Scouting the Southwest Prairie Conference: 2023 IHSA football season preview

Joliet West's LaDainian Tucker (22) tries to make a big run against Plainfield South on Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, at Plainfield. (Dean Reid for Shaw Media)

East Division

Joliet Central

2022 record: 0-9

Coach: Thomas Hart (3rd season)

Worth noting: The Steelmen are looking for their first win since 2019. ... Junior QB Paul Slick, junior RB/WR Christian Smith, and senior WR Jamari Straughter will be counted on to keep the chains moving on offense. ... Defensively, Central will look to linebackers Gunnar Goin and Avery Carter to be anchors. ... Coach Hart: “This is the best summer turnout we’ve had in my time as head coach. We’ve had 32-35 kids at our summer workouts. When I started, on the first day, we had four kids in the weight room. Our numbers are improving and we will be able to have teams on three levels (freshman, sophomore, varsity) this year.”

Joliet West

2022 record: 4-5

Coach: Dan Tito (2nd season)

Worth noting: The Tigers return starters Ian Farrell (sr., WR), Wyatt Schmitt (sr., OL), Parker Schwarting (sr., WR) and Jayden Jurkowski (sr., OL) on offense and Matt Marchiniak (Sr., LB), Dylan Pangrazio (sr., DB), and Cael Karczewski (sr., DB) on defense. ... Newcomers to watch this season will be Juan Rico (sr., QB), Gavin Garcia (sr., RB), and LaDainian Tucker (sr., RB) on offense and Micah McNair (jr., LB) and Jarveion Brown (sr., DL) on defense. ... Coach Tito: “We had a great offseason, not only in the weight room, but team bonding as well. As a program, we attended both a college game and a practice, had multiple pizza parties, including to watch the College Football National Championship together, had a preseason BBQ, and did an overnight retreat to Lorado Taft in Oregon. I am excited for how close our team is becoming.”

Plainfield Central

2022 record: 5-5

Coach: Robert Keane (3rd season)

Worth noting: The WIldcats have reached the playoffs in both of Keane’s seasons at the helm, breaking a seven-year span of no playoff appearances. ... The Wildcats had nine new offensive starters in 2022 and this year return six of those nine, including junior RB Malik Jassim, who looks to have a breakout season. Senior QB Matt Leto will be under center behind an offensive line which returns four starters. ... The Wildcat defense graduated SPC East Defensive MVP Phillip Carlton last year and looks to fill the role of Carlton and others with a mix of young and experienced players. Senior LB/DE Gage Leffler will enter his third season as a starter, along with senior LB Mason Smith.

Plainfield East

2022 record: 3-6

Coach: Harvey Jackson (1st season)

Worth noting: Jackson takes over the head coach position for the Bengals, replacing Brad Kunz, who is currently the offensive line coach at Minooka. ... East lost All-SPC OL Michael Jimmer to graduation but returns WR Quinn Morris, who is attracting Division I offers. ... The Bengals last reached the playoffs in 2021.

Plainfield South

2022 record: 6-4

Coach: Jake Brosman (1st season)

Worth noting: Brosman takes over for Bill Bicker, who stepped down after taking an administrative position at the school and posting a 32-29 record in seven seasons. Brosman had a 13-30 record in five seasons as head coach at Hampshire. ... The Cougars will be looking to advance to the playoffs for the second straight year but will have to do it without the services of graduated running back Brian Stanton and wide receiver Amari Ford.


2022 record: 1-8

Coach: Justin Trovato (5th season)

Worth noting: The Spartans have a wealth of returning starters, including juniors Caron Johnson (5-11, 170, QB/ATH), Cameron Jurgens (5-11, 170, WR) and Tony Galloway (6-4, 250, OL) and seniors Mason Gougis (6-1, 190, RB) and Seth Dabrowski (6-0, 240, OL) on offense and seniors Mason Baffour (6-3, 280, DL), and Gougis (SS) and juniors Marc Thomas (6-2, 215, DE), Manny Palomar (6-1, 225, LB) and Ty English (5-11, 160, CB) on defense. ... Newcomers to watch include sophomore QB Richard Conley (5-11, 165) and junior RB/LB RJ Ibarra (5-11, 175). ... Coach Trovato: “We return many players who have varsity experience at key positions, but we’ll also be relying on a lot of newcomers to fill in a lot of roles. We expect to greatly improve upon last season’s record and be in the mix for a playoff spot and conference championship at the end of the season.”

Minooka's Joey Partridge (2) takes off for a touchdown run during varsity football game between Oswego East at Minooka.  Sept 30, 2022

West Division


2022 record: 7-4

Coach: Matt Harding (4th season)

Worth noting: The Indians are riding a school-record five-year streak of reaching the playoffs, and appear poised to add to that number. ... Key returners include seniors Joey Partridge (5-10, 185, RB), Zachary Kellams (5-11, 200, RB), Brady Barrowman (6-6, 280, OT), Donovan Anderson (6-3, 170, WR), Kameron Chigi (6-1, 175, RB), Keith Gravel (6-3, 240, OG) and Carson Jacoby (6-3, 240, TE) on offense and seniors Efrein Ramirez (6-0, 165, SS), Carson Johnson (5-8, 185, MLB), Cayden Garcia (6-2, 240, DE), Joe Brown (6-1, 180, CB) and Tristan Parish (6-1, 270, NT) on defense. ... Key newcomers to watch in 2023 will be seniors Kameron Hopkins (5-10, 170, WR), Nathan Maul (5-10, 195, QB) and Micah Hamilton (6-2, 220, OLB) and sophomores Brady Koslowski (6-0, 175, OLB) and Nathan Gonzalez (6-0, 150, SS).


2022 record: 3-6

Coach: Brian Cooney (12th season)

Worth noting: Last season was the first time under Cooney that the Panthers did not make the playoffs. ... Key returners include Howard Lee (6-2, 265, sr.), Hayden Stroud (6-0, 255, sr.), Gustavo Guzman (6-7, 290, Sr.), and Isaiah Logan (5-8, 210, Jr.) on the offensive line and Dylan King (6-0, 205, jr.) and Noah Vera (5-7, 155, sr.) in the backfield. ... Defensive returners are Elijah Seaton (5-10, 180, sr., S), Rodney Richardson (5-11, 171, sr., CB), Taiden Thomas (6-2, 220, sr., DE), Jeremiah Cain (6-2, 165, jr., CB), Carson Cooney (6-3, 215, jr., LB) and Christian Taylor (5-11, 255, jr., DL). ... Cooney, Seaton, Thomas, King, Guzman and Cain are drawing recruiting interest but have not decided on a college.

Oswego East

2022 record: 5-5

Coach: Tyson LeBlanc (12th season)

Worth noting: The Wolves have made seven consecutive playoff appearances. ... The strength of the team appears to be the offensive line, which features four returning senior starters – Army commit Tim Savchuk (6-4, 285), Western Michigan commit Zac Clarke (6-6, 265), Tim Zwycki (5-10, 245) and Will Chen (5-9, 235). Also returning on the offense is TE Aidan Moriarty (6-4, 240), a Southern Illinois commit. ... Heading up the defensive returners are DL Dawson McCallum (6-1, 240, sr.), DL Jerome Jackson (6-5, 360, sr.), LB Manny Howard (6-0, 205, sr.), and DB Andrew Wiggins (6-2, 185, sr.. )... Newcomers on watch include QBs Armon Holmes (5-8, 130, sr.) and Niko Villacci (5-9, 175, so.), RB Christian Martyn (5-10, 170, sr.), WR Ethan Svoboda (6-3, 170, sr.) on offense and DL Kendall Smith (6-0, 265, sr.), DB Andy Pohlman (6-2, 165, jr.), DL Blaise Chin (6-2, 235, jr.) and DB Andre Cobige (5-10, 155, sr.) on defense. ... Coach LeBlanc: “We will lean on our experienced offensive line as our youthful skill players develop.”

Plainfield North

2022 record: 10-1

Coach: Anthony Imbordino (5th season)

Worth noting: The Tigers have not missed the playoffs under Imbordino. ... Key returning starters include seniors Eli Liapis (5-11, 175, DB/WR), Leonardo Tovar (5-8, 210, DL), Maki Armstrong (5-11, 165, DB), Michael Byrne (5-11, 280, OL), Braxton Bartz (6-1, 185, WR/TE) and junior Omar Coleman (5-9, 160, WR). ... Newcomers expected to contribute include seniors Nick Darwish (5-11, 185, QB) and Daniel Lee (5-11, 175, LB), juniors Andrew Elkarah (6-0, 210, LB), Kevin Wilson (6-2, 220, LB), Treycen Bownes (5-11, 170, DB), Jayden Brown (6-2, 230, OL) and Amiel Clark (6-1, 165, WR) and sophomore Finn Fuller (6-4, 270, OL).

West Aurora

2022 record: 1-8

Coach: Nate Eimer (13th season)

Worth noting: This is the last season for the Blackhawks in the Southwest Prairie, as they have decided to move to the Upstate Eight in the 2024-25 school year and will be replaced by Bolingbrook. ... The Blackhawks have a talented junior class with Terrence Smith (6-4, 185, WR who holds 5 D1 offers), Michael Williams (5-11, 175, RB), and Azuriah Sylvester (5-9, 175, RB/DB) leading the way... Key seniors returning include Dom Aguilar (5-9, 210, LB), Luis Estrella (5-11, 205, LB), Fernando DeLeon (6-1, 235, OL/DL), Trey Kerns (6-2, 235 TD/DL), Mason Jones (6-3, 180, WR) and Malcolm Smith (5-11, 230, OL/DL). ... Coach Eimer: “If we can stay healthy, we can play with anybody on our schedule, which is tough as always. This group has really gotten better since the start of the summer.”


2022 record: 10-2

Coach: Dan McGuire (9th season)

Worth noting: The Foxes have made the playoffs the past four seasons. ... Key returning players include Ben Alvarez (6-1, 220, sr., LB/FB), Josh Gettemy (6-0, 200, sr., RB/LB), Logan Brasfield (6-4, 275, sr., OL), Roary Mezger (6-1, 270, sr., OL), Ryan Stribiak (6-2, 230, sr., OL), Gage Range (5-10, 175, sr., DB), Dylan Malone (6-3, 180, jr., WR), Dominic Coronado (5-10, 170, sr., WR), Michael Dopart (5-11, 185, sr., QB), Luke Zook, (5-11, 185, jr., DB), and Cam Peach (5-10, 170, sr., DB/WR). ... Newcomers to watch will be Colton Spychalski (5-11, 170, so., WR), Lincoln Retuskiold (5-11, 210, jr., LB), Jack Ferguson (5-10, 165, jr., DB), and Jaylin Johnson (5-11, 210, jr., DL). ... Coach McGuire: “We have a lot to replace on defense, and our schedule will be very tough.”


Tim Savchuck, OL, Oswego East: The 6-4, 285-pound Army commit is one of four returning starters on the Wolves’ offensive line and will be a key figure in their quest for a league title.

Cayden Garcia, DE, Minooka: The 6-2, 240-pound Garcia will be counted on to provide an strong anchor on the Indians’ defensive front

Terrence Smith, WR, West Aurora: The 6-4, 185-pounder has a world of talent, as evidenced by the five Division I offers he already has received.

Joey Partridge, RB, Minooka: The lightning-quick 5-10, 185-pound Partridge was a key part of the Minooka offense last season and should play an even bigger role this year.

Ben Alvarez, FB/LB, Yorkville: The 6-1, 220-pound Alvarez, also a standout wrestler, is a throwback-type of two-way player who will provide leadership on both sides of the ball for the Foxes.


East DivisionJoliet CentralJoliet WestPlainfield CentralPlainfield EastPlainfield SouthRomeoville
Week 1vs. Stagg; 6:30 p.m., Aug. 25vs. Shepard; 6 p.m., Aug. 25@ Lincoln-Way West; 7 p.m., Aug. 25@ Bradley-Bourbonnais; 7 p.m., Aug. 25vs. Yorkville; 7 p.m., Aug. 25@ Oak Lawn; 7 p.m., Aug. 25
Week 2@ Bremen; 7 p.m., Sept. 1@ Morris; 7 p.m., Sept. 1vs. Metea Valley; 7 p.m., Sept. 1vs. Waubonsie Valley; 7 p.m., Sept. 1@ DeKalb; 7 p.m., Sept. 1vs. Tinley Park; 7 p.m., Sept. 1
Week 3@ Minooka; 7 p.m., Sept. 8@ Yorkville; 7:30 p.m., Sept. 8@ Oswego; 7 p.m., Sept. 8@ Oswego East; 7 p.m., Sept. 8@ Plainfield North; 7 p.m., Sept. 8@ West Aurora; 7 p.m., Sept. 8
Week 4vs. Oswego; 6:30 p.m., Sept. 15vs. Plainfield North; 6:30 p.m., Sept. 15vs. Yorkville; 7 p.m., Sept. 15vs. West Aurora; 7 p.m., Sept. 15vs. Oswego East; 7 p.m., Sept. 15vs. Minooka; 7 p.m., Sept. 15
Week 5@ Joliet West; 11:30 a.m., Sept. 23vs. Joliet Central; 11:30 a.m., Sept. 23@ Plainfield East; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. Plainfield Central; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. Romeoville; 7 p.m., Sept. 22@ Plainfield South; 7 p.m., Sept. 22
Week 6vs. Plainfield East; 6:30 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Plainfield South; 6:30 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Romeoville; 7 p.m., Sept. 29@ Joliet Central; 6:30 p.m., Sept. 29@ Joliet West; 6:30 p.m., Sept. 29@ Plainfield Central; 7 p.m., Sept. 29
Week 7vs. Plainfield Central; 6:30 p.m., Oct. 6@ Romeoville; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 6@ Joliet Central; Oct. 6, 6:30 p.m.vs. Plainfield South; 7 p.m.,Oct. 6@ Plainfield East; 7 p.m., Oct. 6vs. Joliet West; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 6
Week 8@ Romeoville; 7 p.m.; Oct. 13vs. Plainfield East; 6:30 p.m., Oct. 13@ Plainfield South; 7 p.m., Oct. 13@ Joliet West; 6:30 p.m., Oct. 13vs. Plainfield Central; 7 p.m., Oct. 13vs. Joliet Central; 7 p.m., Oct. 13
Week 9vs. Plainfield South; 6:30 p.m., Oct. 20@ Plainfield Central; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 20vs. Joliet West; 7:30 p.m., Oct. 20vs. Romeoville; 7 p.m., Oct. 20@ Joliet Central; 6:30 p.m., Oct. 20@ Plainfield East; 7 p.m., Oct. 20
West DivisionMinookaOswegoOswego EastPlainfield NorthWest AuroraYorkville
Week 1vs. Rock Island; 7 p.m., Aug. 25@ Neuqua Valley; 7 p.m., Aug. 25@ Waubonsie Valley; 7 p.m., Aug. 25vs. Lockport; 7 p.m., Aug 25@ Proviso East; 7 p.m., Aug. 25@ Plainfield South; 7 p.m., Aug. 25
Week 2@ Neuqua Valley; 7 p.m., Sept. 1vs. Andrew; 7 p.m., Sept. 1vs. Lincoln-Way West; 7 p.m., Sept. 1@ Naperville Central; 7 p.m., Sept. 1vs. Noble/Bulls Prep; 7 p.m., Sept. 1vs. New Trier; 7 p.m., Sept. 1
Week 3vs. Joliet Central; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. Plainfield Central; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. Plainfield East; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. Plainfield South; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. Romeoville; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. Joliet West; 7:30 p.m., Sept. 8
Week 4@ Romeoville; 7 p.m., Sept. 15@ Joliet Central; 6:30 p.m., Sept. 15@ Plainfield South; 7 p.m., Sept. 15@ Joliet West; 6:30, Sept. 15@ Plainfield East; 7 p.m., Sept. 15@ Plainfield Central; 7 p.m., Sept. 15
Week 5@ Oswego East; 7 p.m.,Sept. 22@ Plainfield North; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. Minooka; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. Oswego; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. Yorkville; 7 p.m., Sept. 22@ West Aurora; 7 p.m., Sept. 22
Week 6@ Yorkville; 7 p.m., Sept. 29vs. West Aurora; 7 p.m., Sept. 29@ Plainfield North; 7 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Oswego East; 7 p.m., Sept. 29@ Oswego; 7 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Minooka; 7 p.m., Sept. 29
Week 7vs. Plainfield North; 7 p.m., Oct. 6vs. Yorkville; 7 p.m., Oct. 6@ West Aurora; 7 p.m., Oct. 6@ Minooka; 7 p.m., Oct. 6vs. Oswego East; 7 p.m., Oct. 6@ Oswego; 7 p.m., Oct. 6
Week 8vs. Oswego; 7 p.m., Oct. 13@ Minooka; 7 p.m., Oct. 13vs. Yorkville; 7 p.m., Oct. 13vs. West Aurora; 7 p.m., Oct. 13@ Plainfield North; 7 p.m., Oct. 13@ Oswego East; 7 p.m., Oct. 13
Week 9@ West Aurora; 7 p.m., Oct. 20vs. Oswego East; 7 p.m., Oct. 20@ Oswego; 7 p.m., Oct. 20@ Yorkville; 7 p.m., Oct. 20vs. Minooka; 7 p.m., Oct. 20vs. Plainfield North; 7 p.m., Oct. 20


Week 1: Plainfield North vs. Lockport: Two quality programs that aren’t afraid to test each other right out of the gate.

Week 2: Joliet West at Morris: West is looking to improve its program, and what better way than to take on a traditional Class 5A power?

Week 7: Plainfield North at Minooka: The winner of this one most likely will have a leg up on the West Division title.

Week 8: Plainfield Central at Plainfield South: This game could go a long way toward deciding both the East Division crown and a playoff spot.

Week 9: Oswego East at Oswego: The Battle of Oswego could be a fight for a playoff spot, adding even more drama to an already heated rivalry.


East Division
Plainfield Central5-4
Plainfield East5-4
Joliet West4-5
Plainfield South2-7
Joliet Central0-9
West Division
Plainfield North7-2
Oswego East6-3
West Aurora4-5