An in-depth look at week 9's area contests in the BNC, FVC and SCC. The capsule for the Dundee-Crown vs. Jacobs rivalry game will be featured in a separate post.
Hampshire (5-3) at Marengo (1-7) 7 Friday
Last Year: Hampshire 28, Marengo 7
Last Week: Hampshire 21, Central 0; Richmond-Burton 49, Marengo 7
Scouting Hampshire: Unlike last year, the Whip-Purs don't have to worry about missing out on a playoff spot with a 5-4 record. That's because Hampshire already clinched its spot as the Big Northern Conference East Division postseason representative. It can clinch the league title outright Friday. The Whips are also in search of their sixth straight win. Offensively, senior Joe Moore leads Hampshire's ground attack with 611 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Senior quarterback Evan Brenner has 737 passing yards, nine touchdowns passes and no interceptions. His top target is senior Bo Price. Senior James Goebbert has a team-best 29 tackles and headlines a defensive unit that allows 196.6 yards per game.
Scouting Marengo: With a Week 2 win against Knoxville, the Indians snapped a 29-game losing streak that dated to the 2004 season. However, they haven't been able to find much success since and sport a 1-34 record dating to the start of the 2005 campaign. Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh said his team needs to account for Marengo quarterback Scott Donley, who has run for 801 yards and eight touchdowns and also thrown for 127 yards and a pair of scores. The Indians have struggled mightily on defense. They are allowing an average of 43 points per game and have surrendered 50 or more points three times this year. This is only the second meeting between Marengo and Hampshire since 1996. The Whips won both those meetings by a combined score of 70-14.
Erik Jacobsen's Pick: Hampshire
"Like we've talked about since the first week, we want to use this as a chance to get better. Definitely we'd like to win the conference title outright, but we're just focusing on doing what we do."
-- Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh
Harvard (4-4) at Burlington Central (2-6) 7 Friday
Last Year: Harvard 26, Central 0
Last Week: Harvard 19, North Boone 7; Hampshire 21, Central 0
Scouting Harvard: A streak of four straight playoff appearances is on the line for the Hornets tonight, who must win to become playoff eligible. Harvard reached the state quarterfinals the past two seasons. The Hornets are allowing 15.1 points per game this year and use a heavy blitz package on defense that could keep Central's passing attack in check. Harvard's split-back ground attack is led by Dustin Binz, who has run for 650 yards and five touchdowns this year. Vince Gabrys (76 carries for 437 yards) and Phillip Towne (399 rushing yards, 10 touchdowns) also help headline the attack.
Scouting Central: Despite being out of the playoff mix for only the second time in nine years, the Rockets have a chance to play spoiler this week as they try to beat Harvard for the ninth time in 10 years. Central had an eight-game win streak against the Hornets snapped last year. The Rockets were shut out for the first time this season in last week's loss. They managed only 124 total yards and 1.3 yards per rushing attempt in that contest. Junior quarterback Tim Botsford and junior receiver Kevin Kellish continue to develop a notable passing attack. Sophomore Tim Maroder leads the team on the ground with 335 rushing yards.
Erik Jacobsen's Pick: Harvard
"We basically have three things we are playing for. One, this is the last time this team and the way it is assembled this year will have a chance to suit up and play together. Two, the seniors get to go out with a win if things go the right way and the younger guys get to start a winning streak if things go our way. Third is the spoiler role as we try to keep Harvard out of the playoffs."
-- Central coach Aaron Wichman
Genoa-Kingston (6-2) at Byron (3-5) 7 Friday
Last Year: Byron 24, G-K 14
Last Week: Stillman Valley 36, G-K 28 (OT); Byron 34, Winnebago 32
Scouting G-K: Back-to-back losses against unbeaten foes knocked the Cogs out of the Big Northern Conference West Division title race. Now they'll try to get back on track by picking up win No. 7, which could help lead to a home playoff game next week. Quarterback Chris Wilkins passed for four touchdowns and was G-K's leading rusher in last week's loss, but he also threw three costly interceptions. The Cogs had five turnovers in that contest. G-K's defense surrendered 445 yards while allowing a season-high 36 points last week. Offensively, the Cogs are averaging 377.6 yards per game for the season. Senior lineman Joey McClaire could return from an injury for this week's game.
Scouting Byron: Despite winning back-to-back games, the Tigers will miss out on the playoffs for the second consecutive year for the first time since failing to reach the postseason during the 1991 and 1992 seasons. Kyle Smith is Byron's top offensive playmaker. He ran for three touchdowns in last week's win. Receiver Brady Scheffler also had two touchdown receptions in that contest. The Tigers have struggled defensively this season, allowing 28.5 points per game. Byron has won 10 in a row against G-K dating to the 1992 season.
Erik Jacobsen's Pick: G-K
"We're focused on trying to take care of the ball a little better this week."
-- G-K coach Bill McCarty
Huntley (8-0) at Johnsburg (3-5) 7:45 Friday
Last Year: Johnsburg 24, Huntley 21
Last Week: Huntley 31, Prairie Ridge 28 (OT); Crystal Lake Central 34, Johnsburg 13
Scouting Huntley: One week after accomplishing the best start in school history with a thrilling overtime win, the Red Raiders will try to put the finishing touches on a perfect regular season and claim their first-ever outright Fox Valley Conference Fox Division title in the process. Huntley is getting the job done with a punishing ground attack that is averaging 7.6 yards per carry and 355.5 rushing yards per game. Senior Jordan Neukirch leads the attack. He is second in the area with 1,230 rushing yards. Junior Brett Kleckner carried the heaviest load last week, running for 122 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries. Prairie Ridge's 28 points were the most scored against the Raiders this year, but Huntley did shut out the Wolves for the final 22:44 while rallying from a 28-7 deficit.
Scouting Johnsburg: A prolific passing attack wasn't enough to lift the Skyhawks to their sixth playoff appearance in seven years this season. Senior quarterback Jerad Grundy leads the Fox Valley Conference with 1,768 passing yards and 18 passing touchdowns. His top target is C.J. Fiedorowicz, who leads the FVC with 46 receptions for 733 yards and 10 touchdowns. Johnsburg allowed 350 total yards in last week's loss. The Skyhawks have won three in a row against Huntley dating to 2002 when both Johnsburg and Huntley were members of the Big Northern Conference.
Erik Jacobsen's Pick: Huntley
"I really doubt we'll have a letdown because we are looking forward to the opportunity to have an undefeated season. Whether you get knocked out in the first or third round of the playoffs, a lot of people don't remember that. But to have an undefeated season really leaves a distinctive and unique mark, especially at this school."
-- Huntley coach Steve Graves
St. Edward (3-5) at Marmion (3-5) 7:30 Friday
Last Year: Marmion 24, St. Edward 14
Last Week: Montini 33, St. Edward 27; Marmion 40, Aurora Central Catholic 14
Scouting St. Edward: A six-point loss against state powerhouse Montini last week was a sign of just how far the Green Wave has come in four seasons under coach Mike Rolando. With playoff aspirations virtually gone, St. Edward's hard-working senior class will try to finish off the campaign by beating Marmion for the first time in four meetings dating to the 2003 season. Seniors Jimmy Mathisen and Moises Quiroga are the Wave's top offensive playmakers. Mathisen ran for 167 yards and a pair of touchdowns last week. Senior Josh Scholly leads the defense with 79 tackles. Rolando said senior Joe Juns and junior Rich Budish could both return to the offensive line after missing last week's game.
Scouting Marmion: Like St. Edward, the Cadets have only one win in Suburban Catholic Conference play, and like the Wave that triumph came against Aurora Central Catholic. Despite starting the year with wins against South Elgin and Kaneland, Marmion won't be returning to the postseason for a second straight year. Quarterback Ricky Bird completed 8 of 11 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns in last week's win. Sean Fichtel is among several key playmakers who had leading roles in helping Marmion rack up 400 yards in that contest. Expect a shootout as the Cadets are averaging 26.3 points but allowing 25.1 points for the year.
Erik Jacobsen's Pick: Marmion
"A lot of these kids I've been coaching for six years, and I don't think there's a quitting bone in their bodies. They are going to come out and fight hard. They know this is the end of the long road with me as their coach and playing with each other after coming up to the varsity team as 14-year-olds. They've accomplished a lot of great things, and they do want to go out with a win."
-- St. Edward coach Mike Rolando