Week 9: Scouting the Upstate Eight River
Larkin (3-5, 1-4) at Elgin (2-6, 1-4)
Upstate Eight River
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Memorial Field
Last year: Elgin 26, Larkin 20, OT
Last week: Batavia 35, Larkin 6; St. Charles East 77, Elgin 0
Outlook: See each team's record atop this capsule? It might as well read 0-0 because records mean nothing in this bragging rights game. Last year Larkin entered the annual battle for the Town Jug with 4 wins but turned the ball over six times and lost to an Elgin team that hadn't won in 18 outings. Two years ago Larkin snapped a 20-game losing streak by defeating the Maroons 27-13. Fourth-year Larkin coach Dragan Teonic's offensive attack is heavy on option plays, featuring quarterback D.J. Ball and running back Kindrel "Nomo" Morris, the latter of whom has rushed for 1,132 yards and 8 touchdowns. "Coach Teonic has it to the point where it's 'You know what we do. Can you stop us?' And that's good football," Elgin coach Anthony Mason said. "That's really preaching your philosophy and really doing what you feel is best for your program." Elgin is coming off a turbulent week in which it was blown out by St. Charles East. Meanwhile, Larkin was eventually worn down by first-place Batavia (8-0). The Royals have been playing better week by week, Teonic said, a trend that continued in practices leading up to Friday's game. "We've had a great week of practice," he said. "Motivating them is easy this year. We feel like we lost to Elgin last year, not that they beat us. Our guys have a chip on their shoulder."
Batavia (8-0, 5-0) at St. Charles North (7-1, 5-0)
Upstate Eight River
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Last year: St. Charles North 42, Batavia 35
Last week: Batavia 35, Larkin 6; St. Charles North 45, Geneva 21
Outlook: This one's for the belt. This showdown between unbeaten Upstate Eight Conference River Division co-leaders decides the title. Batavia vies for its sixth UEC River championship in seven seasons. The North Stars seek their second UEC title, their first since sharing it in 2004. The North secondary is capable of playing straight man-to-man defense against Batavia's receivers. "That allows them to do stuff up front to stop the run," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "And on offense they have guys who are gamebreakers. They can take it to the house and all of a sudden they've got a touchdown with ease and they've got you on pins and needles. They're a tough team to play, but I know our kids are really looking forward to this game. They're excited to play in another game with a playoff-level atmosphere. We've had a couple of those this year." Batavia's defense, rightly, gets plenty of attention. That's what happens when a defense holds eight opponents to 31 total points. But North quarterback Michael Hohensee and running back Lucas Segobiano lead an attack that averages a league-best 38 ppg. "They might have a few more athletes on the field than another team, but I think we've been well prepared throughout our schedule to face a defense like this," North Stars coach Rob Pomazak said. "There's no question they've done a great job of turning the ball over, tackles for losses, tilting the field in their favor. It's fun to watch them fly around, but there's also opportunities, too."
West Aurora (6-2) at Geneva (4-4)
Upstate Eight Conference crossover
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Burgess Field
Last year: West Aurora 49, Geneva 7
Last week: West Aurora 56, Bartlett 14; St. Charles North 45, Geneva 21
Outlook: West Aurora tries to improve its playoff seed in Class 8A. Meanwhile, the playoffs are on the line for Geneva, which has missed the postseason two of the last three years. Making the field is possible but the Vikings must defeat West Aurora. They have been beset by injuries to skill-position players all season. Now, Geneva faces a West Aurora team rounding into form after several top athletes returned from injury last week. Camron Donatlan was one of them. The Class 3A state high jump champion switched from wide receiver to running back upon his return. After only one practice at his new position, Donatlan rushed for 206 yards and touchdown runs of 51, 2, 70 and 24 yards. Vikings coach Rob Wicinski said he thought all along a playoff berth could hinge on beating West Aurora in the regular-season finale. "We kind of maybe anticipated this at the beginning of the season," Wicinski said, "depending if we could get our boys moving in the right direction. Our playoffs have started. Game on." Geneva counters with 6-foot-3, 220-pound fullback Reilly Waldoch, tailback Lavonte Jones and quarterback Bobby Murray. The senior has thrown for 1,358 yards and 11 touchdowns on 96-of-162 passing (59.3 percent). "(Murray) keeps plays alive and he's done a lot of nice things," West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said. "Defensively, they're very solid up front. It's Geneva. They're going to be extremely well-coached kids, and they have to win to get into the playoffs. It's a good test in Week 9, exactly what you need. In my opinion, they're a good football team so we're very excited to get this opportunity."
St. Charles East (6-2, 3-2) at Streamwood (0-8, 0-5) Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Millennium Field
The quick hit: The Saints put 77 points on the scoreboard last week while shutting out Elgin. They could post their third straight shutout and fourth this season against the Sabres, who have been blanked five times in eight outings and have scored 34 total points.