Jacobson: Kaneland became the first local football team to clinch a playoff spot with its sixth victory last week. Playing a strong schedule in the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference, Sycamore (4-2) likely needs only one more win to assure itself of another postseason berth. After consecutive losses to Ottawa and Morris, is this the week the Spartans finally break through for their fifth win?
Nitz: This is an interesting contest between two teams I think are evenly matched. I watched Rochelle get blown out by Kaneland two weeks ago, but who haven’t the Knights beaten easily of late? The main concern with Sycamore is the Spartans’ ability to score points right now. They’ve scored six the past two weeks combined. The Hubs’ Wing-T attack can put points on the board. But in the past two weeks, Rochelle has shown it can give up points rather easily.
What’s the key for Sycamore if the Spartans finally are going to get back into the win column?
Jacobson: Sycamore has been able to stay in games because of its defense. The Spartans created five turnovers against Morris, but failed to capitalize on good field position.
But I think the big key for the Spartans is keeping quarterback Devin Mottet (or Nick Feuerbach) on his feet and away from pressure. Morris got a lot of pressure on Mottet early on and forced the junior to make throws under duress. That resulted in his first three interceptions of the season after not throwing any in the first five games.
Even if Sycamore loses against Rochelle, do you think they still make the playoffs?
Nitz: Yes, I think the Spartans are going to be in because I believe they should get a victory over Yorkville in Week 9. Sycamore should have enough playoff points to get in at 5-4. Of course, that means the Spartans would be forced to play on the road against one of the top teams in Class 5A, such as Kaneland, Marian Central or Montini.
A loss to Rochelle, with an extremely tough game at Kaneland next week, would mean Sycamore’s chances of hosting a first-round playoff game are in real danger.