DuPage Valley Conference
Naperville Central at DeKalb
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Last matchup: The Redhawks were 49-16 winners last year.
About the Barbs: DeKalb enters 2-0 after a 31-12 win at Waubonsie Valley.
Tucker Ikens passed the 100-yard mark last week with 139 yards on 18 carries, the first Barb to cross the century mark in a game despite the team wracking up about 600 rushing yards in two games.
And they’ve done it without Trenton McCullom, who has missed the first three games of the season. Asked about his status, coach Keith Snyder repeated what he said after Week 1′s win against Metea Valley.
“We’re looking forward to seeing Trenton McCullom on the field soon,” Snyder said.
The Barbs also announced this week that they are looking for a Week 6 opponent. It was originally supposed to be a conference championship week, but it could have been filled with each team making up a conference game against a team it hadn’t played this year. But Naperville North and Naperville Central want to play their rivalry game, and although that game also was not played earlier in the year, it means DeKalb would have to face someone they already played. North also had a game against DeKalb canceled.
“It’s important for a rivalry. I get it,” Snyder said. “If we could play Sycamore, we’d play Sycamore. But we just want to make sure all avenues are covered and DeKalb football is taken care of.”
Snyder said the program is exploring all its options for Week 6.
“We’re trying to see what all the avenues are,” Snyder said. “With so many teams losing games, as far as a conference title goes – everything is still on the table.”
About the Redhawks: Although they come in 3-0 this is only the second game originally on the team’s schedule, having filled in cancellations with games against Marmion and Morton.
In the Redhawks win last week against Morton, Reggie Fleurima had six catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns all in one half. Shane Roth anchored the defense in the first half, grabbing an interception.
“I think we’re going to see one of the best boxes I’ve seen in a long time in a high school football team,” Snyder said. “The Naperville Central front seven is stout, solid against the run. They play a heck of a 3-4. They sprinkle in some cloud looks. They have all the tricks.”
Like the Barbs, the Redhawks have a balanced rushing attack. Niko Gordon had 92 yards last week. Owen Prucha was 9 for 11 for 190 yards passing and the two TDs to Fleurima.
“I think everyone knows about Naperville Central’s traveling all-star team they have on offense,” Snyder said. “They had it last year as well. You’ve got a couple D-I kids out there, but when you’re in the DVC you see that every week. Reggie is a special player, and we’re going to have to identify where he’s at. They have Niko, a big safety for them.”
Friday Night Drive Pick: Naperville Central
Morris at Sycamore
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Sycamore won 35-6 last season.
About the Spartans: Coach Joe Ryan said he feels Friday will be the first real test each teams’ defense has faced. He said that Kaneland, like the Spartans in Week 1, still was feeling things out in a 12-6 Sycamore win in overtime.
“Both teams are about to find to where we are at,” Ryan said. “Both defenses are about to see where we stand.”
Eli Meier has sparked the Sycamore offense at quarterback, taking over in the middle of Week 2, as Sycamore beat Ottawa, 26-6. The Spartans rolled past Sandwich, 55-0, last week.
Ryan said the Spartans will have to limit the big-play ability of Morris (3-0).
“They spread you out and get seems on bubbles or whatever,” Ryan said. “We have to limit big plays and be efficient offensively. I’m optimistic because we have gotten better each week [defensively.]”
The winner will control their own fate in the Interstate 8 as the last undefeated team in the conference.
“It’s another step,” Ryan said. “Hopefully there’s still two more weeks to go but they’re the best team we’ve played in the conference, and they’re undefeated. Whoever comes out is going to feel like they’re set up best, but there’s still a lot to be played.”
About Morris: Zach Romak has completed 65% of his passes for 499 yards and eight touchdowns, with five interceptions.
Nathan Jepson has 14 catches for 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Myles Johnson has eight catches for a team-best 157 yards and two touchdowns.
“It should be a good game,” Morris coach Alan Thorson said. “We have the highest-scoring offense in the conference, and Sycamore has one of the top defenses around. They are very aggressive on defense.”
With the Spartans switching from a wing-T, featuring Nathaniel Altepeter in the backfield, to a spread to showcase their plethora of receivers at 6-3 or taller, Thorson said the Sycamore offense can create problems as well.
“The last couple of years with Kevin Crandall on staff they have become very good at the wing-T that Crandall used at Rochelle. And they will mix things up and switch from the wing-T to a 5-wide spread, so that creates some matchup problems.”
And with no postseason Thorson said this game will feel like a playoff game.
“It’s two 3-0 teams, and it’s probably for the conference championship. They are very well-coached. Joe does a good job with them. Our kids are excited, as I am sure theirs are. There are no playoffs this year, but this should be like a playoff game.”
FND Pick: Sycamore
Plano at Kaneland
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Kaneland won 49-0 on the road last year.
About the Knights: The Knights head into this game clicking on offense after struggling in Week 1 against Sycamore, a 12-6 overtime loss.
Freshman Troyer Carlson has taken over at quarterback, and junior Corey Phillips has taken more carries throughout the season.
“I think offensively we have to continue to move the ball,” coach Pat Ryan said. “I think the strength of their team is their defense. We have to be able to effectively both run and pass the ball well. Last week we couldn’t really throw that well because of the wind, so we’re hoping to be more balanced this week.”
It also will be the final home game of the season for the Knights.
“We’re hoping for a good night for those kids,” Ryan said. “We a senior-heavy football program, and we’re hoping for a good outcome. For a lot of them, there are no playoffs, so it’s the last time they’re going to be able to play at home, so we’re hoping for a good outcome.”
About the Reapers: Plano started the year with a 20-7 win against Ottawa but has since lost to Morris (35-12) and LaSalle-Peru (14-7).
Tony Licea leads the ground attack with 4.5 yards a carry and three touchdowns.
“We have to stop their running back,” Ryan said. “Fortunately, I think that’s a strength of our team, stopping the run. It’s what we’ve done all season pretty well.”
Sammy Siefuentes will be the older of the two quarterbacks in the game. The sophomore has complete 11 of 30 passes for 143 yards and a TD this season. Kam Williams has five catches for 97 yards and a touchdown.
Defensive lineman Nemo Denton is averaging 10 tackles and a sack per game.
FND Pick: Kaneland
Big Northern Conference
Winnebago vs. Genoa-Kingston
When: 7 p.m. Friday, at Harlem
Last matchup: The Cogs won 41-21 in Winnebago last year.
About the Cogs: The Cogs are coming off a huge win, knocking off defending Class 3A runner-up Byron, 14-0, on the road. It was their first win against the Tigers since 2008.
Coach Chad Wilmarth said G-K needs to play with the same intensity it did last week. Byron opened the game marching into the G-K red zone, but the defense clamped down and the Tigers ended the drive at the 42. Michael Suaber and Connor Schwitchenberg snuffed out a sweep on third and 17 after Sauber started the series of downs with a tackle for a loss. Schwitchenberg ended it with a sack.
“You watch that first series, analyze it, and Byron is as coached up and prepared as any team,” Wilmarth said. “They’re going to run it better than you can run it in your scout drills. So we were trying to weather the storm. It took us four, five, six, seven plays to get in it and catch our wind, play fast, not overthink it and just fly to the football.”
The Tigers managed only 178 yards of offense, while the Cogs had 202.
About the Indians: Winnebago allowed 267 yards to Dixon in the first half and trailed 14-0 before scoring the final 19 points for the win.
Quarterback Larson Garrigan had a big punt return for the Indians in the second half. Wilmarth said he definitely is a dual threat. Michael Cunningham had 19 carries for 86 yards in the win.
“They’ll give you a twins look, a pro look, line up in the I,” Wilmarth said. “They have big tight ends that can go up and get the football and a tailback that runs hard. They’ll do a lead play, a counter play, a trap. Plus they’re quarterback can take off if he sees green in front of him. We’re going to have to jam the tight ends, take care of our gap responsibilities and have kids flying around and playing fast.”
FND Pick: Genoa-Kingston
Polo at Hiawatha
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: First meeting since at least 1995.
About the Hawks: Hiawatha lost 42-8 to the Wildcats, the second time in three weeks that the teams played each other. Keneway said the team is looking to bounce back.
“That one kind of stung,” Keneway said. “We thought we had stuff figured out and had stuff ready, and we came out and, I don’t know, we just didn’t play well Thursday.”
They’ll look to rebound against a Polo team that is coming of its first loss in eight-man.
“They’re still a really solid team,” Keneway said. “They have 30 something kids on the team, run a ball-control offense out of the I-formation and run the ball like 99% of the time. They want to control the ball and the clock. Plus they won state last year, so they’re returning kids with championship rings, so it’s cool for them.”
About the Marcos: In Week 3 Polo suffered its first loss since joining the eight-man ranks, falling to West Central, 42-6. Parker Wolber had a touchdown catch in the first half for the Marcos’ lone score in Week 3. He also had two rushing TDs in a Week 2 win over Alden-Hebron and three rushing TDs in the season-opening win over South Beloit. So far this season, Polo has had 10 scoring plays of 30 yards or more, including a 78-yard kick return against South Beloit, a 69-yard touchdown run by Wolber on an option, and a 68-yard Cole Faivre run against Alden-Hebron. In each of Polo’s wins quarterback Tyler Merdian had more rushing yards than passing yards. He ran twice for 54 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown, against South Beloit while completing 1 of 3 passes for two yards. In the win over Alden-Hebron, he had one carry for 37 yards and completed the only pass he attempted for 30 yards.