No. 10 Neuqua Valley (5-0, 2-0 Upstate Eight Valley) at Metea Valley (1-4, 0-3 Upstate Eight Valley), 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Neuqua Valley beat East Aurora, 48-0; Metea Valley lost at South Elgin, 28-21.
Storyline: Dropping its last four games after an opening victory over Plainfield East, Metea Valley faces the grim situation that will require it to win out to reach the postseason. That task starts Friday night as the Mustangs welcome undefeated Neuqua Valley, ranked seventh in the Associated Press’ Class 8A poll.
The Wildcats will lock up a Class 8A postseason berth with a victory. Their defense has posted consecutive shutouts of St. Charles East and East Aurora and will hope to continue to gain momentum against a program it has outscored 94-6 combined in two meetings.
While the Mustangs will need to deal with a potent Wildcats’ offense led by senior quarterback Dylan Andrew and senior running back Joey Rhattigan (767 yards, 12 touchdowns), they’ll also have to contain a Neuqua Valley special teams unit that has returned kickoffs for touchdowns in four straight games.
Though the 1-4 record doesn’t show it, Metea Valley is making progress. Trailing only 12-10 at halftime against Bartlett in Week 4, the Mustangs got to within 33-27 late in the fourth before eventually losing 47-27.
Early in the fourth quarter last Saturday, the Mustangs found themselves in a 21-21 tie with South Elgin before surrendering a 43-yard touchdown pass. Three fourth-quarter turnovers eliminated any chance for a potential game-tying score.
Senior running back Cameron Wilcox has run for 630 yards and seven touchdowns for Metea Valley.
Neuqua coach Bill Ellinghaus on Metea: “They play hard from start to finish and because of that, I think any team that’s gonna come out (will be formidable). I’ve watched their films and watched them live and they have no quit in them. There’s no doubt they have very good players. (Junior QB Blaise Bell) is a very nice player. They have a really good running back (Wilcox). Their one linebacker (Donovan Rowsey) is a three-year starter. I know he really flies around. They have another linebacker (Jake Muraski) that’s real, real big and likes to collision receivers off the line.”
Metea coach Ben Kleinhans on Neuqua: “We just think they’re a complete team. You know, they play all three phases of the game very well. Offense, defense, special teams: they’ve excelled in all three areas. They have a deep talent pool on this year’s team that allows them to really specialize those guys into certain roles on all three phases and it’s shown up. They’ve got big plays on special teams, couple kick returns, blocked punts that have really given them momentum and really made it difficult for their opponents to get anything going because they get a stop or something. But when they get the kick return, block the punt, they get momentum that way and then their defense is kind of able to play with a lead and just kind of come after people a little bit and still drop into coverage. So it’s kind of a three-headed monster with their three phases and they’re good at all of them.”
Benet (4-1, 1-1 East Suburban Catholic) at St. Viator (3-2, 1-2 East Suburban Catholic), 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Benet beat Marian Catholic, 44-6; St. Viator lost at Notre Dame, 49-20
Storyline: Finally snapping its 10-game ESCC losing streak, Benet hits the road Friday night hoping to get playoff eligible by securing its fifth win of the season against St. Viator.
Picking up where they both left off the week before against Rich Central, Benet junior running backs Porter Ontko and Nick McTarnaghan led the way against Marian Catholic.
Ontko ran 11 times for 108 yards and scored on TD runs of 50 and five yards, while McTarnaghan added 36 yards and a 23-yard TD run on eight carries.
St. Viator, coached by former Benet assistant Brandon New, allowed Notre Dame junior running back Chris James to run for 250 yards and account for six total touchdowns last week.
Benet’s defense also continues to do its thing, allowing just six points in its last nine quarters of action.
Last week, the Lions found themselves in a 14-14 tie late in the first half of their game with Notre Dame before the Dons exploded for 28 unanswered points to open up a 42-14 lead en route a 49-20 win.
Against the Dons, Lions’ quarterback Bobby Calmeyn threw for 150 yards and added a 14-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver John Balas while running back Mayo Arogundade had 77 yards and a TD on 11 carries.
St. Viator posted a 28-0 shutout of Benet last year.
Benet coach Pat New on St. Viator: “I think they’re pretty balanced. They’ve got a nice running back, a pretty good passing game. Brandon New has them really competing hard. One of his best qualities as a coach, I think, is getting kids to believe in themselves and I think that’s what he’s doing. That was evident against Carmel. The fact that they beat Carmel is a pretty huge win for them.
“My big thing is trying to be balanced with run and pass, so if we can both run and pass, I’ll feel pretty good. I’ve always said I think our defense will keep us in every game.
“I think they run pretty well. They’re tough to block because they’re quick and they slant a lot. So we’ll have to work against that. Defensively, I think this year is a really big improvement on what they did last year. With the exception of the last game, their defense has kept them in every game.”
Glenbard East (0-5, 0-3 DuPage Valley) at Naperville North (2-3, 1-2 DuPage Valley), 7:30 p.m.
Last week: Glenbard East lost to Wheaton North, 57-7; Naperville North won at West Chicago, 35-0
Storyline: Naperville North recorded a 35-0 road shutout of West Chicago last week. The Huskies overwhelmed West Chicago by using the same type of formula it used in its only other win of the season: a 34-20 win at Thornton in Week 2.
Not attempting a single pass against the Wildcats, the Huskies ran the ball 52 times to gain all of their 391 total yards. Led by senior running back Kendall Veluvolu’s 87 yards and three touchdowns, six different players ran for at least 20 yards for Naperville North. Junior DeSean Brown ran for 83 yards and scored twice.
A victory Friday night would get Naperville North back to the .500 mark, as it knows it can’t afford another slip-up in its hopes of reaching the postseason for a 16th consecutive season.
Glenbard East comes in on a five-game losing streak. Since combining to score 61 points in its first two games, Glenbard East has managed only 28 points in its last three games — the closest of which was played within a 34-point margin when Naperville Central recorded a 41-7 victory in Week 3.
Rams’ senior quarterback Joe Kotch hooked up with Mike Kjeldsen for a 15-yard score for the Rams’ only tally against Wheaton North.
Naperville North coach Sean Drendel on Glenbard East: “Well, Naperville Central was 7-0 at halftime against them. So I just think they’re an unlucky team. You know, things haven’t bounced their way. They moved the ball consistently in just about every game. They just haven’t been able to put it in the end zone.
“I mean, obviously, (Kotch) is very good. They have a few nice receivers and they’ve got a running back. They’re really good offensively. Defensively, they fly around and hit you, so you better be ready. You better be thinking they’re gonna hit you.”