Analysis | Friday Night Drive

Daily Chronicle prep football Week 5 capsules

Metea Valley quarterback Lucas Van Vlerah is wrapped up by DeKalb's Nathan Smith during their game Friday, Sept. 16, 2022, at DeKalb High School.

DuPage Valley Conference

DeKalb (3-1, 1-0) at Naperville North (3-1, 1-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: The Huskies were 40-21 winners in DeKalb last year.

About the Barbs: DeKalb has rattled off three straight wins since losing to Sycamore to start the season and opened conference play with a 48-0 win against Metea Valley. It was the second shutout in a row for the Barbs.

“I just think at times we bend but don’t break,” second-year coach Derek Schneeman said. “We’ve been very opportunistic. When there are 50-50 balls we take advantage. We’ve had two defensive touchdowns the last two weeks and another pick to inside the 10. They don’t get rattled on that side of the ball.”

Schneeman said he’s all happy with the way senior quarterback Adrien McVicar has continued to progress. He was 6 for 8 for three touchdowns last week without an interception – something he’s had issues with early on.

“We’re on him to make sure he puts the ball where the other team is not going to be, where it doesn’t have the potential to be picked off,” Schneeman said. “He’s really improved with that and you saw it last week. He does things that don’t show up in the stat book, the way he controls the offense, gets guys lined up, makes reads in the run game. He’s doing a great job with that.”

About the Huskies: Naperville North is coming off a 29-16 loss to Neuqua Valley to start conference play. Quarterback Aidan Gray, a Northwestern commit, wasn’t able to take many deep shots and finished 17 of 28 for 146 yards. He’s thrown for more than 600 yards in four games this year.

Nathan Jacobs leads the ground attack with 214 yards, one of four runners, including Gray, with at least 160 yards on the ground this year. Danny Eloe leads the way with four rushing touchdowns. Luke Williams has 20 receptions for 159 yards, while Brock Pettaway has 10 catches for 203 yards and a team-best three touchdowns.

Friday Night Drive pick: Naperville North

Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8

Sycamore (4-0) at Rochelle (4-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Sycamore won a spring 2021 matchup between the schools, 39-7.

About the Spartans: Sycamore rolled last week to a 54-20 win over Ottawa, handing the Pirates their first loss of the year. The Spartans will look to hand Rochelle its first loss of the year as well. Tyler Curtis had a rushing touchdown last week, while Eli Meier completed all nine of his passes for 181 yards and four touchdowns. As a team that Spartans put up 465 yards of total offense and held Ottawa to 147.

About the Hubs: Rochelle likes to pound it out on the ground. Garrett Gensler has run for 784 yards and 12 TDs this year, plus fellow senior Trey Taft is averaging about 100 yards per game. The Hubs beat Harvard 47-13 last week, and have scored at least that many in every game since a 14-7 Week 1 win against Woodstock. The Blue Streaks are the one common opponent for the two teams, with Sycamore winning 41-0 in Week 3.

FND pick: Sycamore

Kaneland (2-2, 1-1) at Ottawa (3-1, 0-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Kaneland won last season 52-26 in Ottawa

About the Knights: Kaneland snapped a two-game losing streak [both against teams that are still undefeated] with a 49-7 win against Woodstock, getting big contributions from all three of its running backs.

Coach Pat Ryan said Chris Ruchah, Tyler Bradshaw and Josh Mauthe give a lot of variety to the backfield and are all finding their rythym.

“I thought the offensive line in general played pretty well,” Ryan said. “They’ve really improved as the year has gone on. We have three backs that can effectively run the ball and each has their own little things about them. Our run game just continues to get better.”

Ryan said his team is ready to face a much improved Ottawa team, even off a big loss to Sycamore last week. The Knights face the Spartans next week.

“I think they’re a much more sound football team,” Ryan said. “They play better fundamentals than they’ve played in the past. They did have some big plays against Sycamore last week. Historically Ottawa has always been able to get big plays on us. If we can eliminate of limit their big plays we’ll be OK.

About the Pirates: Ottawa dove into Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 White divisional play with a 54-20 loss at Sycamore in Week 4. The Pirates saw some positives in that loss and will look to build on those in another KR/I8 White matchup, with a win putting Ottawa in excellent position for the program’s first playoff berth since 2012. Ottawa is outgaining opponents 337-256 in yards from scrimmage, led by strong line play clearing the way for RBs Julian Alexander (264 yards, 1 TD) and Ryder Miller (233 yards, 4 TDs), QB Colby Mortenson (490 yards and five TDs passing; 113 yards and four TDs rushing) and WR/Wildcat QB Levi Sheehan (10 receptions, 144 yards, two TDs).

FND pick: Kaneland

Big Northern Conference

Genoa-Kingston (3-1, 3-1) at Rock Falls (0-4, 0-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: The Cogs were 41-0 home winners in Genoa last season.

About the Cogs: Genoa-Kingston struggled against defending state and conference champ Byron last week, with the Tigers taking control early in a 35-15 G-K loss.

G-K coach Cam Davekos said it’s been a week of reflection for the Cogs.

“We’ve kind of pulled things back,” Davekos said. “We’ve reflected heavily on who we are and our identity on offense as well as defense. We’re making sure we pay attention to detail. We know what to do in our base stuff, we have to make sure we have a strong foundation to move forward from last week.”

Nathan Kleba had the first score of the game for the Cogs. The sophomore quarterback connected with Traven Atterberry for a 20-yard pass. Ethan Wilnau and Brody Engel were mostly held in check by the Tigers.

Davekos said it’s back to the basics this week against the Rockets.

“Our main goal for Friday is to make sure we string together drives for positive yards,” Davekos said. We’re looking for 3-plus yards every play. We need to be firing off the ball, not getting blocked backwards. All 11 G-K players have to fly to the ball on defense, and we need to play sound assignment football.”

About the Rockets: Still searching for its first win of the season, Rock Falls hasn’t scored more than 14 points in any game; the Rockets have 21 for the season and have been shut out twice – while the 147 points allowed is most in the conference. This will be Rock Falls third home game in four weeks. The Rockets’ lone win last year was at Hinders Field, as was their only win in 2019.

FND pick: Genoa-Kingston

Eight-man

Polo (2-2) at Hiawatha (4-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Polo was a 64-8 winner last season.

About the Hawks: Hiawatha can put up points, having reached the 60-point mark in every game this year. The Hawks scored 66 in their first two games before a 60-40 Week 4 win against Orangeville.

“It was really awesome,” coach Nick Doolittle said. “They came out and scored on the first drive and we answered back. We stayed on top the rest of the game. We really played well in the second half. At one point we were up 60-26 and they scored a couple touchdowns on our subs.”

Cole Brantley has a been a beast for the Hawks and ran for 172 yards and had 15 tackles last week. But quarterback Matt Korb has been solid as well as he threw for 181 yards last week. Brantley and Lucas Norvell has been his main two targets.

Brandon Ross, Tommy Butler and Cooper Fisher all had big defensive games for the Hawks as well.

Doolittle said the emergence of other weapons on both sides of the ball have made Brantley, an all-state player last year, even more dangerous.

“I think it’s just him having experience and confidence,” Doolittle said. “He works really hard to be where he’s at. It’s all coming together. He has less pressure to do it all himself. It’s freed him up, freed his mind up, to be the best player he can be.”

About the Marcos: Polo suffered its second loss in four weeks against a Sauk Valley area rival, falling to Milledgeville 54-38 last Friday. The Marcos led 16-6 at halftime, tied the game 22-22 late in the third quarter, and trailed 46-38 halfway through the fourth, but couldn’t get a key stop down the stretch. Brock Soltow ran 15 times for 185 yards and three touchdowns last week, and also had a touchdown pass out of the Wildcat formation. He now has 544 rushing yards and nine TDs on the season, and has a pair of TD passes and a touchdown catch. Avery Grenoble has run for 306 yards and four TDs on the season. He caught a 63-yard TD from Cayden Webster last week.

FND pick: Hiawatha