The Herald-News Prep Football Week 8 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

Lockport (5-2) at Lincoln-Way East (7-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way East 12, Lockport 10 (fall 2021)

About the Porters: Lockport appeared as though it might not be able to defend its Class 8A state title after back-to-back losses to Homewood-Flossmoor and Sandburg left it 3-2 with multiple tough games left on the schedule. But it regrouped nicely with a win over Lincoln-Way West and secured playoff eligibility with a wild rally in the waning seconds to topple Bolingbrook in Week 7. QB Brady Pfieffer is the engine that runs Lockport, and he’s got a premier weapon to rely on in TE Hyatt Timosciek. Injuries continue to hamper the Lockport defense, but the next-man-up philosophy seems to be working well.

About the Griffins: Lincoln-Way East is operating at a high level. Uncharacteristically giving up a few points early in Week 7 against Homewood-Flossmoor, the Griffins’ offense took its turn leading the way turning a 14-all tie at the end of one quarter into a 52-14 victory. RB James Kwiecinski is continuing the East tradition of having a lead RB who can help win, as he rushed for four scores in the H-F victory. QB Braden Tischer seems to have a knack for making a big play when the Griffins need it.

Friday Night Drive Pick: Lincoln-Way East

Lincoln-Way Central (3-4) at Bolingbrook (4-3)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Bolingbrook 42, Lincoln-Way Central 10 (fall 2021)

About the Knights: Lincoln-Way Central kept its playoff hopes alive by upsetting district rival Lincoln-Way West in Week 7, but it still must continue trying to run the table to secure its place. In the LWW victory, the Knights got a huge game from RB Colin Mowry and likely will need a similar effort to keep them in the mix in this game. The defensive unit will be taxed trying to keep Bolingbrook’s offensive weapons in check, but at least the Knights have added some confidence that they can score if need be.

About the Raiders: Bolingbrook’s 4-3 record is a little deceptive considering the three teams it lost to currently have a combined record of 19-2. But it also is probably a bit distressing the Raiders haven’t been able to win any of those contests, because wins against opponents such as those are ones they will need if they expect to make a postseason run. Bolingbrook still hasn’t secured its playoff eligibility, and although a Week 9 matchup with Stagg doesn’t look all that daunting, the Raiders probably don’t want to leave it to the outcome of the final week.

FND Pick: Bolingbrook

Lincoln-Way West (3-4) at Andrew (4-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way West 35, Andrew 6 (fall 2021)

About the Warriors: It seemed early on that Lincoln-Way West would not be in a situation where it needed to win out just to make the postseason. But after a 2-0 start, the Warriors have lost four of five, and their surprising loss to Lincoln-Way Central in Week 7 leaves them needing to win their last two games for playoff eligibility [Homewood-Flossmoor in Week 9]. Lincoln-Way West has been more productive offensively the past few weeks, but that’s been blended with some defensive woes.

About the T-Bolts: Andrew’s season has been a bit of a rollercoaster. The T-Bolts appear to be gaining a little momentum only to see it washed away. There were definitely some breakdowns in a Week 7 loss to Bradley-Bourbonnais, and RB Mike Barberi was limited in his activity for an undisclosed reason in that loss. Andrew closes the season hosting Lockport, so it would like to lock up playoff eligibility here rather than being forced into a must-win situation in Week 9.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way West

Southwest Prairie Conference

Minooka (5-2) at Yorkville (6-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Minooka 20, Yorkville 17 (fall 2021)

About the Indians: Minooka has improved leaps and bounds defensively since playing Bolingbrook in Week 1. It will have a tall task against a team that has been equally if not more stingy than the Indians. Offensively, Minooka has had a grinder mentality, but benefitted more from big plays in its near-upset of Plainfield North in Week 7. Ideally, Minooka’s offense would be a blend of both. RB Joey Partridge has developed into a reliable runner for the Indians, and he’ll probably be a critical piece to their success.

About the Foxes: Yorkville has leaned heavily on its defense this season. Other than in its lone loss to Plainfield North, the Foxes don’t allow much in terms of points. Also, like Minooka, Yorkville prefers to run the ball, move the chains and score enough so the defense doesn’t feel pressured to toss a shutout. It’s a floor plan that has worked even with RB Gio Zeman sidelined with a foot injury. Last week, fill-in Josh Gettemy rushed for about 250 yards in a win over Oswego East.

FND Pick: Yorkville

Plainfield Central (3-4) at Romeoville (1-6)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield Central 64, Romeoville 6 (fall 2021)

About the Wildcats: Plainfield Central’s momentum came to a halt in a Week 7 loss to Plainfield South. The Wildcats scuffled to get to a 100 yards of total offense and didn’t run the ball effectively. There’s an opportunity here against a Romeoville defense that has trouble keeping most opponents in check. The defense has been reliable, and even though Plainfield Central surrendered 26 points in a Week 7 loss, many of those points came either directly or indirectly off turnovers and forced the Wildcats’ defense into bad situations they didn’t create.

About the Spartans: Romeoville finally snapped its losing streak with a Week 7 victory over Joliet Central. The Spartans’ lone win last season also came against Joliet Central, and Romeoville hasn’t beat any other program since the 2019 spring season. It was encouraging for Romeoville to post 30 points in the win, because it only managed 32 points through its first six games. Maybe the Romeoville defense has gained a little momentum after limiting Joliet Central to only six points, as they were surrendering an average of 45 points a game in its first six games.

FND Pick:

Plainfield South (4-3) at Plainfield East (2-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield East 45, Plainfield South 32 (fall 2021)

About the Cougars: Plainfield South went old school in taking control of the Southwest Prairie East Conference race, leaning heavily on its defense and getting just enough offense to allow them to inch away from Plainfield Central in Week 7. If the defense continues to play at that level, Plainfield South should lock down a playoff berth here. A rivalry game with another Plainfield school always presents interesting challenges, but if there’s still some fuel left over from the inspired effort the Cougars had in Week 7, the Bengals probably are in a heap of trouble.

About the Bengals: Plainfield East has had a series of unfortunate events that has led to four losses in its past five games. Health has been a concern, as it seems like the Bengals haven’t had their entire arsenal of players at the same time. Pretty much everything fell apart for Plainfield East in a lopsided loss to Joliet West in Week 7. The loss was Plainfield East’s fifth, and since there’s no way for them to get into a tiebreaker scenario for the conference championship, the school’s consecutive playoff appearance streak will end at two.

FND Pick: Plainfield South

West Aurora (1-6) at Plainfield North (7-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield North 28, West Aurora 9 (fall 2021)

About the Blackhawks: West Aurora is mired in a five-game losing streak, but it has persistently given Southwest Prairie Conference foes better games than that record might indicate they are capable of. Yorkville was only able to grind out a 10-0 win over the Blackhawks two weeks ago, and while it eventually got away from them they were trading scores with Oswego until wearing down in a 45-22 loss in Week 7.

About the Tigers: Plainfield North played with fire in Week 7 against Minooka, and it almost turned into an inferno. After doing little over the first three quarters offensively, an early fourth-quarter turnover seemed to put the Tigers on the verge of being knocked from the ranks of the undefeated. But several quick defensive stops by LB Gerald Floyd and the defense afforded the explosive Plainfield North offense extra chances in the final five minutes, where it scored three times to escape with a 22-21 victory.

FND Pick: Plainfield North

Joliet West (3-4) at Joliet Central (0-7)

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Last matchup: Joliet West 41, Joliet Central 6 (fall 2021)

About the Tigers: Joliet West seems to be putting it all together at the right time. The Tigers dominated Plainfield East in Week 7, keeping their playoff hopes alive. If they can get through the district rivalry matchup with Joliet Central this week unscathed, it will set up a win-and-get-in scenario for Joliet West against Plainfield South. It also could be a situation where Joliet West would have a shot at a share of the conference title with the possibility of winning it outright. The Tigers offense has been explosive of late, and the Week 8 matchup should provide an opportunity for a tune-up heading into the potential showdown game.

About the Steelmen: Joliet Central’s best chance to snap a program losing streak of 21 games came and went with a loss to Romeoville in Week 7. A little more hop might be in their step this week with a rivalry game on tap, but it looks like bridging the gap between these two programs might be too much to ask for the Steelmen. Joliet West has won the past three meetings comfortably since Joliet Central capped the 2018 season with a win, one of few they’ve had in this series.

FND Pick: Joliet West

CCL/ESCC Crossover

Benet (4-3) at Joliet Catholic (5-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet Catholic 42, Benet 20 (fall 2021)

About the Redwings: Benet has been the ultimate close-game team this season, as every one of their games, barring a Week 4 loss to St. Rita, has been decided by eight points or fewer. The Redwings have managed to string together three straight wins to get back back into the playoff conversation, but still need at least one win this week or in Week 9 against Nazareth.

About the Hilltoppers: Just about every team in the CCL/ESCC probably is better than its record, so no shade can be thrown at Joliet Catholic for falling to a Brother Rice team that entered Week 7 with a .500 record. Despite the loss, the defense seemed to shore up fairly well, with about half of the points they allowed coming in the two overtime periods.

FND Pick: Joliet Catholic

St. Rita (5-2) at Providence (4-3)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: St. Rita 35, Providence 0 (fall 2021)

About the Crusaders: St. Rita started 1-2, but has caught its footing after moving away from CCL/ESCC Blue Division teams. The Mustangs have strung together four lopsided wins and have done most of the damage without consistent play from the quarterback position. The Mustangs have been particularly salty on defense during this run and will likely make things challenging for a Providence offense that has shown a spark of late.

About the Celtics: Providence continues with one of the state’s most difficult schedules, and its wins have helped it get back into the playoff discussion, but we may be learning more about the team in its losses. The Celtics gave Loyola one of its more competitive games in Week 7 before falling to the Ramblers 34-22. Providence has found some things that work on offense, having posted about 150 points in its past four games. The Celtics need one more win to gain playoff eligibility, and if they don’t get it here, St. Laurence in Week 9 will be the pivot. If the Celtics lose both games, all isn’t loss. If four-win teams are needed to fill the playoff field, Providence likely will find itself close to the front of the line in regards to playoff points amassed [opponents wins].

FND Pick: St. Rita

South Suburban Blue Conference

Lemont (7-0) at Hillcrest (4-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 41, Hillcrest 0 (fall 2021)

About Lemont: Lemont continues to be a dominant force in South Suburban Conference play, hanging 68 points on one of the stronger programs in Richards during Week 7. They haven’t scored fewer than 42 points in any conference game, and QB Payton Salomon continues to be accurate with his passes, tossing another four touchdowns with no interceptions. He’s thrown for more than 3,500 yards with 54 touchdowns and one interception over this season and last season combined.

About the Hawks: Hillcrest usually is one of the teams in the South Suburban Conference you need to keep an eye on, but the Hawks have taken a step back this season. A brutal nonconference slate left them 0-2. They dropped 64 points on Tinley Park in Week 7. But a loss to Bremen in Week 6 by a comfortable margin gives pause to whether or not they can compete in this game, as Lemont put a 48-19 hurting on the same Bremen team in Week 4.

FND Pick: Lemont

Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 White Conference

Ottawa (4-3) at Morris (6-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Morris 49, Ottawa 0 (fall 2021)

About the Pirates: Ottawa started the season 3-0 and appeared on its way to securing a playoff berth, but things haven’t gone that well since that fast start. Other than a Week 6 win over Woodstock North that got them within a victory of playoff eligibility, Ottawa has been handled roughly by the other teams on their schedule. Upsetting Morris to give them playoff eligibility looks unlikely, but they’d like to have something positive to build on for Week 9 against Woodstock, rather than compounding the problems such as the five turnovers they committed in a Week 7 loss to La Salle-Peru.

About Morris: Morris wasted no time dwelling on a Week 6 loss to Richmond-Burton, as it throttled Woodstock in Week 7. Morris would like to put itself on the best possible footing for a showdown with potentially undefeated Sycamore for the conference championship in Week 9, but shouldn’t look past an Ottawa team that has a lot to play for here and probably is a better team than the Pirates have had in this matchup in some time.

FND Pick: Morris

Illinois Central Eight Conference

Reed-Custer (7-0) at Coal City (5-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Reed-Custer 33, Coal City 9 (fall 2021)

About the Comets: Reed-Custer passed the 400 point mark after putting 73 points on the board against Streator. The Comets have won every game by at least 41 points. Can the Comets continue to cruise against a Coal City defense that has been pretty salty after a Week 1 struggle to shut down Morris. History says this is a game that Reed-Custer might struggle with, but the Comets have been bucking trends this season.

About the Coalers: After Coal City dropped a 17-7 decision to Wilmington in Week 3, the Coalers have gone on a tear, outscoring opponents 142-28 during four consecutive victories. Coal City will need a herculean effort from its defense to be in this game. It’s a relatively obvious formula to try to slow down the high-flying Comets, but it is a formula that no one has been able to successfully apply.

FND Pick: Reed-Custer

Peotone (4-3) at Herscher (1-6)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Peotone 19, Herscher 6 (fall 2021)

About the Blue Devils: Peotone’s ground game was somewhat kept in check in a Week 7 loss to Coal City, and the Blue Devils need to be able to flourish in that area to have success. Peotone should be able to get its multi-back attack back on track this week with RB Dylan Sroka leading the way. Peotone still is one win away from playoff eligibility. The back half of the Class 3A playoff field likely is going to draw a strong foe in the opening round.

About the Tigers: Herscher is mired in a six-game losing streak and hasn’t found much success against the Illinois Central Eight. Defense routinely has been Herscher’s most imposing challenge, but an inability to pull out a key play or two in close games also has been a problem, as half of its losses during this slide have come by 10 points or fewer.

FND Pick: Peotone

Wilmington (6-1) at Streator (2-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wilmington 45, Streator 13 (fall 2021)

About the Wildcats: Wilmington regrouped with a win over Lisle in Week 7. Because of a scheduling quirk, it was the second time the schools met this season, with Wilmington also winning in Week 2. Wilmington’s ground game continues to be key, and the Wildcats still had a decent amount of rushing yards despite playing without leading rusher Colin James.

About the Bulldogs: Streator is trying to snap out of a bit of a funk, having dropped four games in a row including a punishing loss at the hands of conference front runner Reed-Custer in Week 7. The Bulldogs would certainly like to get their passing game on track once again as QB Christian Benning is certainly capable, having established a program record for career passing yardage in the Week 7 loss.

FND Pick: Wilmington

Vermilion Valley Conference

Iroquois West (5-2) at Dwight (2-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Iroquois West 56, Dwight 6 (fall 2021)

About the Raiders: Iroquois West got back in the win column after losing the past two weeks. The Raiders have a potent offense when things are clicking, and they seem to be utilizing a power running game fueled by RB Trystyn Schacht, often running behind Iowa recruit Cannon Leonard.

About the Trojans: Dwight has put together a nice run over the second half of the season. After the Trojans dropped their first four games, Dwight has claimed wins in two of its past three games and put up a solid performance before losing to historically strong Clifton Central in Week 5. Dwight would need a strong effort to get a win here, but it can’t be dismissed as a possibility.

FND Pick: Iroquois West

Seneca (7-0) at Clifton Central (5-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Seneca 30, Clifton Central 14 (fall 2021)

About the Fighting Irish: Seneca didn’t skip a beat in Week 7 after getting some time off when Watseka forfeited in Week 6. Seven players scored TDs for the Fighting Irish as they routed Momence. Seneca goes into this game against Central as the favorite, which is unlike many other meetings between the schools, as Clifton Central has been one of the dominant teams in the current conference, the Vermilion Valley, and the former conference, the Sangamon Valley Conference, which both teams were formerly members of.

About the Comets: Clifton Central likely will try to tax the Seneca defense, particularly its secondary. QB Luke Shoven threw for more than 300 yards and five TDs in its shootout loss to Iroquois West in Week 7. But if the Comets have any chance of knocking Seneca from the ranks of the undefeated, it will likely fall to Central’s run defense to step up.

FND Pick: Seneca