MORRIS (2-4, 0-2 NORTHERN ILLINOIS BIG 12 EAST) AT DEKALB (3-3, 0-2 NI BIG 12 EAST)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. today
Last meeting: Morris 56, DeKalb 27 in Week 7 of 2012 season
Scouting the Redskins: The last time Morris was 2-4 was 2009. When the Redskins fell to that record, they then reeled off three consecutive wins to make the playoffs.
The Redskins bank on their run game to have success, but recently, otherwise solid performances have been hurt by turnovers. They rushed for 268 yards in last week's 43-21 loss to Sycamore, but three turnovers prevented them from seriously challenging the Spartans.
What's at stake: DeKalb is trying to strengthen its playoff hopes, and Morris is simply trying to keep its playoff hopes alive. DeKalb still has to play 4-2 Yorkville and 5-1 Rochelle after this game, so a loss and a 3-4 record would put its hopes of making it past the regular season in jeopardy. A home contest against a 2-4 team is one the Barbs cannot afford to lose.
SYCAMORE (6-0, 2-0 NI Big 12 East) at ROCHELLE (5-1, 1-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. today
Last meeting: Sycamore 26, Rochelle 14 in Week 7 of 2012 season
Location: Rochelle Township High School, 1401 Flagg Rd. Rochelle, IL
Scouting the Hubs: Rochelle likes to run and run some more. Evan White and Marquez Felix lead the Hubs' potent rushing attack, which has led them to a 5-1 start. Kaneland successfully bottled up the Rochelle running game, allowing just 95 yards on 34 carries in the process of handing the Hubs their only loss of the season two weeks ago. Rochelle's 16-point win over Yorkville was the closest by far of their five wins.
What's at stake: If Sycamore wants to show they're the team to beat in the NI Big 12 East, they'll have to win Friday and win big. Kaneland asserted their dominance by beating the previously unbeaten Hubs by 29 points. A one- or two-touchdown win will show that the Spartans are a team to be reckoned with, but it wouldn't necessarily make them the favorite for their matchup with Kaneland next week.
Genoa-Kingston (3-3, 3-0 Big Northern East) at North Boone (3-3, 2-1 BNC East)
Game time: 7 p.m. today
Location: North Boone High School, 17823 Poplar Grove Rd., Poplar Grove, IL 61065
Last meeting: North Boone 21, Genoa-Kingston 14 in Week 7 of 2012 season
Scouting the Vikings: North Boone, who won the BNC East last season, suffered its lone conference defeat last week against unbeaten Harvard.
Quarterback Nathan Bodley is a huge part of the Vikings' offense. North Boone isn't afraid to throw the ball, as Bodley attempted 25 passes last week. He's also a big part of the Vikings running game, as he's had 18 carries in each of the past two games.
What's at stake: G-K can move one step closer to both a playoff berth and a conference title. With a win over North Boone, the Cogs wouldn't be in a must-win situation against unbeaten Harvard next week.
Yorkville (4-2, 1-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) at Kaneland (6-0, 2-0 NI Big 12 East)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. today
Last meeting: Kaneland 55, Yorkville 0 in Week 7 of 2012 season
Scouting the Foxes: Yorkville starts a string of three consecutive games against area teams when it travels to Maple Park.
The Foxes' four wins come against teams with a combined 6-18 record so there will be a big step up in competition down the stretch.
Running back Henry Imburgia is the main threat on the ground. He scored both touchdowns in an upset win over Morris.
Yorkville struggled offensively in a loss to Rochelle last week, failing to record a first down in the first half.
What's at stake: Kaneland moved up to No. 2 in the Associated Press Class 5A Poll this week and will seek to stay right there with another victory. The Knights' regular-season and conference winning streaks will also be on the line.
A victory, coupled with a Sycamore win at Rochelle, would set up a Week 8 matchup of undefeated teams at Sycamore.
Hiawatha (3-3 Northeastern Athletic Conference) at Alden-Hebron (4-2 NAC)
Game time: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Last Meeting: Alden-Hebron 44, Hiawatha 19 in Week 7 of the 2012 season
Scouting the Giants: A variety of formations present Giants dual-threat quarterback Colten Cashmore with plenty of options to make a play. The Hawks are prepared to match up against everything from four-wide receiver sets to loaded backfield looks with three running backs.
What's at stake: When a team hasn't qualified for the playoffs since 1987, every week takes on a must-win tone. If the Hawks' lofty goals and the promise of a 3-1 start are to be realized, this week is the biggest game of the season.
"This week is a must-win situation," Hiawatha coach Sean Donnelly said. "We've overcome so much adversity all year."
Last week the Hawks found out the importance of quarterback Mike Mercado. When the senior captain injured his non-throwing shoulder and was forced to miss a few series, everything changed.
"Emotionally we were shot when Mike went down," Donnelly said. "We had to shake things up this week to make practice fun. You could see the entire demeanor if the team change when they saw Mike was hurt."
Mercado is expected to make a complete return to the Hawks lineup this week. Hiawatha needs a big game from Mercado and running back Nick Doolittle. Receiver Alex Flores is back in the lineup as well as Hiawatha will look to play to their strengths and put playmakers in positions to be successful.