Scouting Week 8 Fox football games
Fox Valley Playoff SynapseIn the playoffs: South Elgin (7-0), Cary-Grove (7-0), Batavia (7-0)
Playoff eligible with 5 wins: Hampshire (5-2), Aurora Christian (5-2)
Need 1 win to become eligible: Jacobs (4-3), Crystal Lake South (4-3), Bartlett (4-3), Larkin (4-3), Geneva (4-3), Marmion (4-3), St. Charles North (4-3)
Need to win out to become eligible: St. Edward (3-4), Elgin (3-4), Kaneland (3-4), West Aurora (3-4)
Out: Aurora Central Catholic (1-6), Dundee-Crown (0-7), Huntley (2-5), Burlington Central (2-5), St. Charles East (2-5), Streamwood (1-6)
St. Charles East (2-5, 1-4) at Batavia (7-0, 5-0)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Batavia High School
Outlook: Senior night at Batavia. A win here by the Bulldogs guarantees a home playoff game. Highlights from last week's 35-0 win over Geneva include Batavia extending its series winning streak to 11 games in a row, while holding Geneva without a point in the last five meetings. Senior Jalen Buckley ran for 191 yards and scored 4 touchdowns (3 rushing and 1 receiving). Junior linebacker Jack Sadowsky had 11 tackles. Batavia's defense allowed no first downs in the second half and six for the game. Batavia piled up 249 rushing yards and had 23 first downs. Batavia leads the DuKane by a game over Wheaton North, which plays Geneva Friday. A Batavia win and a North loss would sew up the conference title for the Bulldogs. "St. Charles East is a really proud program that in the past has been one that has given us some trouble," Bulldogs offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Sean Anderson said. "We know they will come into the game Friday ready to battle us. As a team, we need to continue to play lights-out defense and take care of the football. On offense, we want to maintain drives and grind out first downs." Anderson noted Batavia is running about 50-50 run-pass, which with a 7-0 record, is working for the team. Also clicking for the Bulldogs is their defense, which is limiting teams to around 50 rushing yards per game. "We close the season with both St. Charles schools," Anderson said. "We know they are going to give us everything they have. As a team, our first goal is to close out the regular season undefeated and win a conference title."
South Elgin (7-0, 6-0) at Bartlett (4-3, 4-3)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Bartlett High School
Outlook: Rivalry week as Bartlett coach Matt Erlenbaugh calls it. "The ability to control the emotion of the night while executing under pressure will be key," he said. Junior corner Jalen Davis had an interception against Glenbard East, while senior inside linebacker Gabriel Bemont leads the Hawks in defensive points earned. Erlenbaugh noted Bartlett has seven different players with more than 50 yards rushing, plus the team has enjoyed a sharp uptick in tackles for loss this year. "This is a critical time for the Bartlett program," he said. "Playoff eligibility and playoff seeding will both be determined in these final two weeks." Bartlett needs a win to become playoff eligible and two to be guaranteed a 10th game. "Whenever we play Bartlett, I feel you can throw the records out the window and you better be ready to strap it up," South Elgin coach Dragan Teonic said. "The game is always physical and nasty and the epitome of high school football. We have to be able to handle the ball better than they do because the game is at their place and we don't have the luxury of playing on a great surface." Teonic has been thrilled with the efforts of Dominic Cianciarulo up front and Alex Rios on the defensive side of the ball. "Dominic has been steady for us the past two seasons and his a big reason we have rushed for more than 200 yards in 13 straight games," he said. "Alex has been fun to watch grow and improve through his work ethic. He's been a consistent player for us on defense. I am so proud of these two young men."
Larkin (4-3, 4-3) at Elgin (3-4, 3-4)When: Friday, 5 p.m.
Where: Memorial Field, Elgin
Outlook: The stakes are high in this annual much-looked-forward-to city matchup. Larkin needs one win to become playoff eligible, while Elgin has to win out to earn that moniker. Plus, there is the bragging rights factor. "This school is playing well," Elgin coach Anthony Mason said of Larkin. "They have been together for three years and it is coming together for them. I have known most of these guys since seventh grade and have seen them grow into good football players. In order to be successful against them we have to execute on all sides of the football. They have been playing well and they fly to the ball. How we block offensively, tackle the ball the first time on defense and take advantage on special teams will be key for our success. The team with their best four quarters will be successful." Adam Lambaz has been a huge plus for Mason on the line. "He's becoming a great lineman for us," the coach said. "He is driving people out of the play and requiring double teams on the line of scrimmage on defense. He has made big plays and we are looking for him to have a big game Friday." Clem McCullough has 15 total touchdowns for Elgin. "We need these two," said Mason of the final two games. "We let some games get away from us and can make it all up with two victories in these last two weeks." Larkin coach Grant Dietz is well aware of McCullough's potential impact. "To be successful against Elgin we have to be aware of him at all times," he said. "They have other really good players too and are soundly coached. He is a dynamic player that you have to account for wherever he lines up on offense, defense and special teams. They scheme up to his strengths and we will have to be ready. With rivalries, records are thrown out the window. This game is big on both sides. We will have to approach it the same way -- prepare the best we can. Know where McCullough is and get them before they get going, be ready for anything tricky, run to the ball and gang tackle on defense. Offensively, we have to execute the offense, minimize mental mistakes and play hard for all four quarters. In the final two weeks of the season there is a lot to play for that we haven't played for in awhile. Each game means something. The big rivalry with Elgin for the jug, plus playoff implications and both want to play spoiler against each other."
Aurora Christian (5-2, 2-2) at St. Edward (3-4, 2-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Greg True Field, St. Edward High School, Elgin
Outlook: "It's a huge week for us," Aurora Christian coach David Beebe said. "We're getting close to the playoffs. Conditions may be sketchy on Friday so ball security is key. We have to protect the football. It should be a great game. St. Ed's is always a good matchup for us. We are looking forward to the game." St. Edward, which must win out to become playoff eligible, averages around 200 yards a game on the ground. "Overall team rushing has been a bright spot," Green Wave coach Mike Rolando said. "It's a testament to our offensive line." Rolando calls Aurora Christian "a huge challenge for us," he said. "They are athletic in the skilled positions and big up front. They have a solid running game and execute their passing game very well. We are going to have to be very disciplined in our pass coverage and tackle much better than we did last week to be able to compete with Aurora Christian, but our boys are up for the challenge." Junior Manny Esquibias and sophomore Jack Wright stood out in Week 7. "Manny had a solid game for us and his tackling was a bright spot," Rolando said. "He is learning and improving from week to week on both sides of the ball." Wright, a 10th grader, is moving forward at both running back and linebacker. "Jack has great instincts and is getting more and more comfortable with the varsity speed every week." Rolando is thrilled about the progress his group has made. "With a young team, we really weren't sure what to expect this year," he said. "A 1- or 2-win season was not out of the question. For these guys to have 3 wins and be playing for a shot to make the playoffs in Week 8 and 9 is incredible. We have 3 seniors starting on each side of the ball, but these guys continue to impress us week in and week out. Aurora Christian is a huge challenge for us, and we're excited for that opportunity. Our playoffs start Friday."
Burlington Central (2-5, 2-5) at Cary-Grove (7-0, 7-0)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Cary-Grove High School, Cary
Outlook: Central hits the road to face the Fox Valley Conference's highest-scoring team and the conference leader. "Cary-Grove is a very talented team," Central coach Brian Melvin said. "We have to play mistake-free football with passion and energy. We just need to keep swinging." Shawn Adkerson is nearing 1,000 yards of total offense this season, while Melvin lauded Gavin Sarvis for his excellent play on both sides of the ball.
Geneva (4-3, 2-3) at Wheaton North (6-1, 4-1)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Wheaton North High School
Outlook: Geneva needs one win for playoff eligibility and to win out to guarantee that spot. The push starts Friday in Wheaton. "Wheaton North is a very talented and well-coached team," Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen said. "They have a lot of three-year starters who have played in a ton of varsity football and it shows on film. We have put ourselves in a position to play meaningful games in weeks 8 and 9. In any season when you get to Week 8 and 9 and play meaningful games, it's exciting." On defense, Blake Stempowski has developed into a playmaker, Thorgesen noted. "He is a smart and physical player who is playing as well as anybody for us right now," he said. Tyler Costello also has stepped it up a notch for the Vikings from his wideout and corner positions. "Tyler has been playing his best football the last two weeks and making plays on offense and defense," Thorgesen said.
Kaneland (3-4, 2-2) at Ottawa (2-5, 1-4)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Ottawa Township High School
Outlook: Two wins are necessary at Ottawa this week and home against LaSalle-Peru next week in order for the Knights to become playoff eligible. "Ottawa is much improved from a year ago," Knights coach Pat Ryan said about this Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 White matchup. "They have a strong passing attack with a solid running back to match. I think we match up better to a spread offense. Defensively, they have some good players. We have to account for No. 3, who is a scary edge rusher, all game and not let him get any free runs at our quarterback." Troyer Carlson has completed 123 of 184 passes for 1,852 yards and 22 touchdowns this season. He has thrown only 5 interceptions and has a 66.8 completion percentage. "He spreads the ball around nicely and is taking fewer sacks than he did early in the season," Ryan said. Ryan said a strong finish the last two weeks is a must, "if we want to extend our season," he said. "We have to continue to develop as a team. We need our seniors to finish strong and our underclassmen, and there are a lot playing for us this year, to continue to use every opportunity to improve their game."
Marmion (4-3) at Chicago Leo (2-5)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Leo High School, Chicago
Outlook: "Leo is a proud member of the Chicago Catholic League," Cadets coach Dan Thorpe noted. "As always, they have athletes, are well-coached, play hard but lack numbers. We must get up on them early or like Montini, we will be in a dogfight." Thorpe said Marmion needs to step things up on the turnover front. "Interesting stat is we are not creating turnovers enough," he said. "We need more turnovers on defense. We also lack good coverage on punt and kickoff. We are giving up too many yards on punt and kickoff teams." Due to injury last week, Marmion had to use a pair of running backs at quarterback. Jacob Bottarini had 3 rushing touchdowns and Anthony Kuceba threw for a touchdown. "Both did awesome with one week of practice." Jackson Burroughs snared an interception and caught the touchdown pass from Kuceba. "Marmion is not in the playoffs," Thorpe said. "We must get to five wins this week and then six wins next week against De La Salle."
Glenbard North (5-2, 3-2) at St. Charles North (4-3, 2-3)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: St. Charles North High School
Outlook: St. Charles North has enjoyed a nice recent run with shutout wins over Lake Park and St. Charles East. In fact, when the North Stars pitch a shutout on defense, they are 4-0 this season. "Glenbard North is a very good football team, downhill and physical," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said. "It will be a game that needs to be won at the point of attack." For North, the stakes are simple. "Win to get in, that's it," Pomazak said. Drew Surges has 7 touchdowns in the last two games for St. Charles North. "Drew is a special player with amazing talent and a great attitude," Pomazak said. Pomazak also lauded the play of Carson Kuligowski. "Carson does it all on the field and has given our defense a boost," he said.
Plainfield North (5-2, 2-1) at West Aurora (3-4, 0-3)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Where: West Aurora High School
Outlook: West Aurora coach Nate Eimer calls Plainfield North's defense the best in the Southwest Prairie West. "They have the best defense in the conference and they have run the ball on everyone. They have a mobile quarterback with talented wide receivers," he said. "They are a great team. We need to win the field position battle." Austin Pierce, Tim Hancock and Matt Tarr each have had double-digit tackle performances the last two weeks for the Blackhawks. With West Aurora at 3-4, Eimer sees Week 8 as the start of the playoffs, needing two wins to earn that 10th game. "It's hard for the kids to see, but this is the best football we have played in over three years," he said. "We just need to find a way to finish and win these last two."
Other Friday games:Aurora Central Catholic (1-6, 1-3) at Ridgewood (1-6, 0-4), 7:30 p.m.
Hampshire (5-2, 5-2) at Jacobs (4-3, 4-3), 7 p.m.
Dundee-Crown (0-7, 0-7) at Huntley (2-5, 2-5), 7 p.m.
Crystal Lake South (4-3, 4-3) at Prairie Ridge (5-2, 5-2), 7 p.m.
Fenton (0-7, 0-6) at Streamwood (1-6, 1-6), 7:30 p.m.