The Herald-News Prep Football Capsules for Week 9 of the 2022 season

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

Stagg (2-6) at Bolingbrook (5-3)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Bolingbrook 51, Stagg 10 (fall 2021)

About the Chargers: After starting the season 2-0, things have gone south for Stagg once entering SouthWest Suburban Conference play. The Chargers are mired in a six-game losing streak where they’ve been outscored 200-16, haven’t put more than a touchdown on the board and haven’t been closer than 28 points from another win.

About the Raiders: Bolingbrook took a little bit longer to get to playoff eligibility than they would have liked, but this game should give the Raiders an excellent opportunity to gain momentum heading into the postseason. One thing that hasn’t wilted all season for Bolingbrook is the passing attack led by freshman QB sensation Jonas Williams. Williams threw four more touchdowns in a Week 8 win over Lincoln-Way West.

Friday Night Drive Pick: Bolingbrook

Lockport (5-3) at Andrew (5-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lockport 45, Andrew 15 (fall 2021)

About the Porters: Lockport wasn’t able to put its best foot forward in a Week 8 loss to Lincoln-Way East. The Griffins’ vaunted defensive front probably had a lot to do with that, but the passing attack that had been so proficient in recent wins over Bolingbrook and Lincoln-Way West was grounded. The connection between QB Brady Pfeiffer and TE Hyatt Timosciek can bear fruit, so much deviation from that isn’t expected.

About the T-Bolts: After a Week 7 loss to Bradley-Bourbonnais, Andrew’s path to a fifth win looked rocky. But the T-Bolts took care of that concern, rolling to a win over Lincoln-Way West to secure playoff eligibility without a must-win situation in Week 9. Andrew can control games with a potent running attack and hopes to secure a better spot in the Class 7A draw.

FND Pick: Lockport

Homewood-Flossmoor (5-3) at Lincoln-Way West (3-5)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way West 17, Homewood-Flossmoor 10 (fall 2021)

About the Vikings: Homewood-Flossmoor clinched playoff eligibility by running away from Sandburg in Week 8 after suffering back-to-back losses to Bolingbrook and Lincoln-Way East. That win puts the Vikings back in the playoffs after missing the field in 2021. That was the first time H-F was not in the postseason since 2009, so it’s a good sign the Vikings are back on track.

About the Warriors: Lincoln-Way West recently has hit some bumps in the road and unfortunately is playing for pride rather than a playoff berth, as there’s no path for the Warriors to reach the postseason. Lincoln-Way West is caught in a three-game losing streak and has now dropped five of six after a solid start.

FND Pick: Homewood-Flossmoor

Lincoln-Way East (8-0) at Bradley-Bourbonnais (5-3)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way East 21, Bradley-Bourbonnais 18 (fall 2021)

About the Griffins: Lincoln-Way East is dissecting opponents right now. Offensively they are capable of doing whatever the situation dictates. RB James Kwiecinski is having a monster season and ran for about 300 yards in Lincoln-Way East’s win over Lockport in Week 8. The Griffins’ offense can go vertical if need be with WR Jayden Cook part of a receiver group capable of making big plays. Lost in the shuffle sometimes of the offense is a defense that forces opponents to move the football in ways they are not comfortable with.

About the Boilermakers: Bradley-Bourbonnais is one of the few teams that have given Lincoln-Way East trouble at times in the SouthWest Suburban Conference, including last year’s game that went down to the wire. The Boilermakers have some interesting components, particularly on offense. QB Ethan Kohl has had some huge passing games this season and set the school’s record for single-game passing yardage, surpassing the previous record by his father, Mike Kohl, the Boilermakers head coach.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way East

Sandburg (2-6) at Lincoln-Way Central (3-5)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Sandburg 59, Lincoln-Way Central 17 (fall 2021)

About the Eagles: Sandburg has been stuck in spoiler mode for a few weeks now with its playoff hopes dashed and is not enjoying that role. The only bright spot in the second half of the season has been a comfortable win over Stagg. Other than that, it’s tough to find many bright spots. The Eagles would certainly like to finish their season on the right note.

About the Knights: Lincoln-Way Central has shown some spark in the second half of the season, but dug too big of a hole to reach a playoff bid. It’s another playing-for-pride type game here for the Knights, but odds are the proud program won’t do anything other than try to play hard and win in its final outing of the season. RB Colin Mowry has shown flashes over the past few weeks and would like to finish the season with a flourish.

FND Pick: Lincoln-Way Central

Southwest Prairie Conference

Joliet Central (0-8) at Plainfield Central (4-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield Central 58, Joliet Central 14 (fall 2021)

About the Steelmen: The season will come to a merciful end for Joliet Central, which has struggled all season with outcomes and healthy bodies. The Steelmen started a majority of underclassmen in their lopsided loss to Joliet West in Week 8, which might help in the future. As far as being competitive now, that inexperience is a major hinderance.

About the Wildcats: Plainfield Central needs this win to secure its second consecutive playoff berth, and the Wildcats should be able to do that. With some help, Plainfield Central still has a chance at earning a share of the Southwest Prairie East Conference title, which the Wildcats won last year. The Wildcats have been anchored by their defense in many games this year, and they should have little trouble here.

FND Pick: Plainfield Central

Joliet West (4-4) at Plainfield South (5-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet West 26, Plainfield South 7 (fall 2021)

About the Tigers: Joliet West needs to win to secure a playoff berth. A win would also likely forge a three-way tie at the top of the conference standings, if coupled with a Plainfield Central win over Joliet Central in Week 9. If the Tigers get that win, fortunately it won’t require that they get the conference title to earn a playoff berth, as they would make it as an at-large team. That’s because Joliet West would have to score a minimum of 48 points on offense while holding Plainfield South to less than 17 points to win a three-way tiebreaker for the conference’s automatic playoff bid.

About the Cougars: Plainfield South clearly is in the driver’s seat to win a conference championship and has been playing good football during its four-game winning streak, particularly on defense, only allowing 20 total points during the streak. The Cougars look like a different team than the one that started the season 1-3 and have demonstrated that if teams try to take away RB Brian Stanton, they will fail or Plainfield South will find other ways.

FND Pick: Plainfield South

Minooka (5-3) at West Aurora (1-7)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Minooka 20, West Aurora 14 (fall 2021)

About the Indians: Minooka got into a classic defensive scuffle with Yorkville and came up short in a 7-0 loss in Week 8. While no one likes to lose, that outcome was a positive for the Indians’ defense. There aren’t many teams playing better defense than Minooka right now, and on that short list was its opponent on that night. Obviously, more offense is needed, but with the defense playing so well, the strain on the offense is at a minimum.

About the Blackhawks: West Aurora’s record is a little deceptive, as it has been competitive in most of its games, particularly early, before fading late in several contests. Minooka would be well-served to not look ahead, as the Blackhawks have shown a propensity to hold teams down. In fact, in Week 6, West Aurora fell 10-0 to Yorkville in a game that resembled what Minooka just went through.

FND Pick: Minooka

Oswego East (5-3) at Plainfield North (8-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield North 15, Oswego East 7 (fall 2021)

About the Wolves: Oswego East locked up playoff eligibility with a win that’s a bit sweeter because it beat crosstown rival Oswego in doing so. They also got a boost with the return of Oshodi Odior, who had been out since Week 1. He showed up in a big way, running for 88 yards. QB Tre Jones put together a monster game on the ground, stacking up 255 rushing yards and scoring four long rushing TDs. Oswego East has a little more diversity on offense, something it will likely need against a defense that’s allowed more than two touchdowns only once this year.

About the Tigers: Plainfield North already has sewn up the conference title but would like nothing more than to secure the school’s first undefeated regular season. The Tigers are clicking right now, and the offense has done pretty much what it wants under the direction of standout QB Demir Ashiru. The Plainfield North defense has been spectacular. They have allowed a big play or two, but teams can consider themselves lucky to get more than that.

FND Pick: Plainfield North

Romeoville (1-7) at Plainfield East (2-6)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield East 50, Romeoville 34 (fall 2021)

About the Spartans: Romeoville has had a rough season, particularly on defense. Excluding the Spartans’ lone win over Joliet Central, Romeoville’s defense has surrendered a minimum of 35 points in each of its seven losses, including two games where opponents posted over 55 points. Romeoville has been a little better on offense over the second half of the season, but not enough to bridge the gap with opponents.

About the Bengals: Plainfield East has some talented players, but for a number of reasons it simply has not been able to put it all together. The offense, expected to be a strength, has gone into shutdown mode the past three games against the better teams of the SPC East Division, scoring 6, 7 and 6 points in those consecutive losses.


CCL/ESCC Orange Conference

Montini (3-5) at Joliet Catholic (6-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet Catholic 44, Montini 28 (fall 2021)

About the Broncos: Montini needed to survive a difficult schedule to try to get itself to be a dangerous out in Class 3A, but the Broncos haven’t been able to do that. At one point Montini was 3-2, but they are limping to the finish line, having been outscored 112-14 in three consecutive losses. Even if the Broncos were able to pull off the upset, Montini isn’t a prime candidate to be a four-win at-large team if those are needed to fill the 256 team playoff field.

About the Hilltoppers: Joliet Catholic once again responded to a loss with a dominant victory over Benet in Week 8. The Redwings couldn’t do much of anything against an inspired effort from a Hilltoppers’ defensive line led by Jeremy Johnson. The offense got a boost from the return of RB H.G. Grigsby, who had been hampered by injury. A win here isn’t a must, but finishing 7-2 would give the Hilltoppers a solid chance of hosting an opening-round playoff game.

FND Pick: Joliet Catholic

St. Laurence (3-5) at Providence (4-4)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: St. Laurence 27, Providence 17 (fall 2021)

About the Vikings: St. Laurence is another team that hasn’t been able to get any second-half momentum with a brutal CCL/ESCC schedule. That’s led to a three-game losing streak. That level of competition has allowed St. Laurence to build playoff points, but unless they can get to four wins it won’t matter, and it still might not. If St. Laurence wins it’d be high on the list of teams for an at-large bid if four-win teams are needed to fill the field.

About the Celtics: Providence tried to pull off an upset of St. Rita in Week 8, but ultimately came up short. There’s been obvious improvement by Providence this season, but the Celtics still haven’t clinched playoff eligibility. Providence would have a fairly good chance of qualifying as a four-win team, but it wouldn’t be in their best interest to leave that to chance. A loss to St. Laurence would not only cost them a fifth win but cause them to slide down the list of teams that might qualify as a four-win team behind St. Laurence.

FND Pick: Providence

South Suburban Blue Conference

Lemont (8-0) at T.F. South (3-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 42, T.F. South 7 (fall 2021)

About Lemont: Lemont QB Payton Salomon continues to complete passes at a dizzying rate without throwing an interception yet while engineering the high-octane Lemont offense. Since joining the South Suburban Conference portion of its schedule, no opponent has been closer than 29 points, and it looks well-positioned to earn a top-seed in the south side of the Class 6A bracket as long as it completes the undefeated regular season with a Week 9 win.

About the Red Wolves: T.F. South was close to having a better record than it has. None of its five losses have been by more than two touchdowns, and it has a win over Evergreen Park, a 6-2 team. The Red Wolves have been competitive in most of their games. This probably is too big a task for T.F. South to try to close its season with a win, but the Red Wolves can throw everything they have at Lemont.

FND Pick: Lemont

Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 White

Morris (7-1) at Sycamore (8-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Morris 28, Sycamore 21 (fall 2021)

About Morris: Morris caps the season with an intriguing finale that should prepare it nicely for a postseason run which could be in Class 4A rather than 5A. Other than in its only loss of the season to Richmond-Burton, Morris has been explosive in the first half of games. It seems unlikely Morris will be able to get off to such a forceful start against Sycamore, but that could be pivotal.

About the Spartans: Sycamore hasn’t faired the same as Morris has in some of its comparative conference matchups this season, but the Spartans have been just as effective in displaying their dominance. They have surrendered a few more points in those games, which might be a small sign to an edge Morris might have on defense. In any case, the gaps between these teams looks very small, and a key turnover or two could make all the difference.

FND Pick: Morris

Illinois Central Eight Conference

Coal City (5-3) at Streator (2-6)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Coal City 41, Streator 6 (fall 2021)

About the Coalers: Coal City suffered the same fate as most opponents when playing Reed-Custer. The Coalers had some success through the air, but only after the running game was shut down. That’s Coal City’s preferred method of moving the football, so QB Braden Reilly was asked to shoulder more of the load than usual. The idea is to have a balance of run and pass, something the Coalers hope to do this week before entering the Class 4A playoffs.

About the Bulldogs: Streator got roughed up against Wilmington in Week 8, and the Wildcats did all of their damage on the ground. The Bulldogs face an opponent that very much wants to get its running game going in the right direction. Streator may be able to pass with able-armed QB Christian Benning, as Coal City has some issues this season on occasion with pass defense.

FND Pick: Coal City

Herscher (1-7) at Reed-Custer (8-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Reed-Custer 49, Herscher 6 (fall 2021)

About the Tigers: Not exactly the game you want to cap what has turned out to be a pretty rough season for Herscher. The Tigers opened the season with a win over Charleston, but have followed that with seven straight losses. All but two of those losses have been fairly lopsided, and the defense has been giving up points in bunches.

About the Comets: Reed-Custer is making it look easy right now, having failed to score at least 50 points in only one game. QB Jake McPherson seems to be a threat to score every time he throws the ball or tucks it to run. His running mate in the backfield, Jace Christian, seems to be scoring a touchdown about once every three times he touches the football. Christian scored three touchdowns on nine carries in Week 8.

FND Pick: Reed-Custer

Lisle (4-4) at Peotone (5-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lisle 28, Peotone 14 (fall 2021)

About the Lions: Lisle is in a must-win situation to try to get into the playoffs. If they don’t get in it’s hard not to look back at the scheduling quirk that had them playing Illinois Central Eight powerhouse Wilmington twice in the same season. Lisle has been a bit of an enigma for Peotone in the past, and it wouldn’t be that surprising to see the Lions throw everything but the kitchen sink at the Blue Devils.

About the Blue Devils: After a couple of tough weeks against the best the Illinois Central Eight has to offer, Peotone enjoyed a cushy win over Herscher in Week 8 to sew up playoff eligibility. Although Peotone is in the field win or lose, a win here would ensure the Blue Devils don’t have to play one of the top seeds in the Class 3A bracket in the opening round. Peotone’s bruising running attack led by Dylan Sroka is a good for a playoff run, but there are several opening-round opponents the Blue Devils would need to avoid to make that happen.

FND Pick: Peotone

Manteno (2-6) at Wilmington (8-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wilmington 48, Manteno 20 (fall 2021)

About the Panthers: Manteno has had some success this season, but the struggle remains for the defense. The Panthers are giving up about 40 points per game, which certainly isn’t ideal when facing Wilmington. Manteno also has been held to six points or fewer in half of its games.

About the Wildcats: Wilmington’s high-octane rushing attack went into high gear in a Week 8 win over Streator, as the Wildcats had about 500 yards rushing, gained at an 11-yard per carry clip and didn’t feel the need to attempt a pass. The Wildcats will continue to do this as long as it is viable, and many opponents don’t have the ability to force them out of their comfort zone. RB Colin James had 300 yards rushing and scored four TDs after missing the previous week’s game.

FND Pick: Wilmington

Vermilion Valley Conference

Dwight (2-6) at Seneca (8-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Seneca 42, Dwight 6 (fall 2021)

About the Trojans: Dwight has been a thorn in Seneca’s side at times in the past, but this might look like too big a mountain for the Trojans to climb. Dwight has struggled defensively against the conference’s stronger teams, having held only one opponent – Watseka – to fewer than 28 points. Four opponents have scored more than 45, which isn’t an ideal recipe against an opponent that is scoring in bunches.

About the Fighting Irish: Seneca hasn’t had an undefeated regular season since 2000 when it reached the Class 3A quarterfinals. They look poised to do it again behind a running game that has been potent in every game. An underrated element for Seneca has been its defense. The Fighting Irish are coming off a Week 8 shutout of Clifton Central, which typically is one of the more potent teams in the Vermilion Valley Conference.

FND Pick: Seneca

Streator's Aneefy Ford (9) runs down Wilmington's Colin James (19) after a 38-yard run as heavy rain falls at Doug Dieken Stadium on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022, in Streator.