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Genoa-Kingston (1-2, 1-0 Big Northern East) at Rockford Christian (0-3, 0-1 BNC East)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday
Location: Rockford Christian High School, 1401 N. Bell School Road, Rockford
Last meeting: Genoa-Kingston 37, Rockford Christian 7, in Week 4 of 2012 season
Scouting the Royal Lions: It wasn’t too long ago when Rockford Christian dominated the Northeastern Athletic Conference and was a fixture in the playoffs. However, the Royal Lions went just 1-8 in their first season in the Big Northern East last year, and have struggled out of the gate in 2013.
Rockford Christian has given up 129 points this season, the most in the BNC East, and was shut out, 54-0, at Burlington Central last week.
What’s at stake: Considering what lies ahead for G-K and how Rockford Christian has struggled, this is a game the Cogs must have. A win here would give G-K a 2-0 conference mark and put the Cogs in the driver’s seat in the BNC East. If G-K limits its turnovers like it did last week, the Cogs should have a relatively easy time with Rockford Christian.
– Steve Nitz, firstname.lastname@example.org
Geneseo (3-0) at Sycamore (3-0, 1-0 Northern Illinois Big 12)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Last meeting: Sycamore 34, Geneseo 31, in week 4 of 2012 season
Scouting the Maple Leafs: Geneseo is off to a hot start, winning its first three games by an average of more than 30 points, and now are ranked No. 3 in Class 4A. The Maple Leafs are led by running backs Rayce Singbush and Ryan Webster, who are dangerous in both the ground game and the passing attack. On the other side of the ball, the defense has forced at least three turnovers in each game so far.
What’s at stake: It’s a battle of unbeatens, potentially the first of a couple down the road for Sycamore. Geneseo has returned many weapons from the team that narrowly lost to the Spartans a year ago, but now the home-field advantage shifts into Sycamore’s favor. It will be a stern test for the explosive Spartans offense to break down a team that’s given up only 26 points so far this season.
– Luke Srodulski, email@example.com
Ottawa (1-2, 1-0 NI Big 12 West) at DeKalb (1-2, 0-1 NI Big 12 East)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Scouting the Pirates: The Pirates are a different team this year after the graduation of running back Michael Hermosillo, who committed to Illinois before deciding to pursue a pro baseball career. Quarterback Carter Krause passed for 140 yards on 11-of-16 attempts in last week’s win over Streator, most of which came during the first half. He’ll play a key role in an offense that spreads its carries between a few different running backs. The Pirates were shut out two weeks ago against a talented Marmion team, so putting up 29 points against Streator surely was a confidence boost.
What’s at stake: With tough games against Morris and Kaneland left on its schedule, DeKalb has to win four of six to make the playoffs, so tonight’s game is virtually a must-win. After coming within one point of moving to 2-0 two weeks ago, falling to 1-3 would be disheartening. A win would put the Barbs right back at .500 and their fate would be in their own hands.
– Anthony Zilis, firstname.lastname@example.org
Streator (0-3, 0-1 NI Big 12 West) at Kaneland (3-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Last meeting: Kaneland 41, Streator 0, in Week 4 of 2012 season
Scouting the Bulldogs: Recent history hasn’t been kind to Streator, which lost its first eight games of the 2012 season before defeating Dixon, 34-14, on the road in the final week. The Bulldogs were hammered by DeKalb and Kaneland in their two NI Big 12 crossover games in 2012 and the streak likely will continue in 2013.
Streator has lost its first three games this season, but held it close against Ottawa in Week 3 and East Peoria in Week 1. However, those teams don’t have near the offensive capabilities of Kaneland.
What’s at stake: Kaneland will look to keep its regular-season winning streak in tact and possibly move up from No. 3 in the AP Class 5A poll if Montini or Joliet Catholic were to stumble. Most likely this game will give Kaneland’s backups some extra reps and experience for the future.
– Ross Jacobson, email@example.com
Hiawatha (2-1, 2-1 Northeastern Athletic Conference) at Westminster Christian (0-3, 0-3 NAC)
Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday
Location: 2700 W. Highland Ave, Elgin
Last meeting: First meeting
Scouting the Warriors: In its first varsity season, Westminster has struggled to score when the outcome of the game is in the balance. The Warriors have taken their lumps, but late in the fourth quarter of their first two games they have managed to score a combined 43 points.
Quarterback Max Tucker leads a pass-happy offense that looks to spread the field. Running back/defensive back DeShawn Bloom has an interception return for a touchdown and is a top target for Tucker.
What’s at stake: The confidence Hiawatha established with consecutive resounding wins and a healthy, full roster is pointed toward the playoffs. The Hawks’ offensive and defensive lines should be talented enough to avoid an upset at the hands of a first-year program.
Mike Mercado continues to make solid decisions at quarterback, and last week’s return of Allen Letterer to the lineup provided Hiawatha with another playmaker. However, a 2-1 record offers no guarantee of a playoff berth.
“We have no reason to take any game lightly,” Hiawatha coach Sean Donnelly said. “We started out 2-1 last year and finished 3-6. We are in a good position, but we aren’t going to take anyone lightly.”
– James Nokes, firstname.lastname@example.org