Analysis | Friday Night Drive

Sauk Valley Media area football preview capsules for Week 9

Oregon’s Gabe Eckerd runs for yards in the first half against Rock Falls Friday, Oct. 14, 2022.


United Township (1-7, 1-5) at Sterling (6-2, 5-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Sterling 38-27 (2021 Week 9)

About the Panthers: UT has given up 344 points this season, more than any other Western Big 6 team; its 186 points scored ranks sixth out of eight teams in the league. … The Panthers’ lone win came in Week 7, a 47-6 victory over Alleman that snapped their eight-game losing streak dating back to last season. The last time UT beat a team other than Alleman was Week 3 last year. … John Manso (74 rushes, 475 yards, 6 TDs) and Matthew Kelley (50-339, 5 TDs) lead the ground game for UT, while Korey Randle (15-173) has run for 4 scores. Kelley is 65-for-136 passing for 901 yards, 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions, and Randle (24 catches, 360 yards, 4 TDs) and Oscar Perez-Velasquez (22-259, 3 TDs) lead the Panthers’ receiving corps.

About the Golden Warriors: Sterling’s loss to Moline last week in a battle of WB6 unbeatens snapped a five-game winning streak that saw the Warriors outscore their opponents 247-68, including a pair of shutouts. … Sterling can still clinch a share of the league title with a win and a loss by Moline against Geneseo. The Warriors have finished first or second in the conference standings every year since joining the league. … Kael Ryan has run for 740 yards and 15 touchdowns and thrown for 152 yards, while fellow QB JP Schilling has run for 424 yards and 10 TDs and thrown for 517 yards and 6 TDs on 35-for-54 passing. … Antonio Tablante (77 rushes, 436 yards, 7 TDs), AJ Kested (33-227, 5 TDs) and Cale Ledergerber (34-178, 2 TDs) are Sterling’s top running backs, while Isaiah Mendoza (10 catches, 193 yards, TD), Justin Null (8-109, 2 TDs), Ledergerber (7-49, TD) and Dylan Ottens (6-99) lead the Warriors receivers.

FND pick: Sterling


Rock Falls (0-8, 0-8) at Dixon (5-3, 5-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Dixon 46-13 (2021 Week 9)

About the Rockets: Rock Falls is looking to avoid its first winless season since back-to-back 0-9 seasons in 2014 and ‘15. … The Rockets have scored the fewest points in the BNC (40), and allowed the most (368). … Rock Falls has scored all of its points in four games, and has been shut out four times. … Kohle Bradley and Ryan McCord lead the Rockets’ running backs, while Easton Canales, Vincent Lombardo and Logan Thome have all taken snaps at quarterback this season. Canales has also lined up at receiver, while Bradley, Austin Castaneda, Colin Cook and Michael Flowers have been the top pass-catchers.

About the Dukes: Dixon has qualified for the playoffs for the eighth straight season, and can lock in a guaranteed spot in the postseason with a win. Prior to this current streak, the Dukes had made the playoffs only five times in program history. … Dixon is outscoring its opponents 200-174 this season, and has played four one-score games. … Aiden Wiseman (122 rushes, 812 yards, 10 TDs) and Tyler Shaner (138-794, 7 TDs) lead the rushing attack, while Shaner has thrown for 709 yards, 9 TDs and 12 INTs on 55-for-105 passing. Ethan Hays (22 catches, 358 yards, 4 TDs), Rylan Ramsdell (10-98, 2 TDs) and Jath St. Pier (8-77, TD) have been his favorite targets.

FND pick: Dixon

North Boone (2-6, 2-6) at Oregon (2-6, 2-6)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: North Boone 41-14 (2021 Week 9)

About the Vikings: North Boone has lost three of its last four games, scoring 25 points total in the three losses; the lone win in that stretch was 54-13 over Rock Falls. … Despite their record, North Boone has only been outscored by 14 points this season (187-173). Three of the losses have been by two touchdowns or less, and the Vikings have scored 101 points in their two wins. … Senior QB Chandler Alderman will play Division I baseball next year at Middle Tennessee State.

About the Hawks: Oregon bounced back from a lopsided loss to rival Byron in Week 7 with a 46-0 shutout of Rock Falls on the road in Week 8. Noah Reber (8-106) and Gabe Eckerd (11-98) led a strong ground game in the victory. … Jack Washburn has thrown the ball well this season, and his 2 pass attempts and 9 yards last week were season lows, as the Hawks did all of their damage with the rushing attack; they outgained Rock Falls 220-61 on the ground. … Oregon has been outscored 204-92 this season; the 46 points last week accounts for half of their season total. It was only the second time the Hawks scored in double-digits this season.

FND pick: Oregon


Newman (5-3, 3-2) at Kewanee (3-5, 2-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Newman 20-17 (2021 Week 9)

About the Comets: Newman has won every matchup since Kewanee joined the then-Big Rivers in 2010; the teams didn’t play three times in that span. The combined score of those nine victories is 325-92, an average of 36.1-10.2. The Boilermakers have never scored more than 30 points, while the Comets have scored 38 or more five times, and have shut out Kewanee in four of the games. … Newman has been outscored 167-128, and has been in three one-score games – including the last two – and has won all three of them.

About the Boilermakers: Kewanee has been outscored 235-163 this season, having scored 20 or more points just three times, while giving up more than 20 in six games. … The Boilermakers come in off a 42-14 loss to Rockridge, after a 26-15 win over Mendota in Week 7 that snapped a two-game losing skid. … Kewanee made the playoffs each of the last two seasons they were held, the first time it has been to the postseason in consecutive years since 1998-99. … The Boilers have been to the playoffs just 12 times in program history, and have made it past the second round only once.

FND pick: Newman

Bureau Valley (1-7, 0-5) at Hall (4-4, 3-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Bureau Valley 34-7 (2021 Week 9)

About the Storm: Bureau Valley is riding a six-game losing skid, including shutouts in three out of the last four games, and would like to play spoiler and send the seniors out on a good note. “This is our Super Bowl. We’re going to put everything we have in our last game and give it everything we’ve got and send these seniors off on an positive note and also try to build some momentum heading off into the offseason,” BV coach Mat Pistole said. ... BV’s convincing 34-7 win last fall at home over Hall tied the all-time series at 4-4.

About the Red Devils: Hall is fighting for its playoff life. The Red Devils have won three out of their last four games, including last week’s 42-27 upset over rival St. Bede, but need one more to become playoff eligible. With a combined enrollment with their new co-op with Putnam County, the Red Devils would be a 4A team for the playoffs. “It would mean a lot for a team that only won two games the last two years,” Hall senior QB Mac Resetich said. “I’m the only one who’s really experienced the playoffs from my freshman year, so it’s going to be a big difference for everybody else on the team.” ... Resetich rushed for six touchdowns and 324 yards last week, and has now broken the school school’s single-season rushing record with 1,867 yards, and tied the record for most touchdowns with 28, records held by former Hall star and coach Jason Bland since 1991.

FND pick: Hall


Erie-Prophetstown (4-4, 1-3) at Morrison (4-4, 3-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Erie-Prophetstown 25-6 (2021 Week 9)

About the Panthers: Erie-Prophetstown has been outscored 215-195 this season, having scored 30 or more points three times, and having allowed 27 or more points in six games. … The Panthers lost 28-6 last week against Monmouth-Roseville, snapping a two-game winning streak during which E-P gave up a total of six points. … E-P is looking for its second straight trip to the playoffs, after qualifying for the first time in six seasons last year; the Panthers went to the postseason three straight seasons from 2012-14. … Jase Grunder has rushed for well over 1,000 yards this season, and has four 200-yard games and nearly 20 touchdowns.

About the Mustangs: Morrison has won its last two games, and has four two-game streaks on the season; it lost the first two weeks, then won the next two weeks, then lost two in a row before its current win streak. … The Mustangs have scored 111 points the last two weeks in a 55-13 win over Orion and a 56-7 win over LeRoy. … Morrison holds a 231-174 scoring edge over its opponents, scoring 22 or more points in each of its last five games, and allowing more than 30 points just twice. … Morrison is looking for its second playoff berth in three seasons, and a six-year drought prior to 2019. … Carson Strating, Logan Baker and Brady Anderson have formed a solid three-headed monster in the Mustangs’ backfield, while Danny Mouw has been consistent throwing the ball and receiver Chase Newman has made plays down the field.

FND pick: Morrison


Lena-Winslow (8-0, 7-0) at Forreston (5-3, 4-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Le-Win 38-8 (2021 1A playoffs, 2nd round)

About the Panthers: Le-Win has outscored its opponents 428-95 this season; both the points scored and points allowed are the best in the NUIC. … The Panthers have scored 44 or more points in every game, have scored 52 or more five times, and also have games where they scored 60 and 70 points. … Le-Win has allowed one score or less five times. … Gunar Lobdell has rushed 74 times for 945 yards and 14 touchdowns, while Gage Dunker has 93 carries for 922 yards and 19 TDs, and Jake Zeal has 59 rushes for 652 yards and 8 scores.

About the Cardinals: Forreston won the last regular-season meeting between the teams, 22-20 in Week 9 before Le-Win avenged that loss in the playoffs on its way to the 1A state title. … The Cardinals hold a 306-167 scoring edge on their opponents this season. The 306 points scored are second-most in the NUIC. … Johnny Kobler (110 rushes, 857 yards, 15 TDs), Kaleb Sanders (69-686, 9 TDs) and Micah Nelson (49-513, 7 TDs) lead a potent ground game, with Quinten Frederick (52-274), McKeon Crase (40-259, 4 TDs), Brock Smith (30-242, 3 TDs) and Owen Mulder (38-201, TD) also rushing for more than 200 yards on the season.

FND pick: Le-Win

Fulton (6-2, 6-1) at Dakota (5-3, 4-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Fulton 41-0 (2021 Week 9)

About the Steamers: Fulton holds a 272-143 scoring edge this season, with the 143 points allowed the third-fewest given up in the NUIC. … The Steamers have scored at least 30 points in all but one game, and have allowed 22 or fewer six times. … Fulton comes in riding a three-game winning streak since back-to-back losses in Weeks 4 and 5. … Ryan Eads has 94 rushes for 460 yards and 6 touchdowns, while Lukas Schroeder has 82 carries for 411 yards and 9 TDs; Schroeder did not play in last week’s win over EPC. Joel Ford has run 38 times for 243 yards and 4 scores. … Brayden Dykstra is 104-for-174 passing for 1,099 yards and 11 touchdowns, with 6 interceptions. Baylen Damhoff (38 catches, 442 yards, 6 TDs) and Eads (33-322, 3 TDs) are his top targets.

About the Indians: Dakota has outscored opponents 305-207 this season; the 305 points scored are third-most in the NUIC. … The Indians have won their last two games after two straight losses – which came after two consecutive victories. … Dakota defeated West Carroll 66-0 last week, only the second time it’s scored more than 40 points all year. … Adrian Arellano leads the Indians with 66 rushes for 572 yards and 5 touchdowns. Tommy Bowman has 104 carries for 460 yards and 10 TDs. … Kaidyn Neidermeier is 59-for-106 passing for 910 yards, 11 TDs and 7 INTs. … Arellano has 22 catches for 514 yards and 6 TDs, and Tug Dornink has 28 catches for 319 yards and a score.

FND pick: Fulton

Eastland-Pearl City (2-6) vs. Chester (5-3)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Tremont H.S.

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Wildcatz: EPC has won two of its last four games, but comes into this week off a 35-14 loss to Fulton. Prior to that, the Wildcatz had defeated Dakota 40-36 and West Carroll 61-0 around a 28-13 loss to Galena. … EPC has been outscored by 101 points this season (262-161), and has reached the 40-point mark just twice while giving up 34 or more points five times. … Maddux Hayden leads the ‘Catz with 69 rushes for 277 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Carsen Heeren has run for 225 yards and 6 TDs, and thrown for 983 yards, 7 TDs and 10 INTs on 62-for-117 passing. … Ethan Petta (18 catches, 312 yards, TD), Brady Sweitzer (20-265, TD), Donovan Kuhlemier (6-231, 3 TDs) and Max McCullough (13-160, 2 TDs) lead the EPC receiving corps.

About the Yellow Jackets: While this is technically a home game for EPC, the two teams agreed to play in Tremont because it’s partway between the two schools, which are located 330 miles apart (about a 6-hour drive). Tremont is about 130 miles from Lanark, and about 200 miles from Chester. … The Yellow Jackets are members of the Cahokia Conference’s Illinois Division; they went 5-0 and won the league title. … After an 0-3 start, Chester has won its last five games by a combined 142-49. … The Yellow Jackets have actually been outscored 157-154 this season; they’ve scored 32 or more points only three times, but have only given up 30 or more points twice.

FND pick: Chester

West Carroll (0-8, 0-7) at Galena (3-5, 2-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Galena 53-0 (2021 spring, Week 2)

About the Thunder: West Carroll suffered its fifth shutout of the season last week, and has scored only 20 points all year. … The Thunder have allowed an NUIC-high 486 points on the season, giving up at least 49 points in every game, and allowing 60 or more six times – including in each of the last five games. … AJ Boardman has 91 rushes for 346 yards, and is also 30-for-98 passing for 405 yards, 3 TDs and 8 INTs. Aaron Becker has caught all 3 TD passes, and has 16 receptions for 261 yards.

About the Pirates: Galena has lost its last two games, and three of its last four after starting the season 2-2. … The Pirates have been outscored 215-142 this season, having scored 28 or more points just three times (all wins), and allowing 30 more five times (all losses). … Sam Eaton leads Galena with 116 rushes for 605 yards and 5 touchdowns, and Jack Ries has 82 carries for 471 yards and 6 TDs. … John Wubben is 40-for-96 passing for 437 yards, 3 TDs and 2 INTs. … Eaton (137 yards) and Ries (134 yards) both have 11 catches, and Roman Romer has 12 catches for 133 yards and 4 TDs. … Eaton has also thrown a touchdown pass.

FND pick: Galena


West Central (8-0) at Amboy-LaMoille (7-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Amboy 60-14 (2021 Week 4)

About the Heat: West Central has scored 50 or more points in every game, and has scored 60 or more points six times, including last week in a 60-8 win over Galva. … The Heat have defeated three teams that currently have winning records. … West Central is one of only two undefeated teams remaining in I8FA. … Kaiden Droste leads the Heat with 113 rushes for 1,851 yards and 35 TDs, averaging 16.4 yards per carry and scoring a touchdown every 3.2 carries. … Mason Carnes has run for 661 yards and 13 TDs, and is also 17-for-26 passing for 435 yards, 5 TDs and 0 INTs.

About the Clippers: After suffering its lone loss in Week 4, Amboy has beaten its last four opponents by a combined score of 174-34, including a 42-14 win over Aquin last week. … The Clippers have scored more than 40 points five times, and have eclipsed 60 points twice. … Amboy has held six teams to two touchdowns or fewer. … Landon Whelchel (87 rushes, 799 yards, 8 TDs) and Quinn Leffelman (59-453, 8 TDs) lead the Clippers’ rushing attack, while Brennan Blaine has 24 catches for 718 yards and 13 TDs.

FND pick: Amboy

St. Thomas More (6-2) at Milledgeville (5-3)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Sabers: St. Thomas More has won five straight games, outscoring its opponents 174-96 during the streak. On the season, it has outscored opponents 238-190. … Peace Bumba leads the Sabers with 69 rushes for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Matt DeLorenzo has 89 carries for 327 yards and 6 scores. … DeLorenzo has also thrown for 834 yards on 42-for-91 passing, with 14 TDs and 6 INTs. … Ben Horn leads the STM receivers with 16 catches for 408 yards and 7 TDs, while Bumba has 10 catches for 224 yards and 2 TDs, and August Christhilf has 122 yards and 3 TDs on 4 receptions.

About the Missiles: After starting the season 2-0, Milledgeville has won in every even-numbered week and lost in every odd-numbered week. It comes in off a 66-14 victory over River Ridge last week, its first win in a contested game since Week 4; the Missiles picked up a forfeit over Harvest Christian Academy in Week 6. … Milledgeville has outscored its opponents 360-246 this season; the 360 points are the most of any team in the I8FA North 2 Division. … The Missiles have scored at least 36 points in all seven contested games this season, and have scored 54 or more four times. … Connor Nye has run for 678 yards and 8 TDs, and thrown for 1,130 yards and 21 TDs, with only 3 INTs. … Kolton Wilk has 533 yards and 6 TDs on the ground, and 11 catches for 126 yards and 4 scores. … Kacen Johnson (32 catches, 653 ytards, 9 TDs) and Konnor Johnson (10-199, 5 TDs) are also favorite targets for Nye.

FND pick: Milledgeville

Polo (6-2) at Aquin (2-6)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Polo 38-20 (2021 Week 9)

About the Marcos: Polo has outscored its opponents 352-142 this season, including 216-52 during its current four-game winning streak. … Both losses have come against I8FA playoff teams (Amboy & Milledgeville). … Polo has scored 38 points or more in seven games, and has put up 60 or more points twice – in each of the last two weeks. … Brock Soltow has run 133 times for 1,542 yards and 24 TDs, while Avery Grenoble has 99 carries for 760 yards and 10 TDs.

About the Bulldogs: Aquin has lost four of its last five games, including a 42-14 defeat at the hands of Amboy last week. … The Bulldogs have scored 110 of their 280 points in their two wins (60-26 over Orangeville & 50-0 over Christian Life) – both over 1-win teams. … Aquin has scored 38 or more points four times, and has allowed 38 or more points six times.

FND pick: Polo

AFC (6-3) at Rockford Christian Life (1-8)

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

About the game: Carson Rueff threw five touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Raiders finished the regular season with four straight wins after a 44-16 win. Lane Koning had four touchdown receptions, while Zane Murphy and Auden Polk also caught TD passes. Levi Near also threw a scoring pass for AFC (6-3), which will advance to the Illinois 8-Man Football Association playoffs for the first time, and make it to the postseason for the first time since 2005.