[Steven Buyansky for Shaw Media]
Morris at Kaneland Knights
Kickoff: 7:15 p.m. Friday
Last week: The Knights (5-2 overall, 2-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) lost to Yorkville, 45-28. Morris (3-4, 0-3) fell to Sycamore, 17-7.
Last year: Kaneland handed Morris its first regular-season loss, 20-14, at Morris.
Who to watch: Chatten Dryfhout will look to get back on track for Morris after Sycamore held him to 49 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown last week. ... Joe Smith, who threw for two scores and 169 yards for Kaneland last week despite also throwing two interceptions. He has 996 passing yards this season.
Coach Pat Ryan’s comments: “I feel a lot of positivity with our kids. They know what we need to do to get better and get a win this week. We’ve had a couple good practices.”
The lowdown: Last year, the Knights’ win over Morris ended its perfect run, and resulted in a three-way tie for the NIB 12 East title. This year, Morris can return the favor with a win over the Knights – Kaneland would end up finishing behind DeKalb or Yorkville the title.
But Ryan said the team has responded well since the loss.
Jonathan Alstott continues to carry the ball a ton for the Knights, but had a season-low 18 carries last week. He ran in two touchdowns and caught a third.
It was a roller coaster for a Kaneland team is defined by its defense. It led, 28-10, after trailing, 10-0. Yorkville scored five unanswered touchdowns to close the game.
The Knights have allowed no more than 20 points in its five wins, and no fewer than 42 in its two losses.
Ryan said that the pass-happy Yorkville attack did enough to come away with the win.
“We knew going in they had a really good offense,” Ryan said. “We thought they’d get some points. But we turned the ball over three times and that was 17 points. We had a couple big plays on key situations where we made some mistakes – one where the safety slipped, an interception called for a pass interference, that really changed the tide of the game. Their kid made a fantastic catch on a ball. I think nine times out of 10 Kyle Angelotti intercepts it, and this time, he just didn’t.”
Ryan said the Knights have to do a better job of rushing the passer.
While Morris doesn’t throw nearly as much as Yorkville and is a ground attack offense, he said the chances will still be there.”
“I think the strength of our defense is stopping the run, and that’s the strength of their offense,” Ryan said. “It can be a kind of defensive battle between our front seven and their guys up front. They play smashmouth football, and we have to make sure we stop that. Their passing game is effective when they do throw. ... When they do that we have to keep the pressure on, make them get rid of the ball in a hurry.”