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Scouting this weekend's Tri-Cities football games
 

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Scouting this weekend's Tri-Cities football games
  • Geneva's Joseph Boenzi gets a slap on the helmet after congratulating teammate Pace Temple on his touchdown last month against St. Charles North, one of four straight wins for the Vikings.

    Purchase Photo | Geneva's Joseph Boenzi gets a slap on the helmet after congratulating teammate Pace Temple on his touchdown last month against St. Charles North, one of four straight wins for the Vikings. Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer

By Dave Oberhelman

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

Story Continues Below

Kaneland (7-0, 3-0) at Sycamore (7-0, 3-0)

Northern Illinois Big 12 East

Game time: 7:15 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Kaneland 41, Yorkville 0; Sycamore 44, Rochelle 33.

Last year: Kaneland 30, Sycamore 7.

Outlook: In Sycamore, No. 3 in this week's Associated Press Class 5A Poll, No. 2 Kaneland faces its sternest threat this season to the Knights' 35-game regular-season winning streak and three-year reign atop the Northern Illinois Big 12 East. Sycamore coach Joe Ryan, a Metamora native, said he's been "piecemealing" his ground game since Class 2A 200-meter champ Dion Hooker went out injured in Week 4, but shotgun quarterback Devin Mottet has been a meal ticket. The Daily Chronicle has him at 541 yards rushing -- right ahead of Riley Hurley's 532 and 14 touchdowns -- and has thrown for 1,149 yards with 10 touchdowns, just 1 interception. Mottett, operating behind 6-3, 285-pound left tackle Evan Short, has a main man in two-way star Ben Niemann, an Iowa recruit with 28 catches for 618 yards, 6 TDs. "We've just been able to keep moving on," said Ryan, who has linebacker Brett Weaver in the middle of his 4-3 scheme and Josh Hunt at defensive end. "I don't know if our scores have been as impressive as Kaneland's, but hopefully we can just keep getting better and give them a game." Turnovers, which have aided Kaneland against the Spartans in past matchups, are the key. Kaneland senior quarterback Drew David has thrown 9 interceptions, but he's also completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,580 yards and 14 touchdowns along with his team-high 395 yards rushing. Knights coach Tom Fedderly said his spread offense looks similar to that run by Sycamore, but aside from Short, the difference is Knights offensive linemen Shane Jorgensen, Alex Snyder, Justin Diddell, Joe Komel, Sam Bower and Zach Thielk are on the whole big "and can move," Ryan said. "That's a good combo." The Knights made do with 77 yards rushing last week against Yorkville, with total yardage leader Dylan Nauert running for 2 scores, one of many weapons, along with leading receivers Brandon Bishop and John Pruett, the Spartans have to watch out for. Defensively middle linebacker Gary Koehring continues to make plays, and linebacker/safety Cole Carlson made 10 stops with an interception for touchdown against Yorkville. Fedderly echoed Ryan stating the key as minimizing turnovers and mistakes. "Both offenses can really move the ball, so we don't want to give them any extra chances," Fedderly said.

Next week: Kaneland at Morris (2-5, 0-3), Oct. 25; Sycamore at Yorkville (4-3, 1-2), Oct. 25.

St. Charles North (3-4, 2-3) at Larkin (3-4, 2-2)

Upstate Eight River

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Field in Elgin.

Live video streaming: @football.dailyherald.com, followed by postgame highlights.

Last week: Batavia 44, St. Charles North 7; Bartlett 20, Larkin 7.

Last year: St. Charles North 33, Larkin 24.

Outlook: Batavia is very good, but last week's win over St. Charles North seemed too lopsided. Perhaps that's what happens when a team scores 21 points on fourth-down plays, as North Stars coach Rob Pomazak noted. He also commented on "wanting it more than the other guy," and he outlined two goals: go 1-0 and also become the first St. Charles North team to win 5 games since 2009. "The kids have their heads right," he said. They should have their feet straight as well as what Larkin offers is speed though Bartlett contained it last week. Tailback Damion Clemons has run for 751 yards and 12 touchdowns and Dante Bonds has caught 19 passes for 309 yards, 5 TDs. While quick quarterback Kemmerin Blalark has completed 81 of 138 passes for 1,062 yards (221 to Clemons), he's thrown as many interception (7) as touchdowns. That's good news to St. Charles North ballhawks Tyler Bell, Nick Drawant and Mitchell Riggs. "We have to limit the big play," said Pomazak, who praised surging junior linebacker Carson Schmitt. More good news is Larkin allows 370 yards per game. That figures to benefit North Stars tailback Evan Kurtz, who is about 110 yards shy of 1,000. Figure sophomore Dom Sitari also to get more handoffs; after running for 126 yards against Streamwood he had just 4 carries against Batavia. Overall, Pomazak sees a dogfight with Larkin. "There's nothing worse than two teams fighting for their lives."

Next week: St. Charles North at South Elgin (2-5), Oct. 26; St. Charles East (5-2, 3-1) at Larkin, Oct. 25.

Naperville North (4-3, 3-2) at West Aurora (1-6, 0-5)

DuPage Valley Conference

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Live video streaming: @football.dailyherald.com, followed by postgame highlights.

Last week: Naperville North 40, Glenbard East 14; Wheaton North 48, West Aurora 7.

Last year: Naperville North 38, West Aurora 2.

Outlook: Just another slugfest in the DVC for West Aurora. Naperville North, whose win over Wheaton Warrenville South kicked off a three-game win streak, undoubtedly has only to notch a fifth win for playoff security, since its 36 playoff points are solid. Seeing powerful Naperville Central in Week 9, the Huskies will want that fifth win on Friday. Senior Connor Johannes can throw the ball, but the Huskies' bread and butter is the ground game headed by DeSean Brown. He scored on three short runs last week, but two weeks ago against a solid Lake Park defense Brown busted TD runs of 44 and 54 yards. Fortunately for West Aurora, junior linebackers Cody Tinsley and Dylan Matrisciano are coming on. Left tackle Hayden Sak and the Blackhawks offense will need more than the couple offensive drives they got last week, one more a spring by Daquan Cross, 85 yards on the game's first possession. West also needs some breaks, and to make its own breaks, as Lake Park did by capitalizing on two Naperville North fumbles. "Hopefully this is the week where lady luck helps us out," said West Aurora coach Nate Eimer.

Next week: Naperville North vs. Naperville Central (5-2, 3-2), Oct. 25; West Aurora at Lake Park (1-6, 0-5), Oct. 25.

Marmion (6-1, 4-1) at Aurora Central Catholic (5-2, 3-2)

Suburban Christian Conference crossover

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Live video streaming: @football.dailyherald.com, followed by postgame highlights.

Last week: Marmion 26, St. Francis 20; ACC 45, Guerin 14.

Last year: Marmion 41, ACC 7.

Outlook: For the Aurora players on these teams this friendly rivalry is "significant," said Marmion coach Dan Thorpe. With 35 playoff points ACC looks in good shape for qualification even with Montini on tap next week. However, ACC coach Brian Casey is big on program building and would like to improve on last year's 6 wins. Marmion, winning the close ones and (sparked by Tyler Eberth's 98-yard interception return) rallying from a 14-point deficit against St. Francis, provides a great challenge. The ACC line, which returns Tony Hizo from injury to play guard, concerns Marmion coach Dan Thorpe with its size. He counters with guys like physical tackle Joe Talbot and major pest Nick Ferraro at defensive end. "If we stay low and go, we'll be fine," Thorpe said. Marmion linebackers Mike Montalbano, Sam Breen and Josh Meyers are the best ACC's faced, Casey said. He counters with team tackles leader Cody Ekstom, having another all-SCC year. Ekstrom also now plays fullback in ACC's double-wing offense, joining Brian Bohr, Julian Rios and quarterback Matt Schaefer, who'll try to move the chains without much of a passing attack against a very active Marmion defense. Cadets quarterback Brock Krueger didn't have a great passing game against St. Francis but he certainly is capable of them, and while the defense held St. Francis to 58 second-half yards, Krueger's 80 yards rushing included the game-winning touchdown run. Good news for the Cadets is they return big sophomore fullback Lucas Warren from injury; he was rolling till getting hurt Week 5. Casey stated it short and sweet: "We need to make plays."

Next week: Marmion at Walther Christian (2-5, 2-3), Oct. 26; Montini (7-0, 5-0) at ACC, Oct. 25.

Montini (7-0, 5-0) at Aurora Christian (5-2, 3-2)

Suburban Christian Blue

Game time: 7 p.m. Saturday.

Last week: Montini 40, Marian Central 35; IC Catholic 48, Aurora Christian 8.

Last year: Montini 31, Aurora Christian 27.

Outlook:This date offering reigning Class 5A and 3A champions once was circled in red on the calendar. Now it's like Red Cross. Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe estimated injuries have claimed 17 of 22 starting positions. "I've never seen anything like this," he said. He said he'd starting two freshmen and four sophomores including the frosh-soph combo of quarterback Ben Weerts and receiver Eddie Velarde that delivered the Eagles' sole touchdown late against IC. Lacking the Eagles' usual vertical game Legend Smith ran a career-high 33 times, for 156 yards. Aurora Christian remains healthiest up front, sophomore Zach Williams anticipated to replace ailing Jonah Walker on the offensive line, but Smith's total will be hard to match against Montini linebacker Mike Maduko (16 tackles last week), defensive linemen Edgar Ruano, Anthony Ferraro and Eric Kibbey. (Ohio State-bound end Dylan Thompson may rest an injury.) Unless players like Brandon Walgren and Noah Roberts get healthy in a hurry, skill spots on both sides of the ball are where Aurora Christian's really thin. If Broncos receivers Leon Thornton III and Tyler Tumpane find open space it could be another long day. "We're going to stay positive through this and we're going to come out of this just fine," Beebe said.

Next week: Montini at Aurora Central Catholic (5-2, 3-2), Oct. 25; Aurora Christian at Guerin (2-5, 0-5), Oct. 26.

St. Charles East (5-2, 3-1) at Batavia (6-1, 4-0)

Upstate Eight Valley

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last week: St. Charles East 42, Streamwood 27; Batavia 44, St. Charles North 7.

Last year: Batavia 19, St. Charles East 6.

Outlook: No disrespect to winless Elgin, but St. Charles East is now the best bet to deal Batavia its first UEC River loss since 2010 and force a possible three-way for the title with Geneva. The Saints expect to start with greater passion than last week -- down 14-7 at half before exploding for 35 third-quarter points starting with Mitch Munroe's 90-yard kickoff return -- especially since their 30 current playoff points in no way guarantee a playoff spot if they sit at 5 wins. "We're going to have to play our best game by far," said St. Charles East coach Mike Fields. That means another dominant game on both sides of the ball by Brannon Barry, whose 196 yards receiving is believed to be a program record. The Saints now have an interesting quarterback situation with passer Jimmy Mitchell and runner Mitch Dupuis each seeing time, though there's a possibility of predictability in that. The Saints will need a ground game to keep Batavia from teeing off, and that's where Ramon Lopez and Erik Anderson come in. Defensively the Saints will miss injured linebacker Michael Candre, while 6-6 defensive end David Mason comes off a 2-sack game. Other key players returning from injury are 6-4 receiver A.J. Washington and defensive lineman Cullen Cady. But even without Mitchell Krusz, sadly knocked out for the year with a knee injury last week, Batavia's offensive line has been one of many Bulldogs strengths. Aside from Krusz, Batavia is the healthiest it's been this season, showcased by the 55-yard interception return for touchdown by linebacker Anthony Thielk. There's no doubt Batavia tailback Anthony Scaccia, with 850 yards rushing, would like to surpass 1,000 against the Saints. Between Scaccia, fullback Kevin Green and receivers Michael Moffatt, Roarke Mullins, Jordan Zwart and several others, quarterback Micah Coffey continues to have a plethora of weapons at his disposal. "I think we're going to do what they let us," said Batavia coach Dennis Piron. One of the game's most fun matchups to watch could come with Barry on Moffatt, and vice versa, on either side of the ball. Moffatt returned an interception 91 yards last week to score and typifies Piron's enjoyment of the 4-3 set. "I feel really, really good about our defense from top to bottom," he said.

Next week: St. Charles East at Larkin (3-4, 2-2), Oct. 25; Elgin (0-7, 0-4) at Batavia, Oct. 25.

Geneva (5-2) at Metea Valley (4-3)

Upstate Eight Conference crossover

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Live video streaming: @football.dailyherald.com, followed by postgame highlights.

Last week: Geneva 42, Elgin 20; Metea Valley 52, East Aurora 28.

Last year: Geneva 61, Metea Valley 48.

Outlook:Metea Valley has 5-2 Waubonsie Valley in Week 9 so a win would bolster the Mustangs' hope for a first playoff berth; Geneva, with 32 playoff points, may need 6 wins itself. Unlike last year's track meet -- "I hate track meets," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said -- one goal is to disallow Metea any momentum. With Geneva's offensive line steadily gaining footing the Vikings are better able to spread out teams like Metea, whose defense has not done well against a Vikings' strength -- converting third downs. Vikings tailback T.J. Miller is rolling and scatback Liam Burns ran for 86 more yards last week. Defensive back James Carroll returns for Geneva, which will try to get a rush up front with Billy Douds, Matt Loberg, Stephen Kemp and right up the gut with linebacker Wyatt Shodeen. Joe Boenzi, 12 tackles and an interception last week, continues to excel. Perhaps it's 295-pound left tackle Brett Boddy or a year's worth of experience, after Mustangs quarterback Blaise Bell threw 16 interceptions as a junior this year's he's tossed only 3 to 11 touchdowns, 8 to wideout Nick Dodson. At 826 yards rushing tailback Jay Parker is a bull, and Metea has an X-factor in Bryce Oliver, 119 yards rushing and 67 receiving last week. Metea's Peyton Mitchell is a shut down defensive back, but the Mustangs will need all hands on deck containing Geneva's ground game plus receivers Chase Temple, Kyle Brown and Mike Landi. "It's a very challenging game for us, but it's a great opportunity," Wicinski said.

Next week: Streamwood (0-7, 0-4) at Geneva, Oct. 25; Waubonsie Valley (5-2, 3-1) at Metea Valley, Oct. 25.

Rock Falls (1-6) at Burlington Catholic (2-5)

When: today at 7 p.m. at Rocket Hill

Last year: Rock Falls 29, Burlington Central 21

Last week: Mendota 57, Rock Falls 34; Richmond-Burton 14, Burlington Central 13, OT

Outlook: Last week's overtime loss eliminated Burlington Central from playoff contention, but they prepared this week for Senior Night like they were still in the hunt. "I think this group is hungry to finish up with 2 wins," Central coach Rich Crabel said. "Maybe some kids would let that that drop off, but this group is not. They're still studying up on film and working hard in practice." Central's final two opponents employ spread passing attacks, and the Rock Falls Rockets have been productive with the scheme, averaging a robust 28.3 ppg. The problem has been defense. Rock Falls has allowed 373 points, a 53.3-point average. That means Central's offensive line should create room to run for running back Reilly Marino, who last week carried 24 times for 120 yards to up his season totals to 454 yards and 3 touchdowns in 76 attempts (6.0 avg.). Central quarterbacks Parth Patel (0 for 6) and Casey Matthews (0 for 1) did not complete a pass last week. Senior Ian Napiorkowski continues to lead the Rockets with 23 catches for 314 yardds and a touchdown. Matthews has thrown for 355 yards and 2 touchdowns and has rushed for 398 and 6 scores.

Next week: Oregon (3-4) at Rock Falls; Burlington Central at North Boone (3-4)

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