St. Charles North (2-6, 2-3)
at St. Charles East (2-6, 2-3)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: St. Charles East 16, St. Charles North 14.
Last week: Batavia 42, St. Charles North 0; St. Charles East 10, Elgin 0.
Outlook: These combatants in the Crosstown Classic have much to play for despite neither's ability to reach the postseason. First, of course, is town bragging rights. Next are two traveling "trophies" a huge megaphone former Saints coach Buck Drach unearthed from the Kane County Flea Market; and a black, orange and blue "key to the city" created out of piping by a local plumber. St. Charles East has held these treasures each of the last three years including last season when it knocked the North Stars out of a playoff appearance. Overall, St. Charles East holds a 7-4 lead in the series that dates to 2001 and includes a 35-23 Saints playoff victory in 2005. As St. Charles North coach Mark Gould heard from his players, "We don't need the coaches to get us up." They'll remember Saints quarterback Charlie Fisher turning the corner for 45 yards on 7 carries last year, and maintaining perimeter duties will partially fall to North Stars cornerbacks Shawn Collins and Michael Schroeder. St. Charles East coach Mike Fields, depleted by injuries like fullback-linebacker Joe Hoscheit hobbled by a bad ankle, will send a variety of backs at the North Stars' 3-5 defense, which will be without sophomore defensive end-tight end Garrett Johnson but returns free safety Nick McCullough. St. Charles East players such as Jacob Bruce, Branden Slattery and Rubin Dean will all get carries behind linemen Trevor Ouimette and Tommy Wilson, and Fields hopes senior receivers Tim Leibforth, Dean Bowen, Kyle Lanthier and Jake Mazanke can finish their careers with impact. Ditto other seniors such as Evan France and Jake Sheley, who last week recovered 2 fumbles and intercepted a pass against Elgin. Fisher will throw the ball up, but the Saints will be ground first. Same with St. Charles North, which returns senior Brennan Gleeson as a blocking back for junior George Edlund. That combination, plus line play led by North Stars center Kyle Breith, is what propelled Edlund to run for a program-record 286 yards against Elgin. Fellow back William Ohlrich, playing his last game, also cannot be discounted in a ground game Gould hopes can establish long drives that, even if unsuccessful, will force the Saints to march a long ways themselves. St. Charles North, with 6-foot-4 junior Ryan Fischbach at quarterback targeting receivers such as Pat Donlevy, Oshay Hodges and Zach Kirby, has the edge in the passing game. Anything will go in this game, which just may be decided by kickers Schroeder or St. Charles East's Danny Muzzalupo. "They're going to throw it all out there just like we are," Fields said. "We're not going to leave it in the film room."
Streamwood (6-2, 3-2)
at Batavia (8-0, 5-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Batavia 50, Streamwood 0.
Last week: Streamwood 22, Larkin 12; Batavia 42, St. Charles North 0.
Outlook: Just because Batavia has secured a playoff berth doesn't mean the Bulldogs have little to play for. Batavia has clinched at least a tie for the Upstate Eight Conference River Division title, its first since the 2006 three-way tie in the Western Sun Conference. A victory Friday, though, gives Batavia the outright title, which would be its first since 2003 in the old Suburban Prairie North. Plus, a 9-0 mark looks much sharper than 8-1 to the people who draw up the IHSA state playoff brackets. "There's a lot riding for us on this game, and I think the kids are highly motivated to win this game," said Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron. Streamwood offers the same guys written about all year: three-year starting quarterback Dalton Lundeen, speedy receiver Blake Holder and running back Alex Morrow, who blew up Larkin for 228 yards and 2 touchdowns on 35 carries last week. Two way starter Deji Giwa and junior linebacker Mike Murawski complement the package assembled by respected coach Cal Cummins, who lost 27-24 to Batavia in a 2004 playoff game while at Freeport. Cummins has led the Sabres to the playoffs for the first time since 2002. In fact, Piron lists nearly his entire defensive roster as critical to limiting both Streamwood's vertical passing game and cutbacks by Morrow: defensive backs Johnny Gray, Michael Moffatt, Kevin Schroeder, Robbie Bowman; defensive linemen Mack Brown, Austin Lewis, Marquise Jenkins, Cole Gardner, Mickey Watson, Mike Gates and Alec Lyons, who made 2 sacks last week to go with 2 rushing touchdowns. As always, middle linebacker Sean Oroni, approaching program tackles records held by defensive coordinator Matt Holm, will clean up what the big hogs cannot. Like most teams, Streamwood will stretched by Batavia's offense that can strike long with Noel Gaspari passing to Matt Strittmatter, Evan Zeddies and Gray, and hit the ground with Dom Guzaldo, Alex Moore, Anthony Thielk and Lyons. Piron believes all will provide their best efforts. "This game means a tremendous amount for our team and our kids," Piron said.
Geneva (6-2, 4-1) at Larkin (3-5, 2-3)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Memorial Field, Elgin High.
Last year: Geneva 69, Larkin 27.
Last week: South Elgin 36, Geneva 21; Streamwood 22, Larkin 12.
Outlook: Regardless of how South Elgin's offensive line came together, what Geneva players sat out suspended for violating training rules and how that whole situation affected the Vikings' mojo, allowing South Elgin to rack up 415 yards rushing was a bitter pill to swallow. "Winning and losing is a fine line, and if you don't pay attention to detail it can go south very fast," said Geneva coach Rob Wicinski, citing a "team meltdown" that included the coaching staff. "It's an unbelievable character check for us. It'll be interesting how they respond." That is a warning to Upstate Eight Conference River Division foe Larkin, which though depleted by injury is "just as capable" as South Elgin according to Wicinski. A big Royals offensive line will try to provide time for three-year starting quarterback Ryan Newquist to find Shaquille Mosley and Justin Banks. Geneva defensive end Henry Zupke continued his solid play last week, but that was among the Vikings' slim highlights. "We're trying to purge it out of our system," said Wicinski. To that end, the thrust is to come out mentally prepared, fundamentally sound and simply execute the things Geneva does that make it a good football team. That means establish the power running game of Parker Woodworth, sprinkle in a little Bobby Hess to keep Larkin from crowding between the tackles, and let quarterback Matt Williams target Ben Rogers and Tyler Hickey downfield, Woodworth underneath, and tight end Connor Einck when he isn't crushing people on the line. Coming off a game in which he completed just 6 of 19 passes for 62 yards while trying to get back into a track meet, Williams will be Larkin's target; the crafty Northern Illinois recruit can just as easily beat teams with his legs as with his arm. The South Elgin game, while in the rearview mirror, will inform Geneva's play not only in Week 9 but also as it makes its eighth straight playoff appearance. "What it gets down to," Wicinski said, "is you've got to block, you've got to tackle, and to do that you've got to be intense. They weren't intense, they weren't ready. So that's not going to happen again."
Kaneland (8-0, 4-0)
at Morris (8-0, 4-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Kaneland 47, Morris 7.
Last week: Kaneland 35, Sycamore 21; Morris 14, Rochelle 10.
Outlook: The game for all the marbles in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East. Kaneland won the league's inaugural title in 2010 while Morris' last conference title, a co-championship with Sterling, came in 2009 in the old NCIC Reagan Division. Kaneland enters ranked No. 7 in The Associated Press Class 6A poll, Morris No. 2 in 5A. In Morris' old John Darlington and/or George and John Dergo days the Redskins dared teams to stop them between the tackles, Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly said coach Alan Thorson's squad will show a little more diversity. "But there's going to be a point," Fedderly said, "where they're going to come right at us." Morris a three-time state champion which nipped a Rochelle team that Kaneland clocked 35-14 fields a familiar name in the form of Jake Ruettiger, a 165-pound senior running back who has 571 yards and 8 touchdowns, with 15 catches for 299 yards and 3 more touchdowns. Jeff Perry and Collin Grogan have run for a respective 444 and 339 yards with 10 combined touchdowns. Redskins quarterback Austin Feeney has added 6 touchdown runs and has completed a clean 57 of 88 passes for 839 yards, 9 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. Other than Ruettiger (whose family tree includes the "Rudy" of Notre Dame fame), Feeney's favorite receivers are Anthonee Monson and Danny Friend, but Ruettiger is the big play threat. Hunter Barry, a 220-pound senior linebacker, leads Morris with 67 tackles, 3 sacks, 4 caused fumbles. Large on the line, Morris will put three, four, five men up front. "We've got to protect the quarterback and I'm sure they're going to come after him," Fedderly said. That's a pick-your-poison proposition, because though he's just a sophomore, Kaneland quarterback Drew David has completed 117 of 180 passes (65 percent) for 2,174 yards, 29 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, numbers far superior even to those Joe Camiliere compiled as a sophomore. As a team Kaneland averages a whopping 18.6 yards a reception, headed by Quinn Buschbacher (39 catches, 856 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Sean Carter (30 catches, 488 yards, 9 TDs) but also offering Zack Martinelli (20.1 yards a catch), Kyle Pollastrini and running back Jesse Balluff with big-play potential. Should Morris get too intent on rushing David, Buschbacher can kill teams on the bubble screen and swing passes (not to mention on kick and punt returns), while Balluff (668 yards, 12 TDs) can run a draw play here and there. In Fedderly's back pocket he has kicker Matt Rodriguez, who oddly is 0-3 on field goals of 39 yards and under, but 2-3 from 40-49 yards with a long of 42. Although Morris will hold a tremendous home field advantage, Kaneland's ability to play from behind also can't be discounted. Against Sycamore the Knights rallied from at least a two-touchdown hole for the second time in three weeks. However, one reason for last week's deficit, a fumble, just cannot happen against a team this big, strong, and good. "We cannot turn over the ball," Fedderly said. "That's going to be the big key."
Glenbard East (1-7, 0-6)
at West Aurora (3-5, 1-5)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: West Aurora 55, Glenbard East 22.
Last week: Wheaton Warrenville South 41, Glenbard East 20; West Aurora 41, West Chicago 0.
Outlook: The slew of seniors who have impacted West Aurora's team for the past two to three seasons gets one final crack to line up at Ken Zimmerman Field in what promises to be an emotional night. Javonta Black, Nate Zinzer, Kendall Williams, D.J. Nelson, Austin Beebe, Brandon Warren, Shon Enoch, Curtis Townsend, Preston Felker, Alejandro Jaquez, Richie Renner, Greg Roache and then some. It's a group West Aurora coach Nate Eimer believes that, along with juniors like Cole Childs and Booker Ross, gives the Blackhawks the overall edge in speed over Glenbard East, which lost 28-21 to a West Chicago team the Blackhawks crunched. Showing his potential when healthy, Ross' 193 yards rushing against West Chicago was the big number, but West ran for 340 total yards including 91 from Enoch and 56 from another quarterback Townsend. Zinzer had a big night with 2 bubble-screen touchdowns on 3 receptions as the Blackhawks found the win column for the first time since Week 2. "We've had a tough five weeks in a row and I was interested to see how the kids would respond," Eimer said. Forty-one unanswered points was the answer. A big part of the equation was not committing a turnover for the first time in six games. Eimer depicts Glenbard East as more of a big-play threat than West Chicago, with junior quarterback Joe Kotch unafraid to sling the ball around and 210-pound running back Teddy Bostert able to gain the edge. Again, though, with nose tackle Black and his friends on the line and Warren and the Williams boys Kendall and junior Matt at linebacker, Eimer likes the draw. "I think our defensive line can wear them down and get to the quarterback," he said. Along with a second straight week of no turnovers, the coach sees a quick start as a key to a solid finish. "I think these kids, it's not going to show record-wise, but they did do a lot of good things this year," Eimer said. "Especially if we take care of Friday night."
Burlington Central (6-2, 3-1) at Marengo (4-4, 2-2)
When: today at 7 p.m. at Rod Poppe Fields
Last year: Burlington Central 57, Marengo 0
Last week: Burlington Central 49, North Boone 7; Marengo 40, Genoa-Kingston 17
Outlook: Each team has much to play for in this Big Northern Conference East Division finale. Coach Matt Lynch has the Indians one victory away from qualifying for playoff consideration for the first time since 2004. They have 33 playoff points and would likely gain a bid with a fifth victory. Coach Rich Crabel has the Rockets playoff-bound for the first time since 2007, but they'd like a higher seed. A seventh victory combined with 37 or 38 projected playoff points could well be enough to land Central a first-round home game in Class 5A. "That's been our goal," Crabel said. "We hope to have a chance to bring that kind of excitement to Rocket Hill. The Rockets have won 6 straight in this series. Central running back Joel Bouagnon surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau last week. The junior has gained 1,036 yards and scored 11 touchdowns on 135 carries (7.7 avg.). Junior quarterback Ryan Ritchie also topped 1,000 yards last week. Ritchie has completed 75 of 141 attempts for 1,002 yards. He has thrown 15 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. Central will play without starting center Dan DeLoncker (5-11, 270) due to a knee strain. He could return for the playoff opener, Crabel said.
Aurora Central (4-4, 1-3)
at Aurora Christian (7-1, 4-0)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Did not play.
Last week: Aurora Central 42, Wheaton Academy 0; Aurora Christian 55, St. Edward 22.
Outlook: Aurora Central coach Brian Casey was a Montini quarterback and Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe was getting his House of Speed going the last time these teams met. ACC beat the Eagles 43-0 in 1999, Aurora Christian's second year as a program, and won 55-0 in 2000. Though Aurora Christian now up to No. 2 in The Associated Press' Class 4A poll would be favored to win this Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division contest, excitement is high at ACC with a playoff berth on the line (though 33 current playoff points does them no favors). "Rome wasn't built in a day, and we're in a spot right now where we're about to play a Week 9 game and it's still meaningful," said Casey, who saw a three-game losing streak end last week. He had the Chargers practicing on Montini's turf on Wednesday to simulate Aurora Christian's surface, but Casey admitted the Eagles' spread offense is hard to replicate in preparation. "They've got five guys running phenomenal routes, which you would expect when coached by a guy like Don Beebe," Casey said. Chargers cornerback Anthony Andujar played strong in his return from injury, and strong safety Kyle Ritli had a great game against Wheaton Academy with 2 interceptions including one he returned 58 yards for a touchdown, plus 2 tackles for loss. While Ritli, Andujar and the rest of ACC's defense must even improve upon last week's effort, the Chargers' best bet is for quarterback Kyle Clechenko and backs Luke Dickerson and Steven Amoni who all combined for 347 yards rushing last week to keep Aurora Christian quarterback Anthony Maddie on the sidelines. Casey also hopes the defense can keep him in the pocket, because in addition to Maddie's 373 yards rushing, second to Brandon Mayes' 513 yards for the Eagles, Maddie is a dangerous passer on the run. Maddie completed 17 of 26 passes for 365 yards against St. Edward, a game Beebe called the Eagles' best of the season from start to finish. Not only did Cory Windle have another big game of 4 catches, 124 yards, 3 touchdowns, Grayson Roberts caught 7 passes for 140 yards, 2 TDs. Aurora Christian scored on all eight of its offensive possessions, and ACC will be hard-pressed to match that kind of production against the likes of Aurora Christian defenders Jonah Walker, Kenny McCracken and Roman Czerwinski. Beebe looks for his defense to force consistent third-and-long situations, and overall for his Eagles to counter Aurora Central's early emotion and enter the playoffs on a roll. "You want to go in on a high and with a good rhythm going," Beebe said.
Marian Central (8-0, 4-0)
at Marmion (5-3, 2-2)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Marmion 24, Marian Central 7.
Last week: Marian Central 42, Chicago Christian 0; Marmion 21, Guerin 7.
Outlook: Playing The Associated Press' No. 1 ranked team in Class 5A, Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said, obviously, "They're going to get our best shot." Though Marmion's 45 playoff points would seem to make the Cadets' a lock for a playoff berth since 2001 the highest cutoff came last year, at 39 playoff points Thorpe was not confident five wins would be sufficient. "I've been 5-4 once before at Marmion and didn't get in," said Thorpe, recalling the 2006 season. "Let's go 6-3 and watch the (playoff pairings) show and go to work." Once again the revolving door to Marmion's sick bay was at work, this time accepting two-way lineman Ryan Glasgow (shoulder), who will be unable to ply his quick footwork and bullish strength against Marian tackles Scott Taylor and Kurtis Stirneman. Mike Hughes will fill Glasgow's spot on defense, Zach Siwiec on offense. Running back Garret Becker finally returned to active duty, albeit sparingly, against Guerin, and this week linebacker Matt Lally also hopes to return from injury. Despite the injuries that have plagued such key figures as the aforementioned players plus others such as safety-back Kyle Kozak, defensive end Charlie Clohecy, lineman Mickey "Moose" Eberth and linebacker Mike Shares, Thorpe's mantra has been "the bus keeps going. That has always been my motto, and our number two's have stepped up." Any number of players must step up against Marian Central quarterback Chris Streveler, who can beat teams with his arm and legs. Marmion defensive backs Kozak, A.J. Friedman, Jake Ruddy and Rob Voirin must be on their toes as well as Clohecy, Dan Wedge & Co. keeping contain. "They will spread you out and gouge you with their running game," Thorpe said. Though Ruddy and junior Victor Roza combined for 185 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns, the coach's highlight in an "ugly (read: beautiful) victory" over Guerin was Fred d'Escoto's 60-yard interception return for touchdown. It happened during a windy Saturday, conditions Thorpe hopes are replicated Friday. "We hope it rains and the wind blows like the dickens," he said.
St. Edward (4-4, 1-3) at St. Francis (6-2, 2-2)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday, College of DuPage
Outlook: Seeking a playoff berth, St. Edward last week had 255-pound lineman Evan Finnane running the ball. That will suit the swarming Spartans fine. Jeff Rutkowski hit IC with 11 tackles, 3 sacks last week, while Jack Petrando continued to run wild.
Wheaton Academy (1-7, 0-4) at Montini (6-2, 3-1)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Outlook: The Warriors will devote every ounce of strength in this Suburban Christian Blue contest to honor coach Ben Wilson, undergoing brain surgery Monday. The highlight may be the words of encouragement by Montini and coach Chris Andriano.