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Daily Chronicle Week 7 Football Previews

DuPage Valley Conference

Naperville Central (4-2, 2-1) at DeKalb (4-2, 2-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: The Redhawks were 48-20 winners in Naperville last year.

About the Barbs: Defense and special teams came up big for the Barbs on Friday, with Ethan McCarter returning two punts for scores and LaBrian Carrington forcing and recovering a punt that protected a 15-point DeKalb lead in the second half and changed the trajectory of the game in a 49-13 win.

The Barbs are a win away from a postseason return for the first time since 2019. They also don’t have a win against a team with a winning record this year.

“A win would be huge,” DeKalb coach Derek Schneeman said. “What has been the top of the conference the past few years with Neuqua Valley, Central and North, for us to knock one of those top dogs off would be big. Especially coming off a year like last year. We’ve built some momentum and had some success. That next step is to knock a team like Central off Friday night. To this point we’ve taken care of business against teams we should have. It’s time to step up and get a win against a really quality opponent.”

Running backs Talen Tate and Jamari Brown have powered the offense, each with big play capabilities. Schneeman also said after Friday’s win that he’d like to get McCarter more involved in the offense since he’s returned four kicks for scores this year.

“I think controlling the line of scrimmage is key, and that leads to success in the running game,” Schneeman said. “When Talen and Jamari Brown and Ethan McCarter are making big plays that bodes well for our success. I like how the O-line has come along in establishing the run.

About the Redhawks: The only conference blemish for the Redhawks is a 14-7 loss to Neuqua Valley in Week 5, but they bounced back last week for a 10-7 overtime win against Naperville North. They are 4-0 when allowing nine points or less this year. Christian Kuta led the defense last week, picking up a key goalline stuff on fourth down and getting a first-half interception. The defense actually got a shutout last week, as the only points for Naperville North same on an interception return.

Chris McCormack runs the Naperville Central passing game, with 586 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions while completing 60% of his passes. Tyler Dodd has 444 rushing yards and six scores, averaging 4.9 per carry as the lead rusher.

Friday Night Drive pick: Naperville Central

Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8

Woodstock North (1-5, 0-4) at Sycamore (6-0, 3-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Sycamore won, 40-0, on the road last year

About the Spartans: After a pair of road battles against a previously unbeaten Rochelle team and at Kaneland, a game that was 7-7 at the half last week before a 28-7 win for the Spartans, coach Joe Ryan said the team is glad to be back home for the team’s homecoming.

“You need games like that,” Ryan said of last week’s win against the Knights. “I wouldn’t want to have nine games like that but certainly it’s good to have games like that cause you’re gonna get games like that in the postseason. The kids responded really well at halftime.”

Dawson Alexander sparked the second-half surge with a strong kickoff return and ended in a 1-yard by Zack Crawford. Crawford, Joey Puleo and Tyler Curtis have formed a formidable backfield for the Knights, and Eli Meier has found a rhythm with receiver Burke Gautcher.

About the Thunder: North lost to Ottawa 33-12 last week. … FB Kaden Combs leads the Thunder with 429 yards rushing, QB Jay Zinnen has run for 323 yards. … North has lost four consecutive games, falling to LaSalle-Peru (21-13), Morris (41-0) and Woodstock (27-20) before last week.

Friday Night Drive pick: Sycamore

Kaneland (3-3) at Marengo (3-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: The Knights won 32-20 in 2001.

About the Knights: The Knights hung with Sycamore for a half before falling 28-7. And despite falling to 3-3. coach Pat Ryan said he’s very optimistic about a season that includes losses to Sycamore, Morris and Geneva.

“It was a tough loss this past Friday, and there are things we need to work on to get better,” Ryan said. “But I still feel like we’re a good football team. Our three losses are to teams that have a combined 16-2 record. We’re playing a good team in Marengo on Friday night and I feel like we need to get a win.”

Ryan said he’s happy with the continued development of the ground attack, featuring backs Tyler Bradshaw, Chris Ruchaj and Josh Mauthe. And the passing game remains capable of a big strike, with Troyer Carlson finding Johnny Spalasso early for a big score against Sycamore.

“I thought the whole game we ran pretty well,” Ryan said. “But we have to be able to finish drives, be better on third and fourth down on both sides. The first half we played good defense and on offense, we just couldn’t finish some of those drives.”

About the Indians: Marengo lost to Rochelle 48-27 last week. … The Indians played with Rochelle for the first half, but could not keep pace in the second. … QB Josh Holst has thrown for 1,227 yards with 15 touchdowns and two interceptions. He also leads the Indians with 591 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. … WRs Logan Miller (31 receptions), Greg Baker (21) and David Lopez (19) are the top receivers.

Friday Night Drive pick: Kaneland

Big Northern Conference

Dixon (4-2 overall and BNC) at Genoa-Kingston (5-1, 5-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Genoa-Kingston won 34-19 on the road last year.

About the Cogs: The Cogs have won two straight since a 35-15 loss to Byron and are clicking behind their defense. They’ve allowed six points in the last two weeks and picked up their first shutout last week in a 19-0 win at Oregon.

“It reflects on the hard work we’re putting in on the defensive side,” coach Cam Davekos said. “The kids come and work hard every day at practice. We keep getting better and better on the defensive side of the ball and that’s all we can ask for, really.”

While playmakers like Brody Engel and Ethan Wilnau are still healthy, the Cogs have had a lot of depth and production deep in the backfield. Traven Attenberry had a pair of scores last week, Max Lavender is emerging as the second-leading rusher and Brady Brewick has made some big gains.

“Max and Travon and these guys have stepped in and we’ve been blessed to have multiple skill guys that would probably start on most teams in the Big Northern,” Davekos said. “They’re repping what they need to rep in practice. They have the next-man-up mentality that has the ready to go.”

About the Dukes: Trailing by 12 to start the fourth quarter last week, Dixon scored two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to rally past Rockford Lutheran 22-19. … QB Tyler Shaner ran for 293 yards and 2 touchdowns last week, and also connected with RB Aiden Wiseman on a 19-yard TD pass in the first quarter. Wiseman ran for 133 yards against Lutheran. … For the season, Shaner leads the Dukes in rushing (106 carries, 655 yards, 7 TDs) and passing (48 for 84, 584 yards, 8 TDs, 9 INTs). … Wiseman has 84 rushes for 588 yards and 6 touchdowns, while Ethan Hays has 19 catches for 295 yards and 4 TDs. … Dixon has outscored its opponents 165-112 this season.

Friday Night Drive pick: Genoa-Kingston

Eight-man

South Beloit (3-3) at Hiawatha (4-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: South Beloit won, 50-26

About the Hawks: Coach Nick Doolittle said the Hawks took great pride in beating Orangeville earlier this year, avenging a loss from last year. They’ve got a chance to do the same thing to the Sobos Friday.

“It was a really good game and a tough loss last year,” Doolittle said. “And with it being senior night and us being a better team the kids are ready to prove how good they’ve gotten from last year. They’re excited for the chance to get revenge on their senior night.”

Cole Brantley is among the seniors to be honored Friday, and he’s had a huge season again this year. He’s cracked 200 yards multiple times and is one of the top defensive playmakers as well.

Hiawatha has lost two straight, both by 12 points. The Hawks lost 26-12 to Amboy last week.

About the Sobos: South Beloit has dropped two straight, starting with West Prairie in Week 5 (20-14) and Ashton-Franklin Center (44-40) last week. Like South Beloit, both of those teams are now also 3-3. The Sobos will pick up a forfeit win in Week 9 against Parkville Christian, so they need a win this week or next week against Orangeville (1-5) to secure a winning record.

Friday Night Drive pick: Hiawatha

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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