Lincoln-Way Central (5-1) at Waubonsie Valley (3-3)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last week: Lincoln-Way Central 57, Stagg 14; Waubonsie Valley 35, Wheaton Warrenville South 32.
Last year: Did not play.
Outlook: Traveling a real rough road, for Waubonsie Valley to reach the playoffs an 11th straight season it likely must get two wins against a season-ending slate of Lincoln-Way Central, Naperville North and Wheaton North, a combined 14-4. This week's foe, former Glenbard South coach Jeremy Cordell's Knights, has lost only to the No. 1 team in Class 8A, Lincoln-Way East, 28-14. Often aligning in a "Stack 11" before hustling to the line to confuse defenses and win matchups, LWC quarterback Sam Pipiras and linebacker Matt Granberry lead a squad that's outscored opponents 229-65. Beating WW South, Waubonsie quarterback Tanner Westwood threw for 329 yards and 4 touchdowns, 2 to Eric Esch and 1 each to Ryan LeMoine and Chuck Robinson. The Northern Illinois commit now has 3 touchdown grabs in the last two games and clinched victory recovering a fumble Connor Forrest forced at the 1-yard line. The Warriors committed no turnovers, a huge key for these last three games.
Next week: Sandburg at Lincoln-Way Central; Waubonsie Valley at Naperville North.
Naperville Central (5-1, 5-0) vs. Naperville North (4-2, 3-2)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Benedetti-Wehrli Stadium in Naperville.
Last week: St. Edward (Ohio) 34, Naperville Central 24; Neuqua Valley 31, Naperville North 28.
Last year: Naperville North 50, Naperville Central 31.
Outlook: For all the storylines entering this latest cross-town game, it's easy to gravitate toward the quarterbacks. Naperville Central's Payton Thorne, a transfer from Metea Valley, has thrown for 1,173 yards and 14 touchdowns while the Huskies' Drake Davis, a transfer from Bureau Valley has 1,729 passing yards and 17 touchdowns. Those numbers also show the talent with the receivers on both teams. The Redhawks' Jayden Reed and Naperville North's Nick Calcagno and Ryan Laurenzo all have at least 40 catches. That avalanche of stats will put a lot of pressure on the defenses, especially when you consider Naperville Central running back A.J. Deinhart rushed for over 200 yards in last year's game. The secondaries will be key but the linebackers critical. It's a strength for both sides. Ryan Marrano already leads Naperville North in tackles despite missing time at the start of the season due to injury. The Redhawks' Mike Wang had a big game against St. Edward.
Next week: Wheaton North at Naperville Central; Waubonsie Valley at Naperville North.
Neuqua Valley (5-1, 4-1) at Wheaton North (5-1, 4-1)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last week: Neuqua Valley 31, Naperville North 28; Wheaton North 10, Glenbard North 7.
Last year: Neuqua Valley 31, Wheaton North 17.
Outlook: Each team battling for a potential first-place share in the DVC, Neuqua Valley looks to cut penalties that helped Naperville North rally from a 25-6 third-quarter deficit. Stephen Ruiz lent separation with 3 field goals, one a school-record 50-yarder. Running backs Will Chevalier and Cameron Raupach, both over 100 yards rushing last week, and quarterback Jake Eskoff utilize the entire field. Neuqua's a little banged up defensively yet still allows a miserly 2.3 yards per rushing attempt. That's a critical stat to keep in mind considering more than 80 percent of Wheaton North's total yardage comes on the ground. And 927 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns come from running back Sam Singleton. He'll be the defensive focus, but a healthier Antowon Tolbert and quarterback Rhett Netzer are also run threats. All three levels of Wheaton North's defense have played well. Lineman Sean King and linebacker Jameson Smykal were particularly strong against Glenbard North last week.
Next week: Lake Park at Neuqua Valley; Wheaton North at Naperville Central.
Glenbard North (3-3, 2-3) at Lake Park (3-3, 3-2)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Lancers linebacker Anthony Gulyk helps contain the ground game. Glenbard North must contain QB Jackson Behles. Panthers cornerback Tyrik Henderson affects all three phases. Tailback Mark Finley leads an offense averaging 220 yards rushing.
Metea Valley (0-6, 0-6) at WW South (0-6, 0-6)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: The Tigers are coming off their best offensive game. Running back Ryan Young rushed for 170 yards and Zach Harris threw for 300. Mustangs QB Garrett Despot is questionable after last week's injury. Brandon Hing showed good things in reserve.