Richmond-Burton (4-2, 2-1) at Burlington Central (5-1, 4-0)
When: today at 7 p.m. at Rocket Hill
Last year: Richmond-Burton 9, Burlington Central 7
Last week: Richmond-Burton 42, Rockford Christian 0; Burlington Central 28, Marengo 6
Outlook: The annual battle of Rockets usually holds Big Northern East title implications and this tilt is no different. Central has fought through myriad injuries to remain undefeated atop the division with North Boone (6-0, 3-0) hot on its trail. The three teams play head to head in the final three weeks. R-B, the three-time defending league champion, has won 3 straight games since a 1-2 start, led by leading rusher Chris Vlasak, who rushed 126 yards and a touchdown last week. Quarterback Matt Malecki and running back Adam Kinsella return from a team that went 12-2 last season and attained a runner-up finish in Class 4A. "They're going to come at us just like any other year," said Central coach Rich Crabel. They've thrown the ball a little more this year than they have with some of the teams they've had in the past. Offensively, I think we can do some things against their defense." The Central offense has been lifted of late by the solid play of an improving offensive line and the hard running of junior Reilly Marino (6-0, 180). He has rushed for 472 yards and 5 touchdowns this season. Central senior fullback Sean Garbarino will miss this game due to a shoulder issue. Marino and sophomore Trevor Davison will each play key roles. Central two-way lineman Kyle Holtz and defensive end Matt Bozich will both miss this game due to injuries. Yet, despite having multiple starters hurt this season, the Central defense leads the area in fewest total yards allowed per game (225.3). "We've had a lot of guys pick up the slack," Crabel said. "Marino and two sophomore linebackers, Cole Roach and Craig Kein have given us a lot of production and none were slated to start defensively for us. They're coming along just fine. I've been really happy with the team effort on defense this year."
Next: Richmond-Burton at North Boone; Burlington Central at Rock Falls
St. Edward (2-4) at Wheaton Academy (2-4)
When: Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at West Chicago High School
Last year: St. Edward 40, Wheaton Academy 0
Last week: St. Edward 43, Chicago Christian 26; Wheaton Academy 56, Guerin 0
Outlook: St. Edward ended a 4-game slide last week, thanks to junior Davontae Elam's 364 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on 36 carries. He played at full strength for the first time since Week 1. His coach thinks Elam could potentially rival that feat this week against a Wheaton Academy defense that allows 169 rushing yards per game. "I wouldn't be surprised if he runs for another 300 this week," St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. "He's 100 percent again and we expect to ride him and pound the ball. We put in a couple of new blocking schemes last week that worked well." The thin Green Wave roster was dealt several blows last week. Seniors Andrew Yarwood was injured early in the Chicago Christian game and remains out this week. Senior Jacob Koehring was disqualified last week and must sit this week out by rule. Yarwood and Koehring each play defensive end and they alternate plays at tight end. Also missing will be sophomore linebacker Jack Tierney, who is out for the season. Despite those missing defensive starters, St. Edward will attempt to limit the Wheaton Academy running game and force them to throw. The Warriors have rushed for 936 yards, led by junior John Gemmel (82 carries, 554 yards, 11 TD). "We'll change up our defense a little to stop the run," Rolando said. "They run the ball pretty effectively and they have some good north-south runners. But they don't throw a ton. If we can stop the run without putting eight in the box, we could do OK. It should be a pretty competitive game."
Next: Marian Central at St. Edward; Chicago Christian at Wheaton Academy
Woodstock (2-4, 1-3) at Hampshire (3-3, 2-1)
When: today at 7:15 p.m.
Last year: Woodstock 15, Hampshire 14
Last week: Grayslake North 42, Woodstock 21; Hampshire 27, Johnsburg 21
Outlook: A victory last week kept Hampshire solidly in the playoff picture. The Whip-Purs will try to win their fourth game of the season, something the program last accomplished in 2009, against a known quantity in Woodstock. "For years and years at Woodstock they've run a 4-4 defense, ever since Bill Bradshaw ran it there," said Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh, who coached against Woodstock when he was an assistant at Dundee-Crown. "Offensively, they run double tight and they come right at you between the tackles. If you can't stop it, they'll jam it down your throat." The Blue Streaks have three ball carriers who have gained approximately 300 yards apiece and scored 14 touchdowns combined. Hampshire counters with seniors Kyle Anderson and running back Phil Lapointe. Lapointe leads the Whips in rushing yards (371) attempts (83) and touchdowns (8). Anderson has rushed for 332 yards and 5 touchdowns on 53 totes and has completed 25 of 59 attempts for 298 yards and 3 scores. Also Hampshire's leading tackler as a free safety, Anderson "has been outstanding on both sides of the ball," according to his coach. A victory would put the Whips within a win of playoff qualification. "We knew coming in we had a tough schedule and we're happy we're in the playoff hunt," Cavanaugh said. "That's where everybody wants to be and we're there. We have meaningful games for the next three weeks and the kids are excited."
Next: Huntley at Woodstock; Hampshire at Woodstock North
Huntley (4-2, 4-0) at Cary-Grove (6-0, 3-0)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Al Bohrer Field
On the air: Comcast Game of the Week (delayed)
Last year: Cary-Grove 31, Huntley 14
Last week: Huntley 34, Jacobs 33; Cary-Grove 42, McHenry 3
Outlook: The most critical game on the Fox Valley Conference Valley Division schedule to date pits the surging Red Raiders, winners of 4 straight, against the No. 6 team in Class 7A on its homecoming. Huntley has been winning the close ones since coughing up a late lead in the season opener. In the last three weeks the Raiders have beaten Crystal Lake South, Dundee-Crown and Jacobs by a combined total of 5 points. They face their toughest test since a Week 2 loss to state-ranked Kaneland in the Trojans, whose offense averages an area-best 400 total yards per game. The Huntley defense allows 347.5 total yards per game. The key performers in the Cary-Grove triple option offense have been senior quarterback Quinn Baker and senior fullback Kyle Norberg. Norberg has carried 78 times for 694 yards and 8 touchdowns (8.9 avg.). Baker has 640 yards on 103 carries (6.2 avg.) and leads the Trojans with 14 rushing touchdowns. He also has completed 18 of 44 pass attempts for 389 yards and 4 scores. The Cary-Grove defense holds opponents to an average of 243 yards per game. Senior defensive back Kasey Fields has snared 3 of the Trojans' 6 interceptions. "They are a great football team in every aspect," Huntley coach John Hart said. "It is a huge challenge. But it's not David vs. Goliath. I told the kids it's more like the Cubs vs. the Yankees. The Cubs can win one game against the Yankees. We don't have to beat them 2 out of 3. We just have to beat them for 48 minutes. To do that we have to keep away from turnovers. That team feasts on turnovers like very few teams I've ever seen." Huntley counters offensively with dual-threat quarterback Kam Sallee, who has rushed for 351 yards and 5 touchdowns while completing 57 of 121 attempts for 917 yards and 13 scores. He has been picked off 9 times. Senior running back Ethan Connor, now healthy, nearly doubled his season rushing total last week by carrying 15 times for 75 yards and a touchdown. Quick-footed junior Jake Scalise has rushed for 366 yards and 3 scores on 80 carries (4.7 avg.). Senior receiver Bryce Beschnorner leads the area with 31 receptions for 596 yards and 8 touchdowns, book ended by senior Jake Lackovic (12-257-5). "They cause me a little concern," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "Beschorner can go up and get balls. The thing that makes them so dangerous is you could stop them all game and then, on one play, they score. You can't make any mistakes. You've got to be focused and make plays. It's going to have to be a team effort." Cary-Grove senior running back Ryan Mahoney, out since Week 3 with a high ankle sprain, will dress for this game but Seaburg listed his status as "questionable."
Next: Huntley at Woodstock; Cary-Grove at Dundee-Crown
Jacobs (3-3, 1-2) at Prairie Ridge (2-4, 0-3)
When: today at 7:15 p.m.
Last year: Prairie Ridge 35, Jacobs 14
Last week: Huntley 34, Jacobs 33; CL South 28, Prairie Ridge 7
Outlook: Now is the time for the Golden Eagles to make their playoff push, according to their coach. "We've got to get the win, no doubt," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. "This is everything right now. All the work in the off-season? Well, here we go. The next three weeks are huge, starting with this week." The Golden Eagles look to snap a 2-game skid and spoil homecoming for the Wolves, who have lost 4 straight since a 2-0 start. Jacobs aims to build on the solid offensive production of a week ago, when the Golden Eagles gained 432 total yards. The balanced attack has gained 1,196 yards on the ground, 1,192 through the air. Steven Varela has been a factor in both. He has rushed for 547 yards, caught 12 balls for 260 yards and scored 12 total touchdowns. However, Mitz said Varela is questionable to play after suffering an injury on a late hit out of bounds last week that drew a penalty flag. That could mean more carries for sophomore Josh Walker. One of six sophomores in the Jacobs starting lineup last week, Walker rushed for 147 yards and 3 touchdowns in his second varsity game last week. Quarterback Brett Mooney has thrown for 1,194 yards and 8 touchdowns (8 ints.). His top targets have been Hunter Williams (14 rec. 309 yards, 2 TD) and Jake Gierlak (19-218-1). The Wolves have been decimated by injuries at quarterback and linebacker, to name just a couple of spots. "They're still a dangerous team," Mitz said. "They're still the defending state champs, they're well coached and it's their homecoming. We're excited to go up there and have a heck of a battle."
Next: CL South at Jacobs; Prairie Ridge at McHenry
Dundee-Crown (3-3, 1-2) at CL South (3-3, 2-2)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at the D-C Bowl
Last year: CL South 42, Dundee-Crown 0
Last week: Woodstock North 25, Dundee-Crown 20; CL South 28, Prairie Ridge 7
Outlook: Each team needs a win to bolster its playoff hopes. CL South has won 2 straight behind a solid defense and an offense improving by the week. Senior running back Zevin Clark has emerged as the leading rusher for the Gators with 411 yards and 3 touchdowns in 86 attempts (4.8 avg.). Junior quarterback Austin Rogers enjoyed a breakout game last week. He ran for two scores and threw for another. He also returned an interception for a touchdown on one of the few plays he was inserted on defense. "I would have rather played them early than now because he's finding his niche," Dundee-Crown coach Vito Andriola said of Rogers. "And they're finding their niche as an offense. They have a pretty decent back who runs the ball well. They run a lot of zone stuff and he picks where he wants to go." Andriola said his team must play a full game, something the Chargers were unable to do in consecutive losses to Huntley and Woodstock North. D-C possessed the ball at the end of each game with a chance to win, but the offense could not drive for the winning points either time. The Gators will make it tough on a D-C offense that averages 337 yards per game (261.5 rushing), led by fullback Cody Lane (125 carries, 921 yards, 15 TD) and wingback JT Beasley (56-432-7). The Gators hold opposing offenses to an average of 232 yards per game, 99.5 yards rushing. Middle linebacker Brendan Chrystal leads CL South with 34 tackles. "Our defense has to be disciplined," CL South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "It's like stopping the option almost because you have to fill the gaps and not be looking for the fullback or the tailback will fly right by you. They are bigger than last year and you can tell their kids believe. They have a mulitple-pronged attack, whereas in the past if you were able to stop one guy you were probably going to be successful."
Next: Cary-Grove at Dundee-Crown; CL South at Jacobs
Bartlett (4-2) at Larkin (2-4, 1-3)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Field
Last meeting (2008): Bartlett 35, Larkin 6
Last week: Bartlett 21, Lake Park 13; Batavia 48, Larkin 0
Outlook: Bartlett will continue to attack with senior battering ram Aaron Everson, who leads the area with 1,211 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. He presents a stiff challenge for a Larkin defense allowing an average of 213.7 yards per game. "We're going to do the best we can," Larkin coach Mike Scianna said. "We've had problems with anybody with the kind of speed like the Geneva running back (Bobby Hess) and this guy looks better. We'll have to load up the line a little bit. Their defensive line is huge. They have some strong, tough kids." Larkin has been a MASH unit of late. Quarterback Kemmerin Blalark is expected to miss his second straight game, meaning Jeffon Pruitt will likely start again. Senior two-way lineman Alex Schabert is expected to play. He was pulled out after a half last week. The Royals should get a boost from the return of senior receiver/defensive back Anthony Blalark, who missed last week's game. Junior speedster Damion Clemons may be cleared in time to play, though he was not able to practice through Wednesday. Senior Mo Jackson has rushed for 419 yards and 7 touchdowns on 76 carries. Bartlett coach Tom Meaney and assistant Mark Williams, who got their start at Elgin High, coached Jackson's father, Maurece, when he played for the Maroons. "He's a little bigger than his dad was," Meaney said of the younger Jackson. "He has a little more weight on him, but this kid can get outside and run, so we're concerned about him. And they have almost all junior receivers and it looks like they can run. If they throw it out to them, we have to make sure our (defensive) backs are ready." The Hawks picked off 3 passes last week, courtesy of Mitch Reid, Kevin Kirchhoff and Nick Andreucetti.
Next: South Elgin at Bartlett; Larkin at St. Charles North
St. Charles East (4-2, 3-0) at Streamwood (2-4, 1-2)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Millennium Field
Last year: St. Charles East 49, Streamwood 34
Last week: St. Charles East 34, Geneva 27; St. Charles North 31, Streamwood 14
Outlook: Streamwood will attempt to stave off playoff elimination against the visiting Saints, who aim to keep pace with unbeaten Batavia atop the Upstate Eight River standings. The Sabres were tied with St. Charles North at halftime last week, but they gave up a 72-yard punt return early in the second half, quickly followed by an interception that led to a field goal. They will face a Saints squad that returned a kick for a score in a 7-point victory last week. "Our kicking game really hurt us last week," Streamwood coach Cal Cummins said. "The (3) turnovers didn't help either. We're hoping we can pull it back together and keep improving. Our last 3 games are games we should be able to compete in. The key factor at this point is whether you can play consistent football and not make the big turnover or take the stupid penalties that haunt teams." A Streamwood defense that allows 285 yards per game must shut down a St. Charles East offense that averages 232 yards per outing. St. Charles East senior running back Erik Anderson carried 28 times last week for 131 yards and 2 touchdowns and caught a pass for 58 yards. Streamwood is led by the receiving duo of seniors Blake Holder (17 rec., 276 yards, 2 TD) and Deji Giwa (17-200-2). Improving junior running back Lenard Brown has rushed for 197 yards and a touchdown.
Next: St. Charles East; Streamwood at Elgin
Elgin (1-5, 0-3) at Geneva (1-5, 1-3)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Burgess Field
Last year: Geneva 45, Elgin 14
Last week: Elgin 35, East Aurora 0; St. Charles East 34, Geneva 27
Outlook: Old friends and NIU college teammates, Elgin coach Dave Bierman and Geneva coach Rob Wicinski, meet again, this time with only 2 wins between their clubs. Elgin exhaled deeply after last week's victory, which snapped a 14-game losing streak. After scoring 45 points in their first 5 games, the Maroons scored 35 against East Aurora. "It was nice to put some points on the board," Bierman said. "Defensively, it was good to see a lot of people running to the ball and executing better. Hopefully, you build on it and move on." The Maroons got a lift from Malik Paeham-Dunner, a 5-foot-10, 175-pound sophomore who Bierman calls "the fastest kid in the program." Paeham-Dunner rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown last week in support of junior tailback Jaylen Clemons, who carried 16 times for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns. Clemons has rushed for 547 yards and 5 touchdowns on 71 carries (7.4 avg.). Banged-up Geneva is using its third quarterback of the season, freshman Nick Derr. He completed 8 of 16 passes last week for 169 yards. He was intercepted once but also tossed a 77-yard touchdown pass. Running back Bobby Hess is the Geneva workhorse. The senior has carried the ball 128 times for 852 yards and 10 touchdowns. "He's a great tailback and has done an outstanding job for them," Bierman said. "He's a nice combination of speed and physical. If you don't stop him, that's all you're going to see. Defensively, they run a 4-4 scheme similar to what we've seen the last few weeks, so I hope our offensive line is a little more comfortable because there has not been a lot of reteaching this week."
Next: Streamwood at Elgin; Metea Valley at Geneva
Lake Park (2-4, 1-2) at South Elgin (3-3, 2-2)
When: Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at South Elgin Stadium
Last year: South Elgin 42, Lake Park 7
Last week: Bartlett 21, Lake Park 13; Waubonsie Valley 35, South Elgin 20
Outlook: Two similar offenses square off on Senior Day in South Elgin. The Storm offense has gained 1,266 of its 1,985 total yards through the air. Likewise, the Lancers have used the passing game to gain 1,294 of their 1,970 total yards. "It's almost like looking in a mirror," South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said. "We're pretty close to each other. Unfortunately, it seems like something always happens to each of us in every game. For us, it's usually a seven-minute stretch where something goes wrong. We have to eliminate that." Both teams have quality receivers. Lake Park's Kevin Teglia is a ball magnet who made 2 acrobatic catches among his 8 grabs last week against Bartlett, a game in which a Lancer comeback from a 21-0 halftime deficit fell short. Teglia has 35 catches for 679 yards and 12 scores. He is complemented by senior Scott Filip (20-292-4). Both are prime targets for third-year quarterback Zach Gehant (77 of 137, 1,275 yards, 18 TD). South Elgin counters with the Fox Valley area's leading passes, junior Robert Cuda. He has thrown for 1,214 yards and 7 touchdowns on 101-of-189 passing. His top receivers include senior Joe Crivolio (34 rec., 427 yards, 6 TD), junior Tyler Christensen (15-275-4) and senior John Stanko (22-206-1). "They've got two or three receives that can make plays and their quarterback is pretty good at keeping plays alive," Schabert said. "He's a lot like our quarterback and can scramble. Both kids do a good job of keeping their eyes open when moving down the field and that makes them both dangerous."
Next: Neuqua Valley at Lake Park; South Elgin at Bartlett