Analysis | Friday Night Drive

Sauk Valley Media area football preview capsules for Week 6

Newman’s JJ Castle makes a pass against Rockridge Friday, Sept. 2, 2022.


Sterling (4-1, 3-0) at Quincy (4-1, 2-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Sterling 50-18 (2021 Week 6)

About the Golden Warriors: Sterling has won all three meetings since joining the Western Big 6 in 2019, by a combined score of 111-45. … The Warriors have outscored their opponents 224-63 this season, scoring the most points in the WB6 while allowing the fewest. … Sterling’s QB platoon of seniors Kael Ryan and JP Schilling has proven to be effective both on the ground and through the air. Ryan leads the Warriors with 419 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns on 45 rushes, and has thrown for 116 yards, while Schilling has 205 yards and 8 TDs on 44 rushes, and is 24 for 37 for 359 yards and 3 TDs. … Antonio Tablante (33 rushes, 188 yards, 4 TDs), AJ Kested (20-177, 4 TDs) and Cale Ledergerber (20-109, 2 TDs) have provided a 1-2-3 punch in the offensive backfield. … Isaiah Mendoza (6 catches, 130 yards), Justin Null (6-99, 2 TDs), Mason Emin (4-71, TD), Dylan Ottens (4-67) and Ledergerber (5-33, TD) lead a deep receiver corps. … This is Sterling’s fourth road game in the last five weeks; the Warriors play two of their final three games at home.

About the Blue Devils: Quincy has won its last two games after a Week 3 loss to Moline to start the Western Big 6 slate, defeating United Township 49-14 and Galesburg 42-14. … On the season, the Blue Devils have outscored their opponents 180-94, and they hold a 139-47 edge in their last three victories. … Sophomore QB Bradyn Little is the engine that makes Quincy go, as he has thrown for 1,140 yards and 11 touchdowns against just 6 interceptions on 72-for-111 passing. … Gregory Quince has 21 catches for 307 yards and 4 TDs, Tykell Hammers has 20 catches for 259 yards and a TD, and Jack Mettemeyer has 10 catches for 278 yards and 4 scores to lead a talented receiving corps. … Brian Douglas (69 rushes, 466 yards, 7 TDs) and Jeraius Rice (42-279, 5 TDs) lead the way when the Blue Devils run the ball.

FND pick: Sterling


Rockford Lutheran (3-2, 3-2) at Dixon (3-2, 3-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Dixon 26-7 (2021 Week 6)

About the Crusaders: Lutheran has won its last two games over Rock Falls and Oregon by a combined 76-6, after losing two in a row to Genoa-Kingston and Byron by a combined 87-26. … Kyng Hughes is a dual-threat QB, equally as dangerous with his arm and his legs. He had 233 total yards last week, running for a TD and passing for another. … A.J. Moore scored two touchdowns last week against Oregon, and Tresean Lockhart had a 52-yard TD reception. … The Crusaders hold a 122-107 scoring edge this season. … Lutheran’s last win in the series was 7-2 in the 2021 spring season; Dixon has won four of the last five meetings. … The Crusaders posted a 95-28 win in 2015 at A.C. Bowers Field, led by current NFL running back James Robinson.

About the Dukes: Dixon is getting into must-win territory the next few weeks, as Lutheran, Genoa-Kingston and Byron are on tap – with a combined record of 11-4 – and the Dukes still need two wins to become playoff eligible. … Dixon led 25-14 with three minutes left last week against Winnebago, but the Indians scored two touchdowns in the final 2:59 to pull out the win. … Aiden Wiseman leads the Dukes with 458 yards and 6 touchdowns on 59 rushes, while Tyler Shaner has run for 356 yards and 5 TDs on 76 carries, and is 41-for-70 passing for 527 yards, 7 TDs and 7 INTs. … Hunter Vacek has 104 yards rushing, and he also returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown last week. … Ethan Hays has 19 catches for 295 yards and 4 TDs, while Rylan Ramsdell has 7 catches for 75 yards and 2 TDs, Eli Davidson has 6 catches for 92 yards and a score, and Jath St. Pier has 6 catches for 55 yards. … The Dukes have outscored opponents 143-93 this season – the fourth-most points scored in the BNC, and the third-fewest allowed.

FND pick: Dixon

Rock Falls (0-5, 0-5) at Byron (4-1, 4-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Byron 63-7 (2021 Week 6)

About the Rockets: Rock Falls was officially knocked out of the playoffs with last week’s 58-6 loss to Genoa-Kingston, a game that saw the Cogs score on offense, defense and special teams. … The Rockets haven’t beaten Byron in the last dozen years, and haven’t scored more than a touchdown against the Tigers since 2017. … Rock Falls had a strong drive to start the second half last week, covering 75 yards on 13 plays and taking 9:37 off the clock. It consisted of 11 runs and a 9-yard pass from freshman Logan Thome to Michael Flowers on third-and-5, and was capped by a 2-yard TD run by Vincent Lombardo. … Three different Rockets played QB last week – Lombardo, Thome and Easton Canales – and eight different players ran the ball.

About the Tigers: Since a 15-7 Week 1 overtime loss to Stillman Valley, the Class 3A defending state champions have outscored their opponents 152-34. … Byron has not allowed more than 15 points in a game this season, and has held three of its five opponents to a single touchdown. … The Tigers have won the last 11 games in the series – 10 since Rock Falls joined the BNC in 2011 – and have allowed more than 13 points in only three of those games, while scoring at least 34 in every one (and at least 41 in each of the last nine). … Byron’s scoring edge in the series, which started with a nonconference game in 2010, is 538-165 – an average of 48.9-15.0.

FND pick: Byron

Genoa-Kingston (4-1, 4-1) at Oregon (1-4, 1-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Genoa-Kingston 47-0 (2021 Week 6)

About the Cogs: Genoa-Kingston blew out Rock Falls 58-6 last week to bounce back from a 35-15 loss to Byron the week before. The Cogs’ defense held the Rockets to negative-30 yards of offense in the first half, thanks to a few sacks and tackles for loss. … “I feel like the effort was there from start to finish,” G-K coach Cam Davekos said. “Everybody was focused not just on what they had to do, but the guys on the sidelines were focused on their position and what players were doing on the field. I feel like everybody from top to bottom was focused. We executed our game plan very well, and we’ll look to do the exact same thing this week.”

About the Hawks: Oregon has scored more than one touchdown only once this season – in its 14-8 overtime win over Rockford Christian in Week 2. The Hawks’ 40 points are the third-fewest in the BNC this season, while the 137 points allowed are the third-most. … Jack Washburn has thrown for more than 100 yards in every game this season, while Gabe Eckerd and Noah Reber lead Oregon’s ground game. … Hunter Bartel and Josh Crandall have caught TD passes the past two weeks. … The Hawks are 0-3 against GK since the Big Northern formed, and have been outscored 127-7 in those games.

FND pick: Genoa-Kingston


Princeton (5-0, 3-0) at Newman (3-2, 1-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Princeton 41-0 (2021 Week 6)

About the Tigers: Princeton has been an offensive juggernaut, averaging 56.4 points per game with it starters only playing in the first half the past four weeks. It put up 56 points on Kewanee on Friday, 44 in the second quarter alone, in a 56-7 rout over the Boilermakers. Kewanee’s lone score came on an 80-yard fumble recovery in the fourth quarter. ... The closest any team has played Princeton through five weeks was Rockridge (41-22) in the season opener. Since then, the Tigers have won by 40, 35 and 49 twice. ... Tiger quarterback Teegan Davis, an Eastern Illinois University commit, has accounted for 19 touchdowns and more than 1,200 yards between rushing (10/526) and passing (9/696). ... With last year’s spring and fall wins over the Comets, the Tigers have tied the all-time series at 7-7.

About the Comets: After a 34-8 loss to St. Bede in Week 4, Newman bounced back to shut out Bureau Valley 27-0. ... Newman has won four of seven meetings vs. Princeton in Three Rivers Conference play since 2015. … Carter Rude ran for 80 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s win, while Nolan Britt ran for 72 yards and two scores. ... The Comets outgained BV 189-29 in the first half. … Newman has been outscored 85-78 this season, allowing the second-fewest points in the TRAC Mississippi, but also scoring the second-fewest.

FND pick: Princeton

Bureau Valley (1-4, 0-3) at St. Bede (5-0, 2-0)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: St. Bede 13-7 (2021 Week 6)

About the Storm: Since rallying to defeat Sherrard (20-14) in Week 2, Bureau Valley has stumbled against Mendota (49-23), Kewanee (40-7) and Newman (27-0) by a combined 116-30 margin. The Bruins have swept Sherrard (28-14), Kewanee (34-20) and Newman (34-8) by a 96-42 margin of victory. … Last week’s loss was the Storm’s 11th consecutive to Newman.

About the Bruins: St. Bede returns to action for its 2022 Homecoming game after earning a Week 5 forfeit win over Riverdale. With their fifth win, the Bruins became playoff eligible for the second year in a row. St. Bede has now won eight of its last nine games, and 13 of 16. ... The Bruins have won the last three meetings, including wins in both the 2021 spring and fall seasons, over the Storm and lead the all-time series 14-10.

FND pick: St. Bede


Morrison (2-3, 1-1) at Rockridge (4-1, 3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Rockridge 27-8 (2021 Week 6)

About the Mustangs: After a two-game winning streak, Morrison lost to previously winless Sherrard last week – after the Mustangs scored a go-ahead touchdown with four minutes to play. … Logan Baker ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns last week. The first scoring run was a 61-yarder on Morrison’s first play from scrimmage; the ball bounced off of Baker’s chest, then off the ground and right back into Baker’s hands. … Brady Anderson had a 22-yard touchdown run last week, and accounted for 59 yards on Morrison’s 67-yard scoring drive in the second half. … The Mustangs’ only win against Rockridge since the Rockets joined the Three Rivers was a 27-13 victory in 2019. … Morrison has been outscored 118-98 this season, and has scored the fewest points in the TRAC Rock among active teams.

About the Rockets: Rockridge is 8-1 against Morrison since joining the Three Rivers Conference in 2013, by a combined score of 314-144. The Rockets have scored 34 or more points six times in the nine games, and have allowed more than 20 points to the Mustangs just four times. … Rockridge’s lone loss was to Princeton in Week 1 (41-22); since then, the Rockets have outscored their opponents 112-41, not including a 1-0 forfeit win over Riverdale in Week 3. … The 41 points allowed to Princeton in the opener account for half of the Rockets’ total points allowed this season; the 82 points allowed is the best in the TRAC Rock, and the 134 points scored are second only to Erie-Prophetstown (137).

FND pick: Rockridge

Harvard (0-5) at Erie-Prophetstown (2-3)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Hornets: Harvard lost to Marengo 43-10 last week. … The Hornets have scored 37 points total for the season. … QB Landon Barnett leads Harvard with 298 rushing yards and two touchdowns. RB Gabe Sanchez has run for 185 yards.

About the Panthers: Erie-Prophetstown has lost back-to-back games after a 2-1 start. … Through the first four games, Jase Grunder ran for 795 yards and 11 touchdowns; he scored the Panthers’ only TD in last week’s 27-7 loss to Orion. … This is the second week of a four-game stretch at home for E-P. … The Panthers have been outscored 181-137 this season; both the points scored and the points allowed are the most in the TRAC Rock. … E-P was originally scheduled to play Riverdale this week, but found Harvard as a replacement after the Rams canceled their season due to low numbers. Harvard’s official enrollment is 747.5; Erie & Prophetstown’s combined enrollment is 406.5.

FND pick: Erie-Prophetstown


Eastland-Pearl City (1-4, 1-4) at Galena (2-3, 1-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Galena 41-40, 2OT (2021 Week 6)

About the Wildcatz: EPC picked up its first win of the season last week, as Carsen Heeren connected with Max McCullough on a 3-yard touchdown pass in the final minute to knock off Dakota 40-36. Heeren finished with 259 yards and 4 touchdowns on 7-for-11 passing, and he also ran 12 times for 37 yards and a score. … Brady Sweitzer started the Wildcatz’s scoring last week with an 87-yard kickoff return TD early in the second quarter. … Donovan Kuhlemier caught four passes for 197 yards and 3 TDs, with the scoring strikes covering 56, 61 and 67 yards. … EPC’s last win was in Week 9 of last year, and before that, it was the second game of the 2021 spring season. … The Wilcatz have been outscored 199-73 this season.

About the Pirates: Galena has lost in odd-numbered weeks and won in even-numbered weeks this season, holding a 75-14 scoring edge in the wins, but with a 123-26 scoring deficit in the losses. … Last week, the Pirates lost 46-14 to Forreston, a week after a 40-8 win over Stockton – which followed a 46-0 loss to Lena-Winslow in Week 3. … Sam Eaton ran for 87 yards against Forreston, including a 42-yard touchdown, while Samuel Amaya threw for 64 yards on 5-for-14 passing, with a 24-yard scoring strike to Roman Romer.

FND pick: Galena

Forreston (3-2, 3-2) at West Carroll (0-5, 0-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Forreston 38-36 (2019 Week 6)

About the Cardinals: Forreston bounced back from a close loss to Dakota in Week 4 with a 46-14 win over Galena last week. Micah Nelson ran for 134 yards on seven carries, including a 50-yard touchdown, as 11 different Cardinals had rushes in the game. Kaleb Sanders added 86 yards and 3 TDs on five carries, and Johnny Kobler added 90 yards and a touchdown on nine rushes. Forreston outgained Galena 475-139 on the ground. … For the season, Kobler has 666 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns, while Sanders has 414 yards and 5 TDs. … The Cardinals have outscored their opponents 178-119 this season.

About the Thunder: West Carroll scored its second touchdown of the season last week, after three straight shutouts, but still lost 64-8 to Stockton. … The 14 points scored are the fewest among NUIC teams, while the 299 points allowed is the most in the conference. … The Thunder are looking for their first win since Week 7 of the 2019 season; they did not field a varsity team last season.

FND pick: Forreston

Stockton (2-3, 2-3) at Fulton (3-2, 3-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Fulton 42-14 (2021 Week 6)

About the Blackhawks: Stockton picked up its first win at home this season last Saturday, rolling past West Carroll 64-8. ... The Blackhawks’ two wins have come against teams with a combined 1-9 record. … Stockton has scored the same number of points as it’s allowed this season, 132. The 64 points last week nearly doubled its season total. … Karl Hubb is the Blackhawks’ leading rusher, while Parker Luke plays QB. … The 64 points scored in last week’s win are the most since a 68-6 win over Orangeville in the 2016 season opener. Stockton scored at least 60 points three times that season; it also had 63 in a Week 7 win over Fieldcrest last season.

About the Steamers: Fulton is on a two-game losing streak, but only lost by 1 point in Week 4, and led late in the first half last week before Le-Win pulled away in the third quarter. … For the season, the Steamers have outscored their opponents 163-95; the 95 points allowed are the third-fewest in the NUIC. … Lukas Schroeder (70 rushes, 366 yards, 9 TDs) and Ryan Eads (59-309, 3 TDs) lead Fulton’s ground game, while Brayden Dykstra is 72 for 120 through the air for 719 yards, 7 TDs and 5 INTs. … Baylen Damhoff leads the receiving corps with 27 catches for 306 yards and 4 TDs, while Eads has 14 catches for 112 yards and a score. Ethan Price (96 yards, 2 TDs) and Kole Schipper (83 yards) both have eight catches.

FND pick: Fulton


Hiawatha (4-1) at Amboy-LaMoille (4-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Amboy 60-36 (2021 Week 6)

About the Hawks: The Hawks suffered their first loss of the year last week, 44-32 at Polo, and now face a tough Amboy team with state aspirations. Hiawatha trailed by 22 in the fourth, and coach Nick Doolittle said he liked how his team battled back. “We’re feeling pretty good,” Doolittle said. “We have another tough challenge this week, but we’ve worked hard to get into the position to have success. The boys are pretty focused and ready to get back on track.” … Cole Brantley had his usual monster game for the Hawks, and Doolittle said quarterback Chris Korb also had a good game both running and passing the ball. “He’s in his second year at quarterback and he has much more confidence and trust in his arm,” Doolittle said. “He just runs the ball really well, and that adds a whole new dimension to the offense. It makes it easier on everyone, including Brantley. It’s good for our team, and fun to watch, too.”

About the Clippers: Amboy bounced back from its first loss of the season in Week 4 with a resounding 44-0 win over Orangeville on Saturday. … Starting QB Tucker Lindenmeyer has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury, but backup Eddie Jones ran for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns, and also threw for 60 yards and a TD against Orangeville. … Landon Whelchel (115 yards, 2 TDs vs. Orangeville) and Quinn Leffelman (54 yards, TD) also scored on the ground, and Brennan Blaine caught all three of Jones’ completions for 60 yards and the score. … Whelchel, Jones and Leffelman all had touchdown runs of 50 yards or more in that game. … Amboy has five players with more than 100 yards rushing on the season: Lindenmeyer, Kye Koch, Leffelman, Whelchel and Jones. … Blaine has 17 catches for 432 yards and 9 TDs. … The Clippers have outscored opponents 210-102 this season; the 210 points scored is second-most in the I8FA North 2 division, and the the 102 points allowed are the fewest.

FND pick: Amboy

South Beloit (3-2) at AFC (2-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: South Beloit 52-14 (2021 Week 1)

About the SoBos: South Beloit has outscored its opponents 180-153 this season, but has only played one team with a winning record: Easton Valley, Iowa, in Week 2, a 69-22 loss. The four Illinois teams the SoBos have played this year have a combined record of 7-14. … After scoring 62 and 40 points in back-to-back wins in Weeks 3 & 4, South Beloit lost 20-14 last week to Sciota West Prairie. … The SoBos were one of four teams AFC played last season, when it struggled with low numbers and injuries and had to halt its varsity schedule after Week 5.

About the Raiders: AFC scored a season-high 52 points last week, but still lost to Danville Schlarman after giving up 54 points. … Carson Rueff threw four touchdown passes last week – all to Zane Murphy – and also ran for a score. … Logan Mershon had 3 rushing touchdowns against Schlarman. … Rueff has thrown TD passes to Murphy, Lane Koning, Auden Polk and Michael Cochrane this season … The Raiders have been outscored 188-150 this season.

FND pick: AFC

Polo (3-2) at Bushnell-Prairie City (2-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Marcos: Polo handed Hiawatha its first loss last week, scoring three straight touchdowns to take a 36-14 lead into halftime after the teams stood tied 14-14 late in the first quarter. The Marcos outgained the Hawks 433-200 on the ground. … Brock Soltow ran for almost 400 yards in that game, finishing with 397 and 4 touchdowns on 34 carries; he also went 2 for 4 for 44 yards and a scoring strike through the air. For the season, the junior has 941 rushing yards and 13 TDs, and also has three TD passes and a scoring reception. … Avery Grenoble has rushed for 352 yards and 5 touchdowns this season, and he has a 63-yard touchdown catch. … Ryelan Lindaas has a touchdown catch from Soltow in each of the last two games. … The Marcos have outscored opponents 180-122 this season, and have scored at least 38 points four times.

About the Spartans: BPC has been a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde so far this season, scoring 57 and 63 points in its two wins, while allowing 60, 52 and 42 in its three losses. … On the season, the Spartans hold a 193-184 scoring edge over their opponents. … BPC’s three losses have come against teams with a combined record of 12-3, while its two wins are against teams with records of 2-3 and 1-4. … The Spartans made the I8FA playoffs last year – their first season in eight-man – but lost 64-8 in the first round to No. 2 seed Milledgeville.

FND pick: Polo

Note: Milledgeville receives a forfeit this week, as Harvest Christian Academy does not have enough players to field a team this season.