The Herald-News Prep Football Capsules for Week 9 of the 2023 season

Joliet West’s Gavin Garcia goes in for the score against Plainfield East on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 in Joliet.

SouthWest Suburban Blue

Homewood-Flossmoor (4-4, 0-3) at Lockport (5-3, 1-2)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Homewood-Flossmoor 35, Lockport 20 (2022)

About the Vikings: Homewood-Flossmoor gave themselves a chance to still reach the playoff field of 256 by pulling off a mild upset of Lincoln-Way West in Week 8. At times, the Vikings offense led by QB RJ McDonald has been effective, but the consistency hasn’t been there all year long.

About the Porters: Lockport seems to have bounced back from its midseason three-game losing skid with back-to-back wins over Andrew and Bolingbrook. RB Jordan Kemp seems to be emerging as a standout, as he scored three touchdowns and led what has been a potent Lockport running game as of late. Defensively, the Porters still need to cinch things down a bit, but if they finish with a sixth win here in what has been a loaded schedule, it will be hard to complain.

Friday Night Drive Pick: Lockport

Lockport's Aidan Preciado runs a play during a game against Bolingbrook on Friday Oct. 13, 2023 at Bolingbrook High School

Lincoln-Way East (8-0, 3-0) at Bolingbrook (3-5, 1-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way East 42, Bolingbrook 32 (2022)

About the Griffins: Lincoln-Way East continued its machine-like march through the regular season, as only one opponent has been within 24 points of the Griffins. The Griffins showed their capabilities as a balanced offense. QB Braden Tischer threw three touchdowns in the Week 8 win over Sandburg. Lincoln-Way East’s defense was stellar, allowing just one touchdown against its first string.

About the Raiders: In a recurring trend for Bolingbrook, the second half got away from the Raiders as they lost their fourth consecutive game and now face the almost impossible task of toppling Lincoln-Way East and then hoping for a lot of help to get into the playoffs. The Raiders usually can count on a big day from QB Jonas Williams, who threw for about 400 yards in the Week 8 loss to Lockport, but the defense needs to come up with stops, particularly in the second half, to have any chance.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way East

Bolingbrook's Jonas Williams throws a pass during a game against Lockport on Friday Oct. 13, 2023 at Bolingbrook High School

SouthWest Suburban Red

Lincoln-Way Central (7-1, 2-1) at Bradley-Bourbonnais (6-2, 2-1)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Bradley-Bourbonnais 28, Lincoln-Way Central 25 (2022)

About the Knights: Lincoln-Way Central eventually overwhelmed Andrew in Week 8 with three different runners gaining about 100 yards. QB Michael Kuehl had a highly efficient day, completing 5 of 6 passes with three of those completions go for scores. Defensively, the Knights employed a bit of a bend-but-don’t-break philosophy, surrendering more than 300 rushing yards but largely keeping the T-Bolts off the scoreboard

About the Boilermakers: Bradley-Bourbonnais has had little to no problem scoring this season, having posted 38 points or more in all but two of its games. QB Ethan Kohl has shown the ability to give almost any opponent trouble, but the defense could use some tightening up. The Boilermakers haven’t allowed fewer than 27 points to any foe since Week 3.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way Central

Andrew (3-5, 1-2) at Lincoln-Way West (6-2, 3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Andrew 34, Lincoln-Way West 10 (2022)

About the T-Bolts: Andrew has dropped four straight games. The final five opponents on Andrew’s schedule have combined 32-8 record. Andrew is capable of giving opponents some trouble, but any chance at an upset to cap its season needs defensive improvements. Andrew has surrendered 175 points in its past four games.

About the Warriors: Lincoln-Way West experienced a bit of a hiccup in a Week 8 loss to Homewood-Flossmoor but still can win the SouthWest Suburban Red Conference title with a win here. The Warriors appeared to find something that worked for them on offense the past few weeks, and the hope is Week 8′s effort is more of a blip than a trend.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way West

Southwest Prairie East

Plainfield South (1-7, 1-3) at Joliet Central (0-8, 0-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield South 50, Joliet Central 7 (2022)

About the Cougars: Plainfield South suffered another close loss in Week 8 against Plainfield East, losing by three points for the second consecutive week. The Cougars have been competitive in the second half of the season, but a lack of offensive explosiveness has turned most of their games into defensive slugfests.

About the Steelmen: Joliet Central already has scored more points than ever before in program history, but that output has slowed when the Steelmen needed it most. Steelmen RB Jay’lin Murphy passed the 1,000-yard rushing barrier in the Week 8 loss to Romeoville.

FND Pick: Plainfield South

Joliet West’s Gavin Garcia makes a diving catch for a first down against Plainfield East on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 in Joliet.

Joliet West (7-1, 4-0) at Plainfield Central (4-4, 3-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield Central 30, Joliet West 22 (2022)

About the Tigers: Joliet West has plenty to play for to cap off a historic season in spectacular fashion. A win here would give Joliet West its first outright conference championship title since the 1960s and virtually assure that the Tigers will host their first home playoff game in school history.

About the Wildcats: Plainfield Central has been in playoff mode since dropping to 1-4 after five weeks of play. But even if the Wildcats win and Plainfield East defeats Romeoville to forge a three-way tie for the conference crown, Plainfield East would need to score at least 16 points while allowing no more than nine against Joliet West to actually win the conference tiebreaker.

FND Pick: Joliet West

Plainfield East’s Brandon Parades rolls out to pass against Joliet West on Friday, Oct. 13, 2023 in Joliet.

Romeoville (1-7, 1-3) at Plainfield East (3-5, 3-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield East 46, Romeoville 28 (2022)

About the Spartans: Romeoville got a strong game from QB Richard Conley in Week 8 to help the Spartans capture their first victory of the season. They likely will need that same effort to forge the program’s first two-game winning streak since the COVID-shortened spring season.

About the Bengals: Plainfield East has an outside chance at the conference championship but will need Plainfield Central to upset Joliet West and have a points-allowed tiebreaker go its way. In any case, the Bengals will look for the strong second half of WR Quinn Morris to continue.

FND Pick: Plainfield East

Southwest Prairie West

Minooka (6-2, 3-1) at West Aurora (5-3, 1-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Minooka 47, West Aurora 20 (2022)

About the Indians: Somewhat lost in the shuffle for Minooka this season is how good the defense has been. The Indians haven’t allowed more than 17 points to any opponent, and that came in handy in Week 8 as it scraped out a 13-10 win over Oswego and could still claim a conference title.

About the Blackhawks: West Aurora started 5-0, but now has lost three consecutive games. The Blackhawks have been right there in the past two games, but its offense has slowed to a crawl after a promising start where it scored 143 points in its first three games, but just 64 since.

FND Pick: Minooka

Plainfield North (4-4, 3-1) at Yorkville (5-3, 3-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield North 24, Yorkville 0 (2022)

About the Tigers: Plainfield North has banked its hopes on being able to keep teams off the scoreboard, and it’s hard to argue with that as it had its second shutout of the season to get back to the .500 mark. But the offense has been a problem, leaving the Tigers with little other option than allowing opponents to next to nothing defensively.

About the Foxes: Yorkville and Plainfield North seem like mirror images of one another, with both looking to their defense to set the tone. And while not flashy, the Foxes have played solid football over the past three weeks and have gone from a sketchy playoff outlook to now having locked up a berth.

FND Pick: Yorkville

CCL/ESCC Crossover

St. Ignatius (5-3, 2-0) at Joliet Catholic (6-2, 2-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet Catholic 21, St. Ignatius 7 (2001 spring)

About the Wolfpack: St. Ignatius has rattled off three consecutive victories since a somewhat auspicious 2-3 start. The Wolfpack obviously have a beast in the trenches in Ohio State-bound Justin Scott, but St. Ignatius also seems to have found its groove on the offensive side of the ball.

About the Hilltoppers: Joliet Catholic is riding a three-game winning streak and is a few plays away from looking at a clean sheet on the season. The Hilltoppers have got their ground game going in recent weeks, but this week’s opponent might require a little deviation from that attack. Joliet Catholic’s defensive front has provided something of a wall for opponents to try to navigate over the past few weeks.

FND Pick: Joliet Catholic

Benet (4-4, 0-2) at Providence (4-4, 1-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Redwings: The rigors of the CCL/ESCC have wore on Benet. The Redwings have yet to beat a team with a winning record this season. Benet’s offense has gone fairly quiet since the first two weeks of the season which produced 88 of the team’s 146 points.

About the Celtics: Providence hasn’t played a team with a losing record this season, and the past two weeks have been particularly arduous with games against Carmel and Mount Carmel, which have a combined record of 15-1 on the season. The Celtics hope to finish the regular season with a flourish. With a win comes a possible playoff berth, and the Celtics might end up with the most playoff points [opponents wins] in the state to help them to a better first-round draw.

FND Pick: Providence

South Suburban Blue

Lemont (4-4, 4-1) at T.F. North (6-1, 4-1)

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Last matchup: Lemont 63, T.F. North 6 (2022)

About Lemont: Lemont’s reign as the dominant team in the South Suburban appears to have come to an end. A Week 7 loss to Hillcrest means only a win this week coupled with some defensive point finagling would give them the divisional title. The Week 8 loss to Richards is probably even more concerning, as it puts Lemont in a must-win situation for the playoffs. If that win doesn’t happen, Lemont would be excluded from the playoff field for only the second time since 2004. Maybe that reality will give Lemont the extra juice it needs.

About the Meteors: T.F. North is not only the surprise of the South Suburban Conference but possibly the entire state. The Meteors were 1-7 last season, but the total revolution of the program is just a surprise loss to Bremen in Week 6 away from being undefeated. T.F. North hasn’t won seven games in a season since 2002, and a win here would be the first time T.F. North has reached eight wins since 1980.

FND Pick: Lemont

Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 White

Sycamore (8-0, 5-0) at Morris (8-0, 5-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Sycamore 28, Morris 0 (2022)

About the Spartans: It feels like Sycamore and Morris have been on this collison course since kicking off the season. Both sides have dominated the majority of their games. The Spartans won their fifth game of the season by 40-plus points in its Week 8 win over La Salle-Peru, getting a dominant ground attack led by a four-touchdown performance from Tyler Curtis. QB Burke Gautcher is another potent option in the running attack. Sycamore’s defense has been excellent, allowing only 46 points all season, with three shutouts and having held seven of its eight opponents to a touchdown or less.

About Morris: Morris has had one competitive game this season [a 43-33 win over Kaneland in Week 3] and seems to be playing at a higher gear. Morris already avenged previous losses to Richmond-Burton in Week 6 (35-7) and now goes after Sycamore. Both teams have explosive offenses and stingy defenses. It is going to be interesting to see whose unit blinks, but it seems hard to believe it could be a Morris offense that seems to be able to flip a switch whenever it wants with QB Carter Button under center.

FND Pick: Morris

Illinois Central Eight

Coal City (6-2, 5-1) at Manteno (4-4, 4-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Coal City 48, Manteno 0 (2022)

About the Coalers: Coal City got back on track after its loss to Wilmington in Week 7. RB Landin Benson had more than 200 yards on 14 carries as the Coalers rolled to a Week 8 victory over Herscher. Coal City also sprinkled in a little passing, completing two passes, both of which went for touchdowns. The defense turned in another sparkling performance and will build on that entering the Class 4A playoffs.

About the Panthers: Manteno has played well after starting the season 0-2. The problem for the Panthers is that their conference schedule was backloaded in regards to where the strongholds reside. Manteno was overwhelmed in a Week 8 loss to Wilmington and now is forced to try to upset Coal City to extend its season.

FND Pick: Coal City

Peotone (5-3, 4-2) at Herscher (2-6, 2-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Peotone 54, Herscher 19 (2022)

About the Blue Devils: Peotone has had problems with Lisle in past seasons, but not in Week 8. Peotone has become playoff eligible, but its playoff point situation isn’t great, so true security wouldn’t come unless it gets a sixth win in Week 9. Peotone will look to do that behind its potent running game. Chase Rivera led the way in Week 8 with 219 yards and four touchdowns, while Jayden Rodriguez also eclipsed 100 yards and Peotone ran for 385 yards as a team.

About the Tigers: Herscher’s 2-6 mark is a little deceptive. The Tigers have had several close calls that haven’t gone their way. That, coupled with a large portion of its roster being underclassmen, it isn’t surprising that is has taken Herscher some time to find its footing.

FND Pick: Peotone

Wilmington (7-1, 6-0) at Streator (2-6, 1-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wilmington 57, Streator 6 (2022)

About the Wildcats: Wilmington has a highly effective ground game, but the Wildcats took things up a notch in a Week 8 win over Manteno, rushing for about 500 yards at more than 10 yards a carry. Kyle Farrell had another big night, surpassing 250 yards rushing to go along with four touchdowns. Wilmington did allow an uncharacteristic 250 yards of offense to Manteno, but over half of them came on two long scoring plays, one of which was well after the outcome was decided.

About the Bulldogs: Streator fought valiantly before losing to Reed-Custer in Week 8, and obviously this isn’t an ideal matchup to close the season for the Bulldogs. But there’s little chance Streator folds, and dual-threat QB Christian Benning always seems to find a way to make plays. In Week 8, he scored three rushing touchdowns, caught a touchdown pass and threw for two more scores.

FND Pick: Wilmington

Reed-Custer (3-5, 2-4) at Lisle (1-7, 0-6)

When: 7 p.m. Friday at Illinois Benedictine University

Last matchup: Reed-Custer 52, Lisle 0 (2022)

About the Comets: Regardless of the outcome in Week 9, Reed-Custer won’t be headed to the postseason after making back-to-back appearances the past two years. But the Comets still made progress this season, replacing almost every piece of an offensive and defensive attack that set multiple school records in every category. RB Rex Pfeifer has had an exceptional season guiding a Reed-Custer offense that showed signs of its former explosiveness at times.

About the Lions: There simply hasn’t been a lot for Lisle to be all that excited about since a win over Harvard in the first week of the season. Lisle has scored in single digits in five of its seven games since then, but the defense has been even more problematic, having surrendered 40-plus points in every game since the Harvard victory.

FND Pick: Reed-Custer