Analysis | Friday Night Drive

The Herald-News Prep Football Capsules for Week 4

SouthWest Suburban Conference

Sandburg (0-3) at Bolingbrook (2-1)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Bolingbrook 24, Sandburg 6 (2021 fall)

About the Eagles: Sandburg has had trouble backing up what appeared to be a bounce-back season last year. Some of that can be attributed to a difficult schedule where opponents have a combined record of 8-1. Although that also might have a little to do with why they’ve given up an average of 38 points per game to start the season, which isn’t sustainable moving forward.

About the Raiders: If there was concern about Bolingbrook bouncing back after a tough loss to Simeon in Week 2, none of that seemed present in the Bolingbrook camp. The Raiders offense erupted in a variety of ways in an easy win over Lincoln-Way West. Freshman QB Jonas Williams already has eclipsed the 1,000-yard passing mark for the season and has tossed a whopping 13 touchdowns. WR I’Marion Stewart stepped to the forefront in Week 3, snagging 12 passes and three touchdowns. Bolingbrook also got the ground game gojng for the first time, as RB Joshua Robinson bulled his way into the end zone for three scores.

Friday Night Drive Pick: Bolingbrook

Homewood-Flossmoor (2-1) at Lockport (3-0)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lockport 22, Homewood-Flossmoor 0 (2021 fall)

About the Vikings: Homewood-Flossmoor seems to be back on track after missing the playoffs last season, particularly with its play on offense. Speedy RB Kamrin Cox presents a challenge for opposing defenses, and he, along with others, have led to H-F to scoring more than 35 points per game. The Vikings haven’t been so stout on defense, but with the offense looking like it’s firing on all cylinders, the defense doesn’t have as much pressure on it either.

About the Porters: Lockport was pushed to the hilt in a narrow Week 3 win over Bradley-Bourbonnais, but veteran coach George Czart felt that was just what this team needed. Injuries have taken a significant bite out of the Porters’ depth, but they are getting step-up performances from many of those who have gotten opportunities. An interception return for touchdown by reserve DB Danny Stevens turned the tide in the Bradley win. QB Brady Pfeifer returned from injury in Week 3, and his rapport with TE Hyatt Timosciek looks dangerous for opponents.

FND Pick: Lockport

Andrew (2-1) at Lincoln-Way East (3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way East 28, Andrew 8 (2021 fall)

About the T-Bolts: After a rough start to the season in a lopsided loss to Kaneland, Andrew has regrouped nicely. Obviously, this game will require a substantial step up in a play for the T-Bolts to compete, but Andrew does seem to have found its footing behind a powerful running game keyed by bruising RB Mike Barberi, who ran for more than 250 yards and three touchdowns in a Week 3 win over Sandburg.

About the Griffins: Lincoln-Way East continued to exert its authority, as it got out to a huge lead against Stagg and coasted to victory. The Griffins have shown enough balance on offense to keep opponents from keying too heavily on either its passing or running game. But defense remains the Griffins’ calling card, often forcing the opposition into positions they aren’t comfortable with.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way East

Bradley-Bourbonnais (1-2) at Lincoln-Way West (2-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way West 16, Bradley-Bourbonnais 14 (2021 fall)

About the Boilermakers: Bradley-Bourbonnais showed off some offensive capabilities in a Week 3 loss to Lockport, but a pair of close losses have put the Boilermakers behind the 8-ball in terms of their playoff prospects. Bradley can move the ball through the air, as QB Ethan Kohl has plenty of targets to choose from, most notably RB/WR Neal May and TE Matthew Allen. Both have the ability to slip behind defenses. Lincoln-Way West has been quite the hurdle for the Boilermakers to clear, as they have lost 10 straight games to the Warriors dating back to their last and only win over the Warriors in 2009.

About the Warriors: Lincoln-Way West got worked over pretty good in a Week 3 loss to Bolingbrook, but the Warriors aren’t known to dwell on it and will be ready to bounce-back. The defense needs to regroup after being so stout the first two weeks, but most defenses struggle to slow the multi-pronged attack of Bolingbrook. Offensively, QB Cole Crafton has show signs of a breakout performance, but Lincoln-Way West’s offensive productivity has been hit-or-miss and still seeks consistency.

FND Pick: Bradley-Bourbonnais

Stagg (2-1) at Lincoln-Way Central (1-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way Central 24, Stagg 19 (2021 fall)

About the Chargers: Stagg got off to one of the better starts in program history by winning its first two games. The first win, over Reavis, snapped a 23-game losing streak. Progress has clearly been made by the Chargers, but they got a reality check in their return to SouthWest Suburban Conference play in a 49-3 loss to Lincoln-Way East, a league where they’ve struggled mightily.

About the Knights: Lincoln-Way Central appears to be bridging the gap a bit between itself and the upper-tier members of the SouthWest Suburban Conference, but the Knights still have work to do. This game is critical for them to get back to the .500 mark, and to give them some much needed momentum heading into a stretch of schedule where they will need at least a few wins to back into the playoff conversation.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way Central

Southwest Prairie Conference

Plainfield Central (1-2) at Minooka (2-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield Central 37, Minooka 36 (2021 fall)

About the Wildcats: Plainfield Central made a second-half push against West Aurora to secure its first win of the season, getting solid play on both sides of the ball in the effort. Offensively, the Wildcats haven’t had much success this season, but QB Chase Vayda looks to be gaining confidence. He compiled about 300 yards of offense in the win. Defensively, Plainfield Central gave up yards in bunches but toughened when needed, forcing the Blackhawks to kick field goals rather than score touchdowns when deep in Wildcat territory on three different possessions.

About the Indians: Minooka finally surged offensively in Week 3, running wild over Romeoville. The Indians got two rushing touchdowns each from QB Gavin Dooley and RB Joey Partridge. Dooley was nearly flawless throwing the football, completing 9-of-11 passes with a score. The opposition should bring a stern test this week, but the momentum gained could prove invaluable. This game was a breakout win for Plainfield Central last year, and those that remain for Minooka from last year would like to avenge that loss.

FND Pick: Minooka

Joliet Central (0-3) at Oswego East (2-1)

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Last matchup: Oswego East 56, Joliet Central 0 (2018)

About the Steelmen: Joliet Central’s struggles in Southwest Prairie Conference crossover games continued in Week 3, as it was defeated soundly by Oswego. Since the conference instituted this crossover/divisional schedule, Joliet Central never has won a crossover game. The Steelmen have been outscored, 116-20, through three games and have to find a way to score more points or to get a few more defensive stops to hang with the rest of the SPC teams.

About the Panthers: Oswego East got a fairly solid offensive effort in a Week 3 win over Plainfield East, and it’s something the Panthers hope is sustainable after managing only a pair of field goals in their lone loss to Lincoln-Way West. QB Tre Jones ran for two scores and threw for another, while Christian Martyn ran for a pair of scores. The Panthers also were gifted several extra possessions with five interceptions, and they didn’t capitalize as often as they would have liked.

FND Pick: Oswego East

Plainfield East (1-2) at Yorkville (3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Last matchup: Yorkville 27, Plainfield East 6 (2021 fall)

About the Bengals: Plainfield East has shown flashes, but there have not been enough of them, and the Bengals are struggling to put together four consistent quarters. Plainfield East was going punch for punch with Oswego East in the first half in Week 3 before things got away from them in a two-touchdown loss. QB Brandon Parades threw three touchdowns, but the offense has to find a way to better value its opportunities, as turnovers have been a huge issue, including a five-turnover game in Week 3.

About the Foxes: The vaunted Yorkville defense finally surrendered some points in its win over Plainfield South in Week 3, but this still is a unit nobody is looking forward to facing. Offensively, the Foxes seem to have found a reliable formula in using RB Gio Zeman as a battering ram. Zeman had 26 carries for 139 yards in the Plainfield South win. Yorkville still hasn’t settled on a regular QB and has played as many as three of them in games.

FND Pick: Yorkville

Plainfield South (1-2) at Plainfield North (3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Last matchup: Plainfield North 27, Plainfield South 0 (2021 fall)

About the Cougars: Plainfield South fared a little better against Yorkville’s defensive front in Week 3 than others have, but it still wasn’t enough for the Cougars to avoid slipping below .500. South’s offense usually leans heavily on RB Brian Stanton, but it needed a different path when Yorkville held him to negative yardage. Plainfield South will need to find a way to give him some running room, and that won’t be easy against a fairly stout Plainfield North defense.

About the Tigers: Plainfield North showed a few new wrinkles offensively in a easy win over Joliet West. RB John St. Clair was bottled up by a heavily stacked defense, so Plainfield North went over the top, as QB Demir Ashiru completed three long touchdown passes. St. Clair still cleared the 100-yard mark by breaking off an 85-yard touchdown run in the second half. Plainfield North’s No. 1 defense reined in Joliet West’s offense for well under 100 yards before Joliet West tacked on some yardage late.

FND Pick: Plainfield North

Joliet West (0-3) at West Aurora (1-2)

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Tigers: There seems to be a consensus among Joliet West’s opponents that the team is improved. Unfortunately for the Tigers, it has not shown in the results. Some of that is a nod to the extremely difficult schedule Joliet West has played, as its three opponents have a combined record of 8-1. But some strides still have to be made. Even though their schedule softens a bit, they need more protection and time for QB Carl Bew.

About the Blackhawks: West Aurora had a discouraging second-half effort in a Week 3 loss to Plainfield Central. The Blackhawks had plenty of success moving the football against the Wildcats, particularly QB Gino Martino, who threw for more than 300 yards in the loss. But when West Aurora did manage to move the ball, it didn’t convert into touchdowns, as several drives ended with field goals. If West Aurora can throw it, it could find success against Joliet West’s secondary, as it gave up several long pass plays in a Week 3 loss to Plainfield North.

FND Pick: West Aurora

Romeoville (0-3) at Oswego (1-2)

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Last matchup: Oswego 61, Romeoville 20 (2021 fall)

About the Spartans: Romeoville still is searching for its first points of the season after being shut out for the third time this year in a Week 3 loss to Minooka. The Spartans haven’t had much luck on defense, having only avoided the running clock once this season. Romeoville, like many members of the Southwest Prairie East, are looking forward to the crossover portion of the SPC schedule to be over.

About the Panthers: Oswego righted the ship in a Week 3 win over Joliet Central, and it was a win the Panthers needed to avoid an 0-3 start, which hasn’t happened in a long time. Oswego should have ample opportunity to get back to .500 before entering league play, but the early hole it has dug for itself record-wise gives them little breathing room.

FND Pick: Oswego

CCL/ESCC Orange Conference

Joliet Catholic (3-0) at Providence (2-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet Catholic 42, Providence 0 (2021 fall)

About the Hilltoppers: Joliet Catholic spread the wealth in a comfortable win over De La Salle, as its six offensive touchdowns were scored by six players. Even though they showed offensive diversity in the win, it appears that RBs HJ Grigsby and Aaron Harvey will lead the way. QB TJ Schlageter threw a pair of touchdowns in the victory, demonstrating that the Hilltoppers can throw when they need to.

About the Celtics: Providence upended defending Class 5A state champion Fenwick in Week 3, the second consecutive year the Celtics have topped the Friars. The key for Providence will be maintaining that momentum the remainder of the season. Providence went 1-5 after the Fenwick win last season. The Celtics have gotten outstanding play from their special teams and will need more of that here.

FND Pick: Joliet Catholic

South Suburban Blue Conference

Lemont (3-0) at Bremen (3-0)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 61, Bremen 22 (2021 fall)

About Lemont: Lemont throttled Oak Forest 42-0 in Week 3. Bremen appears to be one of the teams that will try to make a legitimate run at Lemont’s throne, but until they actually do it, Lemont remains the unquestioned kings of the conference. QB Payton Salomon is thriving again and tossed five touchdown passes in Week 3.

About the Braves: Bremen is off to a strong start to the season, but hasn’t exactly squared off against elite opposition yet. It is going to be interesting to see how RB Breyahn Townsend will fare against a higher caliber defense, because he’s been shredding the opposition thus far. He ran for 209 yards and three scores in Bremen’s Week 3 win over Tinley Park.

FND Pick: Lemont

Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 Conference

Woodstock North (1-2) at Morris (3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Morris 56, Woodstock North 12 (2021 fall)

About the Thunder: Woodstock North has been dangerously close to a much better start than its record would indicate. A last-minute loss to La Salle-Peru dropped the Thunder below .500, as the Thunder simply can’t get a big stop when they need it. Of the nine touchdowns Woodstock North has allowed this season, four of them have come on an opponent’s fourth down.

About Morris: It looked like Morris might be without standout RB Ashton Yard in a Week 3 matchup with Kaneland, but once Yard decided to give it a go despite not being a 100%, he proved too much to stop, rushing for 131 yards on 23 carries. Yard has been a huge part of Morris’ explosive offense, which has almost an equal balance between passing and running. QB Carter Button is completing more than 60% of his passes.

FND Pick: Morris

Illinois Central Eight Conference

Wilmington (3-0) at Peotone (3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wilmington 10, Peotone 0 (2021 fall)

About the Wildcats: Wilmington had to grind its way through its rivalry matchup against Coal City in Week 3, but the Wildcats remain the king of the hill in the Illinois Central Eight. RB Colin James continues to lead offensively for Wilmington, but Coal City kept him under the 100-yard barrier for the first time this season. Wilmington’s defense remains stingy, but it will be interesting to see what happens when brute force meets brute force this week.

About the Blue Devils: There are a fair amount of similarities between what Peotone and Wilmington like to do. Peotone is aspiring to reach Wilmington’s level, and the most recent pairings of these two tend to turn into ground-based wars of attrition. Peotone has done a nice job developing a multi-pronged running attack, as three RBs – Chase Rivera, Dylan Sroka and Dawson Raymond-Piper – had at least 18 carries and a touchdown in a Week 3 win over Manteno.

FND Pick: Wilmington

Wilmington's Ryder Meents scans the field Friday, Sept. 9, 2022, at Wilmington High School.

Herscher (1-2) at Coal City (1-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Coal City 17, Herscher 6 (2021 fall)

About the Tigers: After Herscher opened the season with a win over Charleston, it has gotten problematic for the Tigers. After a loss at the hands of Rochelle in Week 2, Herscher wasn’t able to stop its skid in a narrow, last-minute loss to Streator. Herscher doesn’t have a great track record against Coal City, and unless the defense comes up big things could get away from them.

About the Coalers: Nobody likes a moral victory, but Coal City’s gritty effort in a loss to Wilmington is a good sign for the Coalers moving forward. The Coal City schedule is front-loaded, and the path should get a little easier. RB Landin Benson now has rushed for more than 100 yards in back-to-back games, and Coal City appears to have found a lead running back to go with a defense that looks like its finding its way.

FND Pick: Coal City

Manteno (0-3) at Reed-Custer (3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Reed-Custer 55, Manteno 7 (2021 fall)

About the Panthers: Manteno put up a better fight in Week 3, eventually falling to longtime rival Peotone. The Panthers still are giving up too many points, and having a defensively challenged team against an explosive Reed-Custer offense could be a recipe for disaster.

About the Comets: Reed-Custer has put on a display on offense this season and seems to score at will. It doesn’t look like anything can get in the way of the Comets right now with QB Jake McPherson using all of the weapons at his disposal. Reed-Custer has scored 182 points, just one point behind the state’s most prolific offensive attack from Chatham Glenwood.

FND Pick: Reed-Custer

Vermilion Valley Conference

Dwight (0-3) at Oakwood (1-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Oakwood 30, Dwight 22 (2021 fall)

About the Trojans: Dwight still appears to be a couple of steps behind most of the Vermilion Valley Conference crossover foes, but kept things within reason against what looks to be a solid Westville squad. Oakwood looks like the most likely crossover team that the Trojans can have some success against, but it’s still likely an uphill climb.

About the Comets: Oakwood probably is fourth or fifth in the pecking order in the deeper side of the Vermilion Valley Conference, but a win over Momence in Week 2 shows that the Comets probably are a bit better than they have been. This is a must win for Oakwood if it has any hopes of a playoff slot.

FND Pick: Oakwood

Georgetown/Ridge Farm (0-3) at Seneca (3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Seneca 63, Georgetown/Ridge Farm 6 (2021 fall)

About the Buffaloes: Georgetown/Ridge-Farm has stayed afloat the past few years, with numbers problems leading to speculation that it might not be able to field an 11-man team much longer. The Buffaloes’ problems remain, and unexpectedly those woes have carried over as they have been outscored 154-31.

About the Fighting Irish: Seneca has been extremely proficient on offense, and the Fighting Irish have shown a propensity for winning close games, having edged out opponents each of the last two weeks. Seneca’s ability to potentially get out of the crossover portion of the Vermilion Valley schedule with four wins in its pocket sets them up well for the second half of the season.

Friday Night Drive Pick: Seneca