Larkin (3-3) at Bartlett (2-4)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Millennium Field
Last year: Bartlett 24, Larkin 7
Last week: Batavia 46, Larkin 14; Bartlett 48, West Chicago 35
Outlook: This Upstate Eight Conference crossover holds playoff implications for both teams. Larkin needs to win 2 of its last 3 games to become playoff eligible, then hope it has enough playoff points to qualify for the postseason. Bartlett must win its final 3 games to reach the playoffs. The Royals were told earlier this week that coach Mike Scianna will step down at the end of the season. A win against the Hawks would make his final weeks at the helm quite exciting. Larkin is led by senior running back Damion "Bubba" Clemons, who leads all area scorers with 13 touchdowns, 12 rushing. He has carried 104 times for 695 yards and 12 touchdowns. Clemons also has 13 receptions for 195 yards and a score. He was limited to a season-low 18 yards on 10 carries last week by Batavia. Larkin quarterback Kemmerin Blalark has completed 69 of 116 attempts for 930 yards and 6 touchdowns (5 ints.). "We're facing a very skilled team this week," Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. "And their offensive line is gigantic. They average 265 pounds up front. Clemons is as fast as we've seen. We're just hoping we can contain them." Bartlett gained 320 of its 424 total yards on the ground last week, paced by senior fullback Matt Callahan's 12-carry, 127-yard, 2-touchdown performance. Sophomore Nolan Bernat added 76 yards and 3 touchdowns on 11 carries. Junior quarterback Jordan Flint has completed 59 of 114 attempts for 695 yards, 4 TDs, 4 Ints. Bartlett played turnover free last week for the first time this season. "They're a tough team like always with a tough offensive line that seems to be getting better," Scianna said of the Hawks. "They're not real fancy; they just come right at you. If you overplay something, they'll counter. We're in the same boat, looking to get some wins under our belts. We're a little beat up, but most teams are at this point. We just have to suck it up and give it our best shot." Bartlett has won 5 of the 8 meetings since this series began in 1998. Larkin enters with a +5 turnover differential; Bartlett's differential is -5.
Next week: St. Charles North (3-3) at Larkin; Bartlett at South Elgin (1-5)
Streamwood (0-6, 0-3) at St. Charles East (4-2, 2-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Norris Stadium
Last year: St. Charles East 23, Streamwood 7
Last week: St. Charles North 55, Streamwood 6; Geneva 35, St. Charles East 21
Outlook: The Sabres will be tested by the passing attack of Saints senior quarterback Jimmy Mitchell, who last week threw for 243 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-25 passing and ran for a 4-yard score. The task is made tougher without the services of senior captain Sam Cook. The Streamwood strong safety broke his ankle last week in the loss to St. Charles North, which leaves "an opportunity for one of the younger guys to step up," coach Mark Orszula said. A point of concern for the Sabres remains turnovers. They committed 5 more turnovers last week for a total of 17 in 6 games. Meanwhile, the opposition has turned the ball over just 5 times. "It's something we have to fix as a whole," Orszula said of the turnovers. "When we make mistakes, we make big mistakes. Everyone can see the interceptions, but all over the field we've made mistakes that we have to eliminate. It's not just one guy. We just have to keep working on the little things and keep getting better."
Next week: Elgin (0-6) at Streamwood; St. Charles East at Batavia (5-1)
Geneva (4-2, 3-1) at Elgin (0-6, 0-3)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Field
Last year: Geneva 49, Elgin 6
Last week: Geneva 35, St. Charles East 21; East Aurora 25, Elgin 22
Outlook: Morale suffered after the Maroons dropped a game to East Aurora, which entered the contest with a 44-game losing streak. "I won't lie; it's been a hard week," first-year Elgin coach Kyle Rohde said. "It's been a process of getting some players to stay on board. Nobody wants to be the team that gives up the win to a program that hasn't had won one in a long time. I don't want to be associated with it, I know the coaching staff doesn't want to be associated with it and neither do the players. But we tackled terribly. We have to make sure we're not lunging and diving and keeping our heads down. We have to keep working to get better." Sensing the need to change the mood, the Elgin coaching staff mixed things up in practice this week to keep the players excited and invested. Whether that translates to the scoreboard against likely playoff qualifier Geneva remains to be seen. The Vikings are led by senior TJ Miller, who tore through the St. Charles East defense last week for 113 yards and 4 short touchdown runs on 23 carries.
Next week: Geneva at Metea Valley (3-3); Elgin at Streamwood (0-6)
South Elgin (1-5, 1-3) at West Chicago (0-6, 0-3)
When: today at 7 p.m.
Last week: Waubonsie Valley 63, South Elgin 29; Bartlett 48, West Chicago 35
Outlook: This is first meeting between these schools. South Elgin hopes to make a better showing in this Upstate Eight Valley game than a week ago, when it was physically overmatched by state-ranked Waubonsie Valley. The Storm should match up better against the Wildcats, who allowed 320 rushing yards last week against Bartlett. South Elgin hopes to re-establish its ground game behind sophomore running back Shawn Griffin, who missed most of the last 2 games due to injury. Junior running back Kyle Ware remains a game-time decision. He was unable to play last week. "I think having Shawn back on offense will help us out a ton," South Elgin coach Pat Pistorio said. "Last week our running game was nonexistent. We're excited about being a little more physical and trying to run the ball. We know we're a good football team, but we only have one more win than they do. If we do what we planned during the workweek and get it going, I think we should have a good chance." Playing from behind last week, the Wildcats put the ball in the air and finished with a season-best 387 total yards behind quarterback Jordan Leliton (14 of 23, 223 yards, 2 TD). West Chicago junior running back Danny Lazzerini rushed for 127 yards last week. He has 7 touchdowns.
Next week: Bartlett at South Elgin; West Chicago at Neuqua Valley (5-1)
Dundee-Crown (5-1, 2-1) at Prairie Ridge (2-4, 1-3)
When: today at 7:15 p.m.
Last year: Dundee-Crown 35, Prairie Ridge 21
Last week: Dundee-Crown 30, Grayslake Central 14; Huntley 34, Prairie Ridge 0
Outlook: D-C enjoyed a breakthrough win on homecoming last season when the Chargers defeated then-defending state champion Prairie Ridge. A year later, the sub-. 500 Wolves aim to repay the favor on their homecoming night in Crystal Lake. This could be the game Dundee-Crown fans have waited 19 years to see: the clinching of a playoff berth, last accomplished in 1994. It would mark the fourth time Dundee-Crown has reached the state playoffs. The D-C defense is familiar with the Prairie Ridge triple option, having faced Cary-Grove's nearly identical attack in Week 4. The Chargers faced similar elements last week against Grayslake Central's option. "Our defense is still not there, but we're getting better," D-C coach Vito Andriola said. "I think we had our best practice of the year (Wednesday). The hardest part of this has been asking these guys to bring their best every single day for the whole year with no letdowns. I think they are finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel." The Chargers should get a boost from the return of senior running back Cordero Parson, who missed the last 2 games. Center Brad Spandenburg remains out with an injury suffered in Week 4.
Next week: McHenry (2-4) at Dundee-Crown; Grayslake North (5-1) at Prairie Ridge
Cary-Grove (4-2, 4-0) at Jacobs (4-2, 3-0)
When: today at 7:15 p.m.
Last year: Cary-Grove 45, Jacobs 14
Last week: Cary-Grove 48, McHenry 14; Jacobs 26, Crystal Lake South 20
Outlook: This clash between FVC Valley leaders won't determine the division championship, but the winner gets a leg up in the title chase with 2 games to play. Both teams seek their fifth straight victory after an 0-2 start. The Golden Eagles watched the tape of last week's miracle finish at Crystal Lake South a few times on Saturday morning, got it out of their systems and quickly shifted their attention to the defending league champion Trojans. Cary-Grove is the healthiest it has been all season, save for the season-ending injuries suffered by running back Joe Scott and linebacker Danny Nick. Since his debut in Week 4, freshman fullback Tyler Pennington has rushed for 470 yards and 4 touchdowns on 72 carries. Jacobs shut down the similar triple option attack of Prairie Ridge in a 20-0 victory in Week 3. "We work on the option a lot because we always have to play (Cary-Grove) and Prairie Ridge," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said of the Trojans. "If we do our assignments and do what we're taught, we have a chance. They are a very good team. We just have to be disciplined. Offensively, we feel good about our passing game. We have the ability to score quick on them. We'll have to see how Suds (C-G defensive coordinator Don Sutherland) defends us and we'll try to adjust to what they give us." Jacobs quarterback Bret Mooney has rushed for more yards out of the spread offense (70 attempts, 446 yards) than Cary-Grove quarterback Jason Gregoire (69-250) has from the option. Mooney has completed 87 of 145 attempts for 1,176 yards and 14 touchdowns. He has been intercepted 5 times overall, twice last week (once on a tipped pass). His top targets include senior Hunter Williams (44 rec., 426 yards, 6 TD) and juniors Camden McLain (22-287-4) and Ryan Sargent (13-181-1). Junior running back Josh Walker rushed for 180 yards and a touchdown last week. The Golden Eagles will face a fast Cary-Grove defense that saw its string of 10 straight scoreless quarters snapped in the third quarter against McHenry. "Jacobs presents any team with problems because they have the potential to score on any play," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "Everything starts with their quarterback. When a player can throw the ball 50 yards in the air with what appears to be ease, that's a problem. And he can run it. If you put all your eggs in one basket to stop him, they have Walker and he has the ability to break the game open as well. They have the kind of offensive balance we haven't seen in a few weeks."
Next week: Crystal Lake South (2-4) at Cary-Grove; Jacobs at Huntley (3-3)
Huntley (3-3, 1-2) at McHenry (2-4, 0-3)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at McCracken Field
Last year: Huntley 41, Prairie Ridge 0
Last week: Huntley 34, Prairie Ridge 7; Cary-Grove 48, McHenry 14
Outlook: The Red Raiders attempt to move above .500 and position themselves for a playoff push with a second straight FVC Valley victory. McHenry must win to avoid postseason elimination. Both offenses like to work fast out of the no-huddle. Huntley enjoyed a breakout victory last week behind quarterback Blake Jacobs. The senior rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown and completed 11 of 17 attempts for 190 yards, including scoring strikes of 27, 9 and 29 yards. For the season, Jacobs has 782 yards and 8 touchdowns (2 Ints.) on 67-of-119 passing. Receiver Josh Esikiel caught 2 touchdowns last week. The 5-foot-11 junior leads the Red Raiders in receptions (27) and yards (318) and has scored 3 times. Juniors Brandon Altergott (9 rec., 266 yards, 5 TD) and Kyle Kesul (17-133-1) give Jacobs more options to balance the running game of seniors Mitch Kawell (105 attempts, 514 yards, 5 TD) and Jake Scalise (60-356-3). "We played a lot cleaner," coach John Hart said of an offense that scored over 30 points for the second time this season. "We had some penalties, but the self-inflicted kind were greatly reduced. I thought the offense played downhill and played very well. It just reinstilled what we felt all along." The McHenry offense likes to line up quickly in an attempt to keep defenses from making situational substitutions. The Huntley defense is led by senior linebacker Jordan Kabb (46 tackles), junior linebacker Mike Walker (45), defensive backs Tyler Vasconez (33) and Tim Ryan (32 tackles, 13 hurries, Int.) and defensive end Brandon Dranka (6 sacks). "Our defense hasn't allowed more than 2 touchdowns in a game even with the turnovers we've had," Hart said. "If we win the field-position battle and play defense like we've been playing, our chances are good."
Next week: Jacobs (4-2) at Huntley; McHenry at Dundee-Crown (5-1)
Johnsburg (1-5) at Crystal Lake South (2-4)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Ken Bruhn Field
Last meeting (2008): Crystal Lake South 35, Johnsburg 19
Last week: Woodstock 47, Johnsburg 21; Jacobs 26, Crystal Lake South 20
Outlook: The Gators have no more room for error. To extend the area's longest streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 13, they must get back on track with a win over the Skyhawks and parlay that momentum into wins at rival Cary-Grove next week and against Huntley in the regular-season finale. It's a difficult task but not an impossible one. The Gators have played well enough to be 4-2 at this point, but self-inflicted mistakes hurt them in losses to Dundee-Crown and Jacobs. "We've made some mistakes the last few weeks that have cost us," CL South coach Chuck Ahsmann said. "We have to eliminate those." Against Jacobs the Gators fumbled once going into the red zone and once coming out, both of which proved costly. CL South is 2-0 against Johnsburg since the Skyhawks joined the league in 2006. This will likely be the last meeting between the schools as Johnsburg is slated to return to the Big Northern Conference after this season. The Gators have won the previous two meetings by a combined score of 63-19, but Ahsmann says his team won't be complacent. "The advantage of HUDL (video software) is that we can show them the plays where Johnsburg was successful," he said. "And they've had some big plays. That gets their attention. Their quarterback has a good arm, they have a couple of nice receivers and some of those linemen are big dudes."
Next week: Johnsburg at Hampshire (4-2); Crystal Lake South at Cary-Grove (4-2)
Hampshire (4-2, 2-2) at Woodstock (1-5, 1-2)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Larry Dale Field
Last year: Woodstock 35, Hampshire 32
Last week: Hampshire 42, Woodstock North 12; Woodstock 47, Johnsburg 21
Outlook: Hampshire attempts to become playoff eligible for the first time since 2008, when the Whip-Purs went 6-4 and last reached the playoffs. Dan Cavanaugh's team is a heavy favorite this week and will be again next week against Johnsburg (1-5), but the veteran coach doesn't want his players take their feet off the gas pedal. "It's been a good week and (the players) feel good about the season, but we just have to make sure we stay down to earth and don't look at records," Cavanaugh said. "These next two teams are much better than their records, and that's not just coach speak." The Whips get a lift from the return from injury of two-way lineman Mike Gibas, though Cavanaugh said the 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior would like be limited to the offensive side of the ball. Sophomore Matt Kielbasa (6-2, 250) will not return. He faces shoulder surgery and will be out for the rest of the season, his coach said. Woodstock won its first game last week, but the quarterback responsible for directing that victory is done for the season due to an injury. Still, the Blue Streaks remain dangerous. "We have to keep from giving them the big play because they have that ability and showed it last week," Cavanaugh said. "We have to keep them contained and keep possession of the ball." The Whips are led offensively by senior running back Nick Kielbasa, the area's second-leading rusher with 873 yards and 13 touchdowns on 136 carries (6.4 avg.). Junior quarterback Nick Mohlman has completed 40 of 64 attempts for 686 yards, 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Senior Tim Jansen is the area's leading wide receiver with 558 yards and 8 touchdowns. He has 28 receptions.
Next week: Johnsburg (1-5) at Hampshire; Woodstock at Crystal Lake Central (5-1)
Burlington Central (2-4, 2-2) at Richmond-Burton (4-2, 2-1)
When: today at 7 p.m.
Last year: Richmond-Burton 28, Burlington Central 0
Last week: Burlington Central 27, Marengo 0; Richmond-Burton 42, Rockford Christian 7
Outlook: The balance of power in this Big Northern Conference East series has shifted in recent years as R-B has won five straight. Burlington Central had previously won 4 of 5. This isn't the most overwhelming Richmond team the Rockets have faced in recent years, but R-B has won 3 straight games since its 1-2 start. "They are a good football team and they continue to get better," Central coach Rich Crabel said. "They're a pretty balanced offense with the kids they have. The biggest challenge we have is we can't really key on one player because they have speed at both wings and a big, physical fullback." Central is coming off its second shutout of the season. Crabel tipped his hat to the play of defensive linemen Victoryus Almasi, Charlie Sanders, Jeremy Esin and Kyle Blankenburg for their efforts against Marengo. Casey Matthews and Jonathan Frederickson each intercepted passes last week. The secondary gets stronger this week with the return of sophomore defensive back Adam Skirmont, who was injured in the season opener. Every game is a must-win for Central, which has already matched last year's loss total. "We know we've put ourselves in this situation," Crabel said. "We have to beat a good team this week to have a chance to get to the playoffs. Our main goal is to stay alive. We haven' done what we wanted to do record-wise, but these guys did a good job of practicing hard this week."
Next week: Rock Falls (1-5) at Burlington Central; North Boone (3-3) at Richmond-Burton
Wheaton Academy (3-3) at St. Edward (4-2)
When: today at 7 p.m. at Greg True Field
Last year: Wheaton Academy 12, St. Edward 7
Last week: Wheaton Academy 55, Guerin 14; St. Edward 53, Chicago Christian 6
Outlook: The home finale for the Green Wave is an important one. St. Edward can become playoff eligible for the third time in five years with a victory in this Suburban Christian Conference crossover. It won't be as simple as stepping on the field against the Warriors, who likewise need a win in this Suburban Christian Conference crossover game to have a legitimate playoff shot. Wheaton Academy closes the season against Chicago Christian (2-4) and state-ranked Marian Central (5-1). "I definitely feel this team is good enough to beat us, but we feel we can beat just about anybody including Wheaton Academy if we limit our mistakes and play as hard as we can," St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. "This is not a walk in the park. They have a couple of big linemen, a decent passing game and a great running back in (John) Gemmel. It will come down to which team limits mistakes and has more desire. I expect a very competitive game." Gemmel scored twice last week and Wheaton Academy quarterback David Thrasher completed 7 of 8 attempts for 164 yards and 2 touchdowns in a blowout win. The Green Wave counters with senior running back DaVontae Elam, who last week became his school's first 1,000-yard rusher in a decade. The area's leading rusher by almost 200 yards, Elam has gained 1,061 yards and scored 15 touchdowns on 140 totes (7.6 avg.). A fifth victory would all but clinch a playoff berth for St. Edward for the first time since 2010. The Wave will likely have enough playoff points to qualify comfortably. A win is critical to St. Edward's playoff hopes considering Marian Central and St. Francis (3-3) loom in the final two weeks. Though Rolando hasn't written off his team's chances to win either of those games, he said "if we can't beat (Wheaton Academy), we're not going to beat one of those last two, so this game is big if we want to make the playoffs." St. Edward has made history against Wheaton Academy previously. The Green Wave defeated the Warriors in Week 8 of the 2009 season to secure their first playoff berth under Rolando.
Next week: Wheaton Academy at Chicago Christian; St. Edward at Marian Central
Westminster Christian (0-6, 0-6) at Chicago Hope (4-2, 4-2)
When: today at 7 p.m. at Hope Field at Altgeld Park
Last week: Rockford Christian Life 67, Westminster Christian 0; Chicago Hope 68, Christian Liberty Academy 0
Outlook: Switching defensive schemes last week didn't help the Warriors, but fielding their healthiest lineup since Week 1 might. Westminster Christian will return to its 3-4, Cover-2 scheme against the Eagles with its starting defensive lineup intact for the first time in weeks. The Warriors need the help; they've been outscored 304-104. Freshman defensive lineman Isaac Hawn (6-foot-6, 220 pounds) may switch permanently from a three-point stance to stand-up linebacker. The Westminster staff tried him at linebacker two weeks ago against Hiawatha and the result was a season-high 12 tackles. The offense looks to bounce back after being shut out last week for the first time this season. Better balance is the goal. "We're trying to add more of a running game to balance our passing game," Westminster Christian coach John Davis said. The Warriors have gained five times as many yards through the air as they have on the ground. Junior quarterback Max Tucker has thrown for 1,005 yards on 96-of-189 passing. He has tossed 8 touchdowns and been intercepted 8 times. Freshman Scotty Graziano is the area's third-leading receiver with 26 catches for 480 yards and 4 touchdowns. Though the Warriors stand an excellent chance of gaining a win or two in the final two weeks of their inaugural season against Northeastern Conference opponents Christian Liberty Academy (0-6) and North Shore Country Day (1-5), they'd prefer to get the job done this week in the Windy City. "At this juncture there is the potential to make history in any game," Davis said. "I'm very confident this game will be competitive."
Next week: Christian Liberty Academy at Westminster Christian; Chicago Hope at Mooseheart (4-2)