Geneva (1-2, 0-1 UEC River) at Larkin (2-1, 1-0 UEC River), 7:30 p.m. today (at Memorial Field)
Last week’s results: Geneva lost to Batavia, 49-20; Larkin beat Elgin, 46-28.
The skinny: A new-look Geneva defense that had showed promising signs early in the season took a step back last week, albeit against a highly skilled Batavia team. The Vikings’ defense, led by tackles co-leaders Joe Boenzi and Wyatt Shodeen (23 apiece), will try to regroup against Larkin, which is coming off a 46-point outburst in last week’s rivalry win against Elgin. The Royals have won two straight against winless competition in West Chicago and Elgin. Royals running back Damion Clemons had a big night against Elgin and will be the focal point for Geneva’s defense. The Vikings have played a much tougher schedule than Larkin, and hope that serves them well in what is a crucial game for Geneva’s playoff prospects.
Extra point: Look for Vikings coach Rob Wicinski to try and build off the strides Geneva made in its running game last week, as senior T.J. Miller turned in his sharpest performance of the season behind an offensive line that Wicinski said made “baby steps” despite the loss.
Elgin (0-3, 0-1 UEC River) at St. Charles North (1-2, 0-1 UEC River), 7:30 p.m. today
Last week’s results: Elgin lost to Larkin, 46-28; St. Charles North lost to St. Charles East in overtime, 28-21.
The skinny: Both of North’s losses have come in overtime, but the standings don’t care about the North Stars’ hard-luck stories. “We’re a couple plays away from being 3-0 but we have to face reality,” North coach Rob Pomazak said. “Reality is we’re 1-2. We feel we have a good football team but we have to go out and prove it.” Running back/linebacker Evan Kurtz (70 carries for 524 yards, seven touchdowns) is carrying a huge load offensively so Pomazak is heartened by the development of outside linebacker Jack Callaghan, allowing Kurtz to rest more on ‘D.’ The leading story at linebacker, though, continues to be senior Reece Conroyd, who is three tackles away from breaking the program’s career mark of 258 set by Jake Rigert (2002-04).
Extra point: Elgin has allowed 146 points through three weeks, the worst defensive results of any of the UEC River’s seven teams.
Batavia (2-1, 1-0 UEC River) at Streamwood (0-3, 0-0 UEC River), 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Last week’s results: Batavia beat, Geneva 49-20; Streamwood lost to Waubonsie Valley, 56-7.
The skinny: Batavia’s first three games – against Glenbard North, Richards and Geneva – exacted heavy physical and emotional tolls. “It’s been rough on us, starting out the season with games of such high caliber, playing the opponents we’ve played and then playing Geneva in such an important game for both programs,” Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. “They took a lot of energy and were really physical efforts.” Playing a struggling Streamwood team should allow Piron and Co. to be more liberal with their substitutions while still building off a dynamite performance against Geneva. The Bulldogs appeared to benefit from playing on Geneva’s turf field, and they’ll have another chance to strut their speed Saturday on another turf surface. Piron lauded the recent play of the Bulldogs’ offensive line, especially what he considers expectations-exceeding efforts from line newcomers Jack Breshears and Zachary Tate, both juniors.
Extra point: Streamwood has allowed 59 and 56 points in its two most recent outings under first-year coach Mark Orszula, who took over for the retired Cal Cummins.
Streator (0-3, 0-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 West) at Kaneland (3-0, 0-0 NI Big 12 East), 7:30 p.m. today
Last week’s results: Streator lost to Ottawa, 29-13; Kaneland beat Sterling, 48-7.
The skinny: Life without Jesse Balluff arrives for Kaneland after the Knights’ star running back suffered a worrisome knee injury last week against Sterling. Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly said MRI results were not known as of early Thursday afternoon but Balluff is certainly out tonight. One of the area’s elite running backs and a three-year varsity performer, Balluff is a major loss, but Fedderly remains optimistic about the Knights’ running game behind the team’s brawny offensive line. Fullback Nate Dyer likely will assume a larger load, while safety Isaac Swithers projects to see considerable time at tailback. “He was a load last year on the sophomore team,” Fedderly said of Swithers. “He’s a really good player.” Also reassuring, the Knights’ offense continued to click last week at Sterling after Balluff’s early injury. Tonight’s opponent is probably a good one in a week that has not be easy on the Knights’ psyche; Streator has struggled offensively, scoring a season-high 14 points in its opening, 22-14 loss against East Peoria.
Extra point: After the Knights’ second straight NI Big 12 crossover matchup, Kaneland will transition to divisional play the rest of the way, beginning with next week’s home game against Rochelle.
Marmion (3-0, 1-0 Suburban Christian Conference Blue) at Marian (3-0, 1-0), 7 p.m. today
Last week’s results: Marmion beat St. Edward, 27-10; Marian beat Guerin, 81-7.
The skinny: It’s not often that Marmion coach Dan Thorpe has prepared for an opponent that rolled up 81 points the week before, but Marian destroyed Guerin that thoroughly last week. “We haven’t even said the word ‘81,’ Thorpe said. “We’re just playing the Marian that we know and respect and admire, and we’re excited for the opportunity.” Marmion’s defensive line will be considerably out-bulked, but that’s partially by design. “The old days of big [defensive tackles] and all that, those days are gone right now in high school football,” Thorpe said. “One, you don’t have them, and two, with everyone running the spread offense, we noticed in playoff games, the teams that had success in the state championships have a lot of kids 175 to 205 [pounds] starting and playing defense, and we’ve gone that way. We’ve gone for speed versus bulk.” Thorpe said Joe Talbot, Jimmy Rogers and Nick Ferraro are some of his D-linemen who fit that mold.
Extra point: Standout Marmion running back Jordan Glasgow – who missed the first two games with his high ankle sprain – saw minimal duty against St. Ed, and his health remains a major question mark.
St. Francis (3-0, 1-0 SCC Blue) at Montini (3-0, 1-0 SCC Blue), 7:30 p.m. today
Last week’s results: St. Francis beat Chicago Christian, 49-0; Montini beat Wheaton Academy, 56-0.
The skinny: St. Francis coach Greg Purnell said the Spartans have moved the ball fairly well against Montini in recent years but haven’t cashed in enough at the end of drives. “This year, in a new offense, we really feel that we’re going to be able to move the ball and hopefully get in the end zone and not stall,” Purnell said. “Our new offense is coming along well. The kids are picking it up. We’ve been improving every week, but we’re going up against a very good football team, also.” Purnell is impressed with the size and physicality of Montini’s defense, and the Broncos have an elite quarterback in Alex Wills, who threw for five touchdowns in Montini’s impressive, Week 2 win at East St. Louis.
Extra point: Montini has won four straight 5A state titles, with its last playoff loss coming to St. Francis in 2008 when the Spartans won the 5A state crown.
Wheaton Academy (1-2, 0-1 SCC Gold) at Aurora Christian (3-0, 1-0 SCC Blue), 7 p.m. today
Last week’s results: Wheaton Academy lost to Montini, 56-0; Aurora Christian beat Walther Lutheram 59-7.
The skinny: As if interim Wheaton Academy coach Brad Thornton didn’t have a massive enough challenge at hand, Warriors starting QB Nathan Lopez is out with a bone contusion, meaning it will be up to sophomores David Thrasher and Steven Sellers to run the show against an Eagles defense that has allowed seven points, total, through three weeks. “[Injuries] are something that every single team deals with at some point or another,” Thornton said. “Unfortunately, it happened at this point to that guy, but you’ve got to go forward with what you have, and we’re excited about those two guys progressing.”
Extra point: Thornton and his staff are searching for fight from his players on each snap, something that he said occasionally was not the case during last week’s Montini bloodbath.
Chicago Christian (1-2, 0-1 SCC Gold) at Aurora Central Catholic (2-1, 0-1 SCC Gold), 7 p.m. today
Last week’s results: Chicago Christian lost to St. Francis, 49-0; ACC lost to IC Catholic Prep, 21-14.
The skinny: ACC’s offense will look to rediscover its form after a rocky outing last week that saw Chargers coach Brian Casey insert Matt Schaefer at quarterback in the fourth quarter, replacing Kyle Reilly. Running back Julian Rios continues to showcase his versatility, hauling in a 33-yard TD reception last week on one of the Chargers’ rare passing plays.
Extra point: Tonight marks ACC’s unofficial home opener considering the team’s only other home game so far – opening week against Oostburg (Wis.) – resulted in a forfeit win.
Harvard (3-0, 0-0 Big Northern Conference East) at Burlington Central (1-2, 1-0 BNC East), 7 p.m. today
Last week’s results: Harvard beat Byron, 35-0; Central beat Rockford Christian, 34-0.
The skinny: Senior Parth Patel has supplanted Casey Matthews at quarterback, a shuffle set in motion by various early-season injuries for the Rockets. Patel was sharp last week as BC bounced back from two poor performances to start the season with a comfortable win against Rockford Christian. In addition to Patel’s play, Central coach Rich Crabel said cornerback Jonathan Frederickson and Matthews at safety loomed large in Central’s improvement.
Extra point: Potential returns for two of Central’s key, injured players – running backs/defensive backs Trevor Davison and Adam Skirmont – remain uncertain, Crabel said.