Batavia (4-1) vs. Wheaton North (4-1)
When: 4 p.m. Saturday, at NIU
Last matchup: Batavia 28, Wheaton North 3 (2019)
About the Bulldogs: Batavia bounced back from a Week 4 loss to WW South in resounding fashion, a 49-7 thumping of Glenbard North. The Bulldogs have a nasty pair of linebackers in Arizona recruit Matt Weerts and Tyler Jansey. NIU recruit Trey Urwiler, playing on his future home field this Saturday, was moved to quarterback in Week 2 when Kyle Oroni suffered a season-ending knee injury. The Bulldogs’ defense gives up just 57.4 rushing yards per game, 2.2 yard per carry. Josh Dornink, with 351 yards, is among four Batavia runners over 200 yards on the season.
About the Falcons: A great opportunity here for Wheaton North to put an exclamation mark on an impressive spring season. Junior quarterback Mark Forcucci, who threw for three TDs against Geneva in a 34-0 win last week, can make plays with his feet or throwing to a deep group of receivers – he’ll need to against a Batavia defense that’s tough to run against. Drake recruit Riley Dravet is a playmaker in all three phases.
FND Pick: Batavia
St. Charles North (3-1) vs. Wheaton Warrenville South (4-1)
When: Noon Saturday, at NIU
Last matchup: Wheaton Warrenville South 28, St. Charles North 7 (2019)
About the North Stars: St. Charles North did not play in Week 5 with Lake Park shutting its program down because of COVID-19 protocols, so how sharp the North Stars are is an obvious concern. George Litgen and St. Charles North’s defense, which has allowed just 46 points, is a strength. Minnesota commit Jordan Nubin is a player to watch, as is running back Josh Bridges.
About the Tigers: WW South comes in off a Week 5 win over St. Charles East. Jaylen Brown and the Tigers’ defense has been solid all year. Parker Brown was 13-for-18 for 265 yards and two TDs last week in a half of action, including a record-setting 99-yard TD catch-and-run to Brandon Bell. Eddie Robinson is a hard runner out of the backfield.
FND Pick: WW South.
St. Charles East (0-5) vs. New Trier (4-1)
When: 6 p.m. Friday at NIU
Last Matchup: St. Charles East 17, New Trier 10 (2016)
About the Saints: The Saints simply have had a down year and have struggled to put up points. Nathan Hayes is obviously talented at quarterback, and they have some pieces on the offensive line with Austin Barrett, for example.
About the Trevians: New Trier has played close games the past three weeks, with no team scoring greater than 15 points. The Trevians had a close loss to Maine South last week, mustering only nine points, in their conference title game. The game is being played because of Lake Park having to cancel its final two games of the season, and it was originally supposed to be the Saints and Lancers at NIU.
FND Pick: New Trier
Geneva (2-3) at Glenbard North (2-3)
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Last Matchup: Glenbard North 45, Geneva 0 (2019)
About the Vikings: Geneva took a step back last week with a big loss to Wheaton North. The Vikings were largely unable to sustain some promising drives and the defense couldn’t stop the big play after awhile. Geneva’s talent, however, should still shine through, particularly in the run game with Ethan Mayer and Konner Mickelsen. Depending on the effectiveness of Michael Ignoffo’s ankle, that could be a huge factor in the passing game for Alex Porter.
About the Panthers: The Panthers ran into a buzzsaw last week against Batavia, and it was from the opening kickoff. After a scoring drive early in the first quarter, the Panthers didn’t have a drive that lasted longer than four plays until late in the first half. So, how the Panthers control the tempo will be interesting this week. Denhim Betney had 89 yards rushing and will be an obvious candidate to wear down the Geneva front seven.
Fox Valley Conference
Burlington Central (1-4) at McHenry (2-2)
When: 6 p.m. Friday.
Last matchup: McHenry defeated Burlington Central, 31-22, in Week 3 last season.
About the Rockets: Burlington picked up its first win last week, 13-6, over Dundee-Crown. … RB Gavin Sarvis is second in area rushing with 521 yards and the only area player with more than 100 carries. … QB Shawn Adkerson has two productive games throwing since starter Mark Ganziano suffered a broken arm. He has thrown for 359 in the last two games.
About the Warriors: McHenry has won two consecutive games, beating Crystal Lake Central (38-26) and Crystal Lake South (48-37). … RB Brody Hallin ran for his career-best 250 yards last week with a pair of touchdowns. … QB Andrew Hoffman has thrown for 645 yards and seven touchdowns. … WR Adam Benton has 16 receptions and WR Matt Gallimore has 14, each has four touchdown catches. Benton had three TD catches two weeks ago, Gallimore had three last week.
FND pick: McHenry.
Metro Suburban Conference
Bishop McNamara (3-1) at St. Francis (5-0)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: St. Francis 46, Bishop McNamara 43 (2019)
About the Irish: Bishop McNamara had its Week 5 game with IC Catholic Prep canceled because of ICCP COVID-19 issues. But the Irish will have a shot to avenge another 2019 loss this week, with a game at St. Francis. The Spartans last season beat the Irish in a 46-43 classic, Tommy Rittenhouse’s TD pass on the last play of the game. Outside of a fourth-quarter meltdown at Wheaton Academy, McNamara has rolled through its schedule, much like St. Francis, outscoring its last three opponents 125-18.
About the Spartans: St. Francis can wrap up an unbeaten season and an outright Metro Suburban Conference championship with a win here. This is probably the game the Spartans have looked forward to most since their impressive 28-0 win over IC Catholic in Week 1. Rittenhouse, an Illinois State recruit, is the man to watch in the final game of a spectacular high school career. If it’s a high-scoring affair that’s just fine with the Spartans with the likes of skill guys like Elijah Lee and Tyler Bishop.
FND Pick: St. Francis
Interstate Eight Conference
Kaneland at LaSalle-Peru
When: 6 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: The Knights were 31-0 winners last year.
About the Knights: Kaneland enters 4-1 and with the chance to play spoiler. A win likely would prevent LaSalle-Peru (4-0) from winning the conference title – Sycamore is 5-0 and faces Plano.
Kaneland coach Pat Ryan said the team feels good, having won four straight after a season-opening, 12-6 loss to the Spartans in overtime.
“I think our kids are motivated to win,” Ryan said. “We’ve got 25 seniors, we start 11 on defense. Our offensive line has four seniors. These kids really want to finish with a win. It always feels good to beat an undefeated team.”
In the past five meetings between the schools, the Knights have won all five by an average of 46-8 dating to 2010. But Ryan said this is a different L-P team, and his players understand that.
“Somebody was on the bus on the way home from the game last week and said that they saw L-P beat Morris, and we better be ready this week,” Ryan said. “Our kids are focused this week, and it has been tremendous. It’s as good as I’ve seen in a long time.”
Ryan said running the football again will be key for the Knights. Corey Phillips was voted Friday Night Drive’s Team of the Week MVP for his performance last week. He ran for 199 yards and three touchdowns.
“Their strength is their defensive line, and I think a strength of ours is our offensive line,” Ryan said. “It makes for a great matchup. We have been able to run the ball still. We can’t turn it over.”
About the Cavaliers: Like the Knights, the Cavs’ defense has been the centerpiece of their success this year. They are allowing eight points a game. Levi Reed has been a force at defensive end, with 12 tackles for loss and four sacks, not to mention 28 total tackles.
The Cavs ground the ball out on the ground, with Tyler Hartman having thrown only 17 passes this year, completing six of them for 117 yards and a score. Sean Whitfield also has spent time at QB for the Cavs.
Matt Carrico anchors the ground attack, carrying 74 times or 364 yards and two scores. Hartman has 53 carries for 191 yards.
FND pick: Kaneland
Marmion (1-1) at Joliet Catholic (5-0)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Joliet Catholic 49, Marmion 7 (2019)
About the Cadets: Marmion is an intriguing team that has had a very strange path through the season. The Cadets have had two different COVID-related pauses, one of which caused them to face a different opponent than previously scheduled in powerful Naperville Central, where the Cadets almost pulled off a substantial upset. They later pulled a rabbit out of their hats with a late rally to beat Fenwick. But those are the only two contests they’ve been able to play to date.
About the Hilltoppers: Joliet Catholic has made things look far too easy this season with just one opponent, largely due to its slowdown tactics, being able to stay within two touchdowns of the Hilltoppers. RB Jordan Anderson, who recently picked up a University of Illinois offer, leads the attack, but he’s got plenty of help from teammates like Ja’arie Mack, who scored three touchdowns on just four carries in Week 5, amassing 120 yards rushing in the process.
Pick: Joliet Catholic