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Article updated: 11/8/2013 3:40 PM
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Scouting this weekend's Tri-Cities football games
 

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Scouting this weekend's Tri-Cities football games

By Dave Oberhelman

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

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No. 15 Oregon (6-4) at No. 10 Aurora Christian (7-3)

Class 3A

Game time: 6 p.m. Saturday.

Last week: Oregon 22, No. 2 Wilmington 21; Aurora Christian 24, No. 7 IC Catholic 3.

Outlook: Oregon, which finished fourth in the Big Northern West, beat Interstate Eight Small champion Wilmington on erstwhile linebacker Sawyer Reynolds' 2-point conversion run following quarterback Tyler Blume's touchdown pass to tight end Pierce Dhaese with 9 seconds left. "I don't think you could anticipate how it went down," said veteran Hawks coach John Bothe. Taking advantage of Blume's three years of starting experience, the Hawks pass the ball more than usual but remain a ground-based Wing-T outfit. Converting third downs and moving the chains, running speedy Nick Newman off midsized tackles Luke Ziegler and Travis Burke, will be crucial to Oregon's success minimizing the explosive Aurora Christian offense, which won Class 3A showdowns against Oregon in 2010 (38-0) and 2011 (34-21). Bothe said you can give Aurora Christian's offense only so many chances, and chances are the Eagles will click better than last week, quarterback Austin Bray's first game since a Week 6 injury. Two-way senior Brandon Walgren had the game of a lifetime against IC Catholic, throwing a 74-yard touchdown pass to Noah Hagerty and returning an interception 98 yards for a score. But as Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe said, he'll take what a defense gives, and if Oregon goes with seven in the box, perhaps tailback Legend Smith gets more carries early than last week, just 3 by halftime. An Eagles advantage, along with good lines and size on both sides of the ball, is that Oregon doesn't see a whole lot of spread offenses. Beebe cautions against a flat start after last week's emotional win, but his offensive options, most of them at least partially healthy, are a big plus. "I would expect our passing game to be very good," he said.

Next week: The winner advances to the 3A quarterfinals against the winner between No. 14 Robeson (7-3) and No. 6 Seneca (8-2).

No. 5 Kaneland (9-1) at No. 4 Joliet Catholic (9-1)

Class 5A

Game time: 7 p.m. Saturday.

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

Last week: Kaneland 35, No. 12 Hampshire 0; Joliet Catholic 69, No. 13 Englewood 12.

Outlook: After a week of lopsided wins in the upper bracket of Class 5A things get really tough. These usual suspects have won a combined 15 state championships, an Illinois record 13 for coach Dan Sharp's Hilltoppers. Holding Joliet Catholic to 0-for-10 on third down, as Kaneland did to Hampshire, would be defensive coordinator Keith Snyder's wildest dream. Headed by Mike Ivlow's 2,140 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns and Nick Borgra's 811 yards and 11 scores, Joliet Catholic's precise double-wing offense has run for 3,636 yards while linebackers Mike Gruben, Kevin Jensen, Brad Krisch and the 4-3 defense have allowed just 946 yards on the ground. "You've just got to read your keys and do your job, all 11 guys," said Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly. The Hillmen don't throw the ball much or that accurately, but when they connect it goes a long way, 23 yards on average. Sharp noted no one has run the ball on Kaneland, either; the Knights have allowed only 841 yards rushing. Sharp praised Knights defensive linemen Andrew Kray, Jaumaureo Phillips and Justin Diddell as he did Kaneland's "extremely athletic" offensive linemen. He hopes to pressure Knights quarterback Drew David without putting eight defenders in the box, so if Kaneland can establish a ground game from David, Isaac Swithers and Nate Dyer, that opens things up downfield. Receiver Brandon Bishop, carted off the field last week, attended classes this week; whether he plays is a different story, Fedderly said. Against this foe Kaneland needs all receivers to provide offensive balance and among personnel: John Pruett, Connor Fedderly, Tyler Slamans, Dylan Nauert, if he's healthy. "We have to mix things up, and that's what we've been saying for a long time," said Tom Fedderly.

Next week: The winner advances to the 5A quarterfinals against the winner between No. 1 Montini (10-0) and No. 9 Marian Central (8-2).

No. 13 Prairie Ridge (6-4) at No. 5 Marmion (8-2)

Class 6A

Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.

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

Last week: Prairie Ridge 21, No. 4 Lakes 14; Marmion 39, No. 12 Fenton 0.

Outlook: Prairie Ridge is the team Marmion coach Dan Thorpe thought the Cadets would play in the first round. Evidently they're much tougher than Fenton, who Marmion outgained 456-141 with Mike Montalbano's 80-yard touchdown scamper leading 13 different Marmion players who touched the ball offensively. Quickly becoming a Class 6A force, coach Chris Shremp's Prairie Ridge Wolves are 3-0 against Marmion in the playoffs, including a first-round victory in their championship season of 2011. Without one forward pass last week, Steven Ladd, Zach Greenberg, Brett Anderson and 296-pound tackle Shane Evans, a Northern Illinois commit, are part of a triple-option ground game that hasn't varied much over the years. (Quarterback Brett Covalt left last week's game with a concussion, replaced by sophomore Luke Annen.) "They're the same Prairie Ridge that we played two years before because they move the ball on everybody," said Marmion coach Dan Thorpe. "That's the key to their program. If we can get a lead on them and get them out of their mojo, that is very vital." As Huntley, Jacobs and Notre Dame did against Prairie Ridge, the Marmion goal is to establish the early lead and take the Wolves out of their comfort zone, especially if Covalt is unable to play. That would also allow Cadets quarterback Brock Krueger to throw when he wants to. This could be one of Saturday's quickest games, because Marmion will pound fullback Lucas Warren between the tackles with Sean Campbell, Josh Meyers, Enzo Olabi, Sam Breen and Montalbano careening outside. As with Prairie Ridge, this is Marmion's standard recipe which has helped the Cadets get where Thorpe believed they'd be. "When we beat Marian Central, we knew this was possible," he said.

Next week: The winner advances to the 6A quarterfinals against the winner between No. 1 Rockford Boylan (10-0) and No. 9 Cary-Grove (7-3).

No. 2 Batavia (9-1) at No. 10 Rolling Meadows (7-3)

Class 6A

Game time: 6 p.m. Saturday.

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

Last week: Batavia 48, No. 15 DeKalb 6; Rolling Meadows 49, No. 7 Grayslake North 20.

Outlook: Rolling Meadows won its first playoff game since 2007 and is playing its best football. Batavia, however, has utmost confidence. The Bulldogs took DeKalb's best shot -- a 69-yard touchdown run by Dre Brown -- and rallied hard, Anthony Thielk's 16 tackles heading fellow linebacker Jake Hlava, lineman Ryan Minniti, cornerback Forrest Gilbertson all with double-digit tackles and both safety Nick Bernabei and linebacker Donovan Kilker each adding 9 more. "I think right now we are as good as we could be as far as strength, speed and aggressiveness," said Batavia coach Dennis Piron, who described Rolling Meadows' offense as a "run-and-shoot." Still, the Bulldogs face a team averaging 35 points per game, coming off 433 yards of offense and a season-best score. Mustangs quarterback Bobby Suchecki, who hits both the bubble screen and the bomb for 2,251 yards passing, was 9-of-18 last week for 299 yards and 4 touchdowns including a 56-yarder to Matt Campbell, a 49-yarder to Romello Boykin and a 58-yarder to running back Kevin Montero, who leads coach Matt Mishler's Mustangs with 876 yards rushing. Batavia's shutdown safety Michael Moffatt will be ready. Against Rolling Meadows' quick-strike offense and a blitzing defense led by nose tackle Jacqain Love and linebacker Eddie Cardenas, a consistent, chain-moving offense might benefit the Bulldogs. They haven't really needed that, electric tailback Anthony Scaccia scootting for 195 yards and 4 touchdowns on 14 carries against DeKalb. He'll be faster on Rolling Meadows' turf, which Batavia replicated in practice at Mooseheart, thanks to Ramblers coach Gary Urwiler.

Next week: The winner advances to the 6A quarterfinals against the winner between No. 6 Lake Forest (8-2) and No. 14 DeLaSalle (6-4).

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