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Daily Herald's 2016 Season Coverage
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updated: 9/29/2016 10:36 PM

Week 6: Scouting the Upstate Eight River

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Geneva (2-3, 1-2) at Batavia (4-1, 2-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bulldog Stadium

Last year: Batavia 24, Geneva 14

Last week: St. Charles East 28, Batavia 7; Larkin 27, Geneva 24

Outlook: These arch rivals enter their 98th meeting with a point to prove after each lost an Upstate Eight River game a week ago. Batavia's 34-game UEC River winning streak was snapped by league-leader St. Charles East. Geneva suffered a worse fate when Larkin's blocked punt for a touchdown led to a homecoming shocker with 2.9 seconds left. "Careful what you wish for I guess, but having Batavia come to the doorstep after that punch in the gut forces us to take that lesson learned and move on," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said. "It can remedy a lot of problems if we take care of business. The odds aren't good, but that's OK. That's why they play the game." Geneva leads the all-time series 51-41-5, but Batavia is closing the gap. The Bulldogs have won the last 5 games in the series since Dennis Piron became coach. The Vikings have reached the playoffs 11 of the last 12 years. To have a chance at 12 out of 13, they must win 2 of their final 4 games against Batavia, Elgin (0-5), St. Charles North (4-1) and West Aurora (5-0). First, they must reverse a season-long trend of losing the turnover battle. After losing that battle 3-1 against Larkin, Geneva's turnover differential sank to minus-5 for the season. Turnovers opened the door for Larkin's fourth-quarter rally last week. Up to that point the Geneva defense was shutting out the Royals. "They are physical and they hit hard," Piron said of Geneva's defenders. "Their defense has been really tough against us the last couple of years. We've struggled in the red zone against them so we made that a focus this week."

Next week: Batavia at South Elgin (2-3); Elgin (0-5) at Geneva

Larkin (3-2, 1-1) at Streamwood (2-3, 1-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Millennium Field

Last year: Streamwood 21, Larkin 0

Last week: Larkin 27, Geneva 24; Streamwood 14, Elgin 6

Outlook: Larkin hopes to capitalize on the momentum of last week's breakthrough victory over Geneva with a third straight win while Streamwood looks to even its record with a second straight victory. Larkin coach Dragan Teonic said what impressed him almost as much as last week's comeback from a 24-0, fourth-quarter deficit was the fact his players remained levelheaded throughout the game. "It was cool to see that our kids never panicked," Teonic said. "There was never any real freaking out. Everybody was calm. Once we scored in the fourth quarter and got momentum, I think (Geneva) pressed and we relaxed. Then we came back this week with one of our best weeks of practice. It's nice to see the maturity and growth of this team." Though Larkin averages 238 yards of offense per game, the Royals have been successful thanks to ball control. They have rushed for 956 of their 1,192 total yards and own a plus-3 turnover differential. A Larkin defense that allows 340 total yards per game faces a struggling Streamwood offense that manages 226 total yards. A key offensive weapon for the Sabres has been senior Jesse Rico, who has 15 catches for 379 yards and 3 touchdowns. Rico is also a crucial cog on defense as a free safety. Rico, nose guard Jay Daniels and middle linebacker David McMahon make Streamwood strong up the middle, according to Larkin's coach. "Those three are all-conference type players, Teonic said. "(McMahon) looks like one of the best middle linebackers we've faced all season. Plus, this is a rivalry game. The kids all know each other. They're not going to be scared of us."

Next week: St. Charles East (5-0) at Larkin; Streamwood at St. Charles North (4-1)

St. Charles North (4-1, 1-1) at Elgin (0-5, 0-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Field

Quick Hit: The North Stars face a winless opponent for the second straight week and will not face a team with a winning record until Week 9 at Batavia. Elgin continues to struggle offensively. The Maroons have been limited to 12 total points in their last 12 quarters.

Bartlett (2-3) at St. Charles East (5-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Norris Stadium

Quick Hit: The Saints aim to keep the momentum rolling in this Upstate Eight crossover a week after they snapped Batavia's 34-game UEC River winning streak. The Bartlett defense faces a triple-option attack for the second straight week and third time this season. "They've always been a solid program," St. Charles East coach Bryce Farquhar said of the Hawks. "One of our goals was to get into the playoffs and 6-0 gets you there."

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