Scouting Week 6 football games in the Fox Valley
Bartlett (5-0) at South Elgin (5-0)When: Friday, 6:30 p.m.
Notable: A pair of undefeateds battle it out in South Elgin for the spring Upstate Eight Conference title. "South Elgin is a very well-coached team," Hawks coach Matt Erlenbaugh said. "We will need to be assignment-sound and be the more physical team in order to win this game." Erlenbaugh said defense will be a massive focal point. "When you face an offense like South Elgin's, it takes all 11 on defense to stop them. If one person messes up their assignment, it will be exposed. That's why we need the entire defensive unit to play their best, most physical game yet." Erlenbaugh is thankful his group will get a full schedule in, "but it is really unfortunate that there are no playoffs," he said. "We continued to get better each week and are starting to hit our stride. It is also great that we have been able to get everyone in the games the last four weeks. Guys who are going to need to step up for us next year have been able to get a lot of game experience this season."
Elgin (3-2) at Larkin (0-3)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Notable: The storied Elgin city rivalry continues with the first of two 2021 matchups at Memorial Field today. "The blue school is always a tough game due to the rivalry," Elgin coach Anthony Mason said. "Every player is going to play hard and give their all on that field. Talent and record are thrown out the window. It's who is going to have the most effort and pride throughout the game? Keys for us to be successful are trust in the work we do and go beyond being satisfied." Mason is looking for big things from Gio Griffin early on against Larkin. "He is talented and has had some opportunities," he said. "We will look to get him going early." Mason also points to defensive line play as a potential difference-maker. Larkin coach Matt Gehrig said his team is well aware of the talent Elgin quarterback Jeffery Lomax brings. "Elgin has an excellent senior class and their quarterback is a very good football player," he said. "We need to be sound and play well as a team and play inspired football. I have been impressed by our team's willingness to improve and come to work and be coached, despite not getting in the win column." Michael Hibbler and Omarion Thomas are two of those improving players for the Royals. "Michael and Omarion have played very well at times on the defensive line," Gehrig said. "We need to win the battle on the line of scrimmage."
Batavia (4-1) vs. Wheaton North (4-1) (at NIU)When: Saturday, 4 p.m.
Notable: In the DuKane Conference this season, play was set in two 3-week pools with cross-pool placement games to follow the final three weeks, culminating in these Week 6 games. At the time, both Batavia and Wheaton North were the respective 3-0 pool teams. "Wheaton North is a complete team that will pose problems for us through the air and on the ground," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "They have a high-quality defense. The type of defense they bring ever year is very good. We have to limit turnovers like we did last week and continue to play on special teams." Piron said he is looking forward to a "state championship atmosphere" on Saturday at Northern Illinois University. Piron also took a moment to thank a variety of people for making the COVID-19-truncated spring season a reality. "I am so lucky and honored to coach with the great coaches I work with at Batativa who dedicated this year, time and energy to all these boys," he said. "Our athletic department, led by (athletic director) Dave Andrews, has been exceptional and our administration (principal Dr. Smith and superintendent Dr. Hichens) all have had the kids first."
Wheaton Warrenville South (3-1) vs. St. Charles North (4-1) (at NIU)When: Saturday, 12 p.m.
Notable: North Stars coach Rob Pomazak is looking forward to closing the books on the season against a high-octane Wheaton-Warrenville South team. "They are a great team with tremendous athletes all around the field," he said. "Parker Brown (WWS quarterback) is special and he can make plays at any moment. The core of wide receivers they have are as good as any in the state and they play with passion and have fun. Their defense is fast and physical, but what impressed me the most is their consistency. It's a great team, a great program and a legend for a coach in Ron Muhitch." Keys for St. Charles North include running back-safety Drew Surges and Michael Priami. "Drew has been having a great sophomore year and we think this could be his opportunity to really shine under the NIU canopy," Pomazak said. "We go as Michael goes, so the opportunity to showcase his talents and be the distributor that we know he can be is exciting." Pomazak said this season has been challenging, but there is a big light at the end of the tunnel in DeKalb. "From the sheer length of the preparation to the rollercoaster ride of not knowing if we would play to now being in the thick of a conference championship (the top 4 teams in the conference each have 1 loss heading to NIU and are all ranked in the Top 10 in Class 7A in the most recent state coaches poll), our kids have shown tremendous grit and focus to get us here. I am so proud of their efforts, as well as our parents and staff."
Streamwood (4-1) at Fenton (1-1)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Notable: The Sabres are guaranteed a winning season for the first time since 2011, but would like to make it a 5-1 before closing up shop until summer. "Fenton has skill all over the field," Sabres coach Keith McMaster. "Their quarterback has a plethora of talented receivers to throw to. They are another team that can stretch a defense vertically, as well as horizontally. We will need to keep plays in front of us and rally to the football wherever it goes." With that being said, strong secondary play will be vital from the likes of Darrel Luce and Jakobe Strong, McMaster said. "They will need to have a big game in the secondary, covering the various receivers and pass patterns," he said. Also of significant note, Streamwood's Xavier Thomas, who is autistic, scored a touchdown in last week's win against East Aurora. Here is longtime Streamwood athletic secretary Lee Beattie describing the play. "It was incredible," Beattie said. "Xavier was so happy and excited. I still get chills when I think of it. This is a memory that they will all have for the rest of their lives. He was out there with his friends making history. Coach McMaster made a play specifically for this student-athlete and the rest of the team did everything they needed to make it happen."
Ridgewood (0-4) at St. Edward (3-1)When: Saturday, 2 p.m.
Notable: St. Edward is looking to go a third year in a row without a loss in the Metro Suburban Conference Red Division. "This will be our senior game and the boys will need to keep their emotions in check and play St. Edward football like they have been," Green Wave coach Mike Rolando said. "They are having so much fun together, playing football and making memories. I expect them to play hard for each other one more time." Rolando gave a particular shout out to senior linemen Owen Gill, Tristan Merlin, Luke Sauceda and Oscar Morgan. "Those guys have paved the way for their teammates' success and I am excited to watch them do it one more time."
Crystal Lake Central (3-2) at Hampshire (3-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Notable: This is part of the Fox Valley Conference crossover setup that pits the corresponding place-finishers in each division against each other, giving Week 6 a bowl-game-type feel. For Hampshire, keep an eye on Neil Sakolari and Jack Rummell in particular this week. "Neil has put together solid performances each week as a linebacker," Hampshire coach Jake Brosman said. "He is the leader of our defense and has helped put us in great positions each week. Jack has been a playmaker on both sides of the ball. He is a threat on offense that opponents have to plan for, and he has great coverage on defense as a corner." Brosman said defensive-back play will be a key against the Tigers. "Crystal Lake Central is a great team," he said. "Their players execute their schemes very well. We need to make sure we execute at a high level."
CL South at Dundee-Crown, 7 p.m.
Burlington Central at McHenry, 6 p.m.
Geneva at Glenbard North, 5:30 p.m.
St. Charles East at Lake Park ccd.
Aurora Central Catholic at Westmont, 7 p.m.
Aurora Christian at Chicago Christian, 7 p.m.
Kaneland at LaSalle Peru, 6 p.m.
Marmion Academy at Joliet Catholic Academy, 7 p.m.
West Aurora at Prairie Ridge, 5:30 p.m.
Cary-Grove at Oswego East, 7 p.m.