Sauk Valley Media area football preview capsules for Week 5

Sterling’s Antonio Tablante (left) and AJ Kested celebrate a score against Lakes Friday, Aug. 26, 2022.


Geneseo (3-1, 2-0 WB6) at Sterling (3-1, 2-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Sterling 31-0 (2021 Week 5)

About the Maple Leafs: Geneseo QB A.J. Weller is 21-for-39 passing for 339 yards, 4 touchdowns and an interception. His favorite target is Jaden Weinzierl, who has 10 catches for 213 yards and two scores. William Taylor has five catches for 48 yards and a TD, and Cooper McKeag has two catches for 47 yards. … Connor Helke leads the Leafs’ ground game, with 53 carries for 293 yards and 5 TDs. Weller has 29 rushes for 243 yards and 3 TDs, Jeron Neal has 34 carries for 204 yards and a score, and Weinzierl has 15 rushes for 132 yards and 2 TDs. … Geneseo’s last win in the series was a 30-20 victory in 2014. … The Leafs have outscored their opponents 123-50 this season.

About the Golden Warriors: For the second straight season, Sterling rolled past Alleman in Week 4, outgaining the Pioneers 330-81 in total yards, including 240-20 on the ground. … The Warriors have won the last seven games against their longtime rivals from the NCIC, NIB-12 & WB6 by a combined score of 253-43, and haven’t allowed more than 8 points to the Leafs since a 17-14 win in 2015. The last two games have been shutouts. … Kael Ryan has 32 rushes for 280 yards and 6 touchdowns, and JP Schilling has run for 171 yards and 7 TDs on 32 rushes from the QB spot. Schilling has thrown for 257 yards and 2 TDs, and Ryan has 83 yards passing. Drew Nettleton got some time under center against Alleman, and threw a touchdown pass to Justin Null. … Null had three catches for 56 yards and 2 TDs last week, pushing his season total to four catches for 70 yards. Cale Ledergerber also caught a TD pass, and Isaiah Mendoza still leads the receiving corps with five catches for 126 yards.

FND pick: Sterling


Dixon (3-1, 3-1) at Winnebago (2-2, 2-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Dixon 53-26 (2021 Week 5)

About the Dukes: Dixon suffered its first loss of the season last week at home to conference leader Stillman Valley. With the Dukes losing that game, and Byron beating Genoa-Kingston, Stillman remains the only unbeaten team in the league through four weeks. … The Dukes have won three of the last four games against ‘Bago; the two teams didn’t play in 2016 or ‘17. Dixon is 4-2 against the Indians since joining the Big Northern in 2014. … The Dukes have outscored their opponents 118-64 this season, with more than half of those points allowed (36) coming last week. … Aiden Wiseman leads Dixon with 59 rushes for 458 yards and 6 TDs, while Tyler Shaner has run for 283 yards and 5 scores, and thrown for 282 yards and 4 TDs, with 4 INTs. … Ethan Hays has 13 catches for 158 yards and 2 TDs, while Eli Davidson (6-92, TD) and Rylan Ramsdell (3-27, TD) also have touchdown receptions.

About the Indians: Winnebago beat the Dukes 19-14 in the 2021 spring season, one of three Dixon losses by five points or fewer that season. … Prior to that, the last time the Indians won a game in the series was a 65-50 shootout victory in 2015. … After starting the season with losses to Gena-Kingston (35-20) and Byron (42-7), ‘Bago has beaten Rock Falls (45-14) and Oregon (27-8) the last two weeks. … The Indians have scored 99 points this season, and also given up 99 points.

FND pick: Dixon

Genoa-Kingston (3-1, 3-1) at Rock Falls (0-4, 0-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: G-K 41-0 (2021 Week 5)

About the Cogs: Genoa-Kington suffered its first loss of the season last week, falling to Byron 35-15. Nathan Kleba had the first score of the game for the Cogs. The sophomore quarterback connected with Traven Atterberry for a 20-yard pass. Ethan Wilnau and Brody Engel were mostly held in check by the Tigers. … G-K coach Cam Davekos said it’s been a week of reflection for the Cogs: “We’ve kind of pulled things back. We’ve reflected heavily on who we are and our identity on offense as well as defense. We’re making sure we pay attention to detail. We know what to do in our base stuff, we have to make sure we have a strong foundation to move forward from last week. Our main goal for Friday is to make sure we string together drives for positive yards. We’re looking for 3-plus yards every play. We need to be firing off the ball, not getting blocked backwards. All 11 G-K players have to fly to the ball on defense and we need to play sound assignment football.” … The Cogs have outscored their opponents 133-94 on the season… G-K has won all six games against Rock Falls since joining the Big Northern in 2016, by a combined score of 246-32.

About the Rockets: Still searching for its first win of the season, Rock Falls hasn’t scored more than 14 points in any game; the Rockets have 21 for the season, and have been shut out twice – while the 147 points allowed is most in the conference. … This will be Rock Falls’ third home game in four weeks; the Rockets’ lone win last year was at Hinders Field, as was their only win in 2019. … Coach Kevin Parker says consistency is the key for the Rockets: “We saw some improvement last week with running the football. Our issue is just being consistent, and that’s exactly what we’re focused on. We’re not as worried about them as much as we have to worry about ourselves. We have to do our jobs first, and that’s what we’ve been struggling with, the consistency of doing what we’re supposed to do all the time out on the field. Once we can do that, control the things that we can control, then we can take that next step.”

FND pick: Genoa-Kingston

Oregon (1-3, 1-3) at Rockford Lutheran (2-2, 2-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lutheran 13-6 (2021 Week 5)

About the Hawks: Oregon has given up 27 or more points in all three of its losses this season, and has scored just 34 points total in four games. … The Hawks’ last win in the series was a 27-21 victory in 2018; before that, they hadn’t beaten Lutheran since a 62-26 rout in 2011. … The Week 2 road win over Rockford Christian was Oregon’s fourth win away from home in its last six victories.

About the Crusaders: Rockford Lutheran snapped a two-game losing streak last week, shutting out Rock Falls 49-0. It was nearly half of the Crusaders’ 94 points on the season, and the first game they hadn’t allowed at least two touchdowns. … Lutheran has won eight of the last nine games against the Hawks, by a combined score of 324-126, or an average of 36-14. … Lutheran needs three more wins to become playoff eligible for the first time since 2016; the Crusaders have finished 4-5 each of the last two years.

FND pick: Rockford Lutheran


Newman (2-2, 0-1) at Bureau Valley (1-3, 0-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Newman 26-14 (2021 Week 5)

About the Comets: Nolan Britt scored a touchdown on a 3-yard run last week for Newman’s only TD in a 34-8 loss to St. Bede. Britt’s TD pulled the Comets within 14-8, but Newman was outscored 20-0 the rest of the way. … Britt finished with 88 rushing yards, while Carter Rude led the Comets with 91 yards on the ground. … The Comets lost a fumble on St. Bede’s 6-yard line and had a pass intercepted last week. … Newman allowed St. Bede quarterback John Brady to throw for 230 yards and four touchdowns. … The Comets have scored 57 points this season while allowing 85.

About the Storm: Bureau Valley’s first four possessions ended with three punts and a fumble last week in a 40-7 loss at Kewanee, while the Storm allowed the Boilermakers to score touchdowns on their first four possessions. … Bureau Valley committed four turnovers – three interceptions and a fumble – against Kewanee. … The Storm’s lone touchdown last week came on a 96-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Helms to Eli Attig. … BV running back Mason Goossens has 295 rushing yards, and he’s scored 6 touchdowns.

FND pick: Newman


Sherrard (0-4, 0-2) at Morrison (2-2, 1-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Morrison 12-6 (2021 Week 5)

About the Tigers: Sherrard has been outscored 134-76 this season, but two of their losses have been one-score games (20-14 to Bureau Valley in Week 2 and 35-28 to Erie-Prophetstown in Week 3). … The Tigers haven’t beaten Morrison since joining the Three Rivers in 2013; they’ve played in four of the last five seasons after not facing off in a crossover game the first four years Sherrard was in the league. … The Tigers haven’t made the playoffs since 2009; they had four straight 4-5 seasons form 2010-13, but have only six wins total in the last seven seasons.

About the Mustangs: After an 0-2 start, Morrison has righted the ship with wins each of the last two weeks, including an overtime victory over Hall last week. ... Carson Strating ran for 132 yards and three touchdowns last week, including the game-winner in OT. … Brady Anderson had Morrison’s first two TDs, on a 3-yard run and 77-yard kickoff return. … Danny Mouw was 8-for-8 passing for 113 yards and a 31-yard scoring strike to Chase Newman, who had three catches for 71 yards. … The Mustangs have been outscored 92-76 through four games. … Morrison has won the last four games against Sherrard by a combined score of 120-24, and has allowed just six points to the Tigers in each of those games.

FND pick: Morrison

Orion (2-2, 1-0) at Erie-Prophetstown (2-2, 1-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: E-P 49-14 (2021 Week 5)

About the Chargers: Orion comes in off a forfeit win over Riverdale last week, which snapped a two-game losing streak. The Chargers beat Hall 42-12 in the opener, then lost 60-20 to Princeton and 13-12 to Newman, and have been outscored 85-74 this season. … Against Newman in Week 3, Orion scored with 2:29 to play to get within one, and went for two to take the lead, but the conversion attempt was stopped by the Comets. … Last year was the first time the Chargers played E-P since 2016, as they did not face off in crossover games from 2017-20. Orion won 42-0 in 2016 and 21-20 in 2015.

About the Panthers: Erie-Prophetstown has been prolific on the ground in each of its four games, led by senior RB Jase Grunder. He has run for 795 yards and 11 touchdowns in four games, and also had a 79-yard kickoff return TD last week against Rockridge. … Tyler Ballard has also been strong on the ground, running for 422 yards and 4 TDs through the first three games, and catching a TD pass in Week 2. … Last year’s win was the Panthers’ first in the series since a 41-21 win in 2014; they also won 28-7 in 2012, Orion’s first year in the Three Rivers. … E-P has been outscored 154-130 this season; both the points scored and the points allowed are the most in the TRAC Rock.

FND pick: Erie-Prophetstown


Fulton (3-1, 3-0) at Lena-Winslow (4-0, 4-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Le-Win 54-28 (2021 1A playoffs, quarterfinal)

About the Steamers: Fulton lost to only one other team besides Le-Win last season, a Week 3 loss to Durand-Pecatonica; it avenged that loss two weeks ago. The Panthers beat the Steamers in the regular season and the playoffs. … The Steamers failed to score a touchdown last week for the first time since Week 4 of the 2019 season, a shutout loss to rival Morrison. … Lukas Schroeder leads Fulton with 335 yards and 7 touchdowns on 62 rushes, while Ryan Eads has 285 yards and 3 TDs on 53 carries. … Brayden Dykstra is 46-for-78 passing for 461 yards, 4 TDs and 4 INTs, with Baylen Damhoff leading the receivers with 18 catches for 209 yards and two scores. … Eads had nine catches for 83 yards and a TD, and Ethan Price has seven catches for 60 yards and a score. … Endi Qunaj has made all 17 extra points this season, and has also kicked four field goals. … The Steamers have a 131-41 scoring edge this season, with the 41 points the second-fewest allowed in the league.

About the Panthers: Le-Win has scored at least 46 points in every game, and has given up six points of fewer in three of its games for a 224-30 scoring edge on the season – the most points scored and the fewest allowed in the NUIC. ... The Panthers won both matchups last season (54-7 in Week 5, 54-28 in the 1A quarterfinals), the first time the teams had played since Le-Win’s 34-6 win in the first round of the playoffs in 2006. … Last year was the first time the Panthers had lost two regular-season games since 2016. Le-Win won 1A state titles in 2017, ‘19 and ‘21, and lost in the semifinals in 2018.

FND pick: Le-Win

Dakota (3-1, 2-1) at Eastland-Pearl City (0-4, 0-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Dakota 16-8 (2021 Week 5)

About the Indians: Dakota has won four of the last six games in the series, but each of the last five games has been decided by 15 points or fewer, and three of them have been one-score games. … The Indians haven’t scored more than 21 points in a game against EPC since a 58-24 win in 2015. … Dakota has outscored its opponents 153-112 this season, including 129-64 in its three victories. … RB Adrian Arellano is a threat both on the ground and through the air, as a favorite target of QB Kaidyn Niedermeier.

About the Wildcatz: EPC has scored the second-fewest points in the NUIC this season (33), and has allowed the second-most (163) – ranking behind West Carroll in both categories. … Carsen Heeren was 13-for-20 passing for 126 yards last week against Du-Pec, but the Wildcatz were limited to just 37 yards rushing. … Brady Sweitzer had seven catches for 69 yards last week, while Max McCullough and Ethan Petta each had three catches. … EPC’s last win in the series was a 21-10 victory in 2018; the ‘Catz are 5-4 against Dakota in the last 10 seasons, with the two not playing in the 2021 spring season.

FND pick: Dakota

Galena (2-2, 1-2) at Forreston (2-2, 2-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Forreston 22-14 (2021 1A playoffs, 1st round)

About the Pirates: Galena’s last win in the series came in 2002, a 7-0 victory in an NUIC crossover contest. … The Pirates qualified for the playoffs last year for the first time since 2015. They had been in the postseason 28 times in the 31 years prior to that, including 1A state titles in 1997, 2003 and ‘07. … Galena has won both home games this season (by a combined 75-14) and lost both road games (by a combined 77-12). Its four-point scoring differential is the closest margin in the conference.

About the Cardinals: Forreston has outscored its opponents 132-105 this season, holding a 78-35 edge in its two wins; the losses have been by a combined 16 points. … The Cardinals won both matchups against Galena last year, 52-20 in Week 5 and 22-14 in the first round of the 1A playoffs. … Forreston has won the last 12 meetings in this series – including two playoff games – by a combined 420-159, and has scored 52 points in each of the last three regular-season meetings. … Johnny Kobler has four 100-yard rushing games this season, and leads the Cardinals with 576 yards and 9 touchdowns. Kaleb Sanders has 328 yards rushing and 2 TDs.

FND pick: Forreston

West Carroll (0-4, 0-3) at Stockton (1-3, 1-3)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: West Carroll 18-12 (2018 Week 4)

About the Thunder: West Carroll has been outscored 235-6 in four games this season, with the only touchdown coming on an AJ Boardman-to-Aaron Becker pass in the fourth quarter of Week 1 against Durand-Pecatonica. … The Thunder have given up more points and scored fewer than any other team in the NUIC. … West Carroll has won the only two meetings against Stockton since forming the co-op, when they played NUIC crossover games in 2017 & ‘18.

About the Blackhawks: Stockton has yet to win at home this season, as its only victory came on the road in Week 2, 26-6 over EPC. … The Blackhawks have been outscored 124-68 this season, scoring the third-fewest points in the NUIC and allowing the third-most. … Karl Hubb leads the Stockton rushing attack, while Parker Luke mans the QB position. … The Blackhawks missed the playoffs last season for the first time since 2010.

FND pick: Stockton


Amboy-LaMoille (3-1) at Orangeville (0-4)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: Orangeville 34-12 (2021 I8FA state semifinal)

About the Clippers: Amboy lost 40-30 last week for the Clippers’ first loss of the season. … Quarterback Tucker Lindemeyer left last week’s game in the first quarter with an injury. Eddie Jones took over, completing 4 of 11 passes for 71 yards and two touchdowns. … Brennan Blaine has caught 14 passes for 372 yards and eight touchdowns this season. He’s caught two TD passes in each game. … The Clippers have four players who have rushed for 150 yards or more in Lindenmeyer, Kye Koch, Quinn Leffelman and Landon Whelchel. … After allowing just 26 points through the first two games, the Clippers have given up 76 points over the last two games.

About the Broncos: After losing in the Illinois 8 Man Football Association state title game last fall, Orangeville has lost its first four games this season, including 60-40 to Hiawatha last week. … Orangeville has allowed 60 points in each of the last two weeks, and has given up 40 points or more in every game this season. … The Broncos’ 40 points last week nearly matched Orangeville’s total in the first three games combined (42 points).

FND pick: Amboy

AFC (2-2) at Danville Schlarman (2-2)

When: 3 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Raiders: After notching its first win in 5 years in Week 3, AFC received a forfeit last week to move back to .500 for the season. The Raiders are now searching for their first three-win season since 2017; they haven’t had a winning record since going 5-4 in 2012. … Carson Rueff has thrown for more than 300 yards in all three games AFC has played, and his favorite targets downfield are Lane Koning and Auden Polk. … The Raiders have been outscored 134-98 in three games.

About the Hilltoppers: Schlarman, a member of the I8FA Central 1 Division, has won its last two games after starting the season 0-2. The Hilltoppers have scored 58 points in each of those games, and has given up fewer than 40 points in each of their last three contests. … For the season, Schlarman is outscoring opponents 192-142. … The Hilltoppers are playing eight-man football for the first time this season.

FND pick: Schlarman

Milledgeville (3-1) at Decatur Lutheran-Mt. Pulaski (4-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: First meeting

About the Missiles: Milledgeville avenged a two-point loss to rival Polo in 2021 with a 54-38 win last week, scoring on its first six possessions of the first half after trailing 16-6 at halftime. … Connor Nye threw for 160 of his 194 yards in the second half last week, and also had all 4 of his TD passes after the break. He also ran for 93 yards, including a 58-yard TD. … Kolton Wilk had 102 yards rushing and 2 TDs, and also had six catches for 85 yards and two scores – on a pair of 29-yard screen passes – in last week’s win. … The Missiles have outscored their opponents 203-110 this season, with the 203 points being the most – by 37 – in the I8FA North 2 Division.

About the Lions: The Decatur Lutheran co-op has outscored opponents 184-99 this season, having scored at least 30 points in every game, and giving up more than 21 points only once. … The Lions have scored 46, 46, and 62 in their last three games. … Last year, Decatur Lutheran won four straight games after a 1-3 start, and has now won eight of its last nine regular-season games. The Lions lost 38-28 in the first round of the I8FA playoffs last year.

FND pick: Milledgeville

Polo (2-2) at Kirkland Hiawatha (4-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Polo 64-8 (2021 Week 8)

About the Marcos: Polo suffered its second loss in four weeks against a Sauk Valley area rival, falling to Milledgeville 54-38 last Friday. The Marcos led 16-6 at halftime, tied the game 22-22 late in the third quarter, and trailed 46-38 halfway through the fourth, but couldn’t get a key stop down the stretch. … Brock Soltow ran 15 times for 185 yards and 3 touchdowns last week, and also had a touchdown pass out of the Wildcat formation. He now has 544 rushing yards and 9 TDs on the season, and has a pair of TD passes and a touchdown catch. … Avery Grenoble has run for 306 yards and 4 TDs on the season; he caught a 63-yard scoring strike from Cayden Webster last week.

About the Hawks: Hiawatha can put up points, having reached the 60-point mark in every game its played this year. In fact, the Hawks scored 66 in their first two games before a 60-40 Week 4 win against Orangeville. … Cole Brantley has a been a beast for the Hawks, and ran for 172 yards and had 15 tackles last week. But quarterback Matt Korb has been solid as well; he threw for 181 yards last week. Brantley and Lucas Norvell have been his main two targets. … Brandon Ross, Tommy Butler and Cooper Fisher all had big defensive games for the Hawks as well. …Hiawatha coach Nick Doolittle said the emergence of other weapons on both sides of the ball has made Brantley, an all-state player last year, even more dangerous: “I think it’s just him having experience and confidence. He works really hard to be where he’s at. It’s all coming together. He has less pressure to do it all himself. It’s freed him up, freed his mind up, to be the best player he can be.”

FND pick: Hiawatha