DUPAGE VALLEY CONFERENCE
Waubonsie Valley (3-2, 1-1) at DeKalb (2-3, 1-1)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: The Barbs were 49-13 winners last year in Aurora.
About the Barbs: Although the DeKalb running game struggled against Naperville North’s defensive line in a 42-20 loss last week, the passing game exploded. Cole Latimer threw for more than 300 yards, with more than 200 going to Davon Grant. Grant has 23 catches for 607 yards this year. Coach Derek Schneeman said he’s hoping to see more consistent play out of his offensive line. Featuring five new players at the start of the year, the Barbs have landed on J.J. Pineira, Josh Jones, Owen Sisson, Ka’nyree Smith and Jayden Owens as the starting five. For a group that he said has been thrown into the fire, Schneeman said they keep getting better, and he expects big things as the year winds down, saying the loss to Naperville North taught the line a lot.
About the Warriors: Waubonsie Valley is a dramatically improved team from the past couple of years. The Warriors were winless last year and already have matched their 2021 win total. Waubonsie last had a winning record in 2018, going two rounds deep in the playoffs. Tyler Threat has been a weapon in practically every conceivable way for the Warriors. He has scored five times and has more than 550 rushing yards. He had seven catches for 120 yards and 80 rushing yards against Homewood-Flossmoor, had six tackles against Plainfield East and started the year with 200-plus all-purpose yards and three scores against Oswego East.
Friday Night Drive pick: DeKalb
KISHWAUKEE RIVER/INTERSTATE 8 WHITE
Kaneland (3-2, 2-1) at Sycamore (5-0, 2-0)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: The Spartans won 28-7 last year in Maple Park.
About the Knights: The Knights have lost twice this year. They had the lead in the fourth quarter of both games, and the teams they’ve lost to, Morris and Washington, are a combined 9-1. First-year coach Michael Thorgesen said he expects the Knights to start strong, as they have all year, but they have to finish against good teams. It’s also a battle between Kaneland’s offense, second in the conference at 38.2 points per game, and Sycamore’s defense tops in the conference, having allowed only 19 points all year. Troyer Carlson tossed four touchdowns last week in a win over Ottawa. Josh Mauthe added two touchdown runs.
About the Spartans: It’s a bit of tonal whiplash for Sycamore, going from playing a Rochelle team last week (a 21-6 win) that runs the ball a ton to the full-on spread passing attack of the Knights. Coach Joe Ryan said run or pass, the approach is the same – both teams can make you pay if you are undisciplined and not in the right fits. Ryan said he’s liked the way his passing attack has come on, with junior quarterback Burke Gautcher settling in under center. Gautcher found York on a highlight reel catch last week, showcasing what Ryan called the explosive-at-times nature of the efficient Spartan passing attack. Gautcher has completed 60% of his passes for 412 yards and seven touchdowns. He hasn’t thrown an interception. York has eight catches for 182 yards and three touchdowns, while Teague Hallahan has six catches for 107 yards and three scores. Gautcher also leads the team with 31 tackles.
FND pick: Sycamore
BIG NORTHERN CONFERENCE
Byron (5-0, 5-0) at Genoa-Kingston (3-2, 3-2)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: The Tigers were 35-15 winners last year.
About the Cogs: Genoa-Kingston won a thriller at Winnebago last week in overtime, 28-26. Brady Brewick was a workhorse for the Cogs, carrying 33 times for 190 yards and all four touchdowns. Coach Cam Davekos said he was impressed how Davekos kept his feet moving through the end of every play, leading to his success. This week against the Tigers, Davekos said Byron employs a similar run-oriented wing-T that the Cogs use, so the defense is ready for what to expect.
About the Tigers: Byron has been rolling past its opponents this year. Last week’s 51-0 win at Oregon was, by five points, the closest game the Tigers played all year and the first time they’ve been held under 60 points. The Tigers won the 2021 state title but were bounced by IC Catholic in the semifinals last year.
FND pick: Byron
Hiawatha (2-3) at South Fork (4-1)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last matchup: First meeting
About the Hawks: Milledgeville (5-0) snapped the Hawks’ two-game winning streak 74-34. But the Hawks are back home for a Saturday matinee against South Fork. First-year coach Kenny McPeek said he likes the way the team has performed the past three weeks, including the loss to the Missiles. He said they knew they were good coming in. He said in the first two games of the year the Hawks started games sluggishly, something they seem to have corrected the past few games.
About the Ponies: They qualified for the postseason last year after going 5-4 but were 2-7 in 2021, their first full year of eight-man. They went 4-1 in the COVID-19-shortened spring 2021 campaign. They last made the 11-man playoffs in 1994.
FND pick: South Fork