Scouting the Big Northern Conference: 2023 IHSA football season preview

Dixon’s Aiden Wiseman looks for running room in the first quarter Friday, Oct. 21, 2022 against Rock Falls.


2022 record: 11-2, 8-1

Coach: Jeff Boyer

Worth noting: The 2021 state champs reached the semifinals last year and have dominated the BNC. They’ve had at least a share of the conference title since the league condensed from two divisions in 2016. Running backs Jacob Ross and Kye Aken plus lineman Jared Clauch all started for the state championship team. Ashton Henkel and Caden Considine should all see big minutes at running back as well.


2022 record: 6-4, 6-3

Coach: Jared Shaner

Worth noting: The Dukes have qualified for every postseason since 2014, last year included behind quarterback Tyler Shaner and running back Aiden Wiseman. Wiseman ran for 951 yards and scored a team-best 12 rushing touchdowns. He was also one of the team’s top tacklers at linebacker. The Dukes are looking to make a leap back toward the top of the BNC and also pick up their first playoff win since 2017.


2022 record: 8-3, 7-2

Coach: Cam Davekos

Worth noting: The Cogs have gone at least two rounds deep in every postseason since 2016. There aren’t a lot of starters back for the Cogs, but quarterback Nathan Kleba had some experience running the wing-T offense after Nolan Perry got hurt last year. Brady Berwick also had some time at fullback and will transition into a larger role. In all, four starters on offense and three on defense are back.

North Boone

2022 record: 3-6, 3-6

Coach: Ryan Kelley

Worth noting: The Vikings are looking to return to the playoffs after appearing in four straight postseasons. The team hasn’t won a playoff game since 2004. Wide receiver and safety Chris Doetch is a four-year starter back for the Vikings and will lead a team hungry for a postseason return.


2022 record: 2-7, 2-7

Coach: Broc Kundert

Worth noting: The Hawks struggled against the top of the BNC last year. Against the six playoff teams, Oregon was winless and was held to eight points or less in each game. There are nine offensive and eight defensive starters back for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2014.

Rock Falls

2022 record: 0-9, 0-9

Coach: Kevin Parker

Worth noting: The Rockets were shut out five times last year in their first winless season since 2015. They are looking for a turnaround in a program that hasn’t won more than one game in a year since 2017, three games in a year since 2009 and hasn’t made the playoff since 1992. Turnout is up for the Rockets this year and there’s a lot of experience back from last year.

Rockford Christian

2022 record: 1-8, 1-8

Coach: Terry Gulley

Worth noting: Since last making the playoffs in 2019, the Royal Lions are 2-21. Brody Carlson had some growing pains as a freshman quarterback, but is back after throwing for 364 yards last year, splitting time with fellow freshman Jaden Williams, who threw for 170 yards.

Rockford Lutheran

2022 record: 6-5, 5-4

Coach: Jeff Luedke

Worth noting: Luedke said he’s cautiously optimistic about what the year holds. For starters, the Crusaders won a playoff game for the first time since 2016. They have 43 players on the roster compared to 25 last year. There are senior leaders like Hunter Evans and A.J. Moore, plus a new quarterback, Gavin Sanders, and a new receiver and explosive freshman Richard Anderson. Sanders will take over for Kyng Hughes, one of three BNC quarterbacks to eclipse 1,000 yards passing last year.

Stillman Valley

2022 record: 9-2, 8-1

Coach: Mike Lalor

Worth noting: The top three rushers from last year all graduated, leaving quarterback Braden Engel as the team’s top returning rusher. He ran for 422 yards and three scores last year, although only attempted five passes – Kale Rauman, also graduated, attempted seven passes. The Cardinals are coming off their fourth straight playoff appearance, with all four ending in the second round.


2022 record: 5-5, 5-4

Coach: Mark Helm

Worth noting: The Indians qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2017 last year, and this year are looking to go a step further in picking up the team’s first playoff win since 2013. Alec Weavel threw for over 1,100 yards last year but has since graduated. But running back Supreme Muhammad, one of the top sprinters in the state, is back after a big 2022 campaign.


  • Caden Considine, soph., RB, Byron: Five different Tigers had at least 400 rushing yards last year, and Considine led them all as a freshman. He averaged 11.5 yards per carry, scored a team-best nine times and ran for 785 yards.
  • Chris Doetch, sr., WR/S, North Boone: Not only has he made an impact in the secondary in a conference heavy on running teams, he’s made 87 catches in his career for 1,096 yards. He’s scored 19 times in the air and five times on the ground. He’s run 67 times for 583 yards.
  • Tyler Shaner, sr., quarterback, Dixon: He had 2,065 all-purpose yards last year almost evenly split between the air and ground. He ran for 1,058 yards on 160 carries and scored nine times. He completed 75 of 134 passes for 1,007 yards with 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
  • A.J. Moore, sr., running back, Rockford Lutheran: The workhorse had 96 carries for 584 yards and six touchdowns last year in helping to power the Crusaders into the postseason.
  • Supreme Muhammad, sr., running back, Winnebago: He had 942 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns for the Indians and finished as one of the conference’s top runners. A standout sprinter as well (1A state champ in the 200 and runner-up in the 100), Muhammad will likely be the focal point of the Winnebago offense for another year.


ByronDixonGenoa-KingstonNorth BooneOregon
Week 1vs. Rock Falls; 7 p.m., Aug. 25at Stillman Valley, 7 p.m., Aug. 25@ Rockford Christian; 7 p.m., Aug. 25@ Oregon; 7 p.m., Aug. 25vs. North Boone; 7 p.m., Aug. 25
Week 2@ Rockford Lutheran; 7 p.m., Sept. 1at Oregon; 7 p.m., Sept. 1@ North Boone; 7 p.m., Sept. 1vs. Genoa-Kingston; 7 p.m., Sept. 1vs. Dixon; 7 p.m., Sept. 1
Week 3vs. Rockford Christian; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. Rock Falls; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. Oregon; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. Winnebago; 7 p.m., Sept. 8@ Genoa-Kingston; 7 p.m., Sept. 8
Week 4vs. North Boone; 7 p.m., Sept. 15vs. Genoa-Kingston; 7 p.m., Sept. 15@ Dixon; 7 p.m., Sept. 15@ Byron; 7 p.m., Sept. 15@ Winnebago; 7 p.m., Sept. 15
Week 5@ Oregon; 7 p.m., Sept. 22@ Rockford Lutheran; 7 p.m., Sept. 22@ Winnebago; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. Stillman Valley; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. Byron; 7 p.m., Sept. 22
Week 6@ Genoa-Kingston; 7 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Winnebago; 7 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Byron; 7 p.m., Sept. 29@ Rock Falls; 7 p.m., Sept. 29@ Stillman Valley; 7 p.m., Sept. 29
Week 7vs. Winnebago; 7 p.m., Oct. 6@ Rockford Christian; 7 p.m., Oct. 6@ Stillman Valley; 7 p.m., Oct. 6@ Rockford Lutheran; 1 p.m., Oct. 7vs. Rock Falls; 7 p.m., Oct. 6
Week 8vs. Dixon; 7 p.m., Oct. 13@ Byron; 7 p.m., Oct. 13vs. Rock Falls; 7 p.m., Oct. 13vs. Rockford Christian; 7 p.m., Oct. 13vs. Rockford Lutheran; 7 p.m., Oct. 13
Week 9@ Stillman Valley; 7 p.m., Oct. 20vs. North Boone; 7 p.m., Oct. 20vs. Rockford Lutheran; 7 p.m., Oct. 20@ Dixon; 7 p.m., Oct. 20@ Rockford Christian; 7 p.m., Oct. 20
Rock FallsRockford ChristianRockford LutheranStillman ValleyWinnebago
Week 1@ Byron; 7 p.m., Aug. 25vs. Genoa-Kingston; 7 p.m., Aug. 25vs. Winnebago; 7 p.m., Aug. 25vs. Dixon; 7 p.m., Aug. 25@ Rockford Lutheran; 7 p.m., Aug. 25
Week 2vs. Stillman Valley; 7 p.m., Sept. 1@ Winnebago; 7 p.m., Sept. 1vs. Byron; 7 p.m., Sept. 1@ Rock Falls; 1 p.m., Sept. 2vs. Rockford Christian; 7 p.m., Sept. 1
Week 3@ Dixon; 7 p.m., Sept. 8@ Byron; 7 p.m., Sept. 8@ Stillman Valley; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. Rockford Lutheran; 7 p.m., Sept. 8@ North Boone; 7 p.m., Sept. 8
Week 4@ Rockford Lutheran; 7 p.m., Sept. 15vs. Stillman Valley; 7 p.m., Sept. 15vs. Rock Falls; 7 p.m., Sept. 15@ Rockford Christian; 7 p.m., Sept. 15vs. Oregon; 7 p.m.; Sept. 15
Week 5vs. Rockford Christian; 7 p.m., Sept. 22@ Rock Falls; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. Dixon; 7 p.m., Sept. 22@ North Boone; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. Genoa-Kingston; 7 p.m., Sept. 22
Week 6vs. North Boone; 7 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Rockford Lutheran; 7 p.m., Sept. 29@ Rockford Christian; 7 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Oregon; 7 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Dixon; 7 p.m., Sept. 29
Week 7@ Oregon, 1 p.m., Oct. 7@ Dixon; 7 p.m., Oct. 6vs. North Boone; 1 p.m., Oct. 7vs. Genoa-Kingston; 7 p.m., Oct. 6@ Byron; 7 p.m., Oct. 6
Week 8@ Genoa-Kingston; 7 p.m., Oct. 13@ North Boone; 7 p.m., Oct. 13@ Oregon; 7 p.m., Oct. 13@ Winnebago; 7 p.m., Oct. 13vs. Stillman Valley; 7 p.m., Oct. 13
Week 9vs. Winnebago; 7 p.m., Oct. 20vs. Oregon; 7 p.m., Oct. 20@ Genoa-Kingston; 7 p.m., Oct. 20vs. Byron; 7 p.m., Oct. 20@ Rock Falls; 7 p.m., Oct. 20


Week 2: Genoa-Kingston at North Boone

The Vikings only won three games last year, though lost by a single touchdown to playoff qualifiers Rockford Lutheran and Dixon. Facing the Cogs will be a good early-season test to see how much they’ve improved and if they can get back into the postseason.

Week 5: Dixon at Rockford Lutheran

Both were playoff teams last year, with the Crusaders picking up a playoff win. The Dukes won the matchup in the regular season last year. Both teams are looking to advance to the top tier of the conference, and this one is a must-have for both toward that goal.

Week 6: Dixon at Winnebago

The Indians upset the Dukes last year in a game that propelled them into the postseason. This year’s showdown will also be huge if the Indians want to make the playoffs for consecutive years for the first time since 2016-17.

Week 7: Genoa-Kingston at Stillman Valley

The Cogs won a wild 32-28 game in Week 9 last year, preventing the Cardinals from winning an outright BNC title. This year’s showdown kicks off a tough final three games for Stillman Valley, facing three playoff teams from a year ago.

Week 9: Byron at Stillman Valley

The teams shared the conference title last year. The Cardinals beat the Tigers 15-7 in Week 1 and will have to wait until the finale this year for the rematch that is practically guaranteed to have BNC title implications.


Rockford Lutheran6-3
Stillman Valley5-4
North Boone2-7
Rockford Christian1-8
Rock Falls 0-9