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Week 9 Prep Football Preview Capsules

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Game time:
7 p.m. today

Last meeting: Marengo 40, Genoa-Kingston 17, in Week 8 of the 2011 season

Scouting the Indians: After beating Mendota in the season opener, Marengo has lost seven straight games. The Indians especially have struggled on offense, and been held to six points in three of their past four games. Last week, Rockford Christian held Marengo to 227 yards of total offense.

Keys to victory: With only two wins this season, all the Cogs are able to play for is pride, as they will miss the playoffs for the second straight season. Quarterback Griffin McNeal will be under center for G-K for the second straight week. The sophomore went 7 of 17 passing for 92 yards and had two interceptions in last week’s 36-7 loss at Harvard.

– Steve Nitz,


Game time: 7 p.m. today

Last meeting: Luther North 24, Hiawatha 0, in week 9 of the 2011 season

Scouting the Wildcats: Expect the grass in the middle of the Hiawatha football field to take a pounding. Luther North lines up all 11 players inside the numbers for its unique interpretation of the Wing-T offense. A big, physical offensive line protects quarterback Jacob Ortiz and allows him to carry out a series of fakes and feigns so defenders have to guess whether it is one of two tight ends, two wing backs or running back Felix Loja who has the football.

It’s a game that will be played within a phone booth as the Wildcats look to control time of possession and wear down their opponent.

“It’s not your typical Luther North team,” Hiawatha coach Sean Donnelly said. “Their run game looks more like Australian Rules football. They all bunch up within 10 yards of the football, the linemen are foot-to-foot with their splits. Every play looks like a scrum. But, then they pull a guard and do a little misdirection and hit a counter for a big play.”

Keys to victory: A win makes the Wildcats playoff eligible for the first time since 1989. On senior night, Hiawatha will need to play disciplined football – perhaps watch tape of the way Sycamore defends Rochelle – and continue its rebuilding project.

Spearheaded by 12 sophomores, Donnelly said the Hawks were in a similar situation five years ago. The outgoing senior class then closed its season with a victory. This senior class went on to snap a 20-year sub-.500 streak as freshmen.

“The table was set for our 5-4 season the year before when the season was closed with a win,” Donnelly said. “We’ve got to play for pride, there is a half, of a half, of a half percent chance we get into the playoffs with a win. But we’ve got to stay focused and know we’ve built a lot of good things this year.”

Hiawatha has to protect quarterback Mike Mercado, who had 237 passing yards, two rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown last week against an aggressive, blitzing 3-5 defense.

“Mike has adapted well and really enjoys the offense now,” Donnelly said. “He’s elusive, avoids sacks and can throw well on the run.”

– James Nokes,


Game time: 7:30 p.m. today

Last meeting: Rochelle 42, DeKalb 13, in Week 9 of the 2011 season

Directions: Head west on Route 38 for about 15 miles. Turn right on Caron Road and drive for about 0.5 miles before turning left onto Flagg Road. Drive for 1 mile before turning right into the school’s parking lot.

Scouting the Hubs: As always, Rochelle’s offensive strength is its running game, led by Tony Walsh and Marquez Felix. The Hubs have been erratic, losing to undefeated Morris by one touchdown but beating Yorkville, which is 3-5, by just a field goal. The team that knocked the Barbs out of the playoff picture last season has lost three out of their past four games.

Keys to victory: The Barbs have a real chance to win their third game of the season tonight after their dominant 47-0 win over Yorkville last week. The Barbs’ defense gained a big confidence boost by shutting out the Foxes last week after allowing 112 points in their previous two games. Stopping the Hubs running game will be important.

When the Barbs have been able to win the battles in the trenches, they’ve been competitive this season, and that might be enough to push them over the top this week.

– Anthony Zilis,


Game time: 7:30 p.m. today

Last meeting: Sycamore 42, Yorkville 14, in Week 9 of the 2011 season

Scouting the Foxes: After starting the season 3-1, Yorkville has lost four in a row since conference play began. In a 47-0 loss to DeKalb in Week 8, the Foxes were unable to contain the Barbs’ running attack.
Like many of Sycamore’s opponents this year, the Foxes feature an offense that emphasizes the run. Yorkville threw the ball more than usual last week, but a lot of that came after falling behind in the first half.

Keys to victory: DeKalb had a lot of success on the ground against Yorkville last week. Running back Dre Brown rushed for more than 100 yards in the first half. Expect Joe Ryan to stay with his workhorse in running back Austin Culton as the senior has 50-plus carries over the past two games.

If Sycamore can be successful in the run game, something it wasnt able to do against Kaneland, it will open up the passing game for quarterback Devin Mottet. When given time, Mottet is accurate, often times finding Ben Niemann down the field. The Spartans have been at their best when they get big plays, but those largely were absent against Kaneland.

– Ross Jacobson,

NO. 2 MORRIS (8-0, 4-0 NI BIG 12 EAST) vs. NO. 2 KANELAND (8-0, 4-0 NI BIG 12 EAST)

Game time: 7:30 p.m. today

Last meeting: Kaneland 31, Morris 28, in Week 9 of the 2011 season

Scouting the Redskins: The Redskins are another NI Big 12 team who will keep it on the ground and force the Knights to play disciplined. In Week 6, Morris had four players go for more than 50 yards rushing against Sycamore, a team that has consistent success defending the run this season.

With its running game, Morris typically eats up the clock, which will be a big key in keeping Kaneland’s offense off the field. Quarterback Zach Cinnamon doesn’t throw often, but the Redskins will go to the passing game on third-and-long situations. Sycamore picked off Cinnamon twice on nine pass attempts.

Keys to victory: An early lead with a couple of quick stops would be ideal for Kaneland. Much like the Knights did last year, making Morris play from behind will force the Redskins to take a couple more chances through the air.

Kaneland’s defense was stout against Sycamore in Week 8, and the front seven will have to come up big again, containing Morris’ run game to short yardage pickups.

Offensively, the Knights will have to keep a balanced offense. The return of quarterback Drew David should improve the passing attack and short, quick throws to the wideouts will keep Morris’ linebackers from focusing on running back Jesse Balluff.

– Ross Jacobson,

Week 9 Staff Picks

Marengo at Genoa-Kingston

Pick: Genoa-Kingston, 5-0

Luther North at Hiawatha

Pick: Luther North, 4-1

DeKalb at Rochelle

Pick: Rochelle, 3-2

Yorkville at Sycamore

Pick: Sycamore, 5-0

Morris at Kaneland

Pick: Kaneland, 5-0

Last week: 3-1

Season: 26-11

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