Analysis | Friday Night Drive

The Herald-News Prep Football Capsules for Week 6 of the 2022 season

Oswego East's Tre Jones (9) takes off with the ball during varsity football game between Oswego East at Plainfield East.  Sept 8, 2022

SouthWest Suburban Conference

Lockport (3-2) at Lincoln-Way West (3-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lockport 21, Lincoln-Way West 13 (fall 2021)

About the Porters: Lockport has hit a rough patch during back-to-back losses to Homewood-Flossmoor and Sandburg. The Sandburg game was an opportunity for the Porters to get back on track considering Sandburg entered the game winless, but Sandburg showed no signs of that in a lopsided win. It’s hard to pinpoint the problem for Lockport, because they are struggling on both sides of the football. Offensively, the Porters turned the ball over four times and finished with less than 30 yards of total offense in the second half of the Sandburg loss, and those extra scoring opportunities further exposed a struggling defense that isn’t getting stops when needed.

About the Warriors: Lincoln-Way West has been somewhat of an all-or-nothing type team this season. In its past two games, the Warriors have posted 71 points after scoring 35 in their first three games. Defensively, it’s been the same thing, allowing 20 points in its three wins and 68 in its two losses. The Warriors have a bit of breathing room in their quest to reach the playoffs, but a win here would allow them to get past a program they’ve struggled to beat; and it would likely allow them to avoid an all-or-nothing game against Homewood-Flossmoor to end the season.

Friday Night Drive Pick: Lincoln-Way West

Homewood-Flossmoor (4-1) at Bolingbrook (3-2)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Bolingbrook 20, Homewood-Flossmoor 6 (fall 2021)

About the Vikings: After an uncharacteristic season without a playoff appearance last year, Homewood-Flossmoor appears to have gotten its house back in order. Defensively the Vikings have played well anchored by Miami of Ohio recruit Christian McKinney at linebacker. QB Cameron Oglesby gives Homewood-Flossmoor’s offense a dual threat, capable of running the ball effectively and passing at a high success rate.

About the Raiders: Bolingbrook needs to avoid dropping to the .500 mark, and that’s not going to be easy against the resurgent Vikings. Most of the responsibility will fall on the defense’s ability to get stops, because cultivating offense hasn’t been a problem. Freshman quarterback Jonas Williams threw five more touchdowns in the Raiders’ Week 4 loss to Lincoln-Way East, and I’Marion Stewart and Kyan Berry-Johnson eclipsed 100 yards receiving. A consistent running game would help balance things, but the aerial attack alone has been viable thus far.

FND Pick: Bolingbrook

Lincoln-Way East (5-0) at Sandburg (1-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Sandburg 30, Lincoln-Way East 27 (fall 2021)

About the Griffins: Lincoln-Way East was stunned in a 30-27 loss to Sandburg during the regular season last year, a loss that still stings a bit for the returning Griffins. Odds are they will not make the same mistake of looking past Sandburg again this year. Offensively, Lincoln-Way East has been an absolute powerhouse on the ground, led by RB James Kwiecinski, who has more than 600 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. The Griffins have passed effectively when they’ve needed to. Jayden Cook is an outside weapon, and fullback Peter Olaleye has shown nice hands and a knack for getting open for a big play.

About the Eagles: Sandburg has had one of the more brutal schedules in the state and dug itself an 0-4 hole. But apparently the Eagles play better in that scenario, as they steamrolled Lockport last week. That momentum needs to continue if the Eagles want to keep their scant playoff hopes alive, and sophomore quarterback Anthony Shelton needs to continue to exhibit the skill set that allowed him to engineer the Lockport upset. RB Katrell Thompson is a player Lincoln-Way East will need to keep an eye on.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way East

Lincoln-Way Central (2-3) at Bradley-Bourbonnais (2-3)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Bradley-Bourbonnais 40, Lincoln-Way Central 21 (fall 2021)

About the Knights: Lincoln-Way Central’s loss to Andrew in Week 4 put a snag in the Knights’ playoff hopes and now they need to pick up every win they can. Junior QB Michael Kuehl has done a solid job for the Knights, but the offense needs to find more ways to score, especially against a Bradley-Bourbonnais team that has a propensity for getting into high-scoring affairs.

About the Boilermakers: Bradley-Bourbonnais cleared a major hurdle in Week 4, but it couldn’t keep the momentum going last week in a narrow loss to Homewood-Flossmoor. The Vikings did a better job than most reining in the passing attack of Bradley, which is led by Ethan Kohl, who had a program record for passing yards against Lincoln-Way West. Neal May is a big-time scoring threat for Bradley, and TE Matt Allen gives the Boilermakers plenty of choices in spreading around the football.

FND Pick: Bradley-Bourbonnais

Southwest Prairie Conference

Romeoville (0-5) at Joliet West (1-4)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet West 33, Romeoville 14 (fall 2021)

About the Spartans: Romeoville scored for the second consecutive game after being shut in its first three. The Spartans, however, still haven’t figured out a way to keep opponents from scoring in bunches. Over the past 2 1/2 years, including the spring season, Romeoville has only three wins, but one of them was against Joliet West.

About the Tigers: Joliet West had a solid effort in a loss to Plainfield Central in Week 5, but it marked another close call in a season that has been uneven. QB Carl Bew continues to be a bright spot for the Tigers, and his skills seem to be leading the Tigers to some solid offensive numbers. The defense needs to start stringing together stops, something they should be able to do this week before the remaining pivotal Southwest Prairie Conference games.

FND Pick: Joliet West

Joliet Central (0-5) at Plainfield South (2-3)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield South 48, Joliet Central 6 (fall 2021)

About the Steelmen: The grind continues for Joliet Central, which continues having trouble bridging the gap with the rest of the opponents on its schedule. The Steelmen have allowed 40-plus points in every game this season and have managed more than one score in only one of their games (14 points vs. Argo in Week 1).

About the Cougars: Plainfield South regrouped after a rough loss to Plainfield North in Week 4, as it easily downed Romeoville. The Cougars have an excellent chance to get back to .500, and odds are RB Brian Stanton will play a huge role in trying to get there. Stanton had more than 300 yards total offense and four touchdowns in Week 5.

FND Pick: Plainfield South

Oswego (2-3) at Plainfield North (5-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Oswego 24, Plainfield North 17 (fall 2021)

About the Panthers: Oswego finds itself in an unusual predicament being below the .500 mark this deep in the season. The Panthers got little traction in their nonconference schedule, dominated two overmatched opponents in crossover games and sputtered offensively against Minooka in a Week 5 loss. The defense seems to be playing better, but the offense needs to find different ways to get TE Deakon Tonielli involved.

About the Tigers: Plainfield North continues to show it’s a solid team, stymying Yorkville in Week 5. The Tigers’ defense continues to suffocate most of its opponents, as they didn’t allow the Foxes to cross midfield in the win over Yorkville. Yorkville’s 11 offensive possessions ended with nine punts and two turnovers. The “X” factor for Plainfield North continues to be QB Demir Ashiru, whose ability to keep plays alive with his athleticism and poise is giving defenses fits.

FND Pick: Plainfield North

Oswego East (4-1) at Minooka (4-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Minooka 33, Oswego East 10 (fall 2021)

About the Wolves: Oswego East seems to be following a similar blueprint to this week’s opponent, in that it leans on its defense and the offense does just enough to carry them to victory. The Wolves have allowed no more than 20 points to any opponent and have allowed two scores or less in four of five games. QB Tre Jones has made enough plays to keep the Wolves in the driver’s seat in most of their games, a trend they would like to continue.

About the Indians: Minooka’s Week 1 loss to Bolingbrook seems to have provided a shock to the system. Now, in the midst of a four-game winning streak, Minooka has shined, particularly defense, allowing only 14 points in its past three games. The offense has done a nice job of morphing into what is needed on a particular night. QB Gavin Dooley can throw it, but Minooka needed more of a smash-mouth approach to get past Oswego in Week 5, so that’s exactly what it did behind some hard running from Joey Partridge.

FND Pick: Oswego East

Plainfield Central (2-3) at Plainfield East (2-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield Central 17, Plainfield East 6 (fall 2021)

About the Wildcats: Plainfield Central started strong in its win over Joliet West, but then had to hang on for dear life. This appears to be a pivotal game as to whether or not the Wildcats will be able to defend their conference title from a year ago. To to do that, they will have to find a way to get consistent offensive performances.

About the Bengals: Plainfield East has been on a bit of a rollercoaster ride, and excluding its Week 5 win over an overmatched Joliet Central team, the Bengals have been giving up too many points. It’s a trend they’d like to stop. LB Dalonte Butcher has been doing his part. Offensively, Plainfield East has shown an ability to score points, but has been dealing with a patchwork lineup in many places. If full strength, Plainfield East might be able to make its presence felt in the Southwest Prairie East race.

FND Pick: Plainfield Central

CCL/ESCC Orange Conference

Joliet Catholic (4-1) at St. Laurence (3-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet Catholic 41, St. Laurence 7 (fall 2021)

About the Hilltoppers: Joliet Catholic saw its 24-game winning streak snapped in a narrow loss to Crete-Monee in Week 5, the third in a series of games that came down to the wire for the Hilltoppers. The schedule has been tough for the Hilltoppers, but that doesn’t change the fact that they’ve been allowing too many points to avoid this from being a regular occurrence. Offensively, the Hilltoppers have been varied, and while that’s worked most of the time, they also don’t have an established gamebreaker they can look too in a pinch.

About the Vikings: St. Laurence has been in grinder mode most of the season, and the Vikings have been pretty competitive despite breaking in quite a few new players. They already got an unexpected win over Montini early on, so they probably shouldn’t be trifled with. WR/S Corey Taubr is a two-way starter that leads the Vikings into battle.

FND Pick: Joliet Catholic

Providence (3-2) at Montini (3-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Montini 28, Providence 3 (fall 2021)

About the Celtics: Providence continued its recent offensive momentum, scoring 56 points in a victory over Marian Central Catholic. They have scored 93 points the past two weeks. Although the Celtics would like to keep that going, they likely will settle for stacking wins against one of the state’s more difficult schedules. RB/LB Mason Santiago continues to be a driving force for Providence on both sides of the football.

About the Broncos: Montini climbed back over the .500 mark, a move that the Broncos needed considering that they now face Providence, Marist, Nazareth and Joliet Catholic. Montini will need a win in at least two of those games to return to the postseason. Montini missed the field last year, the first time it failed to qualify since 1992. QB Cole Teschner will pace the offensive attack, and he has a group of viable wide receiver options to choose from.

FND Pick: Providence

South Suburban Blue Conference

T.F. North (1-4) at Lemont (5-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 61, T.F. North 6 (fall 2021)

About the Meteors: T.F. North has scuffled in South Suburban Conference games, getting its only win of the season over Chicago Public League team Carver in Week 1. Since then, the Meteors have been outscored 154-24 in their other four games.

About Lemont: As expected, Lemont has met very little resistance in South Suburban Conference play, and it doesn’t look like this week will be any different. QB Payton Salomon was 10 for 10 with three touchdown passes in an easy win over Tinley Park in Week 5, and the slinger will probably fare well again this week.

FND Pick: Lemont

Nonconference

Morris (5-0) at Richmond-Burton (5-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: First meeting

About Morris: These two Kishwaukee River Conference powers surprisingly have never met. Morris has found most of the first half to be something of a breeze, but it took until the second half for Morris to separate itself from La Salle-Peru in Week 5. RB Ashton Yard and RB/WR AJ Zweeres are a dynamite offensive 1-2 punch that are unlikely to be constrained for too long.

About the Rockets: The Rockets tend to thrive in showdown games such as these and already have what could easily be classified as a marquee win when it topped Normal Community West in Week 4. The Rockets typically rely on a dominant running game paced by fullback Steven Siegel, but the NCW game proved that the Rockets can throw if they need to, as Joe Miller had three second-half touchdown passes in the win.

FND Pick: Richmond-Burton

Illinois Central Eight Conference

Wilmington (5-0) at Reed-Custer (5-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wilmington 21, Reed-Custer 14 (fall 2021)

About the Wildcats: After Joliet Catholic’s loss to Crete-Monee on Friday, Wilmington now holds the state’s longest active winning streak at 24 games. The team that has come the closest to ending that streak is this week’s opponent. Wilmington won’t yield its throne easily, however, as the Wildcats seem to have their vaunted rushing attack firing on all cylinders. RB Colin James has led the way, but the Wildcats unleashed a new weapon during Friday’s win in ballcarrier Kyle Farrell.

About the Comets: Reed-Custer has set its sights on claiming the Interstate Eight Conference crown and has scored about 300 points this season. Wilmington has been an obstacle that the Comets have had trouble clearing. Reed-Custer has come close in recent seasons, falling 21-14 last year and 26-21 in the spring season, but Reed-Custer hasn’t beat Wilmington since 2007 and has won only six of the 42 games the two have played since beginning annual meetings in 1979.

FND Pick: Reed-Custer

Manteno (1-4) at Coal City (3-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Coal City 42, Manteno 14 (fall 2021)

About the Panthers: Manteno snapped out of a sluggish start to the season with a strong second half against Streator to collect its first win. Sophomore QB Niko Akiyama accounted for about 300 yards of offense and four TDs, mostly in the second half. Before the Streator victory, Manteno had been outscored 182-51.

About the Coalers: Coal City seems to have found its way back to its core beliefs, relying on a strong running game and uncompromising defense. RB Landin Benson had about 200 yards rushing and two touchdowns in a Week 5 win over Lisle. After a tough showing against Morris in Week 1, the Coalers have allowed only 37 points in its other four games.

FND Pick: Coal City

Peotone (3-2) at Streator (2-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Peotone 26, Streator 20 (fall 2021)

About the Blue Devils: After starting 3-0, Peotone has had back-to-back losses to Wilmington and Reed-Custer. That’s the problem all the teams in the Illinois Central Eight have had for a while, but the bigger concern is why the Blue Devils couldn’t get their running game going, the bread and butter of what they like to do. Peotone had only 20 rushing yards in the Reed-Custer game. This game should provide an opportunity to get things back in order.

About the Bulldogs: Streator seemed poised to move above .500, but a second-half collapse against Manteno stopped those plans. The Bulldogs are hopeful they can get their aerial attack going behind QB Christian Benning – on the verge of becoming the school’s all-time passing yardage leader despite being a junior – but if the defense can’t get some stops it could be a long night for Streator.

FND Pick: Peotone

Vermilion Valley Conference

Clifton Central (4-1) at Dwight (1-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Clifton Central 40, Dwight 6 (fall 2021)

About the Comets: Seemingly the favorite in the VVC and previously the SVC for decades, that mantle seems to have been passed to Seneca this season. But the Comets still are rather potent and will likely present a problem for Dwight. QB Luke Shoven is capable of giving just about anyone at the 1A/2A level fits.

About the Trojans: Dwight claimed its first non-forfeit victory since 2019 against Momence in Week 5, and while it will try to maintain that momentum, this is a game it has struggled to be competitive in from the days when both still were members of the Sangamon Valley Conference. Pass defense will be the biggest challenge for the Trojans in this one.

FND Pick: Clifton Central

Seneca 1, Watseka 0 (forfeit)

Last matchup: Seneca 20, Watseka 0 (2019)

About the forfeit: With injuries limiting its roster, Watseka (1-4) informed Seneca (5-0) it will forfeit this conference game. With homecoming scheduled for this weekend, however, the Fighting Irish still were looking for an opponent to replace Watseka as of midday Wednesday.