Week 5: Scouting the Upstate Eight Valley
West Aurora (4-0, 2-0) at South Elgin (4-0, 2-0)
Game time: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Last year: West Aurora 50, South Elgin 40
Last week: West Aurora 26, Glenbard East 20; South Elgin 37, Bartlett 15
Outlook: The winner gains the inside track to the UEC Valley title. Defending league champion West Aurora has outscored its opponents 159-23 but those four teams own a combined record of 1-15. South Elgin has outscored four opponents with a combined 3-11 record 154-65. Both teams have offensive stars who played in this game a year ago. West Aurora running back JaQuan Buchanan rushed for 83 yards on 8 carries in last year's shootout, which featured 5 fourth-quarter touchdowns. South Elgin quarterback Nate Gomez had a big game against the West Aurora defense in 2016, completing 23 of 34 attempts for 259 yards and 4 touchdowns. West Aurora coach Nate Eimer this week called Gomez "one of the best players I've seen on tape in my career." In the last three weeks Gomez has rushed 79 times for 715 yards and 11 touchdowns and thrown for 232 yards and 3 scores. He'll face a big, physical West Aurora defensive front that includes 6-foot-3, 300-pound sophomore lineman Denver Warren, who has 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss. "Their defensive line has guys that are 300 pounds or high 200s across the board, so we have to do our best to protect Nate," South Elgin coach Pat Pistorio said. "I've been saying for weeks we need to get our running game going to keep them guessing who has the ball. They have some favorable matchups as far as measurables, but our kids are confident and they understand that great technique can defeat mismatches of size and speed." The Blackhawks are a bit black and blue. Due to injury they will take the field without 6-foot-3, Class 3A high jump champion Camron Donatlan (6 rec., 187 yards), two way standout Dylan Bernal and 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior guard Eddie Fowler, Eimer said. The teams have played one common opponent: Glenbard East. The Storm defeated the Rams 35-22 two weeks ago. The Blackhawks held off Glenbard East 26-20 last Friday.
Next week: Huntley (3-1) at West Aurora; South Elgin at West Chicago (1-3)
Glenbard East (0-4) at St. Charles North (3-1) Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday
The quick hit: The North Stars come off a 35-34 overtime win against St. Charles East. Glenbard East's Jared Rech passed for 408 yards -- 1 yard more than SCN's Mike Hohensee. Rams corner Nick Thornton's return from illness shores up the defense. St. Charles North's offense generated 480 total yards in last week's overtime win over St. Charles East. The Rams nearly upset UEC Valley co-leader West Aurora on the road last week.
Bartlett (1-3) at Prairie Ridge (4-0) Game time: 7 p.m. Friday
The quick hit: The junior-heavy Hawks will have their hands full against the senior-laden Wolves. The defending Class 6A state champs are led by Iowa-bound quarterback Samson Evans and Iowa-committed lineman Jeff Jenkins (6-4, 280). Evans has rushed for 680 yards and 12 touchdowns on 77 carries (8.8 avg.) and thrown for 196 yards and 3 scores.
West Chicago (1-3, 0-1) at East Aurora (0-4, 0-1)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: West Chicago was 6 inches shy of a 2-2 record when Larkin kept C.J. Griffin from touchdown run No. 3. Finishing is the key for the Wildcats. On defense Alen Mahmic's name was called a lot, and Zenen Cardenas' speed stacks up to the Tomcats.