Analysis | Friday Night Drive

The Herald-News Football Capsules for Week 5 of the 2022 season

SouthWest Suburban Conference

Bolingbrook (3-1) at Lincoln-Way East (4-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way East 21, Bolingbrook 13 (fall 2021)

About the Raiders: The Bolingbrook offense continues to be prolific, as Raiders freshman QB Jonas Williams is approaching 20 touchdown passes this season. An army of capable WRs led by I’Marion Stewart and Kyon Berry-Johnson makes for matchup nightmares for most opposing defenses. The defense isn’t hurting for talent either, particularly in the secondary with S Damon Walters. This week’s opponent provides a challenge for the Raiders, as they haven’t won an annual meeting with the Griffins since 2013.

About the Griffins: Lincoln-Way East is firing on all cylinders as it moves into the meat of its schedule. The Griffins have routed their past two opponents (Stagg, Andrew) by a combined score of 91-3. The defense is setting the pace, allowing a scant number of points while being pretty stingy with yards. A balanced offense is guided by RBs James Kwiecinski and Peter Olaleye, but QB Braden Tischer and WR Jayden Cook also have been developing into a dangerous and productive combination.

Friday Night Drive Pick: Lincoln-Way East

Lincoln-Way West (2-2) at Stagg (2-2)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way West 42, Stagg 6 (fall 2021)

About the Warriors: Lincoln-Way West has slipped back to the .500 mark, but will look to get back on track against a Stagg program that has had trouble against conference opponents. Lincoln-Way West’s offense showed signs of life in a Week 4 loss to Bradley-Bourbonnais, but its defense – which has been fairly stout – took a step back. Stagg could be an excellent opportunity for both sides of the football to excel.

About the Chargers: After a surprising 2-0 start, the Chargers crashed back to earth once they entered Southwest Suburban Conference play. Stagg has been outscored 90-3 in back-to-back losses to Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way Central and is hoping for better against the last of the Lincoln-Way triumvirate on its schedule.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way West

Sandburg (0-4) at Lockport (3-1)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lockport 42, Sandburg 0 (fall 2021)

About the Eagles: Sandburg has had a rough follow-up to last year’s run to the playoffs. Some of that can be attributed to the Eagles playing one of the strongest schedules in the state, but it still has to be discouraging. Sandburg struggled to rein in Bolingbrook’s passing attack in Week 4, and Lockport hasn’t hesitated to strike through the air either.

About the Porters: Lockport lost for the first time in 10 games, going back to Week 7 last season against Lincoln-Way East, as it fell behind big early in a loss to Homewood-Flossmoor. The Porters tried to rally but dug themselves too deep a hole. For two straight weeks, the defense has struggled to seize control. It’s a component Lockport could use to get a little closer to the blueprint it used last season in its run to the Class 8A title.

FND Pick: Lockport

Lincoln-Way Central (2-2) at Andrew (2-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Andrew 31, Lincoln-Way Central 7 (fall 2021)

About the Knights: Excluding the shortened spring season, Lincoln-Way Central hasn’t found itself in position to move above .500 this late in the season since 2018. This will be pivotal for Lincoln-Way Central’s playoff hopes as its schedule takes a step up after this week. Andrew has served as a bit of a measuring stick for the Knights, and they would like to reverse the recent trend of having trouble with the T-Bolts.

About the T-Bolts: Andrew has had a pretty uneven season, taking lopsided losses to Kaneland and Lincoln-Way East while picking off a well-regarded Oswego team in Week 2. The T-Bolts are at their best when they are able to get to their ground game going, and RB Mike Barberi is key to Andrew’s ability to succeed.

FND Pick: Andrew

Southwest Prairie Conference

Plainfield Central (1-3) at Joliet West (1-3)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield Central 16, Joliet West 0 (fall 2021)

About the Wildcats: Like most of SPC East teams, Plainfield Central found the road a little rocky during the nonconference part of the schedule. It allows for limited breathing room for the Wildcats in their quest to achieve a second consecutive playoff berth. There’s an opportunity for Plainfield Central to go on a little run here if the offense can come together. Not much went right in a Week 4 loss to Plainfield Central, but they did get a lift from sophomore RB Malik Jassim.

About the Tigers: Joliet West got a spectacular performance from QB Carl Bew in its Week 4 win over West Aurora, as he combined for more than 200 yards. But Bew could use some help. Defensively, the Tigers have to get some stops, as it has surrendered an average of 38 points per game. If shootouts are the only path to Joliet West victories they will take it, but the defensive could help in easing some of the pressure on the offense.

FND Pick: Plainfield Central

Plainfield East (1-3) at Joliet Central (0-4)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield East 55, Joliet Central 6 (fall 2021)

About the Bengals: Plainfield East, like many teams in the Southwest Prairie Conference, likely is relieved the crossover part of its schedule is over. They are hoping get healthy, particularly at wide receiver. Standout sophomore Quinn Morris sat out in Week 4 with an ankle injury as did another productive Bengal WR, Kameron Hopkins. That left QB Brandon Parades with less targets to lean on, while he dealt with a foot ailment.

About the Steelmen: Joliet Central was shut out for the second consecutive week in a loss to Oswego in Week 4. Thankfully, a little relief might be on the horizon. To date, the first four opponents on the Joliet Central schedule have combined for 11 wins, while the remaining five opponents have totaled four victories.

FND Pick: Plainfield East

Oswego (2-2) at Minooka (3-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Oswego 41, Minooka 28 (fall 2021)

About the Panthers: Oswego’s schedule has been uneven. Although the Panthers are riding a two-game winning streak, those lopsided wins have come against a pair of winless teams. It’s hard to know how Oswego will respond to a more rigorous slate of opponents, but history says they won’t roll over.

About the Indians: After a humbling loss to Bolingbrook in Week 1, Minooka has regrouped rather nicely. An opportunistic defense has been giving extra possessions to the offense, and they’ve managed to cash in quite a few chances. QB Gavin Dooley has been solid, and the Indians seem to be forming a cache of productive offensive players in RBs Joey Patridge and Braeden Anderson, as well as WR D.J. McIntosh.

FND Pick: Minooka

Plainfield North (4-0) at Yorkville (4-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield North 31, Yorkville 3 (fall 2021)

About the Tigers: Plainfield North seems to be firing on all cylinders. Offensively, the Tigers have opened up the playbook a bit, as QB Demir Ashiru has demonstrated that is a viable route for them. RB John St. Clair can help Plainfield North move the ball as well. Defensively, mistakes have been few, with few points allowed after the Tigers build substantial leads.

About the Foxes: Yorkville has one of the best, if not the best, defensive fronts in the Southwest Prairie Conference. But the Foxes have not seen a team the caliber of Plainfield North, and it will be interesting to see if the stellar play will hold. Yorkville has been hit rather hard by injuries, as lead RB Gio Zeman sat out the Week 4 game. Josh Gettamy filled in admirably, stacking up about 150 yards in his absence.

FND Pick: Plainfield North

Plainfield South (1-3) at Romeoville (0-4)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield South 41, Romeoville 27 (fall 2021)

About the Cougars: Plainfield South is mired in a three-game losing streak and has had trouble finding offensive cohesiveness during the slide. RB Brian Stanton is a legitimate threat, but as of now the Cougars haven’t found any other consistent weapons to keep the opposition from keying on him. He was held to less than 20 yards rushing for most of a Week 4 loss to Plainfield North before breaking off a 42-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

About the Spartans: Romeoville finally scored a touchdown in Week 4, but it still turned out to be its worst defeat of the season in a loss to Oswego. The Spartans aren’t ready to compete at the level required in the Southwest Prairie Conference crossover matchups (outscored 174-7 in four games), but the hope is they weren’t too discouraged to regroup for divisional play.

FND Pick: Plainfield South

Nonconference

Joliet Catholic (4-0) at Crete-Monee (2-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet Catholic 41, Crete-Monee 27 (fall 2021)

About the Hilltoppers: Joliet Catholic has been taken to its limit in two of the past three games, but has found a way to protect the state’s longest active winning streak, now at 24 games. The Hilltoppers have found offensive productivity with a varied running attack and a more productive aerial attack than usual, but they could benefit from the defense stepping up with a few more earlier stops in games rather than waiting until late to deliver clutch stops.

About the Warriors: Crete-Monee quite possibly has the most uneven conference-to-nonconference schedule in the state. Aside from recently emerged conference rival Kankakee, about every one of Crete’s conference matchups quickly turn into runaways for the Warriors. Five Southland Conference foes aren’t on Crete’s level, so nonconference games are where they see where they stand. The Warriors offense, led by QB Joshua Franklin, presents a challenge to a Joliet Catholic defense that has had a few holes.

FND Pick: Joliet Catholic

Providence (2-2) at Marian Central Catholic (2-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Providence 35, Marian Central Catholic 33 (fall 2021)

About the Celtics: Providence just endured a string of schedule against three defending state champions – Wheaton North (Class 7A), Fenwick (Class 5A) and Joliet Catholic (Class 4A) – and while it came away with only one win, there is plenty to be positive about moving forward. A gritty offensive line looks like it can open holes for junior running back Jamari Tribbett, who approached 250 rushing yards in the Celtics’ Week 4 loss to JCA.

About the Hurricanes: Marian Central Catholic dropped out of the CCL/ESCC last spring but was unable to fill its entire schedule as an independent, which required keeping some former league teams on its slate. The Hurricanes will join a new conference in 2023. MCC went out of state to even its record in Week 4, besting Appleton West. Junior TE Christian Bentancur [who has more than 20 D-1 offers] is a player Providence will have to pay attention to.

FND Pick: Providence

South Suburban Blue Conference

Tinley Park (0-4) at Lemont (4-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 44, Tinley Park 0 (fall 2021)

About the Titans: There have not been a lot of positives for Tinley Park, and this looks like an ominous matchup for them. The Titans dropped a 30-point decision to Bremen in Week 3, the same Bremen team that Lemont took out 48-19 in Week 4.

About Lemont: Lemont continued its dominance in South Suburban Conference play, pummeling a Bremen team that entered Week 4 with a spotless record. It may have been the only opponent that could hang with Lemont in conference play. Since Bremen couldn’t do it, odds are it may get messy for Tinley Park.

FND Pick: Lemont

Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 Conference

Morris (4-0) at LaSalle-Peru (3-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Morris 31, La Salle-Peru 7 (fall 2021)

About Morris: Morris barely had possession of the ball in a Week 4 win over Woodstock North, but it scored so quickly that it didn’t need much time. Morris put up 27 points in the first quarter in the win and had a pair of special teams scores.

About the Cavaliers: La Salle-Peru is going to try to control tempo, and if it can establish a foothold it may be able to play keep away from a high-octane Morris offense. The Cavaliers did that in a Week 4 win over Plano, piling up 300-plus rushing yards headed by a three-score day from QB Brendan Boudreau.

FND Pick: Morris

Illinois Central Eight Conference

Reed-Custer (4-0) at Peotone (3-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Reed-Custer 42, Peotone 6 (2021 fall)

About the Comets: Reed-Custer has the state’s most prolific offense after posting 69 points in a Week 4 win over Manteno. It is not a question of whether or not someone can stop Reed-Custer, it is more a question of whether it can be slowed down. Reed-Custer scored 40 points in the first quarter, as QB Jace McPherson threw three touchdowns and ran for another. RB Jace Christian scored a pair of touchdowns.

About the Blue Devils: Peotone was hit with its first loss in Week 4 against Wilmington. The Blue Devils typically run the football with authority, but were held to less than 2 yards per carry and ended up attempting more passes than they had in their previous three games total. That won’t be a recipe for success here, either, but the focus falls on the defense, as they are tasked with trying to contain an offense that hasn’t shown a single weakness yet.

FND Pick: Reed-Custer

Coal City (2-2) at Lisle (2-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Coal City 24, Lisle 12 (fall 2021)

About the Coalers: Has Coal City found its mojo? It sure looked like it in Week 4, as it racked up 63 points in a win over Herscher. It was the second highest single-game scoring effort in program history, behind only a 68-point outburst against Dwight in 2011. Coal City put forth a dominant effort on the ground coupled with a punishing defense performance.

About the Lions: Lisle didn’t let back-to-back losses to Illinois Central Eight favorites Wilmington and Reed-Custer damper its enthusiasm, as it jumped out to a big early lead in a win over Streator in Week 4. The ground game, which had more than 300 rushing yards, set the tone. Tony DeWald and Dominic Nigro each eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the win, and will need a similar performance this week.

FND Pick: Coal City

Herscher (1-3) at Wilmington (4-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wilmington 41, Herscher 7 (fall 2021)

About the Tigers: After a Week 1 victory over Charleston, it has started to go downhill for the Tigers. The defense had trouble against Coal City in Week 4, particularly against the run. That’s an awful indicator for Herscher heading into this game, as Wilmington’s ability to run the football is unmatched in the Illinois Central Eight.

About the Wildcats: Wilmington continues to punish opponents, and its defense is playing particularly well. The Wildcats squelched a Peotone rushing attack in Week 4 that had been playing well. Offensively, it’s been business as usual, with RB Colin James providing the lion’s share of the damage for Wilmington’s double-wing attack.

FND Pick: Wilmington

Vermilion Valley Conference

Momence (1-3) at Dwight (0-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Momence 34, Dwight 6 (fall 2021)

About the Redskins: The crossover games of the Vermilion Valley Conference weren’t kind to Momence, especially after a loss to Bismarck-Henning in Week 4. Momence has shown signs it might be able to bounce back from that rough patch, as it does own a crossover win against a solid Hoopeston team.

About the Trojans: Dwight came close to getting its first win on the field since 2019 [they had a forfeit win last fall], but eventually lost to Oakwood. The Trojans are making some progress, but it still has yet to net them a win. A win here would be big, as they have only defeated Momence once since the two schools joined the same conference in 2014.

FND Pick: Momence

Seneca (4-0) at Iroquois West (4-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Iroquois West 32, Seneca 20 (fall 2021)

About the Fighting Irish: Seneca has its first 4-0 start since 2013, extending its streak of wins by trampling Georgetown-Ridge Farm in Week 4. Most of Seneca’s damage has been done by its punishing ground game, as seven players scored rushing touchdowns of 20 yards or more in the win over G-RF.

About the Raiders: Think it’s been awhile since Seneca started 4-0? Consider Iroquois West’s drought, which ended this week with a narrow win over Salt Fork. The Raiders haven’t been 4-0 since 1986. Based on early-season results, it looks like these programs are the pacesetters in the Vermilion Valley North. Iroquois West will lean heavily on Iowa-recruit OL/DL Cannon Leonard (6-foot-9, 265 pounds) to guide them.

FND Pick: Iroquois West