Southwest Prairie Conference West
West Aurora (5-0, 1-0) at Oswego (4-1, 0-1)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Oswego 45, West Aurora 22 (2022)
About the Blackhawks: Quietly, West Aurora is emerging as quite the success story. The Blackhawks’ 17-14 win over Yorkville last Friday was the program’s first SPC West victory since joining the league. West Aurora has won its first five games for the first time since the Blackhawks went 9-0 in the regular season in 2016. This game presents an opportunity for West Aurora to further open eyes. Terrence Smith, a Division I prospect in both football and basketball, is a gamebreaker. He had five catches for 165 yards with an 88-yard TD against Yorkville. West Aurora has rotated sophomore Mason Atkins and senior Reece Wagner at quarterback. Atkins completed 10 of 14 passes for 226 yards and two TDs against Yorkville, a win that made the Blackhawks playoff eligible.
About the Panthers: Oswego is coming off its first loss, 10-7 at Plainfield North, in a game that was every bit the game dominated by defenses that the final score would indicate. Mikey Claycombe, Carson Cooney and the Oswego defense was stellar all night, holding Plainfield North to zero first downs and minus four yards in the third quarter alone. That unit has been consistently strong all year, as Oswego has given up a total of 27 points over five games. Junior QB Brett Connolly was 9-for-21 for 183 yards, and Jeremiah Cain had over 100 receiving yards, but Oswego will want to reassert itself on the ground after rushing for just 46 yards against Plainfield North.
FND Pick: Oswego
Plainfield North (2-3, 1-0) at Oswego East (2-3, 0-1)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Plainfield North 35, Oswego East 0 (2022)
About the Tigers: Plainfield North always has set its foundation around defense, and it took those principles to the extreme in a 10-7 win over Oswego in Week 5. The Tigers held previously undefeated Oswego to only 37 yards of total offense in the second half and got big defensive plays from multiple players, including Treycen Bownes and Kyle Darlington. That offset yet another tough night for the offense, whose lone touchdown came from Robert Tota during his 110-yard performance. Plainfield North has allowed 44 points through five games, but the offense has barely outpaced that effort for the Tigers, as scored only 55 points themselves.
About the Wolves: Oswego East slipped below the .500 mark with a rough performance in a loss to Minooka in Week 5. The Wolves still are rotating quarterbacks, and Niko Villacci and Armon Holmes each threw for TDs last Friday, but neither got much of a foothold on a night where they committed four turnovers and had less than 200 yards of total offense. The defense also experienced a hiccup after allowing only three points in their previous two games. Getting back to their previous level might be enough for them to seize control against a scuffling Plainfield North offense.
FND Pick: Plainfield North
Minooka (4-1, 1-0) at Yorkville (2-3, 0-1)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Yorkville 7, Minooka 0 (2022)
About the Indians: The Minooka offense is playing with authority right now. QB Nathan Maul was about perfect in a Week 5 win over Oswego East, throwing one incomplete pass in 17 attempts, which also included two touchdown passes. The unit also is showing balance, both rushing and passing for about 175 yards in the win. Not to be outdone, the defense forced three turnovers and held Oswego East largely in check.
About the Foxes: Yorkville is getting closer to painting itself into a corner. A Week 5 loss to West Aurora was the Foxes’ third loss in four weeks, a streak that will have to be stopped if Yorkville has any hope of returning to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive postseason. An extremely challenging stretch of schedule looms, adding an additional hurdle for the Foxes to clear. Michael Dopart threw for 205 yards and a TD and Josh Gettemy ran for 113 yards against West Aurora, but the Foxes were plagued by 18 penalties for 176 yards.
FND Pick: Minooka
Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 Blue
Sandwich (4-1, 2-1) at Harvard (0-5, 0-2)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Harvard 29, Sandwich 24 (2021)
About the Indians: Sandwich defeated Johnsburg 28-6 last week. After not having a team because of low participation numbers last season, the Indians can become playoff eligible for the first time since 2013 with a victory. RB Simeion Harris leads the team with 641 rushing yards and averages 9.4 per carry. RBs Nick Michalek (424) and Parker Anderson (295) are the other top backs in Sandwich’s run-heavy wing-T offense. Anderson ran for 88 yards and a TD last week while Jimmy Ramey and Caleb Jones led a stellar defensive effort.
About the Hornets: Harvard lost to Marengo 40-20 last week. The Hornets have lost 16 consecutive games since their victory over Sandwich in Week 7 of 2021. Harvard had its best offensive game last week, with QB Adam Cooke throwing for 224 yards and three touchdowns. WR Daniel Rosas had five receptions for 129 yards and two scores. He has 16 catches for the season.
FND pick: Sandwich
Plano (2-3, 0-2) at Johnsburg (2-3, 0-3)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Johnsburg 40, Plano 20 (2022)
About the Reapers: Plano lost to Richmond-Burton 42-7 last week. RB Waleed Johnson is the focal point of the Reapers’ offense with 615 yards rushing and five touchdowns, but was held to just 28 yards rushing last week. FB Andrew Cox has run for 239 yards. Johnson and Nick Serio lead Plano in receptions, each with eight. The Reapers, like Johnsburg, are very much in a position in which they need a win to keep their playoff hopes alive with tough games remaining.
About the Skyhawks: Johnsburg lost to Sandwich 28-6 last week. After a 2-0 start, the Skyhawks have dropped three straight games. RB Brett Centnarowicz leads Johnsburg with 373 rushing yards. QB A.J. Bravieri has thrown for 549 yards.
FND Pick: Plano
-- Steve Soucie and Joe Stevenson contributed to this report