Analysis | Friday Night Drive

The Herald-News Prep Football Week 7 Capsules

Lemont running back Albert Kunickis (26) breaks through the St. Charles East defensive line and goes on to score the first touchdown during a varsity football game at Lemont High School on Friday.

SouthWest Suburban Conference

Bolingbrook (4-2) at Lockport (4-2)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lockport 14, Bolingbrook 13 (fall 2021)

About the Raiders: Bolingbrook survived a wild game with Homewood-Flossmoor in Week 6, but the one constant for the Raiders has been their high-octane offense. Even better, Bolingbrook got its running game going to complement its passing attack for the first time, as RB Joshua Robinson scored four times. The H-F win came without head coach John Ivlow on the sidelines. He has missed the past two Bolingbrook games with a medical issue. It is unknown if and when Ivlow will be returning to the team.

About the Porters: Lockport appeared to be reeling after back-to-back losses to Sandburg and Homewood-Flossmoor in Weeks 4 and 5, but the Porters responded with a win over Lincoln-Way West. QB Brady Pfeiffer continues to be a passing and running threat for Lockport, but the key moving forward will be the ability of the defense to get stops. That will be a bigger challenge than most weeks going against a Bolingbrook offense that hasn’t really been slowed down by any opponent. The Porters will have a hard time surviving a shootout with the Raiders.

Friday Night Drive Pick: Bolingbrook

Lincoln-Way East (6-0) at Homewood-Flossmoor (4-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way East 24, Homewood-Flossmoor 6 (fall 2021)

About the Griffins: Lincoln-Way East was dominant in a win over Sandburg in Week 6, scoring on six of seven first-half possessions while turning the Eagles back defensively on three-and-outs repeatedly. The easy victory probably was partly fueled by Sandburg’s upset win over Lincoln-Way East last season, a memory that a lot of returning players didn’t forget. The Griffins can claim a share of the conference title with a victory.

About the Vikings: After missing the playoffs last season, Homewood-Flossmoor seems to have restored some of its swagger. The Vikings have a bonafide QB/WR combo in Cameron Oglesby/John Gore, and they would like nothing more than to help H-F restore some of the spark to this long-time rivalry. But the question remains: Can the defense slow down a Lincoln-Way East offense that has been playing like a well-oiled machine most of the season.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way East

Lincoln-Way West (3-3) at Lincoln-Way Central (2-4)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way West 40, Lincoln-Way Central 7 (fall 2021)

About the Warriors: Lincoln-Way West has lost three of its past four games and is close to putting itself in the same situation as it did last season, needing to win out to secure a playoff spot. Despite the problems in the win/loss column, there have been more than a few positives. QB Cole Crafton is developing into a major weapon throwing and running the football, and an offense that scuffled early seems to be finding its groove.

About the Knights: Lincoln-Way Central has been competitive all season, but now has four losses, all by two touchdowns or less. The past two losses (Andrew, Bradley-Bourbonnais) have been particularly troubling, as they’ve been by even tighter margins. The Knights have struggled in this district rivalry matchup but hope to bridge the gap a bit in this one.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way West

Southwest Prairie Conference

Plainfield East (2-4) at Joliet West (2-4)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield East 32, Joliet West 15 (fall 2021)

About the Bengals: Plainfield East has struggled to get both phases of its game clicking on the same night. The Bengals have been giving up more points than they want, but did a little better in a Week 6 loss to Plainfield Central before the offense almost shutdown. Last year’s win over Joliet West seemed to spark Plainfield East, and it will need that sort of jolt again to keep its fading playoff hopes alive.

About the Tigers: Joliet West already had backed itself into a corner with its fourth loss concerning playoff eligibility, but all that seemed to do was crank up the intensity. The 59 points scored in a win over Romeoville in Week 6 was a scoring record for the program since Joliet Township split into individual programs for Joliet West and Joliet Central. It’s only the third time during that stretch they have scored more than 50 points in a game. They will try to keep that momentum going against an opposing defense that has been spotty at times.

FND Pick: Joliet West

Plainfield South (3-3) at Plainfield Central (3-3)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: Plainfield Central 31, Plainfield South 14 (fall 2021)

About the Cougars: After a rough go during Southwest Prairie Conference crossover games, Plainfield South has found a groove with division games. The Cougars would like nothing more than to maintain the offensive momentum of the past few weeks, and RB Brian Stanton should be in position to continue his uptick in productivity.

About the Wildcats: Plainfield Central seems to be returning to the form that allowed them to win the division title last season. QB Chase Vayda is gaining more confidence in his role, while DJ Pearson is capable of making plays for the Wildcats. The defense, led by LB Phillip Carlton, held Plainfield East to only six points. Whoever earns this victory will clearly be in the driver’s seat to win the division title.

FND Pick: Plainfield Central

Joliet Central (0-6) at Romeoville (0-6)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Romeoville 27, Joliet Central 8 (fall 2021)

About the Steelmen: Joliet Central still is struggling despite playing division games that should be more competitive games for them. The Romeoville game provides an opportunity, but the winner will likely have to step up its offensive productivity, as both teams are only averaging about six points per game.

About the Spartans: Romeoville hasn’t had much go right this season but did have a burst of offense during a Week 6 loss and finished with 19 points. It made for all but 13 points that the Spartans have scored this season. This game has accounted for the only win for Romeoville in each of the past three seasons, including the shortened spring 2021 season.

FND Pick: Romeoville

Plainfield North (6-0) at Minooka (5-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield North 14, Minooka 0 (fall 2021)

About the Tigers: Plainfield North has put itself in the driver’s seat in the Southwest Prairie West division leaning on the defense the program has been known for. The Tigers have allowed 38 points in six games and only three in its two divisional game. But what is adding a different dimension for the Tigers, who moved to 6-0 for the first time in program history, is a varied offense engineered by QB Demir Ashiru. Plainfield North used to anchor its offense around its running game, which it still has, but can now make plays downfield, making it tough for defenses to know what to key on.

About the Indians: Minooka has come a long way from a lopsided loss to Bolingbrook in Week 1. Since then the Indians have five consecutive victories, grinding out wins with a durable defense that seems to have a knack for creating turnovers. Minooka has reverted to a smash-mouth style of offense, with RB Joey Partridge racking up about 30 carries in the win over rival Oswego.

FND Pick: Plainfield North

CCL/ESCC Crossover

Brother Rice (3-3) at Joliet Catholic (5-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet Catholic 56, Brother Rice 49 (fall 2021)

About the Crusaders: Brother Rice might be the most dangerous .500 team in the state. Brother Rice played highly-touted Mount Carmel down to the wire in Week 6, and its other losses have come against Loyola and St. Rita. Brother Rice doesn’t have the explosiveness it had last season, particularly on offense, but the series against Joliet Catholic usually brings a good game, and there’s little reason to believe this will be any different.

About the Hilltoppers: Joliet Catholic rebounded nicely from its first loss in about three years by taking apart St. Laurence in Week 6. The win essentially sewed up the conference title for the Hilltoppers, but games like this are a proving ground for them. Joliet Catholic’s defense has been giving up a few more points than it would like. Brother Rice might expose things that need to be shored up before what JCA hopes is a long postseason run. RB HJ Grigsby has started to establish himself as a leader on offense.

FND Pick: Brother Rice

Loyola (6-0) at Providence (4-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Loyola 40, Providence 0 (fall 2021)

About the Ramblers: Loyola has been as good as expected this season, pretty much steamrolling everyone in its way. The Ramblers have gotten steady play from QB Jake Stearney, who seems to never make the wrong choice. Defensively, Loyola basically has an impenetrable wall up front, led by Michigan bound DE Brooks Bahr. Opponents have found little offensive success against Loyola.

About the Celtics: Providence picked up a pivotal win in its quest to get back to the playoff by defeating Montini handily in Week 6. They now enter a difficult stretch of back-to-back games, following this game with St. Rita in Week 8. It would take a monumental effort for Providence to beat the Ramblers, but this young core for Providence has plenty to learn from playing an opponent as strong as Loyola.

FND Pick: Loyola

South Suburban Conference crossover

Richards (4-2) at Lemont (6-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 15, Richards 10 (2017)

About the Bulldogs: Richards looked to be in serious trouble with back-to-back losses to Morgan Park and Marist to start the season. But the Bulldogs have regrouped rather nicely, rattling off four consecutive victories to take control of the South Suburban Conference. Although they control their own destiny in league play, this crossover game looks like a big gap competitively for them to try to bridge.

About Lemont: As expected, Lemont has completely overwhelmed opponents in the South Suburban Conference and hopes to keep that momentum going. Lemont continues to get prolific production out of quarterback Payton Salomon, who has thrown 19 touchdowns with no interceptions and is completing 82% of his passes. Going back to last season, Salomon has 50 touchdown passes with only one interception.

FND Pick: Lemont

Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 White Conference

Morris (5-1) at Woodstock (2-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Morris 63, Woodstock 13 (fall 2021)

About Morris: Morris ran into a hurdle in its first loss of the season to Richmond-Burton in Week 6. Morris relies on its running game, but could only muster 55 yards against the Rockets, and things went downhill from there. There’s an opportunity to regroup this week, however, as Morris tries to keep pace with Sycamore for the conference title.

About the Blue Streaks: Woodstock hit a bit of a wall in a loss to La Salle-Peru in Week 6, gaining just more than 100 yards in a shutout. The Blue Streaks have managed to score more than seven points only twice in six games, which isn’t a great recipe against Morris, who tends to score points in bunches while stifling foes.

FND Pick: Morris

Illinois Central Eight Conference

Coal City (4-2) at Peotone (4-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Coal City 28, Peotone 6 (fall 2021)

About the Coalers: Coal City seems to have found its defensive footing, tossing back-to-back shutouts over Lisle and Manteno. In its Week 6 win over Manteno, the Coalers held the Panthers to negative rushing yardage and only 15 total yards of offense in a comfortable victory. Offensively, the running game has cashed in, as three players had more than 50 yards, and Coal City stacked up about 300 yards on the ground.

About the Blue Devils: The Blue Devils rushed for more than 400 yards in a win over Streator on Friday night. That’s been the touchstone for the Blue Devils when they have had success. But a more worrisome topic, the Blue Devils surrendered about 400 yards to the Bulldogs last week and still might be licking its wounds from a punishing loss to Reed-Custer two weeks prior.

FND Pick: Coal City

Streator (2-4) at Reed-Custer (6-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Reed-Custer 47, Streator 7 (fall 2021)

About the Bulldogs: Streator is stuck in a three-game losing streak, and its defense has had its troubles as of late, surrendering 126 points in those losses. That’s not exactly a recipe for success against an opponent averaging about 58 points a game. The Bulldogs can score in bunches, led by QB Christian Benning and RB/WR Aneefy Ford.

About the Comets: Reed-Custer had something of a cathartic experience in Week 6 as it routed Wilmington, a dominant program it hadn’t defeated since 2007. Reed-Custer’s offense continues to rage, but its defense actually might be performing better. Opponents have barely had positive yardage against the Comets, with four of its six opponents finishing with negative total offensive yards.

FND Pick: Reed-Custer

Wilmington (5-1) at Lisle (2-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wilmington 29, Lisle 0 (2022 Week 2)

About the Wildcats: Wilmington is licking its wounds after a 50-5 defeat against Reed-Custer in Week 6. The Wildcats will try to rebound from the program’s worst loss since 1998. Wilmington was held to less than 100 yards rushing for the first time in recent memory, and the Wildcats will try to get that part of their game working again.

About the Lions: A scheduling quirk led to these two teams playing each other twice to fill out their schedules. Wilmington didn’t have much trouble with Lisle the first time around, but the Lions have a knack of playing the Wildcats pretty well on their home field of Benedictine University.

FND Pick: Wilmington

Vermilion Valley Conference

Dwight (1-5) at Watseka (1-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Watseka 45, Dwight 14 (2019)

About the Trojans: Dwight has stepped up its game since starting Vermilion Valley North divisional play, earning a win over Momence in Week 5 and giving Clifton Central a challenge in Week 6.

About the Warriors: Watseka forfeited in Week 6 to Seneca because of a lack of available players. It is unknown if the Warriors will be able to make a return to the field this week. Watseka also ran into this problem last season, having to forfeit six of its nine games.

FND Pick: Dwight

Momence (2-4) at Seneca (6-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Momence 32, Seneca 26 (fall 2021)

About the Redskins: Momence had what could be considered the upset of the league this season by toppling Iroquois West in Week 6. Freshman QB Erick Castillo delivered a big effort for Momence, throwing for about 300 yards and three scores. He accounted for 319 yards of total offense. Momence’s ability to run its winning streak to two will hinge almost entirely on its run defense.

About the Fighting Irish: Seneca got the week off, the benefactor of a forfeit win over Watseka in Week 6. The Fighting Irish sought an opponent to stay sharp, but were unable to find one. If Seneca can run the ball with authority as it has so far, odds are good the winning streak can continue.

FND Pick: Seneca