Sauk Valley Media football preview capsules for Week 6 of the 2023 season

Sterling’s Andre Klaver picks up yards against Galesburg Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023 at Sterling High School.


Sterling (2-3, 2-0) at Geneseo (5-0, 3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Sterling 40, Geneseo 0 (2022 Week 5)

About the Golden Warriors: Sterling lost 28-6 to Princeton in Week 5. Joseph Holcomb finished 8-for-17 passing for 173 yards with a 63-yard touchdown pass to Mason Emin and rushed for 45 yards on 18 carries. The touchdown drew the Golden Warriors within 8-6 near the end of the first half. Kaedon Phillips (4 catches, 63 yards), Emin (1-63) and Andre Klaver (3-53) each topped 50 receiving yards last week.

About the Maple Leafs: Geneseo is coming off a 43-3 win over Galesburg in Week 5. The Maple Leafs beat United Township 55-21 in Week 4 – a team Sterling beat 23-19 in Week 3. This is their first 5-0 start since 2015, a season they finished 10-2 with a Class 4A quarterfinal appearance.

Friday Night Drive pick: Geneseo


Winnebago (1-4, 1-4) at Dixon (5-0, 5-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Winnebago 29, Dixon 25 (2022 Week 5)

About the Dukes: Dixon beat Rockford Lutheran 42-0 in Week 5. Tyler Shaner went 8-for-12 passing for 128 yards and four touchdowns and rushed 17 times for 86 yards and two touchdowns. Cullen Shaner (2 catches, 38 yards) caught two touchdown passes, and Gabe Rowley (1-43) and Cort Jacobson (2-33) each caught one TD pass. Aiden Wiseman rushed 23 times for 93 yards. Andrew Scheffler recorded two sacks and a tackle for loss.

About the Indians: Winnebago lost 28-26 to Genoa-Kingston in overtime in Week 5. Its only win this season came against Rockford Christian (55-34, Week 2). The Indians lost 56-23 to Rockford Lutheran in their season opener – the team Dixon beat 42-0 last week.

FND pick: Dixon

Rock Falls’ Javes Velazquez sacks Rockford Christian QB Jaden Williams Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 in Rock Falls.

North Boone (3-2, 3-2) at Rock Falls (1-4, 1-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: North Boone 54, Rock Falls 13 (2022 Week 7)

About the Rockets: Rock Falls is fresh off its first win of the season, a 21-16 victory over Rockford Christian in Week 5. It also was the Rockets’ first win in two years and 22 games. Devin Tanton-DeJesus recorded four sacks and two tackles for loss in a monster defensive game. He also rushed for 66 yards on nine carries. Michael Flowers rushed for 81 yards and a touchdown on five carries, scoring on a 50-yard, third-quarter run. Korbin Oligney chipped in 58 rushing yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, and Easton Canales added a 7-yard rushing score. Owen Mandrell and Richard Nichols each had an interception.

About the Vikings: North Boone beat Stillman Valley 19-14 in Week 5. The Vikings were shut out by Oregon (6-0 double OT, Week 1) and Byron (69-0, Week 4) this season.

FND pick: North Boone

Oregon running back Luke Weems (7) is tackled by Byron defenders during Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 action at Landers-Loomis Field.

Oregon (2-3, 2-3) at Stillman Valley (3-2, 3-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Stillman Valley 41, Oregon 6 (2022 Week 3)

About the Hawks: Oregon lost 51-0 to Byron in Week 5. The Hawks were limited to 56 yards of offense, with 49 of those coming on the ground from Logan Weems. Oregon’s wins this season have come against North Boone and Winnebago.

About the Cardinals: Stillman Valley lost 19-14 to North Boone in Week 5, a team Oregon beat 6-0 in double overtime in Week 1. Its opponents have a combined record of 11-14 through five games. The Cardinals’ two losses were against winning teams: Dixon (5-0) and North Boone (3-2).

FND pick: Oregon

Newman’s Mac Hanrahan hauls in an interception in front of Erie-Prophetstown’s Parker Rangel Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 in a game at Erie.


Bureau Valley (3-2, 2-1) at Newman (4-1, 0-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Newman 27, Bureau Valley 0 (2022 Week 5)

About the Comets: Newman beat Erie-Prophetstown 20-7 in Week 5. After a scoreless first half, the Comets’ offense came alive with three second-half touchdowns. Evan Bushman threw two touchdown passes, and Carter Rude rushed for the other. The TD passes went to Daniel Kelly and Isaiah Williams. Brady Grennan rushed for 60 yards and had a reception of 23 yards. Newman’s defense added three more takeaways in the Three Rivers crossover matchup, bringing its season total to 16.

About the Storm: Bureau Valley beat Mendota 35-14 in Week 5. Elijah Endress rushed for 249 yards and five touchdowns on 21 carries to fuel the three-score win. Cameron Lemons rushed for 102 yards on 11 carries, and Brady Hartz rushed for 63 yards on seven carries. The Storm have tripled their 2022 season win total in five games.

FND pick: Newman

Sherrard (2-3, 1-1) at Morrison (5-0, 3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Sherrard 26, Morrison 22 (2022 Week 5)

About the Mustangs: Morrison is averaging 37.8 points per game and allowing only 12 points per game this season. Opponents have scored 14 or fewer points against the Mustangs in four out of five games. Their last 5-0 start was in 2019 when they went undefeated through the second round of the playoffs.

About the Tigers: Sherrard beat Riverdale 49-16 in Week 5. The Tigers’ only 2022 win came against Morrison in Week 5. Sherrard has scored 24 or more points in all but one game this season.

FND pick: Morrison

Erie-Prophetstown (0-5, 0-2) at Orion (2-3, 0-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Orion 27, Erie-Prophetstown 7 (2022 Week 5)

About the Panthers: Erie-Prophetstown lost 20-7 to Newman in Week 5. Jeremiah Kochevar passed for over 100 yards and a touchdown and Demetree Larson caught five passes for 77 yards and a touchdown. His long reception went for 51 yards. The Panthers have been held to one score or less in three out of five games this season and have yet to score more than 14 points in a game.

About the Chargers: Orion lost 54-20 to Rockridge in Week 5. The Chargers have lost three straight games following wins against Hall and Mendota. They gave up 40 or more points in each loss (Princeton, Morrison, Rockridge).

FND pick: Orion

Forreston's Owen Mulder runs for a big gain as West Carroll's Aiden Buchhollz gives chase during Friday, Sept. 22, 2023 action at Forreston High School.


Forreston (5-0, 5-0) at Stockton (2-3, 1-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Forreston 44, Stockton 14 (2022 Week 1)

About the Cardinals: Forreston beat West Carroll 46-0 in Week 5. Kaleb Sanders, Micah Nelson, Owen Mulder, Brady Gill and Christian Ryia each scored a rushing touchdown last week. Alex Ryia also caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Gill. Mulder paced the team with 63 rushing yards and Sanders added 62 rushing yards.

About the Blackhawks: Stockton beat Eastland-Pearl City 35-8 in Week 5. Its other win this season came against Heyworth (47-13, Week 2). The Blackhawks’ three losses came against teams with a combined 13-2 record (Lena-Winslow, Durand-Pecatonica, Fulton).

FND pick: Forreston

Galena (2-3, 2-2) at Fulton (3-2, 3-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Fulton 31, Galena 12 (2022 Week 1)

About the Steamers: Fulton has won three straight games after an 0-2 start. The Steamers beat Dakota 38-8 in Week 5. Dom Kramer is 46-for-75 passing for 703 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions this year. Kramer is also the second-leading rusher with 136 yards and one rushing touchdown. Leading receiver Baylen Damhoff has 15 catches for 292 yards (19.5 yards per catch) and five touchdowns along with a kickoff return touchdown. AJ Boardman is second on the team in receiving yards (166) and third in rushing yards (125) and has three total touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving).

About the Pirates: Galena has lost three straight games after a 2-0 start. The Pirates have faced a gauntlet of Forreston, Saranac (Michigan) and Durand-Pecatonica the past three weeks and have been outscored 124-50 during that stretch.

FND pick: Fulton

Eastland-Pearl City (0-5, 0-5) at Aurora Central Catholic (2-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Wildcatz: Eastland-Pearl City lost 35-8 to Stockton in Week 5. Jaxsyn Kempel rushed for 63 yards, including a touchdown of 44 yards. The Wildcatz have been limited to eight or fewer points in four out of five games this season. They lost 14-6 to Fulton in Week 3 and 34-20 to Forreston in Week 4.

About the Chargers: Aurora Central Catholic lost 46-20 to Kingdom Prep Lutheran (Wisconsin) in Week 5. The Chargers’ wins this season have come against St. Edward (Elgin) and West Carroll.

FND pick: Eastland-Pearl City

West Carroll (0-5, 0-4) at Dakota (1-4, 0-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Dakota 66, West Carroll 0 (2022 Week 8)

About the Thunder: West Carroll lost 46-0 to Forreston in Week 5. The Thunder have been shut out in four out of five games this season. Their smallest margin of defeat was 42-20 against Aurora Central Catholic in Week 3.

About the Indians: Dakota has lost four straight games after a 48-12 season-opening win over Fisher. The Indians scored eight or fewer points in each loss this season. Dakota has given up 45.7 points per game over the past three against Durand-Pecatonica, Lena-Winslow and Fulton.

FND pick: Dakota


Amboy-LaMoille-Ohio (5-0, 4-0) at Milledgeville (5-0, 4-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Amboy 40, Milledgeville 36 (2022 Week 3)

About the Clippers: Amboy beat Ridgewood 48-42 in Week 5. Through five games, Eddie Jones is 16-for-22 passing for 440 yards with eight touchdowns and no interceptions. He also has 131 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. Landon Whelchel (40 carries, 466 yards, 9 TDs) and Quinn Leffelman (38-445-7) are averaging more than 10 yards per carry as the leading rushers this season. Leffelman also has six sacks. Brennan Blaine has 10 catches for 281 yards and six touchdowns, as well as 40 tackles and seven sacks.

About the Missiles: Milledgeville beat Kirkland Hiawatha 74-26 in Week 5. Connor Nye finished 7-for-10 passing for 204 yards and four touchdowns and rushed six times for 105 yards and one touchdown. Leading receiver Bryce McKenna caught four passes for 131 yards and three touchdowns, and leading rusher Micah Toms-Smith rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns on six carries.

FND pick: Amboy

Polo's Carter Merdian (10) tries to pass as he is tackled by a Milledgeville player during Friday, Sept. 8, 2023 action at Polo High School.

Unity Christian (0-5, 0-5) at Polo (4-1, 2-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Polo won by forfeit (2021 Week 4)

About the Marcos: Polo beat River Ridge 42-6 in Week 5. Delo Fernandez rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries and had a 19-yard reception. Brock Soltow rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries and reeled in four passes for 54 yards. Nathaniel Yingling had a 42-yard interception return touchdown.

About the Lions: Unity Christian has been outscored 251-62 in five games. The Lions were shut out by Amboy (46-0, Week 1) and Martinsville (53-0, Week 4). Unity Christian finished 10-1 overall and 6-0 in the 8-Man South Division last season.

FND pick: Polo

River Ridge (2-3, 1-3) at Ashton-Franklin Center (1-4, 0-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: River Ridge won by forfeit (2021 Week 4)

About the Raiders: Ashton-Franklin Center is on a three-game losing streak after a 34-33 Week 2 win over Alden-Hebron. The Raiders are averaging 19.2 points and allowing 44.6 points per game.

About the Wildcats: River Ridge lost 42-6 to Polo in Week 5. The Wildcats have been held to eight or fewer points in three out of five games. Their wins this season have come against Orangeville and Blue Ridge/DeLand-Weldon.

FND pick: River Ridge