Scouting Week 8 Fox Valley football games
St. Charles North (6-1, 5-0) at Batavia (6-0, 5-0)Game time: today at 7:30 p.m. at Bulldog Stadium
Last year: St. Charles North 35, Batavia 28
Last week: St. Charles North 38, Glenbard North 14; Batavia 21, St. Charles East 0
Outlook: The much-anticipated showdown between DuKane Conference co-leaders has arrived. The winner is guaranteed a title share and a chance to win the league outright next week. Batavia is the top-ranked team in Class 7A; St. Charles North is No. 10. These teams have squared off every year since 2009. The Bulldogs own a 5-4 series lead, but the North Stars have won the last two meetings. North won 42-35 in 2016 and prevailed 35-28 in the 2017 regular-season finale to earn the Upstate Eight Conference River Division title. It was the only loss suffered by eventual Class 7A state champion Batavia. "The last two seasons the games were never decided until the final minute," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "It was entertaining, that's for sure, but it also made it that much more disappointing." Batavia has outscored its opponents 251-78. St. Charles North has outscored the opposition 182-95. Last week, St. Charles East triple-option fullback Justin Jett (140 yards) became the first player to rush for over 100 yards against Batavia this season. Previously, the Bulldogs held six opponents to 68 rushing yards or less, thanks to a defense paced by junior safety Sam Barus (team-high 59 tackles), senior linebacker Luke Weerts (52 tackles, 9 for loss) and junior cornerback Jackson Williams (48 tackles). Linebackers Michael Jansey, Jr. and Quinn Urwiler each have 5.5 sacks. The St. Charles North running game averages 203 yards, led by senior Sam DeMarco (138 carries, 729 yards, 3 TD). Junior quarterback Kyler Brown has completed 47 of 81 attempts for 676 yards and 5 touchdowns. His top target is senior Alec Kritta, who has 22 catches for 389 yards and 6 touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Tyler Nubin secured the victory against Batavia last year with a catch for a first down. Nubin has 17 receptions for 284 yards and 3 touchdowns and has carried 45 times (mostly on direct snaps) for 243 yards and 8 touchdowns. The Batavia offense has rushed for 1,778 of its 2,874 total yards (62 percent). The Bulldogs rotate four ball carriers depending on down, distance and formation. That group includes Art Taylor (80 carries, 611 yards, 6 TD), Trey Urwiler (59-362-0), Quinn Urwiler (54-310-11) and Jansey (35-254-2). The Bulldogs give opponents lots to prepare for; They line up in multiple formations with multiple personnel groups. "We won't reinvent the wheel from a defensive game-planning standpoint," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said. "We just have to be sound fundamentally and do our things and create situations where we can take advantage of something like an alignment or personnel. Obviously, there are new wrinkles we throw in every week and this week is no different, but it comes down to line assignments, tackling and taking the ball away." It's a matchup of successful coaching staffs forever searching for an edge. "There is a lot of stuff we've been keeping on the back burner just for them," Piron said. "The enjoyable part is there has been some really good Xs and Os stuff that has occurred in this game that has required adjustments."
Next week: Wheaton Warrenville South (6-1) at St. Charles North; Batavia at Wheaton North (3-4)
Prairie Ridge (6-1, 5-1) at Cary-Grove (7-0, 7-0)Game time: today at 7 p.m. at Al Bohrer Field
Last year: Prairie Ridge 7, Cary-Grove 6 (regular season); Prairie Ridge 17, Cary-Grove 13 (Class 6A playoffs, second round).
Last week: Prairie Ridge 21, Waubonsie Valley 19; Cary-Grove 49, Jacobs 14
Outlook: Cary-Grove can clinch its first title in the Fox Valley Conference since 2014, when the Trojans finished 5-0 in Valley Division play. Standing in the way are the rival Wolves, the two-time defending FVC and Class 6A champions. Cary-Grove enters tied for the top ranking in Class 6A with Richards; Prairie Ridge is No. 4. The Wolves have won three straight in this series, including last year's second-round playoff victory. Cary-Grove last defeated Prairie Ridge in the 2015 season opener, 21-14. Unlike the last two seasons when quarterback Samson Evans was the main ball carrier in the PR triple option, senior fullback Jackson Willis has emerged as the primary weapon. Willis has rushed 137 times for 1,433 yards and 17 touchdowns. "Everything goes through that kid," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "He's their horse and they're going to ride their horse." The leading tackler for the Trojans is sophomore outside linebacker Arik Mistak (27.5). Senior free safeties Michael Boyd and Danny Daigle have each registered 26.5 tackles. Offensively, the Trojans are explosive on the ground and through the air. A line led by Western Michigan recruit Addison West has cleared the way for 298 rushing yards per game. Top gainers include senior quarterback Ben McDonald (98 carries, 736 yards, 13 TD), junior fullback Blake Skol (97-640-9) and Daigle at slot back (32-310-2). McDonald (6-foot-2, 190 pounds) is a highly accurate passer. Last week he connected on all nine attempts, five of which went for touchdowns, including three scoring receptions by senior split end Quinn Priester. McDonald has completed 53 of 69 attempts (76.8 percent) for 874 yards and 14 touchdowns. Priester has 24 receptions for 449 yards and 9 scores. Daigle has 27 receptions for 406 yards and 5 touchdowns. The improved passing game is having a positive effect on the rushing game. "In the past teams have tried to scheme their secondary players into our running game more," Seaburg said. "With the perimeter players we've had so far this year, it's been really tough for people to defend our perimeter as well as our inside run. It's made the secondary play just a little bit slower to be aware of the threat we have out there."
Next week: Prairie Ridge at Crystal Lake South (4-3); Naperville Central (5-2) at Cary-Grove
Crystal Lake South (4-3, 4-2) at Jacobs (3-4, 3-3)Game time: today at 7 p.m.
Last year: Jacobs 56, Crystal Lake South 28
Last week: Crystal Lake South 34, McHenry 19; Cary-Grove 49, Jacobs 14
Outlook: The stakes are high for both teams in this Fox Valley Conference tilt. Jacobs must win on Senior Night to keep its playoff hopes alive. Coming off consecutive losses to high-quality opponents Neuqua Valley, Prairie Ridge and Cary-Grove, the Golden Eagles need to beat the senior-laden Gators this week and win next week at Crystal Lake Central to become playoff eligible for the ninth straight season since hall of fame coach Bill Mitz took the reins. "These kids have really worked hard and I know they don't want to be the first group to finish with a losing record since we've been here," Mitz said. A win would make Crystal Lake South playoff eligible for the first time since 2015. The Gators close the regular season next week against state-ranked Prairie Ridge (6-1). They are led offensively by quarterback Ian Gorken, who Mitz complimented for his ability to throw accurately on the run. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound junior has completed 51 of 75 passes (71.4 percent) for 933 yards and 10 touchdowns and has thrown only 3 interceptions. Gorken has carried the ball 56 times for 402 yards and 4 touchdowns. Leading rusher Zach Borgert has 1,148 yards and 14 touchdowns in 153 attempts (7.5 avg). The Gators hope to protect the lead if they get one. "In the games we've lost we had leads get away from us," CL South coach Rob Fontana said. "We need to understand how to finish a game and play four quarters. What I'm still looking for as a coach is how to get 48 minutes of football from our kids every game. The execution of our game plan was so crisp against Huntley. That was the closest we've come to playing a full game. We know it's possible."
Next week: Prairie Ridge (6-1) at Crystal Lake South; Jacobs at Crystal Lake Central (2-5)
Elgin (2-5, 2-5) at Larkin (3-4, 3-4)Game time: today at 7:30 p.m. at Memorial Field
Last year: Larkin 18, Elgin 14
Last week: West Aurora 45, Elgin 0; Bartlett 29, Larkin 6
Outlook: The battle for the Town Jug trophy has gone down to the wire in recent history. Last year's Larkin victory wasn't decided until the final minute. Elgin won in overtime two years ago. The Royals hold a 34-21 series lead. They won 10 of 12 series games between 2002-2013, but the rivals split the last four meetings. Larkin still has an outside shot to make its first playoff appearance since 2006. The Royals must defeat Elgin then upset Upstate Eight Conference leader Glenbard East (7-0) next week. Larkin acting coach Jason Aubry said the rivalry aspect of Friday's game is secondary. "It doesn't matter who we play, what their uniform color is or what it says on the uniform," he said. "Our next game is always our biggest game. I think the kids are going to come out ready." Elgin has been eliminated from playoff contention but still has goals to reach. A victory would give the Maroons a third victory in a season for the first time since the 2010 team made the playoffs. The Elgin would have a good chance to nab a fourth win next week against East Aurora (1-6). To defeat Larkin they have to contain all-Upstate Eight wide receiver/cornerback Jahari Stubbs. The senior enters with 50 receptions for 717 yards and 6 touchdowns. "Stubbs is an athlete," Elgin coach Anthony Mason said. "We'll have to keep our eyes on him, but we don't feel they outmatch us in any form or fashion. We just have to line up and play our game. It's not much different than any other week."
Next week: Elgin at East Aurora (1-6); Glenbard East (7-0) at Larkin
Bartlett (5-2, 5-2) at South Elgin (6-1, 6-1)Game time: Saturday at 1:30 p.m.
Last year: South Elgin 37, Bartlett 15
Last week: Bartlett 29, Larkin 6; South Elgin 55, Glenbard South 7
Outlook: Two winning Upstate Eight Conference teams clash in a District U-46 rivalry game. Bartlett can seal its first trip to the playoffs since 2015 with a victory. South Elgin looks to improve its playoff seed and remain tied for second place with West Aurora. South Elgin has won five straight against the Hawks to take a 6-4 lead in a series that began in 2006. South Elgin's defense gave up 35 points against Glenbard East in the team's only loss on Sept. 22. Otherwise, the Storm have allowed only 2 touchdowns all season. First-year Bartlett coach Matt Erlenbaugh said the game could boil down to strength of conviction considering the teams each have a young nucleus and similar talent levels. The Hawks start seven sophomores. South Elgin plays only eight seniors regularly. "I think we match up well," Erlenbaugh said. "Whoever comes out with the most intensity, overcomes more adversity and wants it more will come out victorious. I want our guys to play with a controlled chaos. I want to see them flying around and being excited with each other when they're making plays but not interacting with the other team. Be in control of our actions and use that intensity in our favor." Bartlett all-UEC wide receiver Austin Gates has not played since he suffered an "upper-body" injury against Glenbard East in Week 2. Erlenbaugh said Gates is questionable to play against South Elgin. The Hawks attack offensively with senior running back Nick Deckard -- "He's just a little ball of muscle," South Elgin coach Dragan Teonic said -- and quarterback Jonah O'Brien. The South Elgin offense had been directed by dual quarterbacks Jakob Johnson and Azxavier Salinas until Johnson left the Glenbard East loss with an injury. He has not played in a game since but "is ready to roll," Teonic said Thursday. In two games as the full-time quarterback against Larkin and Glenbard South, Salinas completed 21 of 33 attempts for 355 yards and 5 touchdowns without an interception. He also carried 35 times for 239 yards and 5 touchdowns. "They have some better size, but we have some good skill kids that are a little different from what they have," Teonic said. "It'll be interesting to see how it all shapes up."
Next week: Bartlett at Streamwood (1-6); South Elgin at West Aurora (6-1)
Fenton (4-3, 2-1) at St. Edward (3-4, 3-0)Game time: today at 7:15 p.m.
Quick hit: St. Edward, the only unbeaten team in the Metro Suburban Red, can win the division title outright with a victory against the Bison. A win would clinch the Green Wave's first playoff berth since 2015 and sixth since 2009. Mike Rolando needs one more victory to set a new program record for coaching victories.
Morris (3-4, 0-3) at Kaneland (5-2, 2-1)Game time: today at 7:15 p.m.
Quick hit: Kaneland can secure its second straight playoff berth under second-year coach Pat Ryan and the program's ninth playoff appearance in 11 years with a win in the Northern Illinois Big 12 East finale. Quarterback Joe Smith has completed 75 of 136 passing attempts (55.1 percent) for 1,010 yards and 10 touchdowns.
East Aurora (1-6, 1-6) at West Aurora (6-1, 6-1)Game time: today at 7:30 p.m.
Quick hit: These teams have played every year since 1893 with two exceptions. West Aurora has won 17 straight meetings to take a 65-48-12 lead in the oldest series in Illinois. The Blackhawks have won the last four matchups by a combined score of 205-20.
West Chicago (0-7, 0-7) at Streamwood (1-6, 1-6)Game time: today at 7:30 p.m.
Quick hit: Streamwood looks to break out a week after the offense was shut out by Upstate Eight Conference leader Glenbard East. This could be a high-scoring affair. West Chicago allows 44.3 points per game. Streamwood yields 38.6 ppg.
Geneva (1-6, 1-4) at Lake Park (2-5, 1-4)Game time: today at 7:30 p.m.
Quick hit: The Vikings posted a 17-14 victory last week against Wheaton North for their first win of the season. Senior fullback Reilly Waldoch rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown on 18 carries. Lake Park is 2-0 against opponents with losing records.
St. Charles East (4-3, 2-3) at Wheaton North (3-4, 2-3)Game time: today at 7:30 p.m.
Quick hit: St. Charles East is coming off a loss to top-ranked Batavia. The Saints played well overall but turned the ball over three times inside the 10-yard line. They need to win at Wheaton North and defeat Lake Park next week to guarantee their third straight playoff berth. It's a must-win for Wheaton North to remain in playoff contention. The Falcons host Batavia in the regular-season finale next week.
Huntley (5-2) at Naperville North (2-5)Game time: today at 7:30 p.m.
Quick hit: Huntley will get all it can handle in this nonconference road game against a traditional DuPage Valley Conference power. Naperville North's record is deceiving. The Huskies have lost twice to rival Naperville Central (5-2) and dropped games against Simeon (7-0), Batavia (7-0) and Waubonsie Valley (5-2).
Hampshire (0-7, 0-6) at Dundee-Crown (3-4, 2-4)Game time: today at 7 p.m.
Quick hit: Dundee-Crown's playoff outlook dimmed with last week's 42-41 loss to Crystal Lake Central. To become eligible for postseason play, the Chargers must defeat Hampshire this week and win next week at Huntley (5-2).
Aurora Christian (4-3) at Guerin (2-5)Game time: today at 7:30 p.m.
Quick hit: Aurora Christian looks to bounce back after consecutive losses to IC Catholic Prep, St. Francis and Bishop McNamara, which own a combined 19-2 record. The Eagles are led defensively by senior outside linebacker Julian Jaimes (team-high 55 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and senior strong safety Kyrin Perry (54 tackles, 2.5 sacks).
Marmion (2-5, 0-3) at Fenwick (2-5, 1-1)Game time: today at 7:30 p.m.
Quick hit: The Cadets lost their fifth straight game last week to fall out of playoff contention. Marmion vies for its first Chicago Catholic League Green victory against the Friars, who were shut out 42-0 last week by Montini. Senior running back Peter Ferraro leads Marmion in rushing (43 carries, 274 yards, 3 TD) and receiving (21 rec., 412 yards, 5 TD).
Burlington Central (2-5, 2-3) at Marengo (5-2, 4-0)Game time: today at 7 p.m.
Quick hit: Central defeated Harvard 25-13 last week for its second victory. The Indians are the only Kishwaukee River team without a conference loss. Marengo has won 3 straight games, including a 14-13 win at Richmond-Burton (6-1) on Sept. 21 and a 16-14 win last week at Johnsburg (5-2). The Rockets won last year's matchup 27-7 in Marengo.
Aurora Central Catholic (2-5, 1-3) at Bishop McNamara (6-1, 4-1)Game time: today at 7:15 p.m.
Quick hit: The Chargers travel to Kankakee to face one of the best small-school programs in the state. Bishop McNamara, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A behind undefeated Byron, has outscored its opponents 320-94. The only setback for the Fightin' Irish was a 21-20 loss to two-time defending Class 3A champion IC Catholic Prep on Sept. 14.