Week 3 previews: Streator, Marquette aim for 3-0 starts; Ottawa and L-P to meet for 122nd time

Ottawa (1-1) at La Salle-Peru (1-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last meeting: La Salle-Peru 34, Ottawa 6 (spring 2021)

About the Pirates: Ottawa’s last win over L-P was a 50-20 victory at King Field on Oct. 10, 2014. In another rivalry game last week, the Pirates lost, 28-23, to Streator in the first meeting between the teams since 2013. Ottawa had the ball at Streator’s 4-yard line with 12.3 seconds left, but the Pirates were stopped at the 2. The Pirates had a poor start in Week 2, allowing a 72-yard TD pass then muffing the ensuing kickoff and allowing a 51-yard TD run. After pulling within six points against Streator, Ottawa allowed an 88-yard kick return TD. The Pirates outgained the Buldogs, 369-251, and Ottawa QB Braiden Miller has completed 28 of 51 passes for 452 yards and three TDs with two interceptions this season, with Levi Sheehan catching 17 passes for 280 yards and three TDs. Javarius Whitfield has rushed for 312 yards and five TDs on 47 carries.

About the Cavaliers: L-P has dominated the series under coach Jose Medina, winning all six games by an average of 25.8 points. In the spring, the Cavs scored two defensive touchdowns, blocked a punt, and QB Sean Whitfield threw for a score and ran for a TD, as L-P built a 34-0 lead before Ottawa scored on a 56-yard pass as time expired. Whitfield has rushed for 185 yards and two TDs this season, while Matt Carrico has 177 yards and a TD. Tre’von Hunter has six carries for 101 yards and two TDs, including a 67-yarder in last week’s 14-7 loss to Metamora. The Cavs average 282 rushing yards while allowing 157 rushing yards and 144.5 passing yards per game. L-P has scored the same amount of points (35) as it’s allowed.

Friday Night Drive pick: La Salle-Peru

– Kevin Chlum


Plano 1, Sandwich 0 (forfeit)

About the forfeit: For the second straight season and second time this calendar year the Sandwich versus Plano “War on 34″ rivalry game will not be played because of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. Sandwich athletic director Timothy Gipe confirmed Wednesday morning that Friday’s scheduled varsity contest at Sandwich “has been canceled because of a COVID situation here at Sandwich High School.” The plan as of this writing was to play the sophomore game at 5 p.m., Gipe said, but with no varsity event afterward. Plano will take the 111th edition of the rivalry game as a forfeit win, moving to 3-0 and dropping Sandwich to 0-3. This is the second consecutive scheduled meeting of the archrivals canceled because of COVID-19 protocols. The Reapers and Indians were scheduled to meet in April during the spring season, but a positive COVID-19 test on the Plano team caused that game to be wiped out. The “War on 34″ dates back to 1897, with the Indians leading the all-time rivalry, 55-51-4, entering this season.

– J.T. Pedelty


Herscher (2-0) at Streator (2-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last meeting: Herscher 34, Streator 7 (spring 2021)

About the Tigers: Herscher also comes in unbeaten, having bested Chicago Dunbar, 61-0, but more impressively edging Rochelle last week, 29-27. RB Cody Lunsford (324 yards, five TDs) is the focal point of the offense, having taken 63.4% of the rushes. QB Brock Wenzelman hasn’t had to throw much, but has been efficient when he has, completing 11 of 14 passes for 144 yards, two TDs and no interceptions. Clay Schultz (five receptions, 111 yards, both touchdown catches) has been his favorite target. Defensive linemen Garrett Wolfinbarger (five tackles for loss) and JJ Burmeister (four TFLs) are disruptive forces the Bulldogs will have to handle. The battle on the lines looks to be the decisive factor.

About the Bulldogs: The beginning of Illinois Central Eight Conference play brings the biggest test yet for the unbeaten Bulldogs, a Herscher team that has defeated Streator in all six of their meetings since the two first became conference rivals in 2014. There have been some close ones in there, however, and there is reason to suspect this may be another tight one as Streator comes in riding high on a two-game win streak, that last win coming over Ottawa in the resumption of the Route 23 Rivalry. QB Christian Benning (5 of 8 for 139 yards last week) has a lot of weapons to work with, including WR Cade Stevens (three receptions for 100 yards, 88-yard kickoff return vs. Ottawa) and RB Darryl Gullens (51-yard touchdown run).

Friday Night Drive pick: Herscher

– J.T. Pedelty


Marquette (2-0) at Dee-Mack (1-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday in Mackinaw

Last meeting: n/a

About the Crusaders: The Crusaders are coming off one of the most prolific offensive outbursts they’ve had in years in last Friday’s 47-8 win at Chicago Christian. The running game was clicking with three backs – Friday Night Drive Team of the Week pick Tom Durdan (eight carries for 139 yards), Pete McGrath (11-117) and Jurnee Reed (16-104) – all breaking the century mark, and QB Alex Graham adding 142 yards passing on MA’s way to 569 total yards. Marquette scored on seven of eight possessions after missing on five of 11 in the Week 1′s 48-28 win over Dakota. The defense, led by solid pressure up front, was stellar, allowing only 169 yards. That Dee-Mack has a new synthetic turf field should make the Cru faster yet.

About the Chiefs: Deer Creek-Mackinaw, coming off an 0-4 spring, won its opener, 20-12, over Ridgeview, but fell last Friday at Tri-Valley, 26-8. In the latter game, despite having a sizable line in senior linemen Lance Barnewolt and Gabe Scheuermann (6-1, 220) and sophomore Xavier Dowling (6-2, 240), the Chiefs’ strong-armed QB Ethan Baez (sr., 6-0, 210) was forced to run for his life early and often. Backs Brent Denniston and Tyce Albritton also were well contained. They may have to deal with more pressure this week, thanks to MA twins Beau and Brady Ewers and company.

Friday Night Drive pick: Marquette

– Charlie Ellerbrock


Catlin Salt Fork (2-0) at Seneca (0-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last meeting: n/a

About the Storm: Salt Fork is on a big-play roll, especially on special teams. After whipping Dwight in its opener, 60-12, the Storm trounced Momence last Saturday by a 46-26 score, with a 72-yard TD return of the opening kickoff by Ben Jessup igniting the rout. Jessup rushed for 113 of their 200 ground yards and added another score. Ethan McLain contributed a 27-yard score and a 78-yard kick return to lift the hosts to a 34-12 halftime margin. Speedsters Jessup and McLain were part of the state champion track team in the spring. The defense allowed mobile QB Kud’de Bertrama 241 total yards, but otherwise limited Moment.

About the Irish: Seneca has had nothing but bad luck after dropping the opener at home, 25-6. Thursday’s Week 2 game at Hoopeston Area-Armstrong saw the Irish rally from a 12-0 deficit to leads of 13-12 and 21-18 in the second half. Unfortunately, down 26-21 in the fourth quarter, the Irish had a go-ahead score negated by penalty and that drive later stalled at the Cornjerkers’ 17 with 2:20 left. On a positive note, the ground game was solid, with Braden Ellis rushing for 122 yards and two scores on 13 carries, Asher Hamby addedg 36 yards and a TD, and Collin Wright another 28 yards. Taking advantage of special teams opportunities needs to improve against the speedy Storm.

Friday Night Drive pick: Salt Fork

– Charlie Ellerbrock


Fisher (0-2) at Fieldcrest (0-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last meeting: Fieldcrest 40, Fisher 28 (2017)

Series record: Fieldcrest leads, 4-2

About the Bunnies: Fisher led Villa Grove, 14-13, at halftime in its season opener only to fall, 26-14. Last week, the Bunnies hung with Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley before the Falcons scored twice in the fourth quarter to post a 26-16, Heart of Illinois Conference Small Division triumph. Quarterback Blake Terven (sr., 6-2, 155), 13-of-29 passing for 216 yards, including 133 yards and a pair of TD passes against GCMS, is flanked in the backfield by senior Kobe Bishop (six receptions, 63 yards) and sophomore Jaylin White, the three combining for 177 yards on the ground. The Fisher defense, led by MLB Tim Booth (sr., 6-0, 200), has allowed (234.5 yards rushing, 66.5 passing) 301 total yards a game.

About the Knights: Fieldcrest, after opening its season with road losses to Aurora Christian (56-8) and HOIC Large Division rival El Paso-Gridley (26-0), will look to get on track in its home opener at Fieldcrest Stadium at Veterans Park. In last week’s setback to the Titans, the Knights were locked in a scoreless tie until the hosts scored 19 points in the second quarter. Sophomore QB Koltin Kearfott completed 9 of 21 passes for 99 yards, with senior FB/LB Ethan Stoger catching four of those passes for 52 yards, but Fieldcrest rushed for only 15 yards on 12 attempts and recorded just five first downs. Against EPG, the Knights defense received standout efforts from junior LB Landon Madro (11 tackles, two sacks, fumble recovery), senior DB Kole Lowery (10 tackles), Stoeger (nine tackles, sack) and sophomore lineman Aydin Stimpert (sack).

Friday Night Drive pick: Fisher

– Brian Hoxsey


FCW (1-1) at South Beloit (2-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last meeting: n/a

About the Falcons: This one will be a great measuring stick for a Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland team that believes it is ready to return to prominence in the eight-man game and has shown it thus far with a close loss to top-ranked West Central and a 54-16 smashing of Peoria Heights. FCW scored five times before allowing Peoria Heights to get on the board last week, spreading the wealth with TDs by RBs J.D. Ruddy (104 yards), Chris Stasko (33 yards), Jesse Simpson (107 yards) and WR Sam Jones (one catch for 22 yards) on a pass from QB Dallas Hamilton (2-3, 38 yards). Stasko, William Weber and Jones have led the defense.

About the SoBos: South Beloit has looked impressive so far, defeating Ashton-Franklin Center, 52-14, and River Ridge, 44-30. The battle up front should be a good one. A powerful offensive line anchored by senior center Bradley Knepper may be the SoBos main weapon, one taken advantage of by running quarterback Kaden Myhres (15 carries for 152 yards vs. AFC) and and fullback Fernando Balderas (nine rushes for 127 yards in Week 1). This is the first meeting between the two teams, which have both made the pivot to eight-man over the past three years.

Friday Night Drive pick: FCW

– J.T. Pedelty

J.T. Pedelty

J.T. Pedelty

J.T. is a graduate of Streator High School, Illinois Valley Community College and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale who is some 22 years into an award-winning sports journalism career.

Brian Hoxsey

Brian Hoxsey

I worked for 25 years as a CNC operator and in 2005 answered an ad in The Times for a freelance sports writer position. I became a full-time sports writer/columnist for The Times in February of 2016. I enjoy researching high school athletics history, and in my spare time like to do the same, but also play video games and watch Twitch.