Crystal Lake South (4-3, 3-2) at Jacobs (4-3, 2-2)
When: today at 7:15 at Jacobs athletic field
Last year: Crystal Lake South 21, Jacobs 6
Last week: Crystal Lake South 36, Dundee-Crown 22; Jacobs 34, Prairie Ridge 16
Outlook: Neither FVC Valley team would be eliminated from the playoffs with a loss because both can likely still qualify on playoff points with a 5-4 record. However, the winner avoids a win-or-go-home scenario in Week 9. "It'll be an interesting matchup," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. "We both know what's at stake. It'll be a good one." Jacobs' strength is its offense, while CL South thrives on defense. Triggered by 6-foot-4 junior quarterback Brett Mooney, the Golden Eagles average 32.4 points and 405 yards per game. Mooney has thrown for an area-best 1,472 yards on 93-of-174 passing with 10 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. Last week his top two receivers had the breakout games Mitz has been waiting for. Hunter Williams caught 5 passes for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns; Nick Gierlak made 8 catches for 107 yards. "(Mooney) reminds me of some of the guys we've seen this year," CL South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "He has a good arm, can throw the ball a long way and he moves OK." Ahsmann has stressed the importance of winning this game to his players. "We told them it's a playoff game," he said. "We've been battling for our playoff lives here, and this is the type of team we'll see in the playoffs so we're treating it that way." CL South limits opponents to 16.4 points and 235 total yards per game, led by nose guard Nick Amren (6-2, 245) and middle linebacker Brendan Chrystal (6-2, 210). "No doubt about it, the nose and the middle linebacker are big kids," Mitz said. "We want to be 50/50. They'll see us run the ball and they'll see us throw the ball. We've done a good job throwing it, as good a anyone in our league." Greg Sidor has moved to fullback in place of Jacobs leading rusher Steven Varela, who is no longer on the team. That opens the tailback spot full time for speedy sophomore Josh Walker. This game could hinge on whether the Jacobs defense can handle CL South's big, physical offensive line, a unit Ahsmann said has begun to jell in recent weeks. The proof is in the production: the Gators scored 38 points in their first 4 games; they've scored 92 in their last 3 games. The Jacobs defense allows 235 rushing yards per game.
Next: Crystal Lake South at Grayslake Central; Jacobs at Dundee-Crown
Cary-Grove (7-0, 4-0) at Dundee-Crown (3-4, 1-3)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at the D-C Bowl
Last year: Cary-Grove 49, Dundee-Crown 0
Last week: Cary-Grove 41, Huntley 14; Crystal Lake South 36, Dundee-Crown 22
Outlook: Cary-Grove seeks to tighten its stranglehold on the FVC Valley with a road win, while the Chargers aim to stave off playoff elimination by upsetting the team ranked No. 6 in Class 7A. Can D-C pull it off? "If we play 48 minutes, we've got a chance," D-C coach Vito Andriola said. "We haven't played 48 minutes in a game yet this year. That's what you have to do against Cary-Grove. They are a really talented team and they play a great team game. They are well-coached and disciplined. To me, they epitomize all the good things about high school football. We have to have our A game because they always have their A game." The Chargers attack behind running backs Cody Lane (139 rushes, 1,097 yards, 17 TD), JT Beasley (61-426-6) and TJ Moss (45-261-2). "They've got some difference makers on their team," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "Lane and Beasley are certainly two that stand out, but all three guys in the backfield are threats. It was a lopsided win for us last year, but our kids remember the game because it was very physical. They made us earn every point we got." The Cary-Grove offense will use a new quarterback this week while starter Quinn Baker's broken finger heals. Either senior Ryan Dundon (5-8, 156) or sophomore Jason Gregoire (6-1, 155) will get the starting nod. Joining prolific fullback Kyle Norberg (92-892-11) in the backfield will be third-year wingback Ryan Mahoney. He gets his first start since spraining an ankle in Week 3. In certain situations the Trojans may split Mahoney out wide, opposite speedy receiver Zach Marszal (9 rec., 189 yards, 2 TD). The Trojans have outscored their opponents 264-86. Andriola shook up his defense this week, replacing a senior free safety with promising sophomore Will King. "Sometimes people get too comfortable with what they're doing," Andriola said. "We're addressing the cerebral part of football at Dundee-Crown."
Next: Prairie Ridge at Cary-Grove; Jacobs at Dundee-Crown
Huntley (4-3) at Woodstock (3-4)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Larry Dale Field
Last year: Huntley 49, Woodstock 7
Last week: Cary-Grove 41, Huntley 14; Woodstock 38, Hampshire 34
Outlook: Huntley already has 39 playoff points, so a win in this Fox Valley Conference crossover all but sews up the school's first playoff berth since the Red Raiders finished 5-5 in 2009. They face a Woodstock team in a must-win-situation on its home field. This game equates to the Blue Streaks' Super Bowl. They finish up next week against Johnsburg (0-7). "We're both fighting for the playoffs; we've got two to win one and they've got to win both," Huntley coach John Hart said. "To be successful, teams have to learn to ratchet it up instead of getting a little tighter. Both of us will have that problem. We'll see who can ratchet it up and who gets tight." Woodstock's offense, led by quarterback Alan Hafer, will try to solve a Huntley defense led by linebackers Justin Gedaly and Mark Skonieczny. The Red Raiders hope to minimize the turnovers that plagued them last week against Cary-Grove. "I think you correct your mistakes and emphasize what you did successfully," Hart said of last week's loss. "If we play well, I think we're a really good football team. Our problem is we haven't put it together for 48 minutes the whole year. Once you do it's easy to repeat that. That's what we're going for this week. I'm concerned with all the things they (Woodstock) bring to the plate, but I'm a lot more concerned how we perform until we get to that level."
Next: McHenry at Huntley; Johnsburg at Woodstock
Hampshire (3-4, 2-2) at Woodstock North (5-2, 3-1)
When: today at 7:15 p.m.
Last year: Woodstock North 34, Hampshire 12
Last week: Woodstock 38, Hampshire 34; Woodstock North 39, Grayslake Central 7
Outlook: The playoffs are still attainable for Hampshire if the Whip-Purs can manage to defeat the Thunder and Crystal Lake Central. Hampshire lost by 6 points to Woodstock, a team that lost to Woodstock North by just 5 points. Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh said the last two games are contests in which his team should be competitive. "No doubt about it, we came into these last three weeks thinking we were playing three teams that are pretty comparable," Cavanaugh said. "We'll be ready to go for this one." The Whip-Purs received a solid performance last week from now-healthy junior running back Nick Kielbasa. Against Woodstock, he carried 15 times for a game-high 133 yards, a touchdown and two 2-point conversion runs. He strengthens a backfield that features senior Phil Lapointe (105 carries, 653 yards, 11 TD) behind athletic quarterback Kyle Anderson (60-375-5). The Thunder offense counters with fullback Ryan Wade, who has rushed for over 800 yards. "The team they remind me of is Stillman Valley," Cavanaugh said. "Their offense is tough. They just come right at you. The fullback is the center of the picture, but they run the option pretty well. We have to get it done. We have 3 wins and we need 5." The Whip-Purs are the healthiest they've been in weeks. Five players have returned to action since missing the Johnsburg game in Week 5.
Next: Crystal Lake Central at Hampshire; Grayslake North at Woodstock North
South Elgin (3-4, 2-3) at Bartlett (5-2, 3-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Millennium Field
Last year: Bartlett 45, South Elgin 10
Last week: Lake Park 35,South Elgin 26; Bartlett 24, Larkin 7
Outlook: A victory for Bartlett would guarantee the Hawks a playoff berth and position them to compete for a share of the UEC Valley title next week at Neuqua Valley. South Elgin is fighting for its playoff life. A loss to their chief rival would eliminate the Storm from the postseason for the second straight year. "They need 1 more win to be sure, and we need 2 more to get in," South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said. "We'll have the playoff points." Schabert's team will have at least 39 playoff points entering Week 9. Last year the cutoff was 40. To have a shot at beating Bartlett, South Elgin's strong corps of linebackers, led by Chris Bingham and Nate Marotta, must get off blocks thrown by Bartlett's physical offensive line and find tailback Aaron Everson. A senior, Everson leads the area with 1,467 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns on 184 carries (8.0 avg.). "The tailback is the key," South Elgin coach Dale Schabert said. "They block real well for him. He's strong and fast. Give him a crease and it's over. We've been working hard on staying in lanes, staying where you are and keeping some gap integrity." With the season on the line, the Storm held a full practice Thursday instead of a walk-through to make up for a short week. Leading receiver Joe Crivolio did not play last week against Lake Park, but he ran routes for 45 minutes Thursday, Schabert said. Pass defense was a point of concentration in Bartlett's practices this week. South Elgin quarterback Robert Cuda leads an offense that has thrown for 1,487 yards. Bartlett's stingy defense has allowed 1,481 total yards. "We have to stop South Elgin's lethal passing game," Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. "We've been working on it all week and I think the kids are up for the challenge. It's a big U-46 rivalry for the kids, so they're excited. It will be an excellent game to watch. I'm sure both sides are ready."
Next: South Elgin at St. Charles North; Bartlett at Neuqua Valley
Larkin (2-5, 1-3) at St. Charles North (3-4, 3-2)
When: today at 7:30 p.m.
Last year: St. Charles North 29, Larkin 25
Last week: Bartlett 24, Larkin 7; Batavia 35, St. Charles North 20
Outlook: Larkin is healthier than it has been in weeks, thanks to the return of quarterback Kemmerin Blalark, who missed 2 games due to injury. The Royals will also have two-way lineman Alex Schabert in the lineup. Larkin was eliminated from the playoffs last week. In turn, they can eliminate St. Charles North, which must beat the Royals and South Elgin next week to have a shot at making the playoff field. "We're back to health and having a little fun," Larkin coach Mike Scianna said. "We're playing the role of spoiler. I haven't beaten St. Charles North yet. We're going to try to give them a heck of a game." Larkin was limited to 127 total yards last week by a physical Bartlett defense. The aim is to get back on track with Blalark back behind center. "We want the kids to stick together and play together for the seniors," Scianna said. "And we have to try to get these juniors to understand what it takes to be a winning program. We've had a very good week of practice so we'll see."
Next: Larkin at St. Charles East; South Elgin at St. Charles North
Streamwood (2-5, 1-3) at Elgin (1-6, 0-4)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Field
Last year: Streamwood 28, Elgin 14
Last week: St. Charles East 23, Streamwood 7; Geneva 49, Elgin 6
Outlook: Two Elgin Area School District U-46 programs collide in an Upstate Eight River contest. Both teams are eliminated from playoff contention, but each has internal goals to achieve entering the final two weeks. "You talk to your upperclassmen about leaving some kind of legacy to the underclassmen," Streamwood coach Cal Cummins said. "This group of seniors played quite well last year when we had some success. Winning a couple games here at the end of the season would add a little to their legacy. We want to go out and have fun and finish the season strong." Elgin has been vulnerable to the run all season. The Maroons have allowed 1,890 rushing yards (270 avg.), but running has not been a Streamwood strength. The Sabres have rushed for only 483 yards (69 avg.). "I think we match up real well with them," Elgin coach Dave Bierman said. "They have some decent size so we'll have to play low with leverage. For us, the last two weeks are about consistency in our execution, hanging onto the ball and catching passes. Week after week we just need to get better at what we do. That's going to be key." Bierman said sophomore Dontrell Gaddy could see some reps at quarterback in the final two games. If that happens, junior quarterback Ryan Sitter will move to wideout. When Gaddy played wideout last week, Sitter connected with him three times for 112 yards, highlighted by a 67-yard touchdown.
Next: Geneva at Streamwood; Batavia at Elgin
Marian Central (7-0, 5-0) at St. Edward (2-5, 1-4)
When: today at 7 p.m. at Greg True Field
Last year: Marian Central 47, St. Edward 3
Last week: Marian Central Wheaton Academy 12, St. Edward 7
Outlook: This game might have been a mismatch even if St. Edward's roster was in good health, which it is not. Marian Central is the No. 1 team in Class 5A and blew out defending state champion Montini last week. Minnesota-bound quarterback Chris Streveler has relied on his strong arm and mobility to account for over 2,000 combined yards and 30 touchdowns. The high-powered Hurricanes will face a St. Edward squad hit hard by injuries in recent weeks to the point freshmen and sophomores are seeing significant playing time in varsity games "Freshmen on the field in a varsity football game hasn't happened since I took over in 2005," St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. "And we have sophomores in some key positions. As a result, our execution lately hasn't quite been up the standards we've set. On the bright side, kids who are going to be an important part of our program in coming years are getting a lot of reps and a chance to play."
Next: Wheaton Academy at Marian Central; St. Francis at St. Edward
Burlington Central (5-2) at Rock Falls (1-6)
When: today at 7 p.m. at Hinders Field
Last year: Burlington Central 56, Rock Falls 0
Last week: Richmond-Burton 28, Burlington Central 0; Mendota 14, Rock Falls 13
Outlook: Burlington Central will face two spread offenses in its final 2 regular-season games against Rock Falls and Big Northern East-leading North Boone (7-0, 4-0). "We'll see much more finesse type offenses the next two weeks," said Rockets coach Rich Crabel, whose team can clinch its second straight playoff berth with a victory. "Both quarterbacks can run, so they keep you off balance with a lot of preparation. Rock Falls has people everywhere, five wides, double twins. Basically, they make you prepare for every formation, which is why we do all the work we do during the summer." Crabel said an emphasis will be placed on tackling in open space since the goal of the Rock Falls offense is to give its ball carriers one-on-one opportunities. The Rockets will be without the services of tight end Carter Muelling, likely for the rest of the season. He endured his second concussion within a month in last week's loss to Richmond-Burton. Senior fullback Sean Garbarino (shoulder) is also out for this game and might be done for the season. "We've done some moving around," Crabel said. "We have some kids that are going to have to be versatile this week, and they're pretty willing to do what's asked of them." The Rockets will play two quarterbacks. Tyler Majewski will occasionally be spelled by junior Casey Matthews, which serves two purposes: 1. It allows Majewski to play his normal position of split end in some situations; 2. Matthews, the candidate most likely to play quarterback next season, gains some playing experience. A Central lineup depleted by injuries will gain some sophomore reinforcements. Because Rock Falls does not have a freshman team, Central will combined its frosh/soph levels and elevate some sophomores to the varsity roster for Week 8.
Next: North Boone at Burlington Central; Rock Falls at Oregon