PLAINFIELD SOUTH at MINOOKA:
When the Plainfield South Cougars (3-1-0, 2-0-0 SPC) go up the road to meet the Minooka Indians (2-2-0, 2-0-0 SPC) it will be about more than just holding on to 1st Place in the conference. People have affectionately dubbed this game as the Ridge Road Rivalry. The reality, though, is that this game is really the Rumble on Ridge Road. These two teams simply don't like each other. And for good reason, given the dirty play that has erupted over the last few years between the two. Of course, that "spirited" play can be pinned on both teams - but it is the questionable hit that forced Dondre Adams out of last season's IHSA Playoff Game that won't long be forgotten by Cougar fans.
Dondre Adams, if you recall, had staked the Cougars to a quick 21-0 lead while racking up 215 yards on just 6 carries. And I can tell you that the mood on the Indian sideline wasn't exactly one of being in awe of a superb runner. But, hey, before you get any wrong ideas, I have heard many things said on the sidelines in the heat of a battle. And in a testosterone fueled game like Football, well I actually consider it normal. About the only thing that really bugged me about that 2nd Round Loss, though, was when I heard the words "we gotta get him outta this game" and voila' not very long afterwards - he was out. But hey, I am also smart enough to know that words like that would normally just be construed as meaning "to take a player out of their rhythm" too.
But don't kid yourselves either. There are such things as clean hits and/or dirty hits in the game of football (and other sports). Generally, though, most players would never go out to purposely hurt another player. But, it can and does happen. You just can't ignore it. As a parent of a player, you can only hope that the coaches do the right thing when they see one of their players getting a little too caught up in the moment.
For instance, in last week's Plainfield South's 34-14 defeat of Romeoville, there was one particular Spartan player who was "head-hunting." After he was flagged by officials for a flagrant foul, as well as an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, Romeoville Head Coach Jeff Kuna promptly removed that player and ripped into him before exiling him to the bench for the rest of the game (and maybe even the rest of the season). Kuna acted in a responsible manner and I applaud that.
As for Minooka knocking Dondre Adams out of last season's game. Well I won't say that it was a deliberate act - but it was a questionable hit given some of the plays leading up to it. Then again, since Adams had been hurt during the season and maybe it was just a matter of him being a little glass-like at that point of the season. So, I really don't know what to make of it all to this day. Never-the-less, even though Dondre Adams' game and season was over, the Cougars still had a chance to pull that game out. A late game decision to go for a winning TD over a game-tying Field Goal will be debated for a long time. But - that is the game of football. Sometimes games just don't turn out the way you would want them to. And for Cougar players, and fans, things just didn't work out in that final game.
Still, does Plainfield South have something to play for Friday Night? You betcha they do and Friday's Game will probably bring back some memories of that IHSA Playoff Loss, however, the game will center on who is the best in the conference! It has to be about the bigger picture first and the rivalry second. Besides, the Cougars have a young and deeply talented squad this season. They definitely want to show the other teams in the conference that this ain't no rebuilding year for them.
A winning tradition has been forged at Plainfield South by former head coach Mike Briscoe and Ken Bublitz has remained absolute and steadfast in wanting to continue that tradition. Head Coach Bublitz has brought some new things to the table as well and the players have embraced his view of the program. Personally, that blend of the old and new philosophies should lead to even greater successes.
We should not, however, forget that the Minooka Indians have also built a winnng tradition. And now that they have both Coach Kooi's working the sidelines - opposing teams will have to adjust for a double dose of their coaching. The Kooi's are two very good football coaches and even though they are brothers - they don't always think alike. And that has to be considered an "intangible." Still, as different as they may be, their coaching methods produce some exciting game plans.
Although I predicted that the Indians would likely begin their season 0-2, I also felt that they were the cream of the crop in the Southwest Prairie Conference. We mustn't forget that Minooka played two high quality teams, and in reality could very well have been 4-0 at this point. Minooka basically beat themselves in their losses to Morris and Providence Catholic. Hopefully the teams in the SPC always remember that as they prepare their game plans against them. Quite frankly, Minooka doesn't beat themselves very often, so opponents must go out and force the issue against them on every play of the game.
Minooka can be beaten, but they must be respected! Especially their superb RB, Kalvin Hill. Not only did he score 5 TD's last week versus Plainfield East, but he racked up his first 300+ Yard Game on 29 carries. Hill has always been able to make large gains per carry, but 10+ yards per carry is pretty darn scary you know? Plainfield South, though, has their gamer too in Dantrell Wright. And Wright can burn you by running, receiving or even throwing the halfback option pass.
All in all, Plainfield South and Minooka match up very well against each other, although I believe that South has more offensive weapons than the Indians do. In addition to starting QB Austin Howarth, the Cougars have an able back-up in Ricky Luna who also doubles as a wide out. Of course the Cougars also have RB's Josh Harris, Jason Ochoa, John Kosirog and even Kwanez Gibson who can turn off the stadium light switch with their speed. The Cougars are three deep at nearly every important position and that can lead to a few surprises for sure. And let's not forget one other thing - Plainfield South actually took it to the Bolingbrook Raiders in the first and last quarters of their 40-16 loss. Had the Cougars limited their mistakes, the game could have had a better result. But as someone on the Raiders side said - "be glad we played them early but I don't want to see them in the playoffs." So, just as Plainfield South must respect Minooka, so must Minooka respect Plainfield South. Especially with an improving defense.
Defensive Linemen Angelo Cervantes, Anthony Scalzitti, Matthew Vidican; Linebackers Jake Meeder Sean McGrail Jashawn Franklin, Clifton Garrett; and the Secondary's Brandon Davis, Darius Jefferson, Joey Ruske and Steven Harris have all elevated their games. The Oswego East game was a turning point for this unit and it carried over versus Romeoville. They have become a tight unit - but Minooka will be their biggest test yet.
Friday Night will mimic an old-fashioned Rumble. Offensively speaking, Plainfield South and Minooka are both capable of doing some damage, but the Cougars have already seen some good runners and proven that they can contain them. That is not to say that they will prevent Kalvin Hill from scoring or racking up yardage. But, I don't envision a 300+ rushing game either. As for Minooka, well they have shown that they can contain good runners too. Exactly how the Cougars will try and exploit the Indian defense will be interesting to say the least. As for Minooka, I don't think that they should just focus on Dantrell Wright, unless of course they want to burned by about six other very capable players. Then again..?
One thing is certain - this game will produce a decent score, but at the end of the night this game will be won by the team who makes the biggest defensive or special teams play. This game will probably be decided on a fumble, interception, blocked kick or a kick return!
THE RUMBLE ON RIDGE BEGINS AT 7PM! HOLD ON TIGHT!
THE OTHER SPC GAMES:
OSWEGO EAST at PLAINFIELD CENTRAL
The Oswego East Wolves (2-2-0, 0-2-0 SPC) will meet the Plainfield Central Wildcats (2-2-0, 0-2-0 SPC) in a Must Win Game after losing the Oswego Crosstown Classic 35-28 last Friday Night. The Wolves had built up a 21-7 lead in that game but Oswego erupted for 28 straight points to take what looked like East's 1st ever conference win versus the Panthers.
Oswego East had set the tempo early as RB Chris Cooper ran for three first-half touchdowns. However, with a little over three minutes remaining in the half, Brett Wainright scored for Oswego and the score stood at 21-13 at the intermission. After the half, the Panther Defense tightened up and allowed QB Ryan West and the offense to chip away at the lead. A TD run by RB Mikeel Stewart and a 43-yard TD pass from West to Josh Mapalo finally gave the host team a 28-21 lead entering the 4th Quarter. Then, midway through the 4th, Mikeel Stewart scored his second touchdown of the game. The score was now 35-21 and that score turned out to be the game-winner. Oswego East QB Dakota Skenendore found his brother Chase open for a 60 yard TD pass with a little over 5 minutes to go and brought East within seven. However, after the Wolves Defense forced Oswego into a three-and-out on the next series - Dakota Skenendore was picked-off by Panther's Shane Gauden to preserve their victory. In all, the Panthers picked-off Skenendore 3 times in the second-half with Jay Bodine getting the other two.
The Plainfield Central Wildcats, like Oswego East, lost 35-28 to their crosstown rivals, the Plainfield North Tigers (2-2-0, 1-1-0 SPC) last Friday Night. The Wildcats took an early 14-0 lead after Gino Giarrantano scored two touchdowns (8 Yds and 58 Yds) on four 1st Quarter offensive plays. The first TD was set up by a 58 yard run by Jordan Ellingwood. Plainfield North, who were upset by the Plainfield East Bengals, must have had QB Kurt Palendech thinking aloud. However, after Palendech completed 5 passes in a 60 Yard scoring drive, a 1 Yard TD run by Jay Roberts, the QB found Quest Young on a 74 Yard Bomb to tie the score. With a minute and one-half before halftime, Central's Tyler Erdman put the Wildcats back on top 21-14. Palendech, though, wasn't done as the North QB engineered a 70 Yard Drive, capped by a 26 Yd Screen Pass to Jay Roberts to knot the score at 21 at halftime.
Plainfield North was able to take 28-21 lead after QB Kurt Palendech found Matt Fenza on a 25 Yd pass and Jay Roberts scored what would be the winning TD when he exploded for a 44 Yard TD just before the 3rd Quarter ended. With Plainfield North now leading by a score of 35-21, the Wildcats put together a 4 play, 75 yard scoring drive. Jordan Ellingwood had runs of 49, 16 and 5 yards (TD) to make it 35-28. After recovering an onside kick near midfield, the Wildcats took a penalty, a sack and an incomplete 4th Down pass to give the Tigers a hard-fought victory.
Oswego East and Plainfield Central both play a similar style of game and both have a great mix of talent. I am not sure who will win this game but one thing is certain this is a must game for both and you can rest assure that it will be played like a playoff game. This is a game that either team can win!
PLAINFIELD NORTH at ROMEOVILLE:
Plainfield North (2-2-0, 1-1-0 SPC) rebounded from their Week Three Upset Loss to Plainfield East with a hard-fought home win against Plainfield Central last Friday. The Tigers will be on the road as they travel to conference enigma, Romeoville Spartans (1-3-0, 0-2-0 SPC). On paper, it would appear that Plainfield North will dispose of the Spartans and set their sights on their showdown next week with Oswego. And I guarantee you this, if the Tigers do make the mistake of thinking too far ahead, then the Spartans could very easily take this game and hand North their 2nd upset of the season.
Romeoville has some talent, granted some of it is raw - but it is there. Besides, Perez Ford, along with his brother Manuel could easily dictate the flow of a game. Speed can kill you know? Still, Romeoville Head Coach Kuna needs to get his Spartans all on the same page in order to be competitive. His two QB's Jacob Bambule and James Rooks are more than capable if they checked down more and not give up the picks. They have a very talented receiver in Duvuan Goodlow in addition to the soft hands of both Ford's. So this is no slam dunk for Plainfield North.
However, I can't see Plainfield North being allowed to look to far ahead and they should be focused here. Kurt Palendech is giving Ryan West a good run for the money as best in the SPC (right now), but Palendech can be forced into making mistakes and that must be the #1 agenda for the Spartans. Jay North, though, will take some heat off his QB.
My guess is that Plainfield North wins this game before their schedule gets harder the next four weeks.
PLAINFIELD EAST at OSWEGO:
The Oswego Panthers (2-2-0, 2-0-0 SPC) are coming off an impressive win versus their crosstown rival Oswego East. Ryan West was a little gimpy, from what I have heard, but has an offensive line that really protects him. And believe me, the Plainfield East Bengals (1-3-0, 1-1-0 SPC) are no longer one of the conference doormats. The Bengals, who upset Plainfield North the week before, played a spirit first-half versus Minooka. Matter of fact, the Indians had to be wondering what East was capable of after their lead was cut to 26-21 on a 79 Yd Kickoff Return by Aris Irizarry just as time expired at the half. Special Teams and defense has been the Bengals strong suit thus farin the season and teams must respect that.
After Minooka extended their lead to 33-21 in the 2nd Half, Myles Walters ripped-off an 85 yard kick-off return (their third of the evening) to cut the lead to 33-27. The Bengals ahve some weapons this year and Oswego better be focused on this game. And I will say this too, there will be another upset handed-out by the upstart Bengals before this season is over. It is just a question of who it will be against. Ryan West is arguably the best QB in the conference right now and much of the credit must be given to a superb Offensive Line. And if you give West the time - he will do a lot of damage.
But Bengals QB Rob Zamora is gaining confidence every week. Bengal receivers, Myles Walters and Juwan Straughter are formidable as is running back like Shekeal Taylor. So, Plainfield East has some depth. However, Special Teams play can change a game in a hurry and I would think that Head Coach Mike Romeli will have something up his sleeve for the Panthers. A trick play here, a trick play there and you have opposing teams scratching their heads before too long. Plainfield East is getting better and it will be interesting to watch the rest of the way.
As for Oswego, well, this is a very balanced team. Like Minooka, they have played some quality teams in their two non-conference losses, but it only makes them better when competing against the SPC. The Panthers, Minooka, Plainfield South and North were all expected to compete for the conference crown and there hasn't been any major surprises thus far (except for North's loss to East) to upset that thinking.
The Oswego Panthers have a lot of talent, but it is the usual suspects like QB Ryan West, RB Mickeel Stewart, Josh Mapalo and Brett Wainwright who make things happen offensively. What is often forgotten though, given the high scores associated with Panther games - the defense isn't all that bad. Spread offenses tend to leave defenders on the field for much longer stretches and as a result, the stats get a little lop-sided. But don't kid yourselves - the Panthers have defenders who can make the big plays and they often do. Just ask Dakota Skenendore who was picked-off three times in their Crosstown Classic loss.
I believe that the Oswego Panthers should beat the Bengals but it won't be easy. I would also venture to say that an upset is not out of the realm here. Like I said, Special Teams Play has a way of wearing a team down and the Plainfield East squad is pretty darn good at that part of their game. I am most eager to hear from fans about this game. I will be attending the Minooka / Plainfield South Game, but anyone who would like to share some observations about this game, or any other game, please do so via Twitter. Just click the Follow Me Below. Thanks.
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