Analysis | Friday Night Drive

2022 season preview: Scouting the Kishwaukee River/Interstate Eight

Richmond-Burton’s Joe Miller runs with the ball during summer football practice Thursday, July 14, 2022, at Richmond-Burton High School in Richmond.

Blue Division

Harvard

2022 record: 2-7

Coach: Sean Saylor

Worth noting: The Hornets last made the postseason in 2013. … Harvard had to forfeit games in Weeks 5 and 6 last year because of COVID-19 protocols. Its two victories came against Woodstock North and Sandwich. … Landon Barnett will move from running back to quarterback after starter Lee Galarza graduated. … The team also lost its top rusher, Bailey Livdahl, who ran for 742 yards and eight scores. … Overall, the Hornets graduated a big senior group, including three on the offensive line and the majority of their backfield. … Saylor said Wyatt Lamz, Lucas Waldo, Jacob Krass, Brian Cordova and Sean Ritschke have taken on bigger roles this summer.

Johnsburg

2022 record: 3-6

Coach: Sam Lesniak

Worth noting: The Skyhawks started 0-5 last season and won three of their last four games. Their only loss in that stretch was to Class 4A state semifinalist Richmond-Burton, 23-20. … OL-DL Jacob Welch anchors the line and is committed to NIU. He was an IHSFCA Class 4A All-Stater and had 58 pancake blocks. … Running back Jake Metze is someone Lesniak wants to get the ball to as much as possible. The senior totaled 1,220 yards and 14 touchdowns (49 catches for 574 yards, 88 rushes for 646 yards). He picked up an offer from FCS Division I Drake over the summer. ... Leading receivers Cade Piggott (363 yards) and Ian Boal (309 yards) both return for the Skyhawks, in addition to RB-DB Nick LoPresti. … Sophomore A.J. Bravieri will take over at QB for graduate Luke Conroy, who threw for 1,381 yards and nine touchdowns. … Johnsburg last went to the playoffs in 2018.

Marengo

2022 record: 5-5

Coach: Paul Forsythe

Worth noting: The Indians have gone to the playoffs in each of the past three seasons. Each time, they were eliminated by the eventual state champion (IC Catholic in 2018, R-B in 2019, Joliet Catholic in 2021). … Josh Holst returns as the starting QB after throwing for 2,005 yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions and completing 68.1% of his passes. The IHSFCA Class 4A All-Stater has offers from NCAA Division I and II schools. … WR Logan Miller was second on the team with 41 catches for 493 yards and three scores. … Wide receivers Greg Baker and Owen Frederick and tight end Brennen Kentgen will help round out the pass catchers after Marengo’s top receiver Collin Aubry (44 catches, 638 yards, eight TDs) graduated. … The Indians also will have to replace top rusher Dylan Stolz (1,004 yards, eight TDs). Holtz was the second leading rusher last fall with 394 yards. LB-OL Hunter Smith is the team’s top returner on defense, which will benefit from more experience this year, Forsythe said. … Marengo’s first three games (Wilmington, Canton, Richmond-Burton) are on the road.

Plano

2022 record: 6-4

Coach: Rick Ponx

Worth noting: The Reapers made the postseason for the first time since 2018, losing to Kewanee, 17-14, in the Class 4A first round. … Junior WR Waleed Johnson is someone to look out for this year, Ponx said. Johnson scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams last fall. … Plano graduated all three starters on the defensive line, both starting safeties and a starting linebacker, but do return its quarterback, Sam Sifuentes, and three on the offensive line (Alex Diaz, Andrew Harrelson and Ireland Dye). … Ponx expects a strong run game, led by Waleed and Logan Scheich, who is moving to the backfield. ... WR-DB Kaleb Videckis joins Plano after only playing basketball last year. … Ponx expects LBs Aydan Olson, Carnell Walls and Armando Martinez to be their top returners on defense. … “This team is cohesive and hungry,” Ponx said. “The last three years have been about establishing a culture, a work ethic and the understanding that we all depend on each other.”

Richmond-Burton

2022 record: 12-1

Coach: Mike Noll

Worth noting: The Rockets are 43-3 in four years under Noll and had a state-best 32-game winning streak ended last season. Last year’s team won its first 12 games before a hard-fought loss to Class 4A state champion Joliet Catholic, 35-18, in the state semifinals. It was the third straight semifinals appearance for Richmond-Burton. … The Rockets return six starters on offense and six on defense. Back are six three-year varsity players: LB-TE Zach Smith, QB-DB back Joe Miller, FB-DL Steven Siegel, WR-DB Nick Falasca, OL-DL Jacob Gray and OL-LB Nate Komar. … Miller completed 68.7% (57 of 83) of his passes for 1,001 yards and 15 touchdowns as a junior. … Siegel ran for 774 yards and 15 scores behind grad Brock Wood (1,658 rushing yards, 27 TDs), a two-time Northwest Herald Male Athlete of the Year and Friday Night Drive’s 2021 Fall Defensive Player of the Year. Fullback Braxtin Nellessen and tailback Toby Quentrall-Quezada will also get opportunities to run the ball.

Rochelle

2022 record: 8-3

Coach: Kyle Kissack

Worth noting: Kissack said numbers in the program are at an all-time high, which has led to many competitive battles. … One of the strengths of Rochelle will be on the offensive line, where the Hubs return their entire left side and right guard, anchored by Jaden Cook and Kaiden Morris. “There is consistency there and a level of cohesion we haven’t had since 2018,” Kissack said. … Rochelle will have a lot of experience at running back with the return of Garrett Gensler, Trey Taft and Cody Cullum. Gensler was an an IHSFCA Class 5A All-Stater, finishing with 968 yards and 22 touchdowns. Taft had 771 total yards and six scores, and Cullum had 684 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. … The Hubs’ eight wins last season were their most since finishing with eight wins in 2011 and 2017. Rochelle has been to the postseason in two of Kissack’s three playoff-eligible seasons.

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • Garrett Gensler, Rochelle, sr., RB: Gensler (6-1, 195) was an an IHSFCA Class 5A All-Stater last season, finishing with 968 total yards and 22 touchdowns. He’ll also play a key role on the Hubs’ defense this fall at linebacker.
Marengo’s Josh Holst throws the ball during summer football practice Monday, June 27, 2022, at Marengo Community High School in Marengo.
  • Josh Holst, Marengo, sr., QB: The 6-foot-4, 178-pound quarterback has put up huge numbers for the Indians over the past two seasons. Last year, Holst completed 68.1% of his throws for 2,005 yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions, also rushing for 394 yards and five TDs.
  • Jake Metze, Johnsburg, sr., RB: Metze is someone the Skyhawks will look to get the ball to in a variety of ways this fall. Metze finished his junior year with big numbers as both a wide receiver and running back with 1,220 total yards and 14 TDs. He grabbed a team-high 49 catches for 574 yards and rushed a team-high 88 times for 646 yards.
  • Steven Siegel, Richmond-Burton, sr., RB: Siegel will take over much of the running responsibilities after the graduation of Brock Wood, Friday Night Drive’s 2021 Fall Defensive Player of the Year. Siegel, who coach Mike Noll called the team’s “strongest in the weight room,” was second on the Rockets with 774 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns last fall.
  • Jacob Welch, Johnsburg, OL-SL, sr.: Welch (6-6, 310) was an IHSFCA Class 4A All-Stater in his third season as a starter for the Skyhawks and was credited with 58 pancake blocks. Skyhawks coach Sam Lesniak felt he was the best lineman on the field in most of their games. Welch committed to Northern Illinois this summer.

SCHEDULES

HarvardJohnsburgMarengoPlanoRichmond-BurtonRochelle
Week 1at Lisle; 7 p.m., Aug. 26vs. Woodstock North; 7 p.m., Aug. 26at Wilmington; 7 p.m., Aug. 26at Ottawa; 7:15 p.m., Aug. 26vs. Urban Prep-Bronzeville; 7 p.m., Aug. 26vs. Woodstock; 7 p.m., Aug. 26
Week 2at Woodstock North; 7 p.m., Sept. 2at Marian Central Catholic; 7 p.m., Sept. 2at Canton, 7:30 p.m., Sept. 2vs. Manteno, 7:15 p.m., Sept. 2at Memominee, Wisc.; 7 p.m., Sept. 2at Herscher; 7 p.m., Sept. 2
Week 3vs. Ottawa; 7 p.m., Sept. 9vs. Rochelle; 7 p.m., Sept. 9at Richmond-Burton, 7 p.m., Sept. 9OPENvs. Marengo; 7 p.m., Sept. 9at Johnsburg; 7 p.m., Sept. 9
Week 4at Rochelle; 7 p.m., Sept. 16at Marengo; 7 p.m., Sept. 16vs. Johnsburg; 7 p.m., Sept. 16vs. LaSalle-Peru; 7:15 p.m., Sept. 16OPENvs. Harvard; 7 p.m., Sept. 16
Week 5vs. Marengo; 7 p.m., Sept. 23OPENat Harvard; 7 p.m., Sept. 23at Richmond-Burton; 7:15 p.m., Sept. 23vs. Plano; 7:15 p.m., Sept. 23vs. Sycamore; 7 p.m., Sept. 23
Week 6@ Erie-Prophetstown; 1 p.m., Oct. 1at Plano; 7:15 p.m., Sept. 30vs. Rochelle; 7 p.m., Sept. 30vs. Johnsburg; 7:15 p.m., Sept. 30vs. Morris; 7 p.m., Sept. 30at Marengo; 7 p.m., Sept. 30
Week 7vs. Plano; 7:15 p.m., Oct. 7at Richmond-Burton; 7 p.m., Oct. 7vs. Kaneland; 7 p.m., Oct. 7at Harvard; 7:15 p.m., Oct. 7vs. Johnsburg; 7 p.m., Oct. 7vs. Thornridge; 7 p.m., Oct. 7
Week 8vs. Richmond-Burton; 7 p.m., Oct. 14vs. Woodstock; TBD, Oct. 14OPENvs. Rochelle; 7 p.m., Oct. 14at Harvard; 7 p.m., Oct. 14at Plano; 7 p.m., Oct. 14
Week 9at Johnsburg; 7 p.m., Oct. 21vs. Harvard; 7 p.m., Oct. 21vs. Plano; 7 p.m., Oct. 21at Marengo; 7 p.m., Oct. 21at Rochelle; 7 p.m., Oct. 21vs. Richmond-Burton, 7 p.m., Oct. 21

FIVE CAN’T MISS MATCHUPS

Week 3 – Marengo at Richmond-Burton, 7 p.m., Sept. 9: The Indians and the Rockets could both be in the mix for the KRC/I8 Blue title. R-B had a tough defense last season, allowing 158 points in 13 games with four shutouts.

Week 4 – Johnsburg at Marengo, 7 p.m. Sept. 16: A key Week 4 tilt between the Skyhawks and Indians could have conference and postseason implications for both teams. Marengo had wins in two of its final three games last season to earn a Class 4A playoff spot. The Skyhawks finished strong with all three of their wins coming in the last four weeks.

Week 6 – Morris at Richmond-Burton, 7 p.m. Sept. 30: An KRC/I8 crossover battle featuring the champions of the Blue (R-B) and White (Morris) divisions from last season. Both went undefeated in the regular season.

Week 8 – Rochelle at Plano, 7 p.m. Oct. 14: A key late-season battle that could determine how the top half of the conference shakes out. These two played a close game last year, with Rochelle squeaking out a 28-20 victory.

Week 9 – Richmond-Burton at Rochelle, 7 p.m. Oct. 21: The Rockets and Hubs placed first and second, respectively, in the KRC/I8 Blue last year, so this game could be key in determining a champion. R-B bear Rochelle, 34-7, in their only meeting last season.

STEVE SOUCIE’S PREDICTED FINISH

TeamRecord
Richmond-Burton9-0
Rochelle7-2
Plano6-3
Marengo5-4
Johnsburg3-6
Harvard2-7
Kaneland quarterback Troyer Carlson fires a pass during 7-on-7 drills against DeKalb Tuesday, July 26, 2022, at Kaneland High School in Maple Park.

White Division

Kaneland

2022 record: 5-5

Coach: Patrick Ryan

Worth noting: The Knights have made it to the playoffs every year since Ryan took over in 2017. … Junior QB Troyer Carlson, who was an IHSFCA Class 5A All-Stater, threw for 2,790 yards and completed 64.3% of his passes with 36 touchdowns and seven interceptions. … Junior Aric Johnson, a Daily-Chronicle All-Area first-team pick, is the team’s top returner at receiver after catching 37 passes for 711 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore. Kaneland’s leading receiver, graduate Sam Gagne, had 61 catches for 1,146 yards and 15 TDs. … … Austin Lilly is someone to look out for on both sides of the the line, Ryan said. “He plays with a super high motor,” Ryan said. “I’m looking forward to see our kids playing faster than they did last year.” … Long snapper Ryan Algrim is going to play for Kaneland alum PJ Fleck at Minnesota. ... “With returning QB Troyer Carlson and a strong group of receivers, we should be able to put up some big offensive production this year,” Ryan said. “We’re excited about our backfield. ... Our offensive line will be key to our success this year.”

La Salle-Peru

2022 record: 5-5

Coach: Jose Medina

Worth noting: Medina is excited about his offensive line, anchored by Nik Belski and Creed McCormick. The team’s offensive line won the OL Challenge in Princeton over the summer. First-year player Connor Lorden and Warren Mrowicki will anchor the defensive line. … Brendan Boudreau, a junior, will take over as starting quarterback. His dad, Nathan, is La Salle-Peru’s offensive coordinator. … L-P is looking to extend its best stretch of success in the past decade after finishing its third consecutive season at .500 or better – the first time doing so since 1996-98. … The biggest loss to graduation was All-State LB Chris Swayne, who had 87 tackles (60 solo) with nine tackles for loss, two sacks, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and one interception. … Returning at the skill positions are running backs Billy Mini and Mason Lynch and receivers Tommy Hartman and Maalik Madrigal. … “We look to continue to build on running the ball in triple-option attack,” Medina said. “I am excited to see what first-year QB starter Brendan Boudreau can do as the leader of the offense. I look forward to seeing how the running game will open the passing game to create more scoring opportunities.”

Morris

2022 record: 10-1

Coach: Alan Thorson

Worth noting: Morris ended its season with a 28-24 loss to Morton in the Class 5A second round. Morris will have to replace quarterback Zach Romak, a Herald-News All-Area first-team selection, who was a threat with both his arm and his legs. Romak threw for 1,630 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. He also just missed cracking the 1,000-yard rushing barrier, finishing with 990 rushing and 13 scores. Junior Carter Button will take over for Romak. “We are excited for what we think Carter can do, and I think we have some good young talent at the WR position,” Thorson said. “Both Carter our wide receivers have looked impressive this summer in 7-on-7s.” … RB Ashton Yard ran for over 1,000 yards last season as a junior. … RB-LB Sam Reddinger is a Northern Iowa commit. … The offensive line is led by Justin Hemmersbach, Nick Perry, Aiden King and Justin Newman. … Three away games (Antioch, Richmond-Burton and Woodstock) are about two-hour bus rides. … “Last year we finished with a record of 10-1, but it ended with a disappointing loss,” Thorson said. “I definitely think this group learned from that loss and it has motivated them throughout the offseason.”

Ottawa

2022 record: 2-7

Coach: Chad Gross

Worth noting: The Pirates lost starting quarterback Braiden Miller to graduation, a dynamic player who completed 113 of his 200 attempts for 1,480 yards and nine touchdowns. Ottawa’s offense averaged more yards through the air (164.4 per game) than on the ground (115.1). Replacing Miller will be junior Colby Mortenson, who has showed solid arm strength during the summer. … WR Levi Sheehan, a Times All-Area first team pick, returns after catching 43 passes for 667 yards and six touchdowns. … Safety Ryder Miller, another All-Area first-teamer, was a playmaker on defense with 81 tackles (nine for loss), a sack, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries. … Ottawa also graduated its top running back, Javarius Whitfield, who ran for 898 yards and 11 scores and caught 24 passes for 242 yards. … Michael Mills and Tanner Coglianese both return on the offensive line. … “We must improve on finishing strong in the second half of games,” Gross said. “We lost numerous close contests at the end of the game last season. Competition daily in practice will help push the players to be ready to finish strong this season.

Sycamore

2022 record: 9-3

Coach: Joe Ryan

Worth noting: The Spartans are coming off a Class 5A state semifinals appearance, losing to eventual champion Fenwick, 17-6. It was the fewest points Fenwick scored all year. … Ryan will have nine three-year starters back, a number he’s never reached before in 30 years of coaching. … OL-DL Lincoln Cooley (6-1, 280) was an IHSFCA Class 5A All-Stater and named the Fall 2021 Daily Chronicle Football Player of the Year. He had 42 tackles, including 12 against Fenwick in the state semifinals, as a junior and helped lead the way for Sycamore’s running game. … Senior Eli Meier returns at QB for the third year in a row, along with three of five offensive linemen: Cooley, Brady Hollendoner and Gable Carrick. … Meier threw for 1,679 yards with 17 TDs and six interceptions, completing 64% of his passes. He also had 85 carries for 594 yards and eight TDs. … Sycamore is loaded at linebacker with Kiefer Tarnoki and Ethan Bode, both seniors, coming back. Tarnoki had 82 tackles, including 17 for a loss, despite missing three games, also adding four sacks and an INT. Bode had 109 tackles (17 for a loss) and four sacks. Dawson Alexander is one of the team’s defensive leaders at safety. … Sycamore will have a few options at running back. Zack Crawford ran for almost 500 yards, while Alexander, Joey Puleo and Diego Garcia could see time in the backfield. … “We have a really good running back and receiver group,” Ryan said. “We should be as multidimensional on offense as we have been in a long time.”

Woodstock

2022 record: 4-5

Coach: Mike Brasile

Worth noting: Woodstock returns 28 seniors this year, a big step up from eight last season. Brasile said there is a renewed sense of commitment at all levels of the program. “Kids are hungry to take another run at the top teams in the Interstate 8,” he said. … Linebackers Jack Raymond, Noah Maurer and Kaden Sandoval and CB Xander Thomson are all working their way back from torn ACLs. Raymond led the team last season with 93 tackles and two forced fumbles. … The Streaks return five on the defensive line: Jakob Remot, Brandon Carroll, Cooper Pajich, Steven Colvin and Chris Sostre. … Jackson Lyons will step in at QB for graduate Liam Mickle, who threw for 1,641 yards and 14 touchdowns. … Woodstock brings back two running backs (Adrian Perry and Aiden Johnson) who saw significant varsity time, as well as four of their five starting offensive lineman (Remot, Carroll, Andrew Ryan, Lucas Albertson, Tyler Moon). WRs Caden Monti (595 yards, four TDs) and Jared Kniola (205 yards) both return.

Woodstock North

2022 record: 0-9

Coach: Matt Polnow

Worth noting: Polnow, an assistant under Jeff Schroeder for 12 seasons, will take over for Woodstock North. Schroeder started the program when the school opened in 2009 and stepped down after last season, going 52-77 in his 13 seasons as head coach. Polnow graduated from Woodstock High School in 2000. … Jay Zinnen (QB-LB), Kyle Freeman (C-DT), Kaden Combs (FB, LB), Scott Bauer (G/DE), Riley Colwell (G/DT) all return for the Thunder. Zinnen was second on the team with 403 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Graduate Henry Goetz led them with 850 yards and five scores. … Last year was the second time North went 0-9. ... North hasn’t had a winning season since 2016, two times finishing at 5-5 (2017, 2018) and once at 4-5 (2019). … “We are hoping to add some new things to mesh with our old, so I’m excited to see how that plays out,” Polnow said. Kyle Freeman, Riley Colwell, and Scott Bauer are all returning starters on the defensive line.

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • Troyer Carlson, Kaneland, jr., QB: Carlson enjoyed a big sophomore season for the Knights and enters his third season on varsity. Carlson (6-2, 190) made 64% of his passes for 2,780 yards and 36 touchdowns, leading a Kaneland offense that averaged more than 37 points a game during the regular season.
Sycamore's Lincoln Cooley (left) has a laugh with teammates during a break Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, at the school during their first practice ahead of the upcoming season.
  • Lincoln Cooley, Sycamore, sr., OL-DL: Cooley, the Daily Chronicle 2021 Fall Football Player of the Year, had 42 tackles, including 12 in a season-ending loss to state champion Fenwick in a Class 5A semifinal. Sycamore rans most of its attack behind Cooley (6-1, 280), who paved the way for four players to average almost 6 yards per carry.
  • Justin Hemmersbach, Morris, sr., OL-DL: Hemmersbach (6-2, 260) is one of four offensive linemen – along with Nick Perry, Aiden King and Justin Newman – returning for a team that ran over its opponents last season with an average of 250-plus yards a game. Hemmersbach is entering his fourth year as a starter.
  • Eli Meier, Sycamore, sr., QB: Meier (6-1, 185) passed for 1,679 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions, also completing 64% of his passes. He added 85 carries for 594 yards and eight TDs.
  • Ryder Miller, Ottawa, jr., RB-DB: Miller, who coach Chad Gross calls his team’s “Swiss Army knife” because he plays so many positions, will mostly be used at secondary or linebacker. Last year, Miller (5-11, 190) was a Times All-Area first-team pick, leading the Pirates with 81 tackles (nine for loss), a sack, a forced fumble and three fumble recoveries.

SCHEDULES

KanelandLaSalle-PeruMorrisOttawaSycamoreWoodstockWoodstock North
Week 1vs. Andrew; 7:30 p.m., Aug. 26vs. East Moline United; 7 p.m., Aug. 26vs. Coal City; 7 p.m., Aug. 26vs. Plano; 7:15 p.m., Aug. 26vs. DeKalb at NIU; 7 p.m., Aug. 26at Rochelle; 7 p.m., Aug. 26at Johnsburg; 7 p.m., Aug. 26
Week 2vs. Geneva; 7 p.m., Sept. 2at Metamora; 7:30 p.m., Sept. 2at Antioch; 7 p.m., Sept. 2at Streator; 7 p.m., Sept. 2vs. Oak Forest; 7 p.m., Sept. 2vs. Limestone; 7:30 p.m., Sept. 2vs. Harvard; 7 p.m., Sept. 2
Week 3at Morris; 7 p.m., Sept. 9at Woodstock North; 7 p.m., Sept. 9vs. Kaneland; 7 p.m., Sept. 9at Harvard; 7 p.m., Sept. 9at Woodstock; 7 p.m., Sept. 9vs. Sycamore; TBA, Sept. 9vs. LaSalle-Peru; 7 p.m., Sept. 9
Week 4vs. Woodstock; TBA, Sept. 16at Plano; 7:15 p.m., Sept. 16vs. Woodstock North; 7 p.m., Sept. 16at Sycamore; 7 p.m, Sept. 16vs. Ottawa; 7 p.m., Sept. 16at Kaneland; TBA, Sept. 16at Morris; 7 p.m., Sept. 16
Week 5at Ottawa; 7 p.m., Sept. 23vs. Morris; 7 p.m., Sept. 23at LaSalle-Peru; 7 p.m., Sept. 23vs. Kaneland; 7 p.m., Sept. 23at Rochelle; 7 p.m., Sept. 23vs. Woodstock North; 7 p.m., Sept. 23at Woodstock; 7 p.m., Sept. 23
Week 6vs. Sycamore; 7 p.m., Sept. 30vs. Woodstock; 7 p.m., Sept. 30at Richmond-Burton; 7 p.m., Sept. 30at Woodstock North; 7 p.m., Sept. 30at Kaneland; 7 p.m., Sept. 30at LaSalle-Peru; 7 p.m., Sept. 30vs. Ottawa; 7 p.m., Sept. 30
Week 7at Marengo; 7 p.m., Oct. 7at Ottawa; 7 p.m., Oct. 7at Woodstock; 7 p.m., Oct. 7vs. LaSalle-Peru; 7 p.m., Oct. 7vs. Woodstock North; 7 p.m., Oct. 7vs. Morris; 7 p.m., Oct. 7at Sycamore; 7 p.m., Oct. 7
Week 8at Woodstock North; 7 p.m., Oct. 14vs. Sycamore; 7 p.m., Oct. 14vs. Ottawa; 7 p.m., Oct. 14at Morris; 7 p.m., Oct. 14at LaSalle-Peru; 7 p.m., Oct. 14at Johnsburg; TBA, Oct. 14vs. Kaneland; 7 p.m., Oct. 14
Week 9vs. LaSalle-Peru; 7 p.m., Oct. 21at Kaneland; 7 p.m., Oct. 21at Sycamore; 7 p.m., Oct. 21vs. Woodstock; 7 p.m., Oct. 21vs. Morris; 7 p.m., Oct. 21at Ottawa; 7 p.m, Oct. 21at Hope Academy; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 21

FIVE CAN’T MISS MATCHUPS

Week 3 – Kaneland at Morris, 7 p.m. Sept. 9

Kaneland will start its conference schedule by trying to end a two-game losing skid against Morris. Morris was one of two teams to give Kaneland a conference loss last season.

Week 5 – Woodstock North at Woodstock, 7 p.m. Sept. 23

The crosstown rivals square off in an always entertaining showdown. The Blue Streaks defeated the Thunder, 27-14, in their Week 9 game last year.

Week 6 – Kaneland at Sycamore, 7 p.m. Sept. 30

The Knights and Spartans face off in a key game for positioning in the KRC/I8 White Division. Sycamore finished second and Kaneland third last fall.

Week 7 – La Salle-Peru at Ottawa, 7 p.m. Oct. 7

It will mark the 123rd recorded meeting of the La Salle County arch rivals, this one with L-P coming off a playoff run and Ottawa coming off its first multi-win season since 2015. The Cavaliers have won the past seven meetings, including a 28-0 victory in Week 3 last season.

Week 9 – Morris at Sycamore, 7 p.m. Oct. 21

This game could be for the conference title. If both teams enter their Week 9 matchup undefeated, this finale would crown a champion just like last season’s finale did when Morris beat Sycamore, 28-21.

STEVE SOUCIE’S PREDICTED FINISH

TeamRecord
Morris9-0
Sycamore7-2
Kaneland7-2
LaSalle-Peru5-4
Woodstock3-6
Ottawa1-8
Woodstock North0-9