Scouting Week 9 DuPage County football games
Hinsdale Central (7-1, 5-0) at Glenbard West (7-1, 4-1)When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
2021 spring result: Hinsdale Central 28, Glenbard West 7.
Outlook: The West Suburban Silver Conference is down to three teams vying for the title, with the Red Devils and Hilltoppers set for an epic showdown. York, which lost to Hinsdale Central in Week 7, defeated the Hilltoppers earlier this season but must settle for a co-championship if they can beat Oak Park-River Forest (4-4) on Friday night in Elmhurst.
Hinsdale Central has the edge of the three teams, controlling its fate on Saturday. All the Red Devils have to do is beat the Hilltoppers at Duchon Field and they win the conference outright. But Glenbard West rarely loses two games in a season at home, so that's a tough task. If the Red Devils lose and York wins, that leaves a two-way tie for the title due to the conference policy. If Glenbard West wins and York wins, that leaves a three-way tie for the conference championship.
Hinsdale Central coach Brian Griffin said beating the Hilltoppers is a tough task.
"We have to win the turnover battle and minimize the big plays on defense," he said. "We have to make big plays on offense and play good on special team. We have to be ready to play from the first whistle. They've had a great team for a long time, and they know how to start games, so matching that is important."
Griffin said defensive tackle Lachlan Jackson and linebacker Joe Boggs have been essential players for the Red Devils' defense, which has recorded three shutouts.
"Lachlan and Jo have been solid newcomers to a defense that had a lot of holes to fill," Griffin said. "Offensively, Thomas Skokna has stepped up to the plate as a leader, on and off the field."
IC Catholic Prep (8-0) at St. Francis (6-2)When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.
2021 spring result: St. Francis 28, IC Catholic Prep 0
Outlook: There's no doubt IC Catholic Prep coach Bill Krefft and his coaching staff have this game circled on their calendars. Sure, it's not important in regards to conference standings or playoff entry, but the Spartans embarrassed the Knights in the spring.
So don't tell the Knights that this is just a tuneup game for the playoffs, not with the chance for revenge and a perfect regular season on the line.
The Knights have steamrolled opponents in the last three games, recording a 112-37 winning margin. The Spartans rebounded from a Week 7 loss to Bishop McNamara with a 35-7 win over Riverside-Brookfield.
"I feel good because I think we got some things we needed to get cleaned up done last week," St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said. "IC Catholic does a great job from the standpoint you never can replace a guy like Kyle Franklin, but running back Malik Gray has been running up and down the field. Their offensive line does a phenomenal job of blocking. Defensively, they have 11 guys flying around and being playmakers that are very tough and physical.
"We have to stop making mistakes and play with maximum intensity and we can't turn the ball over and give them good field position. We have to play smart football and know our assignments. As a team, we like where we're at now. We're looking forward to a very good football game on Friday."
McMillen praised the play of junior defensive end Joey Ayala and freshman wide receiver Ian Willis for their consistent play all season. Ayala, a first-year starter, has 4.5 sacks while Willis has caught 19 passes for 275 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"Joey's been very solid, coming off blocks and getting after the quarterback since we put him in the starting lineup," McMillen said. "Ian has had some breakout game. It's really exciting to see how he progresses for the next few years."
Naperville North (5-3, 4-1) at Neuqua Valley (8-0, 5-0)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
2021 spring result: Neuqua Valley 29, Naperville North 22
2021 fall result: Neuqua Valley 21, Naperville North 7
Outlook: Talk about a rare occurrence in the growing rivalry between the two Naperville schools. With the DuPage Valley Conference title on the line, the Wildcats, ranked No. 2 in the Class 8A Associated Press poll, are seeking their third win over the Huskies in the last seven months. Overall, the Wildcats enter the game as heavy favorites in the DVC Bowl, with 17 straight regular season wins dating back to the 2019 season. Five weeks ago, the Huskies did a good job containing Neuqua Valley quarterback Mark Mennecke, who completed 5 of 12 passes for 119 yards. But Mennecke ran for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Naperville North quarterback Aidan Gray can add to his growing legacy with a signature win over the highly ranked Wildcats. He struggled finding a rhythm in the first meeting this season, completing 8 of 12 passes for 85 yards.
Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus admitted the Huskies will be motivated to knock off his team, so matching that intensity is vital.
"We need to play mistake-free football," Ellinghaus said. "We have to protect the football and stop their offense, which has improved every week. Our defense has been playing well all year. They'll continue to be the key for us this week. They've been able to make big stops and have won the turnover battle. The offense will remain balanced, plus I'm looking forward to getting a couple of guys back."
Naperville North coach Sean Drendel would love nothing better than to knock off the conference leader and head into the playoffs with momentum. But Drendel said his team is playing well after opening the season with a 1-3 record.
"Neuqua Valley is undefeated for a reason," Drendel said. "They're a very good team that doesn't make mistakes. We have to run the ball and stop the run. Our offensive line and defensive line both have gotten healthy and better. Our defense is playing fast and with confidence. It's a very tough task for us. We will need to play a full game."
Peotone (5-3, 3-3) at Lisle (5-3, 3-3)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
2021 spring result: Lisle 24, Peotone 0
Outlook: Lisle is fighting for many things on Friday. The Lions and Blue Devils are stuck in a battle in the middle of the conference standings, with the winner possibly finishing second or third. The Lions would love to earn another victory in 2021 over the Blue Devils after putting together an impressive effort on all three phases in their shutout win in the spring.
The Lions defeated Manteno 38-13 last week to become playoff eligible, taking some pressure off for their regular season finale. Lisle has yet to beat a team with a winning record this season, thus knocking off the Blue Devils could be a good sign prior to the playoffs.
The Blue Devils opened the season with three consecutive wins before losing to Wilmington and Reed-Custer. Peotone had a solid win over Herscher 19-6 last week.
Nazareth (4-4, 1-1) at Benet (4-4, 1-1)When: Friday, 7 p.m.
2021 spring result: Benet 3, Nazareth 0
Outlook: In the spring, the Redwings won a defensive battle over the Roadrunners in LaGrange Park. The spring game was the final game of the season for both highly respected programs since there were no playoffs. On Friday, the Redwings and Roadrunners will have a lot at stake. Both teams need one win to become playoff eligible, so expect a grind-it-out battle with high intensity on every snap.
"We already have a nice rivalry with Benet," Nazareth coach Tim Racki said. "We have very competitive games when we play them, but now we're both 4-4 with the playoffs at stake. Traditionally, Benet is very sound on defense and very well-coached. We have to slow down their offense. They have a great tight end, and their quarterback is big and physical with a great arm. He does a great job finding underneath intermediate routes and they do a good job running the ball. Both team will be amped up for this game."
Friday's other games
Addison Trail at Hinsdale South
Aurora Central Catholic at Westmont
DeKalb at Waubonsie Valley
Downers Grove South at Leyden
Fenton at Glenbard East
Glenbard North at Wheaton Warrenville South
Glenbard South at Elgin
Joliet Catholic at Montini
Lake Park at Geneva
Lyons at Downers Grove North
Metea Valley at Naperville Central
Oak Park-River Forest at York
South Elgin at West Chicago
Wheaton Academy at Aurora Christian
Wheaton North at St. Charles East
Willowbrook at Morton