Sauk Valley Media football preview capsules for Week 3 of the 2023 season

Newman’s Daniel Kelly runs back an interception against Sherrard Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023 in a game at Sterling High School. Newman picked off two passes in the first half.


Sterling (0-2, 0-0) at United Township (1-1, 0-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Sterling 63, United Township 33 (2022 Week 9)

About the Golden Warriors: Junior quarterback Joseph Holcomb rushed 26 times for 108 yards and a touchdown and finished 6-for-11 passing for 114 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s loss to Wheaton St. Francis. The touchdowns were a 46-yarder to senior wide receiver Mason Emin and a 25-yarder to junior wide receiver Kaedon Phillips. Senior running back Cale Ledergerber rushed for a 44-yard touchdown. Sterling has allowed 35 points per game and is averaging 22.5 points per game through the first two weeks.

About the Panthers: United Township beat Muchin College Prep 60-6 last week. The Panthers finished 1-8 last season, and have only had one winning season since 2001, when they finished 8-2. Senior wide receiver Korey Randle was a first-team All-Western Big 6 selection on special teams and a second-team pick on offense last season. Randle returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, and caught eight passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns in last year’s matchup.

Friday Night Drive pick: Sterling


Rock Falls (0-2, 0-2) at Dixon (2-0, 2-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Dixon 49, Rock Falls 0 (2022 Week 9)

About the Dukes: Dixon beat Oregon 29-20 in a back-and-forth Big Northern Conference game last week. Senior quarterback Tyler Shaner has accounted for three touchdowns in each of the first two games (3 passing, 3 rushing). Senior running back Aiden Wiseman has rushed for over 75 yards in both games and is averaging 6 yards per carry. Junior linebacker Eli Davidson leads the team with 30 tackles. The Dukes are averaging 28.5 points per game and are allowing 17 points per game this season.

About the Rockets: Rock Falls kept pace with Stillman Valley early in last week’s game, trailing by seven points at the end of the first quarter, but couldn’t keep up in a 49-7 loss. Junior quarterback Easton Canales rushed eight times for 67 yards and a touchdown and passed for 61 yards. The Rockets have allowed 63 points per game through the first two weeks.

FND pick: Dixon

Oregon's Griffin Marlatt (6) runs an interception back against Dixon on Friday, Sept. 1, 2023 at Oregon High School's Landers-Loomis Field/

Oregon (1-1, 1-1) at Genoa-Kingston (1-1, 1-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Genoa-Kingston 19, Oregon 0 (2022 Week 6)

About the Hawks: Oregon had the chance to tie the score in the fourth quarter last week against Dixon but missed a two-point conversion, then the Dukes used a 10-play, 54-yard drive to ice the game, converting a pair of fourth downs in the 29-20 win. Jack Washburn threw for 248 yards, with 88 going to Griffin Marlatt – and that includes a 76-yard touchdown reception that knocked a 22-7 lead down to 22-14 in the third quarter. It was also a solid defensive performance for the Hawks, who shut out North Boone 6-0 in Week 1, the same North Boone team that beat G-K 35-6 in Week 2.

About the Cogs: Genoa-Kingston is looking for a complete turnaround after last week’s 35-6 loss at North Boone. Even though the Cogs were battling illness throughout the week, coach Cam Davekos said only two or three players missed the game. It was the Cogs’ lowest point total since losing 7-3 to Byron in Week 4 of the Tigers’ 2021 state title run.

FND pick: Oregon


Princeton (1-1, 0-0) at Newman (2-0, 0-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Princeton 36, Newman 0 (2022 Week 6)

About the Comets: Newman’s defense has held opposing teams to 8.5 points per game this season and has five interceptions through two games. The run defense has been particularly stout, conceding 24 rushing yards per game. Senior Carter Rude rushed 14 times for 58 yards, and fellow senior Brady Grennan rushed nine times for 53 yards in the 16-10 Week 2 win over Sherrard.

About the Tigers: Princeton was the No. 1-ranked team in Class 3A by the Associated Press before a 22-21 upset loss to Morrison in Week 2 on a last-second field goal by a freshman kicker. The Tigers went ahead 21-19 with 45 seconds left as junior quarterback Will Lott hit junior wide receiver Noah LaPorte for a 30-yard touchdown pass, but the Mustangs stole the win in the final seconds. Princeton is averaging 31 points per game and allowing 10.5 points per game this season.

FND pick: Princeton

Princeton's Common Green tries to block a running punt by Morrison's Deshaun McQueen Friday at Bryant Field.

Orion (2-0, 0-0) at Morrison (2-0, 0-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Morrison 55, Orion 13 (2022 Week 7)

About the Mustangs: Morrison is off to a scorching start this season. The Mustangs beat Mendota 54-0 in Week 1, then toppled No. 1-ranked Princeton 22-21 on a last-second field goal by freshman kicker Josh McDearmon. Junior quarterback Colton Bielema tossed three touchdown passes in the upset win. Sophomore Brady Anderson hauled in a 58-yard receiving score, and senior Chase Newman had a 19-yard receiving score last week.

About the Chargers: Orion is averaging 38 points per game and allowing 11 points per game this season. It beat Mendota 56-8 in Week 2. The Chargers have finished 4-5 the past two seasons.

FND pick: Morrison

Erie-Prophetstown (0-2, 0-0) at Monmouth-Roseville (1-1, 0-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Monmouth-Roseville 28, Erie-Prophetstown 6 (2022 Week 8)

About the Panthers: Erie-Prophetstown has been outscored 54-7 the first two weeks. It lost 28-0 to Kewanee in Week 2. Senior quarterback Jeremiah Kochevar paces the Panthers in passing yards (85) and rushing yards (152), while junior running back Demetree Larson has 70 rushing yards and 45 receiving yards.

About the Titans: Monmouth-Roseville defeated Bureau Valley 21-14 in Week 2. Andrew Myers hit Nico Avendano on a 52-yard game-winning touchdown pass with 2:02 remaining in the game. Payton Thompson rushed 21 times for 101 yards and a touchdown. Leo Mahoney caught four passes for 89 yards as the leading receiver last week.

FND pick: Monmouth-Roseville

Bureau Valley (1-1, 0-0) at Hall (1-1, 0-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Hall 44, Bureau Valley 34 (2022 Week 9)

About the Storm: Bureau Valley lost 21-14 to Monmouth-Roseville in Week 2. Running back Elijah Endress rushed 18 times for 106 yards, with a 29-yard touchdown run. Quarterback Bryce Helms was kept in check, going 6-for-10 passing for 35 yards, and rushing 11 times for 22 yards and a touchdown.

About the Red Devils: Hall rushed for 271 yards and six touchdowns in a 46-6 win over Riverdale in Week 2. Gianni Guerrini rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries, and Braden Curran rushed for 68 yards and a touchdown on seven carries. The Red Devils held the Rams scoreless until the last 40 seconds of the game.

FND pick: Hall


Forreston (2-0, 2-0) at Galena (2-0, 2-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Forreston 46, Galena 14 (2022 Week 5)

About the Cardinals: Forreston beat Dakota 18-8 in Week 2. The Cardinals are averaging 20 points per game and allowing 13 points per game. Owen Mulder rushed for two touchdowns, Micah Nelson rushed for 56 yards and Kaleb Sanders rushed for 45 yards last week against the Indians.

About the Pirates: Galena beat West Carroll 49-0 in Week 2. The Pirates are averaging 38.5 points per game and allowing three points per game this season.

FND pick: Forreston

Eastland-Pearl City (0-2, 0-2) at Fulton (0-2, 0-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Fulton 35, Eastland-Pearl City 14 (2022 Week 8)

About the Steamers: Fulton was shut out for the first three quarters in a 32-8 Week 2 loss to Lena-Winslow. Quarterback Dom Kramer hit Jimmy Crimmins for a 21-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. The Steamers have been outscored 54-26 through two games. Their last 0-2 start was in 2018, when they finished 5-5.

About the Wildcatz: Eastland-Pearl City lost 42-0 to Durand-Pecatonica in Week 2. Running back Draven Zier led the offense with 23 rushing yards on five carries. The Wildcatz fell behind 20-0 in the first half and never recovered.

FND pick: Fulton


West Carroll (0-2, 0-2) at Aurora Central Catholic (1-1, 0-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Thunder: West Carroll lost 49-0 to Galena in Week 2. The Thunder have been shut out in both games this season and have allowed 117 points. Raef Pickard-Schintgen passed for 92 yards and rushed for 38, and Aaron Becker had two catches for 39 yards against the Pirates.

About the Chargers: Aurora Central Catholic lost 57-20 to East Peoria in Week 2. It finished 2-7 last season. The Chargers last made the playoffs in 2016, a season they finished 9-2.

FND pick: Aurora Central Catholic


Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio (2-0, 2-0) at Martinsville (2-0, 1-0)

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Clippers: Amboy defeated River Ridge 80-8 in Week 2. The Clippers are averaging 63 points per game and allowing four points per game through two weeks. They’ll be leaving at 1 p.m. Friday to make the 222-mile trip to Martinsville.

About the Bluestreaks: Martinsville beat Metro-East Lutheran 56-0 in Week 2. The Blue Streaks opened the season with a 22-14 win at Milford. They finished 4-6 last season, following an 8-3 season the year before.

FND pick: Amboy

Milledgeville (2-0, 2-0) at Polo (2-0, 1-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Milledgeville 54, Polo 38 (2022 Week 4)

About the Marcos: Polo beat Orangeville 50-6 in Week 2, as senior quarterback Brock Soltow accounted for five total touchdowns (4 rushing, 1 passing). He racked up 248 rushing yards on 13 carries, and scored on runs of 36, 6, 57 and 32 yards. His passing touchdown was a 10-yarder to running back Noah Dewey. Dewey finished with three catches for 53 yards and two touchdowns. His other touchdown grab was a 35-yarder from quarterback Carter Merdian. Running back Delo Fernandez added 107 rushing yards and a touchdown on eight carries.

About the Missiles: Milledgeville beat Quest Charter Academy 64-14 in Week 2. Senior quarterback Connor Nye went 7-for-7 passing for 184 yards and four touchdowns, and rushed for 29 yards and two touchdowns. Karter Livengood caught 45- and 32-yard touchdown passes, Konner Johnson hauled in a 54-yard touchdown pass, and Bryce McKenna snagged a 24-yard touchdown pass. Livengood finished with two touchdowns on three catches for 76 yards. Micah Toms-Smith returned the opening kickoff 72 yards for a touchdown, and Evan Schenk rushed for 50 yards and a touchdown, and threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Bryson Wiersema.

FND pick: Milledgeville

Ashton-Franklin Center (1-1, 0-0) at Pawnee/Lincolnwood (1-1, 1-0)

When: 2 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Raiders: Ashton-Franklin Center beat Alden-Hebron 34-33 in Week 2, erasing a 27-20 halftime deficit. The Raiders are averaging 23 points per game and allowing 39.5 points per game this season.

About the Indians: Pawnee/Lincolnwood beat Unity Christian 50-12 in Week 2 after a shutout loss to Ridgewood in Week 1. The Indians finished 6-4 in 2022.

FND pick: Pawnee/Lincolnwood