Elgin (0-8, 0-5) at Batavia (7-1, 5-0)
When: today at 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Batavia 49, Elgin 12
Last week: Streamwood 41, Elgin 30; Batavia 47, St. Charles East 14
Outlook: The Maroons have yet to win a game and they are considerable road underdogs at Batavia. The Bulldogs can seal the outright Upstate Eight River title with a victory. Nevertheless, first-year coach Kyle Rohde said progress was made this season and better days lie ahead for a program that enters Week 9 on an 11-game losing streak. "We have a lot of promising athletes who are sophomores and the freshmen are really buying into the system," Rohde said. "I am by no means discouraged, though I am aggravated with certain attitudes. But I'm asking these kids to do stuff they've never been asked to do. We have a lot to do this off-season. We have a starting lineman right now who is benching 100 pounds and playing varsity football. I don't care where you are, that's not good. We have to get better." Elgin senior quarterback Ryan Sitter enters the final game of his third varsity season with 1,208 yards and 11 touchdowns on 87-of-174 passing (50 percent). The Maroons have been torpedoed all season long by turnovers. Elgin has lost possession 19 times for a turnover differential of minus-9.
St. Charles East (5-3, 3-2) at Larkin (3-5, 2-3)
Live video streaming: @football.dailyherald.com, followed by postgame highlights
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Field
Last year: St. Charles East 26, Larkin 0
Last week: Batavia 47, St. Charles East 14; St. Charles North 48, Larkin 20
Outlook: The Royals hope to send fourth-year coach Mike Scianna out on a positive note, but it won't be easy against a team fighting for playoff position. The Saints likely have enough playoff points with 37 heading into the finale, but they want a sixth win to take the guesswork out of Saturday's playoff selection show. "They are one of the only two teams that beat Jacobs so they are for real," Scianna said of the Saints' Week 2 victory. "Their quarterback (senior Jimmy Mitchell) runs around and buys himself a couple of extra seconds and he keeps his eyes downfield and makes passes that are hard to control. And they have a heck of a receiver over there (Brannon Barry) who is pretty much unstoppable. He looks like an NFL guy out there." Barry had 196 receiving yards and a touchdown against Streamwood two weeks ago. The banged-up Royals counter with senior running back Bubba Clemons. The area's third-leading rusher, Clemons needs 145 yards to reach 1,000 for the season. He has rushed for 13 touchdowns on 137 carries. Eliminated from the playoffs last week, the Royals hope to finish strong. "It'd be great to end my career as head coach on a winning note and give the kids something to hang their hats on," Scianna said. "They've worked hard all season and their parents have really supported our program."
Streamwood (1-7, 1-4) at Geneva (6-2, 4-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Burgess Field
Last year: Geneva 35, Streamwood 34
Last week: Streamwood 41, Elgin 30; Geneva 49, Metea Valley 45
Outlook: On the heels of their first victory of the seasons, the Sabres hope to keep the momentum going against the playoff-bound Vikings. "It feels great to have worked hard and finally gotten one after playing some tough games earlier," first-year Streamwood coach Mark Orszula said of last week's win. "Geneva is obviously a good team with one of the better offensive lines in our conference, so we have to come to play. We truly believe we are a good football team that just hasn't put it all together for all four quarters. We have one last opportunity to go out and show that we can do it." Sophomore Tray Brown rushed for 177 yards and a touchdown last week to lead the Sabres. Orszula said though his team has not achieved the desired results this season, he has seen improvements each week, including increased weight room participation as the season progressed. "We're taking steps to get better every single week and I think that will continue in the off-season," he said.
Neuqua Valley (7-1, 5-0) at Bartlett (3-5, 2-3)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Millennium Field
Last year: Neuqua Valley 42, Bartlett 14
Last week: Neuqua Valley 39, West Chicago 13; South Elgin 46, Bartlett 6
Outlook: The Hawks were eliminated from the playoffs last week for only the second time in 13 seasons. Though the overall talent of the roster may have dropped off a bit this season, the work ethic in which Bartlett prides itself did not, according to coach Tom Meaney. "Our seniors didn't give up," he said. "I applaud the effort they've given us all year. They kept the team together and encouraged the other kids and worked hard in the weight room, on the field, watching film, you name it. We tried. We just couldn't get to the number (of wins) we wanted." The Wildcats aim to complete an undefeated run through the Upstate Eight Valley with a victory. Neuqua Valley's offense averages 45 points per game while the defense allows 27.4. Bartlett plays multiple sophomores and juniors regularly, but the seniors on the roster will be rewarded for their commitment to the program with playing time in the finale. "We want to get them all in and see them all play," Meaney said. "This group won't give up. That's the big thing. They want the school and community to be proud of them so they've still been practicing hard and trying."
Dundee-Crown (6-2, 3-2) at Jacobs (6-2, 5-0)
When: today at 7:15 p.m.
Last year: Jacobs 21, Dundee-Crown 3
Last week: Dundee-Crown 49, McHenry 21; Jacobs 27, Huntley 20
Outlook: The 31st meeting between these District 300 rivals is the most important in series history. Dundee-Crown owned this series in the 1980s and 1990s, winning 14 of 15 matchups between 1984 and 1998. Things have changed since the turn of the century. Jacobs has won the last 10 games in this series. Such losing streaks don't matter much to the Chargers, who are playoff-bound for the first time since 1994. Last week they blew out a McHenry team that had beaten them 22 straight times. "Next week will be way more important to me than the Jacobs game because I'm all about the state playoffs," said D-C coach Vito Andriola, who has the Chargers playoff bound for the first time since 1994. "But I'm not stupid. I know to the community it's a really big thing." The Golden Eagles can clinch the outright FVC Valley title with a win. "It's a big night," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. "It's Senior Night for our kids, it's a pink-out and we have a chance to be the conference champs. It's a chance tom make history." See full story in this edition for more information on this matchup.
Huntley (4-4, 2-3) at Crystal Lake South (3-5, 1-4)
Live video streaming: @football.dailyherald.com, followed by postgame highlights
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Ken Bruhn Field
Last year: Huntley 20, Crystal Lake South 19
Last week: Jacobs 27, Huntley 20; Cary-Grove 21, Crystal Lake South 14
Outlook: The mission is clear for Huntley: win a road game at Crystal Lake South and wait to see if it has enough playoff points (opponents' wins) to make the postseason. The Red Raiders head into Week 9 with 37 playoff points and will likely end up with 40 or 41. The cutoff for 5-4 teams has never been higher than 40. However, that scenario involves winning at CL South, a proud, talented team that could just as easily be in the playoffs if not for a couple of bad breaks. The Gators missed a late field goal in a 1-point loss to Dundee-Crown in Week 3 and they lost a stunner to Jacobs in Week 6, thanks to a crazy lateral from Bret Mooney to Josh Walker that will go down as the play of the year locally. Those close losses ended the Gators area-best streak of 12 straight playoff appearances. "It's hard to complain," CL South coach Chuck Ahsmann said of the program's long run of success. "In the 1990s we struggled a bit while McHenry was dominant. Now we've been them and it's been kind of fun. Our offense just never quite got there. It's been frustrating because it was not a complete breakdown, just one guy here or there missing an assignment, dropping a pass, missing a throw. Unfortunately, it was just one of those years." The Red Raiders overcame a fourth-quarter deficit to defeat the Gators by a point last year. Can they survive the ultimate gut check by winning on the road to salvage an up-and-down season? "I'm 100 percent sure we'll come out ready," Huntley coach John Hart said after the Jacobs game. "There's only one team in the history of this school that has had back-to-back winning seasons. We have a chance to set a legacy. Our seniors are one win away from being the second team to do that. And we're 5 plays from being 9-0 and being the top seed. I think as long as we make the playoffs, we're a dangerous team."
Burlington Central (3-5, 2-3) at North Boone (4-4, 3-2)
When: today at 7 p.m.
Last year: North Boone 36, Burlington Central 7
Last week: Burlington Central 41, Rock Falls 24; North Boone 21, Richmond-Burton 13
Outlook: There was not quit in the Rockets last week despite being eliminated from playoff contention a week earlier. Central has a chance to affect the state playoff picture by keeping North Boone out of the postseason. The Vikings pasted the Rockets a year ago on their way to a playoff berth. "Our kids have done a great job of staying it," Central coach Rich Crabel said. "They understand that North Boone is fighting for a playoff spot and that's a team that put it to us last year. It's a big night for our seniors. They want to go out playing hard, playing for something. They've done a great job of getting ready." The Vikings still run a spread offense on occasion, but their schemes have changed as the season progressed. North Boone, according to Crabel, "ran the ball down Richmond's throat" out of a double-tight, power-I formation. The Vikings will also set up in the shotgun with twin backs blocking for the quarterback. Central is led by two seniors who have fought through injuries all season while playing on both sides of the ball: running back/linebacker Reilly Marino and quarterback/running back/safety Casey Matthews. Marino leads Central with 605 yards and 4 touchdowns on 114 carries (5.4 avg.) despite a nagging foot injury. Matthews wore a cast on his wrist for two weeks yet has managed to rush for 435 yards and 7 touchdowns and has completed 40 of 73 attempts for 449 yards and 4 touchdowns.
St. Edward (5-3, 3-3) at St. Francis (4-4, 2-4)
Live video streaming: @football.dailyherald.com, followed by postgame highlights
When: today at 7 p.m. at Kuhn Memorial Field
Last year: St. Francis 19, St. Edward 7
Last week: St. Francis 56, Guerin 7; Marian Central 49, St. Edward 21
Outlook: Longtime dance partners tango one last time before the Suburban Christian Conference music stops. St. Francis must win to finish 5-4 for the second straight season. Unlike a year ago when the Spartans were left out of the playoffs with 37 playoff points (the cutoff was 38), they look to be in good shape with 40 playoff points already. The cutoff for 5-4 teams has never been higher than 40 (2011). A St. Francis win would mean all six members of the Suburban Christian Blue would be playoff-bound in the league's final year of existence. The Green Wave would like nothing more than to improve their Class 4A playoff seed while simultaneously spoiling the St. Francis party. Both teams run the ball primarily. The Spartans attack with senior running back James Butler, a former Bartlett star who sat out his junior year after transferring. Butler has carried 127 times for 1,090 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Green Wave counter with fourth-year varsity running back DaVontae Elam, who has rushed for 1,268 of St. Edward's 3,203 total yards. Already the St. Edward career rushing leader, Elam needs 57 yards to break the program single-season record of 1,324 yards, set by Doug Sanders in 2003. "We both have very good running backs and solid running games," St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. "I think it's a good matchup even though they have as many seniors as we have players. But at the end of the day we've felt since Week 1 that our 11 on both sides of the ball are good and our 26-man roster has enough depth to play with anybody."
Hampshire (6-2) at Cary-Grove (5-3)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Al Bohrer Field
Last year: Cary-Grove 49, Hampshire 13
Last week: Hampshire 42, Johnsburg 7; Cary-Grove 21, Crystal Lake South 14
Outlook: Two playoff teams look to improve their postseason seeds. The Trojans are already a shoe-in with 46 playoff points (opponents' combined wins) heading into Week 9. They could end up with as many as 51. Both of these traditionally run-oriented teams have weapons with which to move the ball. The Cary-Grove option attack is gaining momentum behind a combination of freshman fullback Tyler Pennington (699 yards, 5 TD) -- who has rushed for 100-plus yards in each of his 5 starts -- speed back Zach McQuade (9.8-yard avg.), junior quarterback Jason Gregorie (334 yards, 9 TD) and determined junior Matt Sutherland (292 yards, 2 TD), who also starts in the secondary. They run behind an offensive line anchored by 6-foot-5, 263-pound junior Trevor Ruhland. "They are so good at what they do," retiring Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh said. "We've played a couple of option teams, but they are so precise in their execution. It's hard to replicate that in practice. And they're known for their outstanding defense. That's going to give us some headaches." The Whip-Purs counter with their own outstanding running game, headed by senior Nick Kielbasa, who has rushed for 1,147 yards and 19 touchdowns on 181 carries. Hampshire has rushed for1,944 of its 2,818 total yards, but the Whips can throw the ball effectively. Junior quarterback Nick Mohlman has completed 48 of 78 attempts for 874 yards. He has thrown 11 touchdown passes and just 2 interceptions. His top target has been speedy senior Tim Jansen (32, rec., 645 yards, 10 TD). "Their running back is pretty hard to miss on film," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said of Kielbasa. "And (Jansen) is hard to miss because he has some serious speed. They have some size. I'm surprised they didn't have a better record last year because they played us very physical. Their quarterback is efficient and he's not turning the ball over." Hampshire leads the area with a plus-13 turnover differential. The Trojans' differential is plus-4.
St. Charles North (4-4) at South Elgin (3-5)
When: Saturday at 1 p.m. at South Elgin Stadium
Last year: South Elgin 14, St. Charles North 6
Last week: St. Charles North 48, Larkin 20; South Elgin 46, Bartlett 6
Outlook: The Storm enter their season finale with momentum after winning consecutive games for the first time this season against West Chicago and Bartlett. "We hope to keep it rolling this week," first-year coach Pat Pistorio said. "We had a good game plan last week and the kids played with confidence and executed." Barring an unforeseen circumstance, senior quarterback Robert Cuda will finish his senior season as the most prolific passer of the Fox Valley coverage area's 14 football-playing schools. Cuda enters his final game with 1,969 yards and 19 touchdowns on 123-of-235 passing (52.3 percent). In two varsity seasons the 6-foot-1, 195 pound signal caller has thrown for 3,680 yards and 36 scores. His top target, Tyler Christensen, who leads the area with 680 receiving yards and has scored 5 touchdowns on 32 receptions. A Storm defense that allows 317 yards and 31 points per game must stop a St. Charles North squad desperate for a win to become playoff eligible. The North Stars like to run the ball behind Michigan State-bound tackle Chase Gianacakos (6-2, 288) and tight end Garrett Johnson (6-5, 245), a three-year varsity member. "They are very physical when those two are on the same side," Pistorio said. "They do some unique things on offense like they'll go unbalanced and get some blocks with leverage. We're worried about being more than a spoiler right now. We want to make sure our program is headed in the right direction."
Westminster Christian (1-7, 1-7) at North Shore Country Day (1-7, 1-7)
When: Saturday at 1 p.m.
Last week: Westminster Christian 33, Christian Liberty Academy 28; Alden-Hebron 43, North Shore Country Day 6
Outlook: Forgive the Warriors if they're feeling greedy in the wake of their first victory as a varsity football program last week. "Another victory would really benefit the program going into the off-season," Westminster Christian coach John Davis said. "I think the kids will come back out next year anyway because none of them seem frustrated or discouraged, but (a win) would help keep the kids in the loop going into next year for sure." Westminster brings momentum to NSCD's Winnetka campus. Last week the Warrior offense scored a season-high 33 points while the defense allowed a season-low 28. Quarterback Max Tucker has completed 128 of 249 attempts (51.4 percent) for 1,334 yards. He has thrown 10 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Freshman Scotty Graziano leads the Warriors in receiving yards (647), receptions (37) and touchdown catches (5). Graziano caught a touchdown pass last week from senior Clay DeHaan on a double pass, which was protected beautifully by pulling lineman Isaac Hawn (). Throwing the ball is nothing new to DeHaan, who has completed 5 of 11 attempts for 200 yards and 2 touchdowns. DeHaan's forte is receiving. He has 25 receptions for 209 yards. The Raiders run a similar spread offense to the Warriors but they don't audible as much, Davis said. The Raiders are down to 16 active players, 11 of whom play both ways the majority of the time. NCSD had to forfeit its Week 5 game at Rockford Christian. The Raiders have been outscored 281-30. "I'm expecting a high-scoring game," Davis said.