Illinois High School Football News

The Times Week 6 Football Notebook: Playoffs on the minds of Seneca, Marquette, Ottawa ... and maybe FCW?

Streator's Christian Benning advances upfield on a quarterback keeper Friday, Sept. 30, 2022, at Doug Dieken Stadium in Streator.

While there was rightfully plenty of excitement after Ottawa’s win over Woodstock North on Friday, Ottawa coach Chad Gross said it was going to take a much more disciplined and focused performance to beat rival La Salle-Peru this week for the first time since 2014.

The Pirates racked up 12 penalties for 89 yards against the Thunder, including five penalties in the third quarter. In that same quarter, Ottawa also had its only fumble and consecutive drives that went backward, giving Woodstock North favorable field position on its two touchdown drives.

“We just talked about that,” Gross said. “Playing in the home stretch here, we have good teams in La Salle-Peru and Morris. We have to clean up the penalties, because against good teams, that’s the difference in the game. We just can’t have it.

“I know there were a lot both ways tonight, but we have to be more disciplined and walk away from stuff like that.”

— Andy Tavegia

Marquette improves backfield depth

Marquette coach Tom Jobst has known all along that Vinny Battestelli would have made a great addition to his offense. After all, Battestelli was his starting fullback in the 2021 season opener against Dakota and gained 43 yards on eight carries before going down in the second quarter with an injury. Jurnee Reed moved from tailback to fullback with great success, running for 867 yards and 12 TDs.

Battestelli returned late as a reserve and finished the season with 19 carries for 100 yards and one touchdown.

This season, Jobst refrained from using Battestelli on offense because he’s such a crucial and effective member of Ken Carlson’s defense. However, an injury to Logan Nelson created an opening, and Battestelli made the most of it with 83 yards on five carries in Friday’s 40-17 win at LeRoy.

Nelson’s return from injury will give the Crusaders even greater depth down the stretch.

— Charlie Ellerbrock

Offenses thrive, defenses struggle in Streator-Peotone series

If history tells us anything about when the Streator Bulldogs and Peotone Blue Devils get together on the gridiron, it suggests there is a good chance the two are going to put up a lot of points at a frantic pace.

Since the series started with Streator moving to the then Interstate 8 Conference Large Division in 2014, the nine games the two programs have played have averaged a combined 63.2 points per contest.

Friday’s game between the two – a 53-42 win by Peotone – was the second-highest combined scoring game in Streator history behind only a 69-28 loss to Herscher in 2017.

The 42 points scored by the Bulldogs were the most points Streator has scored in a loss in program history.

— Brian Hoxsey

FCW making things interesting

Saturday afternoon’s overtime thriller – a 44-38 win for Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland over visiting Martinsville – suddenly gives more weight and drama to the Falcons’ remaining schedule.

At 2-4 on the season, FCW with a win Friday at Woodland’s Wood Shed could be knocking on the door of a playoff berth. Last season, three 4-5 teams – West Prairie, Bushnell Prairie City and Kirkland Hiawatha – made the Illinois 8-Man Football Association’s 16-team playoffs.

The road is not easy, however. Remaining on the schedule are Blue Ridge (3-3), defending I8FA champion Polo (4-2) and Cambridge/AlWood (5-1).

— J.T. Pedelty

Clear road to postseason for Marquette

Technically, the Marquette Crusaders still need the sixth win that will automatically get them a playoff berth, but based on recent games, it should come this week on the road against Walther Christian in Melrose Park.

The Broncos are 0-6 and have been outscored 285-36, including 114-13 against the only two teams they’ve faced with winning records (5-1 Bridgeport Red Hill, 6-0 Hope Academy).

Together, the teams remaining on MA’s independent schedule are 2-16 and have lost by an average score of 42.5-13.2 so far this season.

— Charlie Ellerbrock

Seneca in, now eyeing home game

Week 6′s forfeit victory for the Seneca Fighting Irish wasn’t how they wanted to lock up a playoff bid, but Watseka’s decision not to play because of a lack of players and Seneca being unable to find a replacement ultimately locked the Irish into the postseason.

Now, down the stretch, the unbeaten Irish will shift their focus to earning a good seed and locking up a home playoff game in Week 10. The remainder of the regular season consists of an Oct. 7 visit from Momence (2-4), a showdown Oct. 14 at Clifton Central (5-1) and the regular-season finale Oct. 21 at home against Dwight (1-5).

— J.T. Pedelty

The Seneca Fighting Irish offense (in white) lines up for a snap during one of five touchdown drives against Iroquois West on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, in Gilman.