No. 23 DeKalb (6-3) at No. 10 Moline (8-1)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: The Barbs won a 2017 matchup between the teams, 49-21, in Moline.
About the Barbs: The ground attack exploded last week in the second half of a 28-3 win against Waubonsie Valley. Jamari Brown got things started with a long scoring run, then Talen Tate – who finished with 180 yards – broke off a 56-yard scoring run. Receiver Ethan McCarter also scored on a jet sweep. The win was a week after a 14-0 victory against Neuqua Valley, just the Wildcats’ second loss of the year and the third shutout for the Barbs. DeKalb hasn’t allowed a touchdown since Week 7, a 26-0 loss to Naperville Central.
“We’re feeling good and playing well, and that’s good to see,” coach Derek Schneeman said. “They’re a good team, run the Wing-T. That’s something different than we’ve seen most of the year. We haven’t seen it since Week 1 [against Sycamore] so it provides a different challenge. But I think our guys are up to it.”
About the Maroons: The offense centers around Riley Fuller, who rushes behind an experienced line. He ran for almost 1,200 this year, including 291 against Geneseo, a 42-13 win, in the season finale. They put up at least 33 points in every Western Big 6 game this year. Their lone loss was 24-21 at Benet Academy.
Friday Night Drive pick: DeKalb
No. 10 Riverside-Brookfield (6-3) at No. 7 Kaneland (6-3)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: The teams last met as Suburban Prairie White foes in 2002, with the Knights winning 24-22 before the conference realigned based on geography.
About the Knights: Aric Johnson, Troyer Carlson and the Kaneland passing game kept doing the things it’s done all year, with Carlson finding Johnson twice in the second half for scores. Ty Bradshaw also broke off a 60-yard scoring in the first half of a 28-7 win for the Knights against La Salle-Peru. Chris Ruhaj added a rushing TD out of the Knights’ balanced ground game.
“Now that we’ve qualified and the playoffs are officially here, we feel good rolling in here with three win in a row,” Kaneland coach Pat Ryan said. “We catch up well with ut opponent. It should be a good competitive game. We’re feeling pretty good.”
About the Bulldogs: It’s been feast or famine this year for the Bulldog defense. They’ve given up seven or fewer points in five games, and 28 or more points in the other four. Offensively has been a similar, if not quite as severe story. They are 0-3 in games in which they’ve scored 21 or less points and are undefeated in games in which they’ve scored more than 28.
“They’re pretty similar to us. They run a spread offense and have played some pretty good teams,” Ryan said. “I think they’re battle-tested like we are. They’re really athletic in the secondary so they match up well with our skill guys.”
Friday Night Drive pick: Kaneland
No. 16 Westinghouse (5-4) at No. 1 Sycamore (9-0)
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Last matchup: In 2014, the Spartans made the trip to Chicago for a first-round matchup and won against the Warriors 55-0.
About the Spartans: They wrapped the season with an emphatic 28-0 win against Morris to close the regular season and claim the Kishwaukee River/Intestate 8 White title. Kiefer Tarnoki, Joey Puleo and Kaden Ladas all recovered turnovers for the Spartans. The offense scored on its first three possessions, aided by two of those turnovers. Zack Crawford, Tyler Curtis and Dawson Alexander had rushing touchdowns for the Spartans.
“Anytime your playing in the second season you should feel real good,” Sycamore coach Joe Ryan said. “We still have a lot of work to be done but we feel good about where we’re at right now. There’s a lot of good teams out there left.”
About the Warriors: They’re back in the playoffs for the first time since 2017 behind a 46-0 win over Brooks. Quarterback Askia Bullie was 15 of 21 for 251 yards and five touchdowns in the win. DeWayne Brooks had a pair of touchdown catches.
“They have a lot of team speed and athleticism on the offensive and defensive lines,” Ryan said. “We’re going to have to be good with technique and footwork because of their quickness up front.”
Friday Night Drive pick: Sycamore
No. 9 Elmwood-Brimfield (6-3) at No. 8 Genoa-Kingston (7-2)
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last matchup: First meeting since at least 1995.
About the Cogs: The Cogs picked up their biggest win of the year, 32-28 against a previously unbeaten Stillman Valley team. Traven Atterberry had a big, late score for the Cogs to continue his strong play in the back half of the season. He finished with 15 carries for 122 yards in the win. The team has been pushing a bend but don’t break defensive mindset all year, and that was on display when the Cardinals marched down toward the red zone with a chance to win, but the Cogs got a stop when they needed to hold on for the win.
About the Trojans: They won their final two games to secure a playoff berth, and did so in convincing fashion – 40-0 over Lewistown and 58-12 over Havana. They are 1-3 against playoff teams this year, with the lone win 20-6 against Industry in Week 3.
Friday Night Drive pick: Genoa-Kingston
No. 11 Hiawatha (6-3) vs. No. 6 Polo (7-2)
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: The Marcos handed the Hawks their first loss of the year, beating them 44-32 in Week 5
About the Hawks: Their 56-28 win in Week 9 at Alden-Hebron continued a familiar pattern for the Hawks – over 55 points scored in wins, less in losses. Coach Nick Doolittle said that when his team starts fast it’s at its best, and that was not the case at Polo last time, with the Hawks falling down three scores early.
“The biggest thing for us is coming out and having success in the first half, especially defensively and limit damage as much as possible to take over in the second half,” Doolittle said. “We’ve been a second-half team all year. As long as we give our kids the opportunity to win the game in eh second half we’ll be successful.”
About the Macros: The Marcos have started fast the last two games, scoring 56 points in the first quarter against Flanagan-Cornell/Woodland in Week 8, and 46 in a win over Aquin on Friday night. … Polo’s 418 points scored and 164 points allowed are both the top marks in the two I8FA North Divisions. … Brock Soltow has 144 rushes for 1,656 yards and 26 TDs, while Avery Grenoble has 107 carries for 897 yards and 13 TDs. Both went over 1,400 yards last season to lead the Marcos to their second straight I8FA state title.
Friday Night Drive pick: Polo
Source: The Daily Chronicle