Southwest Prairie West
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Oswego East 14, Yorkville 7 (2021)
About the Foxes: Yorkville, already playoff eligible, can clinch its fourth consecutive playoff appearance with a win. The Foxes’ defense continues to be the team’s driving force. Luke Zook’s pick-six was one of three interceptions from Yorkville’s defense in last week’s hard-fought 10-0 win over West Aurora. Colorado State recruit Andrew Laurich has 27 tackles, 15 for loss, and 3.5 sacks and Blake Kersting has 34 tackles, eight for loss, on the season for the Foxes. Gio Zeman ran for 151 yards on 25 carries in his return last week after missing two weeks with a foot injury. Yorkville’s offense has found tough sledding in two SPC West divisional games, scoring a combined three points in two games and will need to do better to take pressure off the Foxes’ defense.
About the Wolves: Oswego East’s late comeback at Minooka came up just short last Friday. Tre Jones, who threw for 142 yards and ran for 90, tossed two fourth-quarter TD passes to Mike Polubinski in a 16-13 loss. Jones is a playmaker with both his arm and legs, although Oswego East would do well to re-establish its run game with its running backs to provide better balance. The Wolves also need to clean up their ball control. Oswego East turned it over three times last week, 12 on the season. The Wolves’ defense has been hit by a few big plays here and there, but that is really not an element Yorkville is known for. Otherwise Oswego East is very difficult to score on. The Wolves can become playoff eligible with a win.
FND Pick: Oswego East
West Aurora (1-5, 0-2) at Oswego (2-4, 0-2)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Oswego 26, West Aurora 7 (2021)
About the Blackhawks: West Aurora continues to be winless in SPC West play since joining the league – but the Blackhawks have been quite competitive in divisional play this season. West Aurora was within 7-3 in the fourth quarter against Oswego East, and played Yorkville to a scoreless tie for a half last Friday in an eventual 10-0 loss. The Blackhawks turned it over three times last week, QB Gino Martino was sacked three times and West Aurora managed just three yards rushing. Martino has thrown for 1,115 yards and eight TDs with six interceptions on the season. Andrew Kolich, who did not play last week because of injury, is Martino’s top target with 27 catches for 380 yards and five TDs and sophomore Terrence Smith has 22 catches for 415 yards and two TDs.
About the Panthers: Oswego, coming off a 31-3 loss to Plainfield North, is in an unfamiliar and unwelcome position. The Panthers need to win out to avoid missing the playoffs for the first time since 2010. Tough games remain with Oswego East and Yorkville, but Oswego can’t look past a sneaky competitive West Aurora team. Getting its offense on track seems like it should be a priority for Oswego. The Panthers managed just 123 yards of offense last week, and in three of its four losses have combined for a total of 14 points. Cruz Ibarra has completed 48.4% of his passes on the season for 831 yards and seven TDs with three interceptions. His top target, Michigan recruit Deakon Tonielli, has 19 catches for 255 yards and three TDs. Defensively junior linebacker Grifen Brown has a team-high 48 tackles, seven for loss.
FND Pick: Oswego
Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 Blue
Plano (2-4, 0-2) at Harvard (0-6, 0-2)
When: 7:15 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Plano 1, Harvard 0, forfeit (2021)
About the Reapers: Plano, like Oswego, is in a position that it must win out to make the postseason. Difficult games remain with Rochelle and Marengo, but first things first – the Reapers need to take care of business at Harvard. Despite Plano’s team struggles, junior Waleed Johnson has had a breakout season at running back. Johnson has rushed for 903 yards at a 9.0-yard per carry average with 11 TDs and has also caught 12 passes. Defensively junior LB Logan Scheich has a team-high 39 tackles. The Reapers are getting healthier, which helps. Samuel Sifuentes returned from injury in Plano’s defensive backfield last week, as did RB/LB Carnell Walls and linemen Mario Melendez. Top priority for Plano this week is playing disciplined defense against Harvard’s wing-T offense.
About the Hornets: Harvard lost to Erie-Prophetstown 19-6 last week. The Hornets have struggled to find points this season. They have been shut out twice and scored 43 points total. QB Landon Barnett has rushed for 366 yards. RB Gabe Sanchez has 197 yards. WR Aiden Fiegel has seven catches for 187 yards.
FND Pick: Plano