going to have to play hard. They have some nice kids on offense and a couple of skilled kids who are real big. They have our attention. We'll have to know where they are every single minute."
Next: Metea Valley at South Elgin; East Aurora at Neuqua Valley
Bartlett (2-1, 1-0) at Metea Valley (1-2, 0-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Bartlett 42, Metea Valley 0
Last week: Bartlett 67, East Aurora 0; Lake Park 35, Metea Valley 23
Outlook: Following lopsided wins against Elgin and East Aurora, the competition level rises for Bartlett with an Upstate Eight Valley road test in Aurora. The Hawks say they are ready for the challenge. "We're working hard out there (in practice) and the work ethic is definitely there," Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. "Now we've got to play a more difficult game this week and do the job." Metea Valley coach Ben Kleinhans' offense is led by running back Cameron Wilcox. The senior last week rushed for 158 yards and 3 touchdowns on 29 carries. Against Lake Park, junior quarterback Blaise Bell completed only 10 of 26 attempts for 169 yards and was intercepted 3 times. His top target is senior receiver Alex Hagemaster (5-10, 165), who last week caught 6 passes for 143 yards. "He's a good one," Meaney said of Hagemaster. "And Wilcox can run you over. He likes to lower the shoulder and run through you. We have some things we can do that we haven't shown yet, so we'll see how it goes. They're going to score a bit, but we've got to play smart and give a lot of respect to all their options when they're in that pistol offense. Just do your job and nobody else's. I think our offense will be able to score." Offensively, the Hawks have relied on the fleet feet of senior running back Aaron Everson, who has 52 carries for 591 yards and 11 touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Jordan Flint was successfully eased into the passing game last week against East Aurora, his second varsity start. Flint completed 11 of 16 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown and was not intercepted.
Next: Waubonsie Valley at Bartlett; Metea Valley at South Elgin
St. Edward (1-2) at Immaculate Conception (3-0)
When: today at 7:30 at Jack Lewis Stadium
Last meeting (2010): St. Edward 42, Immaculate Conception 0
Last week: Marmion 49, St. Edward 16; Immaculate Conception 33, Aurora Central Catholic 0
Outlook: Is Week 4 too early to call a game a must win? Not according to St. Edward coach Mike Rolando, whose team's push for 5 victories and a postseason berth would be in jeopardy with a third straight loss. "This is a playoff game for us," Rolando said. "We have to get back on track if we want to talk about 5 wins and being a playoff-caliber team. It won't be easy. If the kids play to their potential like we haven't seen them yet this year, I think we can compete with them." Immaculate Conception jumped from 10th to seventh in this week's Class 4A Associated Press poll. The Knights, led by senior quarterback Demetrius Carr, have blown out three teams that have a combined record of 3-6. Against Aurora Central Catholic (2-1), Carr rushed for 88 yards and a 47-yard touchdown. He also completed 8 of 13 passes for 117 yards, including 2 scoring strikes to senior running back Danny D'Angelo. The Wave should be better equipped to compete this week. Junior running back Devontae Elam returns from injury after missing the Marmion game. Several players plagued by the flu last week were pulled early in the contest. With everyone in the lineup again healthy, St. Edward enjoyed a week of crisp, focused practices, according to their coach. Shutting down the IC option offense and Carr, who can scramble or throw on the run, are keys to spoiling IC's homecoming game under temporary lights. "Somehow, our kids have to find a way," Rolando said. "I think we can stop some of the their strengths, but they're not a one-dimensional team. We have to be sound all the way around. If we want to be a playoff team, we have to show it. We've had good preparation. Now we have to execute. I think you'll see heart and desire spilling out of our kids Friday night."
Next: Aurora Central Catholic at St. Edward; Immaculate Conception at Marian Central