The Herald-News Prep Football Capsules for Week 8

Plainfield North's Treycen Bownes (16) breaks up a pass intended for Minooka's Kameron Hopkins (8) during football game between Plainfield North at Minooka.   Oct 6, 2023.

SouthWest Suburban Blue

Lockport (4-3, 0-2) at Bolingbrook (3-4, 1-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lockport 34, Bolingbrook 33 (2022)

About the Raiders: A rigorous schedule appears to be getting the better of Bolingbrook as it has lost three straight games. The Raiders are one of only 20 teams in the state who’s opponents who have amassed 40 or more wins on the season. Bolingbrook still has a potent offense, but inconsistencies have led to some second-half breakaways by opponents the past few weeks. Bolingbrook’s record almost certainly means it must sweep its remaining two games, a daunting task considering Lincoln-Way East lurks in Week 9.

About the Porters: Lockport ended a string of three losses in resounding fashion with about 400 yards on the ground in a Week 7 win over Andrew. RB Jordan Kemp had about 150 of those despite not carrying the ball in the first half. Lockport used its rotation of running backs effectively and got more than 100 yards rushing from quarterback Drew Gallagher. Lockport’s defense is still giving up too much, but the offense showed signs it might be able to maneuver its way through a high-scoring battle.

Friday Night Drive Pick: Lockport

Sandburg (5-2, 3-0) at Lincoln-Way East (7-0, 2-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way East 44, Sandburg 0 (2022)

About the Eagles: Sandburg’s found a knack for winning close games, but its Week 7 win over Bolingbrook came with relative ease. The Eagles have had four games decided by a touchdown or less and seems to make clutch plays when they need to. It’s a tough to imagine Sandburg will be in the position to utilize this trait, but junior quarterback Anthony Shelton might give Lincoln-Way East some things to think about.

About the Griffins: Lincoln-Way East continues to barrel through opponents with precision. Since a Week 2 close-call against Batavia, the Griffins haven’t allowed more than a touchdown to any opponents while outscoring them 184-23. It’s a defense that seems to have impact players at every level, most notably on the line with Caden O’Rourke and David Wuske leading the way. That tandem makes it difficult to run on Lincoln-Way East, while an experienced secondary makes it rather perilous to put the ball in the air.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way East

SouthWest Suburban Red

Lincoln-Way Central (6-1, 1-1) at Andrew (3-4, 1-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Andrew 14, Lincoln-Way Central 7 (2022)

About the Knights: Lincoln-Way Central continues to grind out victories and now is assured of a playoff spot after a Week 7 win over Stagg. RB Anthony Noto had a three-touchdown performance in the Stagg win. QB Michael Kuehl is an efficient engineer of the Lincoln-Way Central offense, even in the ground-based offense. But the touchstone of the team continues to be its defense, which has allowed two touchdowns or fewer in six of Central’s seven games.

About the T-Bolts: After a 3-1 start, the T-Bolts have gone off the tracks a bit. The largest contributor to that? They are allowing a boatload of points, surrendering 40 or more to each of their last three opponents, all losses. Andrew has been potent on offense at times with junior quarterback Drew Silva, but consistency has eluded them recently, and that’s going to be pivotal as the T-Bolts close the season with two opponents that are a combined 12-2.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way Central

SouthWest Suburban crossover

Lincoln-Way West (6-1) at Homewood-Flossmoor (3-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Homewood-Flossmoor 35, Lincoln-Way West 28 (2022)

About the Vikings: Like most teams in the SouthWest Suburban Conference, Homewood-Flossmoor has it rather difficult in conference play. Aside from a crossover win against Stagg in Week 5, H-F has lost all its games against league opponents and has painted itself into a corner in regards to playoff qualification. The Vikings must win out unless their schedule strength bails them out as a potential four-win team, but with Lincoln-Way West and Lockport still on the schedule, even a split to get them to four wins might be a challenge.

About the Warriors: Lincoln-Way West had another dominating performance in a win over Bradley-Bourbonnais. This time, a potent rush attack set the pace. The Warriors averaged about 10 yards a carry and had more than 300 yards rushing. The Warriors also had two touchdown passes, and the defense chipped in an interception return for a score. The victory assured that Lincoln-Way West, at the very least, will share the SouthWest Suburban Red Conference crown, and only an unlikely scenario could keep them from winning the league outright.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way West

Southwest Prairie East

Joliet Central (0-7, 0-3) at Romeoville (0-7, 0-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Romeoville 30, Joliet Central 6 (2022)

About the Steelmen: Even though Week 7 was another loss for Joliet Central, there’s still hope for a breakthrough. It could come here, as Joliet Central looks to snap a 29-game losing streak that stretches back to 2019. Although it hasn’t led to victories, Joliet Central’s offense has been more productive than in years past. Defensive woes are a major problem, as every opponent on Central’s schedule has scored at least 49 points this season.

About the Spartans: Romeoville had been making progress, but might have taken a step back as it was easily handled by conference front-runner Joliet West in Week 7. No one in the SPC East has had much luck either, but the Spartans were shut out and surrendered 42 points in the loss, both areas where they’d made marked improvement in prior weeks. Romeoville hopes to get Richard Conley going. He has shown the capability of being a solid run/pass threat.

FND Pick: Romeoville

Plainfield Central (3-4, 2-1) at Plainfield South (1-6, 1-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield South 26, Plainfield Central 0 (2022)

About the Wildcats: Plainfield Central has strung together a pair of victories after forcing itself into must-win situations for the rest of the season in regards to the playoffs. A resounding win in Week 7 over Joliet Central was fueled by a potent running attack that saw the Wildcats average more than 10 yards per carry. That’s a trend they’d love to see continue against a solid Plainfield South defense that doesn’t mirror the team’s record.

About the Cougars: Plainfield South still is searching for a breakout game, and its struggles on offense have hindered the Cougars overall. Other than its Week 5 win over Romeoville, where it scored 27 points, Plainfield South hasn’t scored more than 10 in any of its other games. A 10-point effort came in a frustrating 13-10 loss to Plainfield East in Week 7, while South was competitive it couldn’t get over the hump.

FND Pick: Plainfield Central

Plainfield East (3-4, 3-0) at Joliet West (6-1, 3-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet West 44, Plainfield East 7 (2022)

About the Bengals: After putting itself on the brink of elimination for playoff consideration with an 0-4 start, Plainfield East continues to hold its destiny in its own hands. As one of two teams that has yet to lose a Southwest Prairie East Conference game, this contest will almost certainly decide who gets the league’s automatic conference bid. Plainfield East is a substantial underdog despite its three-game winning streak as it has been outscored substantially by opponents this season.

About the Tigers: Joliet West has dominated since entering Southwest Prairie East Division play, outscoring its three foes 141-19. The Tigers are inching closer to not only securing a home playoff game, but a potentially high seed in Class 8A. Joliet West would be wise to not look past a Plainfield East team that has played better of late. Joliet West still should have opportunities to exploit a defense that has allowed plenty of points, especially with QB Juan Rico back under center after his return from injury.

FND Pick: Joliet West

Southwest Prairie West

Oswego (5-2, 1-2) at Minooka (5-2, 2-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Minooka 18, Oswego 8 (2022)

About the Panthers: Oswego has hit a bump in the road. After starting 4-0, the Panthers lost their second game of their past three in a Week 7 loss to Yorkville. Some of those problems can be attributed to injuries that left them short four starters. But any team is going to have trouble winning when it only amasses a little more than 100 yards of total offense.

About the Indians: Minooka’s rollercoaster season hit another upswing in Week 7, as it sprinted away from Plainfield North for a comfortable victory. QB Nathan Maul had 200 passing yards on seven completions, tossing two long TD passes to help the Indians gain separation against Plainfield North. It was another solid performance from the Minooka defense, which despite a pair of losses hasn’t allowed more than 17 points to any opponent.

FND Pick: Minooka

Plainfield North's Devan Draughon (80) takes off down the sidelines during football game between Plainfield North at Minooka.   Oct 6, 2023.

West Aurora (5-2, 1-2) at Plainfield North (3-4, 2-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield North 40, West Aurora 7 (2022)

About the Blackhawks: West Aurora appeared to be on its way to win No. 6 in Week 7 against Oswego East, but the Wolves rallied and scored a touchdown with two minutes to play to take the lead, then recovered a squib kick to deny the Blackhawks a chance to respond. In all, it was a frustrating game for the Blackhawks, who scored on a pair of first-half touchdown passes from Mason Atkins. But Atkins would only complete one pass in the second half, as Oswego East’s running attack kept Atkins and Co. off the field and off the scoreboard.

About the Tigers: Plainfield North certainly didn’t expect to be below .500 through seven games, but despite that the Tigers still have a legitimate chance to grab at least a piece of the Southwest Prairie West championship. They are in a three-way tie for the division lead. But for that to be a reality, offensive productivity has to get ramped up. Plainfield North barely had 100 yards of total offense in a Week 7 loss to Minooka, and while its defense is only allowing 11 points a game, the offense is averaging only 10. Something has to give.

FND Pick: Plainfield North

CCL/ESCC crossovers

Joliet Catholic’s Zach Pomatto leads the rush on special teams against Leo on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023 in Joliet.

Joliet Catholic (5-2) at Marmion (2-5)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet Catholic 49, Marmion 21 (2001 spring)

About the Hilltoppers: After back-to-back nailbiters, Joliet Catholic welcomed its runaway win over Leo in Week 7. More importantly, it earned the Hilltoppers their fifth win, and with secure playoff points in their pocket an assured place in the postseason. Joliet Catholic’s running game took over in the Leo game, with Keegan Faranus leading the way with three rushing touchdowns. HJ Grigsby nearly eclipsed the 100-yard barrier. Expect Joliet Catholic to lean on that part of its attack down the stretch.

About the Cadets: Marmion now is caught in the midst of a four-game losing skid, with its last win coming over the aforementioned Leo team in Week 3. Currently the biggest problem for the Cadets is injuries to what already could be considered a relatively small roster for the CCL/ESCC. Linebacker Gavin Burt is a playmaker for Marmion, and he’ll likely find himself busy trying to slow the Hilltoppers running game.

FND Pick: Joliet Catholic

Providence (4-3) at Mount Carmel (7-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Mount Carmel 2, Providence 0 (forfeit) (2018)

About the Celtics: Providence seemed to find a spark in its Week 6 win over then undefeated Montini, but it simply wasn’t able to sustain that surge into Week 7 as Carmel gained an early advantage and kept Providence at arm’s length the rest of the game. Providence will need one win in its final two games, and while this one looks like a tough mountain to climb, a Week 9 game against Benet looks manageable provided their hit-and-miss offense can find some consistency.

About the Caravan: Mount Carmel continues to ramble through everything in its path. Although the Caravan aren’t dominating teams recently, it rarely feels like it is in a position to actually lose a game. Mount Carmel is riding a 21-game winning streak, with its last lost coming to Brother Rice in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Class 7A playoffs. The faces might change, but the high level of accomplishment on the field never seems to.

FND Pick: Mount Carmel

South Suburban crossover

Lemont (4-3) at Richards (5-2)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 68, Richards 30 (2022)

About Lemont: Lemont rebounded nicely from a surprising loss to Hillcrest in Week 6 by drubbing Bremen in Week 7. Lemont rushed for more than 300 yards – over 9 yards a carry – in a game it controlled from the outset. This is an important game for Lemont to win. First, it would ensure Lemont wouldn’t be facing a win-and-get in game in Week 9 against T.F. North; and secondly, it would help keep it away from traveling to a high seed in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs.

About the Bulldogs: Richards has a five-game winning streak after testing out a young roster with some daunting nonconference games [Morgan Park and Libertyville] before getting into the South Suburban Conference run. The Bulldogs have progressed and have a variety of offensive weapons to get involved in the attack, making them a difficult team to establish defensive keys against.

FND Pick: Lemont

Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 White

Morris (7-0, 4-0) at Ottawa (3-4, 1-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Morris 59, Ottawa 7 (2022)

About Morris: Morris has reached another level over the past few weeks and hasn’t been remotely tested since a 10-point win over Kaneland in Week 3. Morris has held five of its opponents to a touchdown or less with a defense that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle of the team’s high-octane offense. Morris is averaging 44 points per game in an offense that is engineered by the school’s all-time leader in touchdown passes, Carter Button. Button achieved the record in Week 7 in a 48-7 win over Woodstock.

About the Pirates: Ottawa will be playing for its postseason life, as a Week 7 loss to rival La Salle-Peru makes the Pirates’ chances of seeing the playoffs improbable. It would have to upset Morris in Week 9 just to reach the standard. The Pirates already face a massive uphill climb to be competitive in this game, and the first step has to be taking care of the football, as they gave the ball away four times in the second half of the La Salle-Peru loss.

FND Pick: Morris

Illinois Central Eight

Coal City (5-2, 4-1) at Herscher (2-5, 2-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Coal City 63, Herscher 14 (2022)

About the Coalers: Coal City’s five-game winning streak came to a halt with a loss to Wilmington in Week 7. Wilmington systematically shut down Coal City’s offense. The team’s top rusher and key offensive cog Landin Benson was held to only 16 yards rushing. Its defense had trouble getting Wilmington off the field, as the Wildcats ran 57 plays, all rushing, for 300-plus yards. There’s not a lot of positives the Coalers can take from this one, but the progress it had made prior should allow them to regroup rather quickly.

About the Tigers: A couple of narrow early-season losses to Manteno and Bishop McNamara could come back to haunt Herscher, but the back end of the Tigers schedule [Coal City, Peotone] requires that the progress that Herscher has shown in the second half of the season continues. Aside from a Week 6 loss to Wilmington, Herscher has played much better on offense in Illinois Central Eight play.

FND Pick: Coal City

Lisle (1-6, 0-5) at Peotone (4-3, 3-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lisle 20, Peotone 13 (2022)

About the Lions: After a week 1 victory over Harvard, things have gone awry for Lisle. Every opponent on the schedule has posted at least 40 points against Lisle since Week 1. A Week 7 22-point loss to Herscher is the most competitive it has been in any game during this six-game losing streak, pointing to significant issues on both sides of the ball.

About the Blue Devils: Peotone got back to basics in Week 7, running the ball with authority against Streator. Despite doing what they wanted on offense, Peotone still had to score late and withstand a push from Streator. It’s been an odd blend for Peotone, which at its peak tends to run the ball effectively but has also struggled to keep opponents from answering. Peotone has given up 156 points in the past five games, but on the plus side it has won three of those.

FND Pick: Peotone

Manteno (4-3, 4-1) at Wilmington (6-1, 5-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wilmington 56, Manteno 0 (2022)

About the Panthers: Manteno has surged into a tie for second place with Coal City with four wins in five games, but the Panthers’ scheduled was a bit uneven. They finish the season against the team in first [Wilmington] and the team they are tied for second with [Coal City] and need a win in at least one of those to secure a playoff berth. However it ends up, Manteno has made significant strides from the past few seasons.

About the Wildcats: Few teams are playing better than Wilmington right now. The most telling stat in the Wildcats’ demolition of long-time rival Coal City was that the Coalers didn’t get any first downs. The best Wilmington teams – and there have been many – usually are predicated on outstanding defenses, and this Wilmington effort seems to have one of those. The offense isn’t too shabby either, with teams struggling to keep Wilmington under 300-yards rushing.

FND Pick: Wilmington

Streator (2-5, 1-4) at Reed-Custer (2-5, 1-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Reed-Custer 73, Streator 14 (2022)

About the Bulldogs: Streator almost pulled a rabbit out of its hat against Peotone in Week 7, as QB Christian Benning put together a huge night but couldn’t complete a last-second Hail Mary in a 36-32 loss to the Blue Devils. Streator’s offense has delivered often this season, but the opposition is doing an even better job of it.

About the Comets: Reed-Custer’s postseason adventures of the past two seasons won’t stretch to a third. Last week’s one-point loss to a resurgent Manteno handed the Comets their fifth loss. It’s still been a productive year for the Comets, however, considering how they had to replace nearly everything from a stellar 2022 senior class that lit up scoreboards around the conference for two-plus seasons.

FND Pick: Reed-Custer