Chicago Christian (2-3) at St. Edward (3-2)
When: today at 7 p.m. at Greg True Field
Last year: St. Edward 43, Chicago Christian 26
Last week: Chicago Christian 28, Guerin 14; St. Edward 35, Aurora Central Catholic 21
Outlook: St. Edward returns to Greg True Field for homecoming looking like a playoff contender after a crucial road win in Aurora. The Green Wave must defeat the Knights and follow up next week with a victory against Wheaton Academy (2-3) to reach the 5 wins necessary for playoff qualification. Senior DaVontae Elam is averaging 170 rushing yards per game. He needs 149 yards to become the first 1,000-yard rusher at St. Edward in coach Mike Rolando's nine seasons. Doug Sanders rushed for 1,324 yards and 14 touchdowns on 149 carries (8.9 avg) in 2003. Sanders finished his four-year varsity career with 2,162 yards rushing, 995 receiving. Elam isn't a one-man band. A strong offensive line led by two-way starters Collin Holte, Zach West and Jack Tierney leads the way. Backs Mikey Castoro and Dwane Allen also play both ways. They've taken some of the load off Elam by combining for 513 yards and 3 touchdowns. Chicago Christian has been outscored 160-61. "They have a lot of good skill players, but they don't have a lot of depth," Rolando said. "They only have 19 kids or so. They throw the ball deep and they have a couple of nice receivers. The quarterback can make big plays. He runs fast and they run the read option a little bit. Their running back took advantage of us a bit last year and he runs hard. I don't know if you they can play four quarters with so many guys going both ways. Hopefully, there will be some things we can take advantage of." The Green Wave defense will be without defensive end Josh VonRohr (14 tackles, 3 sacks) for the rest of the season. The junior tore his ACL and MCL against Aurora Central.
Next week: Chicago Christian at Walther Christian (1-4); Wheaton Academy at St. Edward
Grayslake Central (3-2) at Dundee-Crown (4-1)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at the D-C Bowl
Last meeting (2008): Dundee-Crown 28, Grayslake Central 12
Last week: Crystal Lake Central 34, Grayslake Central 10; Dundee-Crown 17, Huntley 14
Outlook: A win would make Dundee-Crown playoff eligible for the first time since 1994. One might consider it poetic justice for third-year D-C coach Vito Andriola to reach that accomplishment against Grayslake, the school that fired him in 2005. "I haven't been thinking about that too much, but I guess that would kind of ironic," Andriola said Wednesday. Though 5 wins qualifies a team for playoff consideration, everyone in Carpentersville knows D-C needs 6 to get in. That's because the Chargers will receive few playoff points from previous opponents Elgin (0-5) or Streamwood (0-5). D-C has loftier goals than 5 wins anyhow. "We started the season with the goal of getting 7 wins so we can maybe host (a playoff game)," Andriola said. "We still have a chance to do that, but this is a game we need to have to get there. This is a huge game for us and it won't be easy. They have a really good quarterback and fullback, the split end is really good, they block well and they're well coached. We're not at the point where we can look at anybody and say 'This will be easy.'" D-C special teams have been solid of late. Sam Franckowiak's long kickoff return last week immediately after a Huntley touchdown set up TJ Moss for a field goal shortly before halftime. Punter Zach Thelen averaged 36 yards on 6 punts.
Next week: Grayslake Central at Grayslake North (5-0); Dundee-Crown at Prairie Ridge (2-3)
Jacobs (3-2, 2-0) at Crystal Lake South (2-3, 1-2)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Ken Bruhn Field
Last year: Crystal Lake South 32, Jacobs 29
Last week: Jacobs 43, Woodstock 21; Crystal Lake South 28, McHenry 21
Outlook: Jacobs lays its 3-game winning streak on the line against the Gators, who have won the last 5 meetings between these FVC Valley programs and 10 of the last 12. Last year the Gators rallied from a 21-8 halftime deficit to win on a 42-yard field goal by Casey Oliver with .8 seconds left. CL South's offense came alive last week, thanks in part to a position switch. The Gators flip-flopped 205-pound tailback Eric Landis and fullback Chris Ivers. With Landis acting as a bigger lead blocker, Ivers gained 157 yards in 24 attempts and scored on a short touchdown run. The energized running game opened things up for senior quarterback Austin Rogers. He threw for nearly 120 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushed for another 78 yards and a score. "The Rogers kid is playing well," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. "They're trying to run power football off tackle and they've had some success with it. They've got good size. We're excited. The kids are hot, we're playing well and we just want to get better on Friday night because we've got a big stretch coming up." Jacobs senior quarterback Bret Mooney is improving every week. In the last 3 games he has completed 49 of 65 attempts for 779 yards and 11 touchdowns without an interception. Mooney threw touchdown passes last week to four different receivers: Ryan Sargent, Hunter Williams, Camden McLain and Josh Walker. CL South's defense must prepare for the spread offense Jacobs has evolved into this season. However, the Gators also must prepare for the three-back and classic I-formation schemes Jacobs has previously employed. "McHenry had a little success throwing the ball against us so I expect Jacobs to do the same," CL South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "We had a good game last week, which is what we needed. I think we've turned the corner, but Jacobs is a heck of an opponent to play right after you've turned the corner. They are playing for a championship and can't afford to lose one with Cary-Grove ahead of them next week. We're just working on being consistent on offense play to play, game to game. We have to run the ball like we did against McHenry. If our offense can eat some clock and limit Mooney's possessions, we'll have a good chance."
Next week: Cary-Grove (3-2) at Jacobs; Johnsburg (1-4) at Crystal Lake South
McHenry (2-3, 0-2) at Cary-Grove (3-2, 3-0)
When: Saturday at 1 p.m. at Al Bohrer Field
Last year: Cary-Grove 42, McHenry 3
Last week: Crystal Lake South 28, McHenry 21; Cary-Grove 6, Prairie Ridge 0
Outlook: The Trojans should have better luck scoring points on homecoming than they did a week ago, when Prairie Ridge held them without a touchdown for the second time this season. McHenry has allowed at least 28 points in each of its last 4 games. The Trojans gained 238 yards on the ground against Prairie Ridge, led by 174 yards on 34 carries by freshman fullback Tyler Pennington. But 3 first-half trips to the red zone yielded only a pair of field goals from freshman Collin Walsh. Two lost fumbles didn't help the cause. "Offensively, we're missing some of the finite details," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "We're a block away on most plays. We watched the film of all our possessions in the red zone on Monday. If I had asked them to raise their hands if they had a breakdown in the red zone, you would have seen 11 hands go up." Junior running back Zach McQuade, out since the preseason with a broken collarbone, is expected to return this week and begin working his way into the backfield rotation. In his absence junior Matt Sutherland has been playing both ways nearly full time and has played so well "it makes it difficult to take him off the field," his coach said. Sutherland has gained 191 yards on 45 carries and has 5 receptions for 63 yards and a touchdown. He also snared an interception on defense last week as the Trojans recorded their second straight shutout. "We're getting to the ball fast because guys are playing fast and confident," Seaburg said. "And we're getting turnovers, which we weren't getting in Weeks 1 and 2."
Next week: Huntley (2-3) at McHenry; Cary-Grove at Jacobs (3-2)
Prairie Ridge (2-3, 1-2) at Huntley (2-3, 0-2)
When: today at 7:15 p.m.
Last year: Huntley 30, Prairie Ridge 7
Last week: Cary-Grove 6, Prairie Ridge 0; Dundee-Crown 17, Huntley 14
Outlook: After 3 straight losses the Red Raiders look to turn their season around with a homecoming victory in this FVC Valley matchup. Huntley must win 3 of its last 4 games to qualify for playoff consideration. Coach John Hart said this team has the ability to do exactly that. "Nobody, not even a young person, has gone through life where you don't have things happen bad to you in succession," Hart said. "How you react to those things means everything, and I really believe our kids reacted the right way with a great week of practice. They have great attitudes. Like every week, they're feeling pressure to win a football game." Penalties short-circuited Huntley last week, specifically 3 holding penalties that negated touchdown runs. The Red Raiders need more good downfield blocking like they got last week on a 27-yard touchdown run by Jake Scalise. On that pitch to the right side, wideout Josh Esikiel seal blocked a blitzing linebacker, the Huntley right tackle single-handedly sealed off the backside pursuit and wide receiver Mackian Stephens came across the field and pancaked the safety with a big hit, allowing Scalise to race untouched to the end zone. Mitch Kawell leads the Red Raiders with 95 carries for 489 yards and 5 touchdowns. Scalise has carried 47 times for 295 yards and 3 scores. The Prairie Ridge offense has been mistake-prone as well, but the problem plaguing the Wolves has been turnovers. Quarterbacks Brett Covalt and Luke Annen combined to throw 3 interceptions last week and the Wolves lost a fumble. "I think they are a team similar to us in many ways," Hart said of the Wolves. "They are a really, really good football team that has had a few major mistakes that have cost them games even though they've outplayed some of their opponents. We would both have a few more wins if the team that played best would have won. Our challenge is to not leave it to chance to win a football game, and that's what we've been doing in our losses." Safety Mike Andrews did not play last week due to injury. Hart said Andrews is probable for the Prairie Ridge game.
Next week: Dundee-Crown (4-1) at Prairie Ridge; Huntley at McHenry (2-3)
Bartlett (1-4, 1-2) at West Chicago (0-5, 0-2)
When: today at 7 p.m.
Last meeting (1998): West Chicago 29, Bartlett 7
Last week: Waubonsie Valley 47, Bartlett 6; Batavia 48, West Chicago 7
Outlook: With their backs to the playoff elimination wall following last week's loss to state-ranked Waubonsie Valley, the Hawks need a win to regain momentum. Though the Wildcats have not won a game since returning this season to the Upstate Eight Conference, the Hawks will treat them like playoff contenders. "We're not good enough to take anyone lightly and I think everyone here knows that," Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. "We are getting better, though. We had a couple of hard practices this week. The kids really put their time in. They know every game is a playoff game for us now. We've got to win 4 in a row." Bartlett finishes the season with home games against Larkin (3-2) and Neuqua Valley (4-1) separated by a road game at rival South Elgin (1-4). The Hawks are playing for the present while still building for the future: five sophomores play regularly, including offensive lineman Kyle Sanft (6-foot-3, 280 pounds) and running back Nolan Bernat. Junior quarterback Jordan Flint (6-3, 190) has completed 55 of 109 attempts for 588 yards, 4 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. Last week he ran for a 24-yard touchdown. However, the offense was held to 113 total yards. The Hawks are hoping for a breakout offensive performance against the Wildcats, who allow an average of 38 points per game. "We have a lot of younger guys contributing and I think they'd like to win it for the seniors because making the playoffs is what we usually do," Meaney said. "They just have to keep getting better all the way through and play the best that they can."
Next week: Larkin at Bartlett; South Elgin at West Chicago
Waubonsie Valley (4-1, 2-0) at South Elgin (1-4, 1-2)
When: Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Last year: Waubonsie Valley 35, South Elgin 20
Last week: Waubonsie Valley 47, Bartlett 6; Metea Valley 24, South Elgin 21
Outlook: South Elgin attempts to stave off playoff elimination by upsetting the No. 7 team in Class 8A in an Upstate Eight Valley matchup. The Storm must get off to a good start, which has not been the norm. South Elgin fell behind by at least 21 points in the first half of 3 of its 4 losses. "We're trying to figure out our starts," Storm coach Pat Pistorio said. "We've altered our practice plan and done some things mentally to help the kids come out with a faster start. We can't keep waiting until the second half to get things going." Sophomore running back Shawn Griffin is still nursing a sore ankle, which limited him to 4 carries last week before he was pulled for precautionary reasons. Pistorio said Griffin will be a game-time decision this week. Junior Kyle Ware is also a bit banged up, but he toughed out 14 carries for 96 yards last week. Quarterback Robert Cuda was South Elgin's top rusher a week ago with 105 yards on 18 attempts. Cuda is an excellent student and has visited the University of Chicago's football camp over the summer. He and senior center Braden Krause (6-3, 255) form one of the brightest center exchanges in the state. Krause, who was moved to center from tight end in-season, is among the top-ranked students in South Elgin's senior class. "It's great having Braden in that role," Pistorio said. "He's been doing a great job ever since we moved him. He's so smart. He calls out the protections and helps our quarterback identify fronts. If anyone is struggling with their assignments, I tell them to talk to him."
Next week: Waubonsie Valley vs Neuqua Valley (4-1) at North Central College; South Elgin at West Chicago (0-5)
East Aurora (0-5) at Elgin (0-5)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Field
Last year: Elgin 35, East Aurora 0
Last week: Neuqua Valley 52, East Aurora 6; St. Charles East 42, Elgin 16
Outlook: One program's losing streak will be vanquished in this Upstate Eight Conference crossover. Elgin would like to celebrate a happy homecoming after dropping 8 straight games dating back to last year's victory over the Tomcats. Otherwise, the Maroons have lost 21 of their last 22 overall. East Aurora enters with a 43-game losing streak. "I think this is a winnable game, but we're not taking them lightly," Elgin coach Kyle Rohde said. "If you watch them on tape, they're improving. They seem to move with a purpose. It looks like they are accepting coaching and making progress, which is great to see." Elgin quarterback Ryan Sitter has thrown only 2 interceptions in 84 attempts. The senior has completed 44 of 84 passes (52.4 percent) for 588 yards and 4 touchdowns. However, Elgin's ground game has gained little traction. The Maroons average 3.1 yards per carry on 169 attempts. Elgin should get a lift this week on both sides of the line of scrimmage, thanks to the return from injury of two-way lineman Zach Rago (6-3, 280), who has been out with an illness. Defensively, linebacker Daniel Page leads Elgin with 32 total tackles (27 solo) while junior defensive back Dontrell Gaddy has 31 (28 solo) to go with his team-best 2 interceptions. Elgin allows an average of 47.4 points per game. "First thing we have to do better is tackle in the open field," Rohde said. "There were times against St. Charles East we were in position to make a play and just missed. There's no scheme you can call that will help if one or two guys are there and just don't make the tackle. We have to do better."
Next week: Metea Valley (3-2) at East Aurora; Geneva (3-2) at Elgin
Batavia (4-1, 2-0) at Larkin (3-2, 2-1)
When: Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Memorial Field
Last year: Batavia 48, Larkin 0
Last week: Batavia 48, West Chicago 7; Larkin 27, Streamwood 21
Outlook: If Larkin finds a way to beat Batavia and St. Charles East loses at Geneva, the Royals would find themselves in a first-place tie with the Vikings in the UEC River. That may seem like a longshot since Larkin hasn't competed well against the Bulldogs in recent seasons, but that had also been the case against Geneva, a team the Royals competed with to the very end two weeks ago. "As far as we're concerned we're going for the conference and this is our way to win it," Larkin coach Mike Scianna said Thursday. "We need 2 more wins to get (playoff) eligible and beating a big, talented team like Batavia would definitely be a great way to do it." Larkin two way lineman Quentyn Jackson remains out with a knee injury and multiple players are competing with some sort of pain. Larkin is led by Damion "Bubba" Clemons, who last week scored 4 touchdowns against Streamwood. Clemons has 94 carries for 677 yards (7.2 avg.) and 12 touchdowns, not to mention 13 receptions for 195 yards and another score. The Bulldogs counter with a similar threat in senior Anthony Scaccia. He has rushed for 584 yards and 6 touchdowns in 82 attempts (7.1 avg.) and has 12 receptions for 144 yards and 4 scores. Batavia senior quarterback Micah Coffey has completed 66 of 112 attempts (58.9 percent) for 941 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has been intercepted 4 times. Larkin free safety Alex Duran has 2 interceptions. "Batavia looks great on film," Scianna said. "They can pass, run and hit you. I am impressed with their offensive line and quarterback. Must be nice to have all those players. We are banged up and looking for help anywhere we can get it." Larkin's 3 remaining games are at Bartlett (1-4) and home against St. Charles North (2-3) and St. Charles East (4-1).
Next week: Batavia at St. Charles North (2-3); Larkin at Bartlett
Streamwood (0-5, 0-2) at St. Charles North (2-3, 1-2)
When: today at 7:30 p.m.
Last year: St. Charles North 31, Streamwood 14
Last week: Larkin 27, Streamwood 21; St. Charles North
Outlook: Losing is never satisfying, but the Sabres had to be encouraged last week after competing in a close game to the end after three weeks of playing under a running clock. "Mentally, we're pretty good right now," Streamwood coach Mark Orszula said. "We're going to keep working hard at it and, hopefully, get a couple (of wins) here at the end." The Sabres rushed for 146 yards against Larkin, a huge improvement considering they had gained only 191 rushing yards in their previous 4 games. Turnovers continue to be an issue. Mason Polich was intercepted 3 times last week and the Sabres also lost a fumble. His top target has been his brother, Noah Polich, who has 19 receptions for 272 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Streamwood defense will be tested by senior running back Evan Kurtz (6-2, 220). The workhorse last week carried 22 times for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns in a loss to Geneva. He scored 4 rushing touchdowns a week earlier against Elgin. "He's a big, solid running back with a big line in front of him," Orszula said. "They try to control the line of scrimmage and they have for the most part. They also have a good defensive line and a good linebacking crew so trying to run the ball will be a challenge."
Next week: Streamwood at St. Charles East (4-1); Batavia (4-1) at St. Charles North
Woodstock North (1-4, 1-1) at Hampshire (3-2, 1-2)
When: today at 7:15 p.m.
Last year: Woodstock North 46, Hampshire 14
Last week: Johnsburg 22, Woodstock North 21; Grayslake North 42, Hampshire 14
Outlook: Hampshire hopes to rebound from last week's lopsided loss with a solid homecoming performance in this FVC Fox matchup. The Whip-Purs will attempt to do so without a pair of standout two-way linemen: senior Mike Gibas (6-2, 240) and sophomore Matt Kielbasa (6-2, 250). Both will miss this game due to injury, coach Dan Cavanaugh said. A mix of reserves fills their four vacated starting positions, including junior guard Brent Enger (6-1, 230) and junior defensive end Nick Wojciechowski (5-11, 215). On the bright side senior RB/DB Chris Calvin may return from injury. "We're definitely a different team than we were in Week 1, but every team is banged up this time of year," Cavanaugh said. "The kids have been great. It seems someone always steps up and does the job." Woodstock North is aiming for a better showing after dropping a 1-point decision to Johnsburg, which entered last week's game with a 25-game losing streak. The Thunder option offense has a pair of 400-yard rushers in running backs Jordan Plummer and Grant Wade. "Woodstock North is a very good football team and they always get better at running that offense as the weeks go on because it requires great timing," Cavanaugh said. "We didn't play very well last week against a very, very good team so we hope to play well and bounce back."
Next week: Crystal Lake Central (4-1) at Woodstock North; Hampshire at Woodstock (0-5)
Marengo (0-5, 0-3) at Burlington Central (1-4, 1-2)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Rocket Hill
Last year: Burlington Central 28, Marengo 6
Last week: Harvard 35, Marengo 13; Genoa-Kingston 43, Burlington Central 0
Outlook: On the brink of playoff elimination, Burlington Central is in a must-win situation for the duration of the regular season. The Rockets will try to get back on the winning track after a one-sided loss to Genoa-Kingston, which marked the second time this season they were shut out. Central aims for a better result against the Indians, a team they've defeated the last eight consecutive seasons. Senior Reilly Marino rushed for 2 touchdowns against Marengo last year, but last week G-K limited him to 19 yards on 7 carries while limiting Central to 24 yards rushing as a team. Casey Matthews returned to quarterback and completed 9 of 19 attempts for 111 yards. For the season Matthews has completed 32 of 56 attempts (57 percent) for 329 yards and a touchdown. Central's leading receiver has been senior Ian Napiorkowski (21 receptions, 265 yards, 1 TD). A big problem for the Central offense has been turnovers. They've lost 9 fumbles and thrown 5 interceptions in 5 games. Central's defense must solidify if the Rockets intend to make a run at a playoff berth. Last week they allowed 40 or more points for the third time in 5 games.
Next week: Stillman Valley at Marengo; Burlington Central at Richmond-Burton
Rockford Christian Life (4-1, 4-1) at Westminster Christian (0-5, 0-5)
When: today at 7 p.m. at Warrior Field
Last week: Rockford Christian Life 1, North Shore Country Day 0; Alden-Hebron 54, Westminster Christian 27
Outlook: This is a night the Westminster Christian School community has anticipated for years: the first football homecoming game. Previously, the school celebrated homecoming with a boys soccer game. That sport will still be incorporated in the event as part of a doubleheader under portable lights at Warrior Field. The soccer team will play Streamwood at 4 p.m., followed by the varsity football game at 7 p.m. The homecoming king and queen will be named at halftime of the football game, and the school has received permission from the city of Elgin to launch fireworks after Westminster touchdowns. One catch, though: scoring touchdowns against Christian Life is no easy task. The Eagles are the only team in the Northeastern Conference that has been able to compete with undefeated league leader Ottawa Marquette Academy. The Eagles lost to Marquette 40-28 in Week 1. More recently, Christian Life registered a 56-0 shutout over Alden-Hebron, the team that blew out Westminster last week. The Warriors will implement a new defensive scheme this week in an attempt to attenuate opposition scoring. The Warriors surrender an average of 47 points per game. "We're throwing in a brand-new defense this week that we think can do some really good things," Westminster Christian coach John Davis said. "If we can just hold teams down to what I consider a normal level, it would give our offense a shot. Either way we have so many good things to look forward to with our first homecoming. Hopefully, it will be a beautiful night."
Next week: Christian Liberty Academy (0-5) at Rockford Christian Life; Westminster Christian at Chicago Hope Academy (3-2)