An in-depth look at week 9's Upstate Eight Conference games in the area.
Streamwood (1-7) at South Elgin (2-6) 7:30 Friday
Last Year: South Elgin 21, Streamwood 20
Last Week: Neuqua Valley 48, Streamwood 21; Waubonsie Valley 45, South Elgin 19
Scouting Streamwood: With a victory, the Sabres can reach the two-win mark in a single season for the first time since 2003, when they finished 4-5. Streamwood is 4-40 since the start of the 2004 campaign and is hoping to avoid its third straight 1-8 season. Its only win this year came against East Aurora, which beat South Elgin in Week 3. The Sabres were tied with Neuqua Valley 14-all after the first quarter of last week's contest before a series of injuries slowed their momentum. Junior running back Derrick King is the top offensive playmaker for Streamwood. He's run for 457 yards and scored seven touchdowns this season. The Sabres are dealing with several injuries at key positions going into tonight's game.
Scouting South Elgin: Benchmarks can be important for a young school, and the Storm can reach the three-win level for the second straight year with a victory. South Elgin beat Streamwood in thrilling fashion last year in the only previous meeting between the schools thanks to a 69-yard touchdown pass in the game's final minutes. This year's Storm squad notched wins against Elgin and Thornton Fractional North earlier this year. Senior receiver Josh Smith leads the area with 50 receptions for 859 yards and seven touchdowns. Senior quarterback Pat Rae has thrown for 1,540 yards. South Elgin's defense has allowed over 390 yards of offense in three straight games, all of which ended with losses.
Erik Jacobsen's Pick: South Elgin
"We'd like to finish off strong here and take that into the offseason. It's important that it's a district rival, so that should make it a good game. The kids realize that for a lot of them it's the last ballgame they're going to play, so there's going to be a lot of spirit and the guys from both schools will put up a pretty good effort."
-- South Elgin coach Dale Schabert
Lake Park (3-5) at Elgin (1-7) 7:30 Friday
Last Year: Lake Park 48, Elgin 41
Last Week: Lake Park 49, East Aurora 12; Larkin 15, Elgin 6
Scouting Lake Park: Judging the Lancers by their record isn't necessarily a good idea. Lake Park came within one possession of beating Conant, Naperville Central and St. Charles East and also beat Neuqua Valley earlier this year. The Lancers are led by a group of talented juniors in running back Chris Jasinski and quarterback Larry Nawrot and should be a force in the Upstate Eight Conference in 2009. With a win, Lake Park will end the season with a 4-5 record for the fourth time in five years. The Lancers own a five-game win streak against Elgin dating to the 2000 season.
Scouting Elgin: Not since 1981 have the Maroons finished with a 1-8 record, and they'd like to keep it that way by winning tonight. Elgin's defense is last in the area with 39.3 points per game allowed. However, it is coming off its two best defensive efforts of the season. The Maroons allowed only a combined 362 yards the past two weeks, but despite those two strong efforts are still allowing an average of 354.5 yards per game for the season. Offensively, senior quarterback Tom Roth is second in the area with 1,540 passing yards. His top receiver, senior Jamal Cook, missed last week's game for what the team called personal reasons, but coach Dave Bierman said he is expected to be in action tonight. His status for tonight's game was unclear at midweek. Despite the recent emergence of running back Deandre Forrest, Elgin continues to struggle with its ground attack, averaging only 3.2 yards per carry and 73.4 rushing yards per game. Junior Alan Walker is questionable with a leg injury.
Erik Jacobsen's Pick: Lake Park
"When I look at (Lake Park), as far as the teams we've played, I compare them a lot to Bartlett when it comes to what they run defensively and the size and the strength they have up front."
-- Elgin coach Dave Bierman
Larkin (4-4) at Waubonsie Valley (5-3) 7:30 Friday
Last Year: Waubonsie Valley 28, Larkin 0
Last Week: Larkin 15, Elgin 6; Waubonsie Valley 45, South Elgin 19
Scouting Larkin: A potential playoff spot is on the line for the Royals, who can become eligible for the postseason with a win. Larkin's only playoff appearance in the past five years came in the 2006 campaign. The Royals are coming off a hard-fought win against former coach Dave Bierman and crosstown rival Elgin last week. They managed only 218 yards of offense in that contest, but came away with the triumph thanks to a defense that created five turnovers and an offense that controlled possession in the second half. Junior running back Jalen Williams is emerging as the top offensive threat for a team that is averaging 6.3 points in its four losses compared to 19 points in its four wins.
Scouting Waubonsie Valley: Locking up a fourth trip to the playoffs in five years will be the foremost goal for the Warriors, who have won five in a row. They've beaten Larkin in four of the past five meetings between the schools. Waubonsie owns an 11-6 advantage in the all-time series with the Royals. Quarterback Tyler Castro leads an offensive attack that normally lines up in a spread formation whether it's out of the shotgun or under center. Despite their penchant for the pass, the Warriors won with an effective ground attack last week, racking up 260 yards on 52 carries. Waubonsie's defense is allowing 19.6 points per game for the season but hasn't surrendered more than 19 points in the past three games.
Erik Jacobsen's Pick: Waubonsie Valley
"We want to put our best product of the year on the field on (tonight). Waubonsie is really good. Just looking at their record doesn't do it because in general they are better than those numbers say."
-- Larkin coach Matt Gehrig
Bartlett (8-0) at East Aurora (2-6) 7:30 Friday
Last Year: Bartlett 55, East Aurora 6
Last Week: Bartlett 28, Thornton 14; Lake Park 49, East Aurora 12
Scouting Bartlett: Finishing the first unbeaten regular season in school history and wrapping up the first outright Upstate Eight Conference championship since 2003 top the to-do list for the Hawks tonight. Bartlett continued its dominant 2008 campaign by knocking off state-ranked Thornton last week. Ranked No. 4 in the Class 8A state poll, the Hawks will try to continue their mastery of East Aurora in their final tuneup before making their ninth straight playoff appearance next week. Bartlett has won five in a row against the Tomcats and owns a 5-1 lead in the all-time series. Senior quarterback Josh Hasenberg is third in the area with 1,430 passing yards. He can break his own school record for single-season passing yards by throwing for 164 yards tonight. Hasenberg's top targets are senior receivers Cory Brown and Alex VanNess. Bartlett's defense has been dominant against the run, allowing only 2.7 yards per carry and 66.9 rushing yards per game. Free safety Steve Seemann is nursing an injury after leading the Hawks with 11 tackles last week.
Scouting East Aurora: Regardless of tonight's outcome, the Tomcats will complete their most successful season since 2000, when they finished 5-4. East Aurora is 6-65 since that 2000 campaign. The Tomcats average only 11.8 points per game and are allowing 30.5 points this season. Quarterback James Jones threw for 57 yards last week and completed a touchdown pass to Jacob Arreola. Michael Turner is another offensive threat for the Tomcats, who notched wins against Thornwood and South Elgin earlier this year.
Erik Jacobsen's Pick: Bartlett
"Watching the kids after wins, they haven't been really satisfied. You don't see a great deal of enthusiasm yet. I think it's going to have to come when the playoffs come around."
-- Bartlett coach Tom Meaney
St. Charles North (5-3) at Neuqua Valley (4-4) 7:30 Friday
Last Year: Neuqua Valley 45, North 0
Last Week: St. Charles East 21, North 0; Neuqua Valley 48, Streamwood 21
Scouting North: Moving past last week's tough loss against rival St. Charles East will be key for the North Stars, who can clinch a seventh straight trip to the playoffs with a victory. North was shut out in that contest for only the second time since 2004, with its other shutout loss in that span coming against this week's opponent Neuqua Valley last season. After being sidelined recently with an ankle injury, senior defensive back Mike Lefelstein could return to action this week. Senior receiver Jonathan DeMoss is questionable despite returning last week from an elbow injury he's been nursing since Week 5. Junior Jordan Huxtable is North's top ground threat. He's run for 851 yards this season.
Scouting Neuqua Valley: A repeat of last year's performance against North would suit the Wildcats just fine. Just like last year, Neuqua enters Week 9 of the season needing a win to become playoff eligible. The Wildcats have a six-year playoff streak on the line. A high-powered passing attack is keying Neuqua's success. Senior quarterback Alex Lincoln has thrown for 1,622 yards. His top targets are Josh Schaffer (31 receptions, 533 yards), Conner Yearian (24 receptions, 423 yards) and Michael Camire (34 receptions, 386 yards). Neuqua is scoring 31.3 points per game this season but giving up 27 points per game. North coach Mark Gould said his team must be ready for the blitzes and stunts it will see from the Wildcats' 3-5 defense.
Erik Jacobsen's Pick: Neuqua Valley
"Last year they took it to us and we can't let that happen again. They've got two real good receivers, maybe the best in the conference. The quarterback is a two-year starter, so he's very calm and collected back there. So offensively they are dangerous every time they touch the ball."
-- North coach Mark Gould
Thornridge (1-7) at St. Charles East (6-2) 7:30 Friday
Last Year: East 39, Thornridge 0
Last Week: Thornton Fractional South 45, Thornridge 16; East 21, St. Charles North 0
Scouting Thornridge: Second-year coach Jasper Strong will be trying to avoid his second straight 1-8 season when he leads the Falcons into Norris Stadium. Thornridge allowed 318 rushing yards in last week's loss, which might not bode well going up against a talented run attack like the one East employs. Quarterback Kendall Reid ran for 86 yards and a touchdown and passed for 65 yards and a score last week. The Falcons are only averaging 9.5 points on offense while surrendering 34.4 points per game defensively. Their only win of the year came in Week 7 against fellow SICA-East foe Thornwood, which also owns a 1-7 record.
Scouting East: Senior Wes Allen and the Saints rushing attack continued to pummel its competition last week. Allen, the area's leading rusher and scorer, racked up 239 yards on the ground and has now topped the 200-yard mark in five straight games. For the season East is averaging 6.6 yards per carry and 304.5 rushing yards per game. The Saints also notched their second shutout of the year least week and haven't allowed a touchdown in eight quarters dating to a Week 6 quadruple overtime loss to Neuqua Valley. Senior quarterback Tim Russell started last week as senior Danny White was sidelined with an ankle injury. Saints coach Ted Monken said White could return this week, but may be rested until the start of the playoffs next week.
Erik Jacobsen's Pick: East
"Thornridge is really struggling. They are 1-7, and I'm sure they'll come into the game with some kids trying to go out with a win and some kids will just be trying to end the year. You never know how they are going to approach it. We just want to make sure we prepare hard and make sure we play good football. We know that if you go into any game lighthearted, that's how you get guys hurt."
-- East coach Ted Monken