The Herald-News football capsules for Week 8

SouthWest Suburban Conference

Andrew (4-3) at Lincoln-Way West (3-4)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way West 24, Andrew 6 (Spring 2021)

About the T-Bolts: Andrew is on a bit of a roll, winning three straight. Although those three wins came against SouthWest Suburban teams that find themselves below the .500 mark, it still is a very encouraging sign. The defense has been particularly pesky of late.

About the Warriors: Lincoln-Way West might be one of the state’s strongest sub-.500 teams, playing solid football against a difficult schedule. The Warriors were finally able to put it all together in a Week 7 win over Lincoln-Way Central, scoring touchdowns on six consecutive possessions while allowing their district rival next to nothing. Running back Justin Harris continues to put together a strong season, accounting for more than 200 yards of total offense with three touchdowns last week.

Friday Night Drive pick: Lincoln-Way West

Bolingbrook (5-2) at Lincoln-Way Central (2-5)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way Central 42, Bolingbrook 28 (2016)

About the Raiders: Nobody likes to lose, but Bolingbrook likely came away from its 14-13 Week 7 overtime loss to Lockport feeling pretty good about its situation. The two teams met in the spring with largely the same rosters, and Lockport won handily. The defense continues to shine, holding Lockport’s offense essentially scoreless during regulation before finally surrendering an offensive touchdown in overtime. The secondary has been spectacular, but the front seven really needs a nod as well after hemming in the Lockport ground game.

About the Knights: This isn’t an ideal matchup for the struggling Knights who are in a three-game slide, where they’ve been outscored, 111-35. In a Week 7 loss to Lincoln-Way West (40-7) they managed to force a punt on Lincoln-Way West’s first possession but surrendered touchdowns on the next six drives. The offense also struggled to find its rhythm. The Knights managed only three rushing yards in the first half last week.

FND pick: Lincoln-Way West

Lincoln-Way East (5-2) at Lockport (7-0)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way East 34, Lockport 10 (Spring 2021)

About the Griffins: Lincoln-Way East responded nicely to a surprising Week 6 loss by taking apart long-time rival Homewood-Flossmoor, 24-6. QB Brennan Stolarek is growing into his role as engineer of the Griffins’ offense. He threw a trio of touchdown passes in the win over H-F. Despite the earlier loss this season in league play, the Griffins still have a chance at another conference crown if they can hand Lockport a loss in this showdown.

About the Porters: Lockport continues to stack wins, and its defense seems dead set on squashing nearly all of the offensive hope opponents have. The Porters have started having a bit of a problem with turning the ball over, and if the problem persists opponents won’t let them get away with it for too long. Lockport continues to get production fromf its running game with Andrew LoPresti and Ty Schultz battering away.

FND pick: Lincoln-Way East

Southwest Prairie Conference

Plainfield East (3-4) at Plainfield South (3-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield South 45, Plainfield East 42 (Spring 2021)

About the Bengals: Plainfield East had its most complete game of the season in Week 7 as it toppled Joliet West, 32-15. The Bengals will try to keep that momentum going as the window still remains cracked to find a way into the postseason. The Bengals have been rotating QBs with Quinn Callaghan and Brandon Parades, but whoever finds himself under center has viable weapons at WR in Michael Morgan and Quinn Morris.

About the Cougars: Plainfield South owned a two-game winning streak and got back to .500 heading into its Week 7 seven showdown with Plainfield, but the Cougars didn’t answer the bell and fell, 31-14. Like Plainfield East, the Cougars’ playoff odds are waning and a win here is an absolute must.

FND pick: Plainfield South

Plainfield North (5-2) at West Aurora (3-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield North 30, West Aurora 14 (2019)

About the Tigers: The defense continues to shine, holding a high-powered Minooka offense to just more than 100 yards of total offense in a 14-0 victory in Week 7. That group has played well enough to carry Plainfield North in most games, but ideally the Tigers will find a way to keep its offense humming. RB Jared Gumila has been an asset in the backfield, but nagging injuries have kept him from being able to shoulder heavier workloads.

About the Blackhawks: Since joining the Southwest Prairie in 2019, West Aurora has been unable to win against West Division opponents. If its faint playoff hopes are going to continue, it will have to snap that pesky streak this week. That quest is made even more difficult with the absence of RB Jeremiah Johnson, who was lost for the year with a Week 6 injury.

FND pick: Plainfield North

Romeoville (1-6) at Plainfield Central (6-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield Central 31, Romeoville 14 (Spring 2021)

About the Spartans: Romeoville finally was able to get in the win column after toppling Joliet Central, 27-8, in Week 7. Romeoville has had some decent offensive performances. The game does afford an opportunity for the Spartans to take some chances.

About the Wildcats: The Wildcats past two games feature teams with a combined record of 1-13. Plainfield Central needs only one win in those two games to clinch a conference championship. RB Aaron Larkins has been a consistent offensive weapon, but WR Derek McClinon as emerged as a viable threat as well.

FND pick: Plainfield Central

Yorkville (4-3) at Minooka (3-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Minooka 48, Yorkville 6 (Spring 2021)

About the Foxes: Yorkville’s defense has been extremely difficult to crack, but it’s been almost as difficult for the Foxes to post big numbers on offense. The Foxes have the ability to rein in Minooka’s offense but will need a big effort. If Yorkville gets a big effort from RB Deajeion Lewis and controls tempo, the Foxes could clinch playoff eligibility. They certainly don’t want to put themselves in the four-loss group with Oswego lurking in Week 9.

About the Indians: Minooka has painted itself into the proverbial corner in regards to playoff position, likely needing to win its final two games to get in. It’s been an uneven season to this point. Week 7′s loss to Plainfield North actually marked one of the better efforts by Minooka on defense, but the offense was completely shut out. Getting all phases going in the same game will be critical the rest of the way.

FND pick: Minooka

Joliet Central (0-7) at Joliet West (1-6)

When: 11 a.m. Saturday

Last matchup: Joliet West 48, Joliet Central 0 (Spring 2021)

About the Steelmen: It’s obviously been a steep, uphill climb for Joliet Central this season. The bright spots have been few and far between, but the Steelmen continue to scrap. They hung in with Romeoville for about a half in Week 7 before slowly watching it slip away when the limitations of a small roster started to wear on them. QB Carl Bew continues to flash his potential.

About the Tigers: Joliet West has struggled to find consistent footing. A COVID-19 stoppage in the middle of the season disrupted its rhythm. The Tigers haven’t seemed to be able to find it. This, however, is a rivalry game that the Tigers have pretty much dominated in recent seasons.

FND pick: Joliet West

CCL/ESCC

Joliet Catholic (7-0) vs. Benet (4-3) at Benedictine

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Benet 20, Joliet Catholic 13 (2018)

About the Hilltoppers: Defining Joliet Catholic’s offensive performance in Week 7 as awesome probably is underselling it. The spectacular effort allowed JCA to amass more than 700 total yards, including more than 600 on the ground. RB Jordan Anderson had 320 of those yards, playing a full four quarters for the first time this season. He’s appeared in only 11 of Joliet Catholic’s 28 quarters. Defensively, JCA had more problems with Brother Rice than any opponent this season, but that can be forgiven considering the Crusaders’ considerable firepower.

About the Redwings: Benet didn’t play in Week 7, but not for a COVID-19-related reason. The Redwings never were able to replace St. Joseph, a school that closed last spring, on their schedule. By rule, Benet is allowed to request a forfeit waiver if the opposing school closed the previous year. Joliet Catholic faced the same problem, but filled the date with Crete-Monee in Week 5. Benet, after adding the forfeit victory from St. Joseph, still needs one win in its final two games to be playoff-bound.

FND pick: Joliet Catholic

Providence (3-4) at St. Rita (5-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: St. Rita 33, Providence 28 (Spring 2021)

About the Celtics: It already was a daunting proposition to match up against Loyola in Week 7 even at full strength. But Providence was far from that, missing several defensive starters and their starting quarterback in the 40-0 loss. Another challenging task lurks for the Celtics this week against St. Rita. The Celtics’ daunting schedule does serve one benefit; even if they get a fifth loss, they still have a high chance of making the postseason as a four-win, at-large team. One win in its final two games still could be enough.

About the Mustangs: Although they’d certainly like to have Ohio State-bound RB Kaleb Brown available, St. Rita hasn’t exactly struggled without their standout, who left with an injury in Week 1 and hasn’t returned yet. St. Rita has scored 120 points in its past three games.

FND pick: St. Rita

South Suburban Conference

T.F. South (6-1) at Lemont (7-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 49, T.F. South 14 (2021 spring)

About T.F. South: T.F. South has several common opponents with Lemont and have won all of them comfortably, just maybe not in the dominant fashion that Lemont has. In fact, T.F. South is riding a six-game winning streak where no opponent has come within three touchdowns. The lone loss was a lopsided one to Chesterton, currently 6-2 and ranked in Indiana. Sophomore WR Charles Miles is a playmaker that the Lemont defense must contend with.

About Lemont: If Lemont gets a push from T.F. South this week it might welcome the challenge because no other South Suburban team has demonstrated the ability to do so. It was the fifth consecutive conference rout for Lemont as it shut out Tinley Park in Week 7. You have to go back to the Nazareth game in Week 2 to find a game that made Lemont work hard in the second half.

FND pick: Lemont

Illinois Central Eight Conference

Coal City (5-2) at Reed-Custer (6-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Coal City 14, Reed-Custer 12 (Spring 2021)

About the Coalers: The defense has found its footing and continues to punish opponents. Offensively, the ground game is emphasized, and throwing the ball isn’t a prime focus.

About the Comets: Reed-Custer only has three wins over Coal City in its past 36 attempts [the last win coming in 2008]. The Comets already have changed so many negative associations with program history this year, who is to doubt that it might add another feather to its collective cap. Reed-Custer already has secured a playoff berth and a win here would go a long way toward the Comets earning a home playoff game, something that hasn’t happened since 2006.

FND pick: Coal City

Herscher (2-5) at Peotone (4-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Peotone 22, Herscher 13 (Spring 2021)

About the Tigers: Herscher started the season with two fairly comfortable wins, but a thin roster has really caught up. The Tigers are mired in a five-game losing streak, including a pair of back-to-back 7-0 losses. Herscher’s offense has gone stagnant since losing 45-40 to Streator in Week 3, scoring only 13 points in the four games since.

About the Blue Devils: Peotone has hit a rough patch after starting 3-0, although not as severe as this weekend’s opponent. Granted, the Blue Devils schedule got more difficult in losses to Wilmington, Reed-Custer and Coal City [combined record 18-3] over the past four weeks, but Peotone’s offensive woes have been magnified.

FND pick: Peotone

Streator (3-4) at Wilmington (7-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wilmington 41, Streator 21 (2019)

About the Bulldogs: Streator started 3-0 but struggled once it started a perilous conference schedule. Even so, it had managed to be a little more competitive in league games until it ran into Reed-Custer in Week 7.

About the Wildcats: Wilmington has found its groove in recent weeks, leaning on its vaunted running attack to either stack points or keep the ball away from opponents. Either option works, because Wilmington’s fine defensive play assures it doesn’t need a truckload of points to win games.

FND pick: Wilmington

Interstate 8 Conference

Morris (7-0) at La Salle-Peru (5-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: LaSalle-Peru 20, Morris 19 (spring 2021)

About Morris: Morris is trying to continue its march to a very high seed in the Class 5A draw. The offense, in particular, has been overpowering with QB Zach Romak and RB Ashton Yard posting monster numbers on a weekly basis.

About the Cavaliers: La Salle-Peru will need to amplify that past performance to get the Cavaliers on the level of Morris’ offensive production right now.

FND pick: Morris

Vermilion Valley Conference

Clifton Central (5-2) at Seneca (2-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Clifton Central 62, Seneca 38 (spring 2021)

About the Comets: Clifton Central took a rather surprising loss in Week 7, falling to Iroquois West, a program it has dominated for much of the past two decades. The Comets likely will recover from the loss, and Seneca will have to deal with a team unaccustomed to taking many regular season losses.

About the Fighting Irish: Seneca has been improving after a rocky start, pushing the only team in the Vermilion Valley North that doesn’t have a league loss in Momence to the hilt before eventually faltering in Week 7. The Fighting Irish will likely try to power run Clifton Central into submission. The two teams have had some interesting games in the past.

FND pick: Clifton Central

Dwight (1-6) at Iroquois West (5-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Dwight 30, Iroquois West 16 (spring 2021)

About the Trojans: Dwight got its first win of the season without ever setting foot on the field. Dwight’s Week 7 opponent, Watseka, ended its varsity football season early because of player participation numbers being too low. Dwight had played better coming out of a two-week COVID-19 delay around the middle of the season, but it’s hard to get any momentum going when you rarely play more than a week at a time.

About the Raiders: Iroquois West is having a breakout season after years of being at the bottom of the conference. The Raiders got a signature win over conference dynamo Clifton Central. With a pair of Division I caliber athletes in brothers Clayton and Cannon Leonard, it looks like the Raiders could be a real wildcard in the Class 1A postseason draw in a few weeks.

FND pick: Iroquois West

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie has been the Sports Editor at the Joliet Herald News since August of 2018. Prior to that, Soucie worked at the Kankakee Daily Journal and for Pro Football Weekly.