Illinois High School Football News

The Times Week 3 previews

Ottawa heads to Harvard, Seneca to Salt Fork, Marquette hosts revenge game looking for 3-0 starts

Marquette's Jurnee Reed tries to shed Aurora Christian's Sal Delgado on a carry in the second quarter on Friday, Aug. 26, 2022, at Gould Stadium in Ottawa.

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

When: 7 p.m. Friday at Gould Stadium

Last meeting: Dee-Mack 40, Marquette 36 (fall 2021)

About the Chiefs: Deer Creek-Mackinaw lost 21-8 to Ridgeview-Lexington in Week 1 and then 33-12 to Tri-Valley in Week 2. That looks pretty rough on the surface until one realized the 13- and 21-point losses were to a team that made the third round of the playoffs and a state champion from last season. Dee-Mack, too, made the playoffs going 7-4 last season, and this season has been led by RBs Brent Denniston (113 yards) and Lucas Blumeyer (103 yards), QB Carson Cassady (59 yards passing, 55 yards rushing) and WR/RB Tyce Albritton (46 yards receiving).

About the Crusaders: The gaudy statistics haven’t been there so far for the Crusaders, but much more important than them, the wins have, including an impressive Week 1 comeback against Aurora Christian and last weekend’s dismantling of Chicago Christian. This week brings something different, a battle-tested Chiefs team from a physical Heart of Illinois Conference. Marquette has plenty of weapons – namely QB Alex Graham, WR Caden Eller and RBs Tommy Durdan and Jurnee Reed – to give the Chiefs fits if this one turns into a shootout last last year’s meeting.

Friday Night Drive pick: Marquette

Ottawa (2-0) at Harvard (0-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last meeting: first meeting

About the Pirates: It might sound simplistic to say running the football, playing great defense and keeping the opposing offense off the field is a surefire way to win football games, but it sure has worked to this point for the Pirates in wins over Plano and Streator. The Ottawa offensive line of Michael Mills, Tanner Coglianese, Alex Perez, Henry Alexander and Payton Carretto has been dominatiing second halves, leading the way for RBs Ryder Miller (221 yards) and Julian Alexander (132 yards) as well as dual-threat QB Colby Mortenson (64 yards rushing, 224 passing) and Wildcat QB Levi Sheehan (37 yards rushing, 40 receiving). More of the same will put the Pirates at 3-0.

About the Hornets: Harvard is off to a rough start, losing 27-0 at Lisle and 21-14 at Woodstock North. The loss to Woodstock North hurt – the Thunder snapping an 11-game losing streak and injuries hitting the Hornets hard – but neither loss was an egregious one, with the Hornets at one point leading 14-7 last Friday. QB Landon Barnett threw for 104 yards and two TDs last week on 10 attempts, but had to leave the contest late with an apparent injury. This will be the final Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 crossover before the teams head into divisional play.

FND pick: Ottawa

Streator (1-1, 0-0) at Herscher (1-1, 0-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last meeting: Streator 45, Herscher 40 (fall 2021)

About the Bulldogs: Through 5 1/2 quarters of the season, everything was going precisely to plan for the Bulldogs. Then everything fell apart, leading to 42 unanswered Ottawa points and a 42-14 loss to their Route 23 rival. Shaking off that loss and remembering the team is 1-1 heading into Illinois Central Eight play with a playoff berth still very much within their grasp is the best path for a Bulldogs team that can be incredibly explosive led by athletes such as RB/DB Aneefy Ford, WR/DB Matt Williamson and QB/LB Christian Benning. This should be a good measuring stick of just who these Bulldogs are.

About the Tigers: Herscher won 41-30 over Charleston in Week 1, then lost 49-13 to Rochelle. This will be the Tigers’ third home game of the young season as they look to avenge a wild loss at Streator a year ago. It was Rochelle getting vengeance for a 2021 loss last week, piling up 49 points and 427 rushing yards against the Herscher defense a week ago. QB Brock Wenzelman can run it and throw it, with his top weapon an Illinois State commit, TE Travis Jones. All signs in this one point to a shootout, and it might come down to who has the ball last.

FND pick: Streator

River Ridge (0-2) at Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland (0-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday at Woodland

Last meeting: River Ridge 36, FCW 12 (2019)

About the Wildcats: River Ridge lost 42-36 in triple-overtime to South Beloit and then 68-12 to Amboy-LaMoille. This meeting of winless teams may be a good measuring stick whether the Wildcats are more the team that led early in Week 1 and lasted three OTs or the team that couldn’t get anything going last week and struggled to a 3-6 mark last fall. QB Sam Ries and RB George Winter have been go-to performers through two weeks.

About the Falcons: The first and fourth quarters were fine for FCW last Friday in Champaign. It was the middle quarters that the 50-18 loss to St. Thomas More got away from the Falcons. Even then, FCW finished with just 19 fewer yards from scrimmage (333-314) than its opponent despite giving up a shocking 10.7 yards per play. Against a Rover Ridge team that has given up a lot of points, look for QB Masen Perisco and RBs Payton Quaintance (48 yards rushing, 122 receiving in Week 2) and Jesse Simpson (51 rushing, 7 receiving) to gain a little traction.

FND pick: River Ridge

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

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: Salt Fork 49, Seneca 28 (fall 2021)

About the Fighting Irish: Seneca has been absolutely punishing the opposition with its ground game thus far this season. Most recently, the Fighting Irish stacked up 477 rushing yards and had a triumvirate of 100-plus yard rushers in Braden Ellis (125 yards), Asher Hamby (118 yards) and Dominick Griffin (112 yards) in its Week 2 win over Hoopeston, their second straight week with three 100-yard rushers. If Seneca is able to get into a position to improve to 3-0, that ground game will have to be working once again at maximum capacity.

About the Storm: Salt Fork has put up 90 points in its first two games in back-to-back victories over Momence and Dwight. And it’s just not the explosive capabilities of the offense that makes Salt Fork look so imposing, as the Storm have really put the clamps on defensively, reining in a Momence squad with some quality athletes to just a touchdown last week.

FND Pick: Salt Fork

Fieldcrest 1, Fisher 0 (forfeit)

About the forfeit: The Knights will be credited for their first win since going undefeated in the COVID-caused spring 2021 season. The Bunnies announced this summer they will not be fielding a varsity team.