St. Charles East coach Ted Monken is never one to shy away from a shootout.
Then again, that should come as no surprise when he's got a gunslinger like senior running back Wes Allen, who ran for six touchdowns each of the past two weeks.
Despite those heroics, the Saints could only earn a spit in those two games, beating Lake Park 42-41 in double overtime in Week 5 before dropping a 49-42, four-overtime affair against Neuqua Valley last week.
Could East be in for another wild affair this week?
Actually, don't be surprised if the Saints need to top the 40-point mark to win again as they welcome a South Elgin team that's shown major strides in recent weeks. But needing to put up big numbers every week isn't something that surprises Monken.
"Offenses score points these days," Monken said. "You go up and down the state and the best teams are scoring bunches and bunches of them. They find a way to get in the end zone and get in there often. That's what it's going to take to win ballgames these days."
East led 21-7 at halftime of last week's game, but failed to score in the second half as the Wildcats rallied to tie the score late in the fourth quarter. That the Saints couldn't protect their lead in regulation or come up with a key stop didn't bother Monken as much as the fact they didn't score in the final two quarters.
"We really just didn't get the job done in the second half offensively," Monken said. "If we could have found a way to muster up just one touchdown somewhere along the way in that second half, we'd have won the game. As much as people want to pin the loss on the defense for giving up a bunch of points, the defense did okay. We just didn't get the job done in the second half. The bottom line is you have to learn from it, find what your mistakes were and find a way to keep from repeating those."
East followed a trend set by several area teams by rolling out a new look at quarterback last week. Senior Danny White started under center, relieving senior Tim Russell, who started the first five games. The speedy White threw for 60 yards and can expect to see more time as the signal caller in the coming weeks.
"There were some things we wanted to do with Danny that we felt would give us a better shot last week," Monken said. "We actually didn't even use him as much as we could have or should have. We're going to continue having both of those guys as our quarterback and using whichever one fits our needs the best."
There's no such quarterback question at South Elgin, where senior Pat Rae has thrown for over 300 yards in two of the past three games. He benefits from a host of talented receivers who could present major challenges for an East defense that surrendered seven passing touchdowns last week against Neuqua.
While there should be plenty of offensive fireworks between the Saints and Storm at Norris Stadium, I expect the most entertaining game to take place out in Genoa when Oregon comes in to play Genoa-Kingston in a battle of unbeatens. These are two of the best teams in North-Central Illinois, and the winner gets a major boost in the three-team race for the Big Northern Conference West Division title race that also includes unbeaten Stillman Valley.
All three of those teams play each other in the final three weeks of the season, setting up what amounts to a round-robin tournament for the league crown. As for tonight, G-K edged Oregon 46-44 last year, and I'd be surprised if these two powerful offenses don't engage in a similar shootout this time around.
Bartlett and Huntley also have key games as they eye their respective conference titles. The Hawks can clinch at least a share of the Upstate Eight Conference crown if they win at Neuqua Valley, which is no small task. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders look to stay perfect in the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division when they face their toughest challenge to date against Crystal Lake Central.
Hampshire can maintain its leg up in the BNC East with a win against North Boone. The Whip-Purs have resurrected their season with three straight wins and can ill-afford a letdown here.
St. Charles North and Larkin also collide in a key Upstate Eight Conference match up that holds major playoff implications for both teams. The North Stars come in a little banged up and could be ripe for an upset if they don't take Larkin's workman-like style seriously.
If you've made it this far in this week's entry, that means you can't get enough of high school football, so check out our webcast Courier Prep Football Weekly for even more analysis.
I'll be back in the wee hours Saturday morning to offer my first impressions on all of this week's action. Until then, enjoy the games.