Nitz: Kaneland and Morris have had Week 9 marked down on their calenders since the season began. We finally are here, with the Knights, the second-ranked team in The Associated Press’ Class 6A poll, taking on the Redskins, the No. 2 team in 5A. The winner takes home the Northern Illinois Big 12 East title.
Ross, you’ve seen both teams play. What does Kaneland need to do to get a victory?
Jacobson: The Knights have looked unstoppable over the past few weeks. Everything has been clicking for Kaneland after a couple of close wins to open the season.
A lot of the focus will be on the return of quarterback Drew David from an arm injury, but I think it all starts with Kaneland’s defensive front seven. Morris’ running attack is well-balanced and the Knights will need to be physical up front. Against Sycamore, Kaneland held running back Austin Culton, the area’s leading rusher, to less than four yards a carry. A similar effort against Morris would be impressive.
Last year the Redskins fell behind, 24-0, and their second-half rally ended up just short in a 31-28 loss. What are the keys for Morris tonight?
Nitz: To me, the first key for the Redskins is trying to stay with Kaneland’s playmakers. I’m just not sure they can. We’ve seen guys such as running backs Jesse Balluff and Dylan Nauert dominate all season long. Zack Martinelli is a true No. 1 wideout. At the same time, Morris probably will feature the best defense the Knights have seen all year.
The main key for Morris? Score points, because I don’t see the Knights’ offense getting shut down.
Jacobson: We’ve stayed away from score predictions for most of the season, but it’s Week 9, so why not? The Drew David injury scares me a little bit, but he and Tyler Carlson still should be able to pick up yards on the ground. History will repeat itself as Kaneland wins, 38-28, to finish a third consecutive regular season undefeated.
Nitz: I’m going to go with Kaneland as well, 31-21. The Knights win their third consecutive Northern Illinois Big 12 East title, and will wait around Saturday to see which class they will compete in and who their opponent will be in the first round of the playoffs.