The Southwest Prairie Conference (SPC) features a number of Big Games tonight and each one of them has a different significance for the teams involved. For instance, the Plainfield South Cougars are looking to maul the Oswego East Wolves in a game that clearly is about who will control the SPC and with it - its' own destiny. Both teams are on a high after winning in overtime in comeback wins last week, but is was the manner in which the Cougars erased a 34-7 deficit to score a 41-34 Overtime victory clearly shows us that they are one heck of an explosive team as well as having a defense that can shut it down its opposition if it they set their minds to it.
The Minooka Indians, meanwhile, are just trying to right a ship that has been seriously listing since a promising season-opening win against Morris. Minooka must also deal with the sudden departure of QB Shane Briscoe who reportedly quit the team before the Oswego game. Still, if there is a "right" opponent after a 41-14 loss in Week Three it would have to be the winless Plainfield Central Wildcats who are struggling mightily right now after their own 50-12 loss to Romeoville. Now whether or not Minooka has that opponent which is considered to be good medicine is anyone's guess. But I know this much - Minooka better not try to look ahead and ignore this particular team in this place in time. If they do? Well they could unwittingly be giving a hungry team a taste of some Indian Stew. My advice is simple - just don't under-estimate a Plainfield Central team playing at home!
And that goes double for the Oswego Panthers. They must do exactly the same things this week as they did last week versus Minooka in order to get this team on the right path towards a spot in the IHSA State Playoffs. Unlike Minooka's opponent, Oswego must realize that the Romeoville Spartans are no longer the conference patsy or pushover. Sure, they took what looked like a lop-sided loss to the Bolingbrook Raiders in Week Two but it was anything but that as the Spartans stayed within a score until the last play of the 3rd Quarter!
Bolingbrook, though, is one of those teams that play at a different level than most teams in the area. And they showed that when they took advantage of every Spartan miscue en-route to scoring 3 TD's (2 via Interceptions) in the 4th Quarter. Still, I don't think that loss will define the Romeoville Spartans this season. Their 16 returning starters from last year's team have steadied the team and it showed when they routed the Plainfield Central Wildcats 50-12 in Week Three. Of course Oswego also knows a thing or two about putting-up a rout as their 41-14 win over the Minooka Indians proved and that win was a complete and thoroughly dominating affair. So Romeoville would be wise to limit their scoring opportunities.
As for the the Plainfield East Bengals - well they must be scratching their collective heads after a losing a 14-7 Overtime decision at the hands of the Oswego East Wolves. Neither the Bengals or the Wolves were able to do much offensively in this game even though the Wolves were clearly better as Plainfield East's Offense went incognito. Still, the Bengals are a team that can score point in many ways and on that night their Defense provided the score they needed on a Pick-6 with three minutes to go. After a successful PAT the Bengals were up 7-0 lead and only needed to do what they did all night - playing good defense.
Unfortunately, what the Bengals Defense had given them was taken away when Wolves QB Tyler Kennedy exploited them with a long bomb. And this was with just a minute to go! And that would be all the momentum they would need. And after the Wolves won the coin toss they immediately put the ball into the end-zone to take a quick 14-7 lead to put the pressure on a Bengals Offense that was struggling. The Bengals would put the ball up into the air on four consecutive passes only to see them miss their mark. And that was the game! Sadly, though, this was a game the Bengals probably should have won and wonder how big that loss will be at the end of the season.
The Plainfield North Tigers, meanwhile, have lost two straight games after their opponents overcame large deficits and staged consecutive come-from-behind victories against them. In Week Two Plainfield North had taken a 20-0 1st Half lead against the Pekin Dragons only to lose 21-20. Week Three, though, was even more shocking as the Tigers took a 34-7 lead only to be shut down by a Cougars Steel Curtain Defense and then watch the Cougar Offense explode for 27 unanswered points to tie the game in regulation and then win it 41-34 in Overtime. So for the Tigers, Week Four will be a matter of conference survival! And they must do so on enemy turf. The Plainfield East Bengals, though, will also be looking to atone for a poor offensive outing versus Oswego East. So watch out - this could be wild one!
The SPC certainly has some "hot games" on tap this week.
But now the hardest part - my predictions:
Plainfield South Cougars 35, Oswego East Wolves 24
The Oswego East Wolves (3-0, 1-0) have a +48 differential in the Points For & Against department while the Plainfield South Cougars (2-1, 1-0) have a paltry -1. Naturally if it were purely a numbers game you would look at the obvious, but Plainfield South has played tougher opponent in the non-conference games and I believe that that gives them an edge in this game. But that hinges on which team shows up too - the 1st Half or 2nd Half team vs Plainfield North? And Defense will be a must in hostile territory!
Plainfield North Tigers 26, Plainfield East 22
I think both teams will score points in this one, but the Plainfield North Tigers (1-2, 0-1) have a trio of runners that can do a lot of damage if they are allowed to. The Plainfield East Bengals (2-1, 0-1), meanwhile, looked flat versus Oswego East and yet could still have won that game had they been able to convert a pass in overtime. Now, the Bengals don't have the same backfield options as the Tigers do but Head Coach Mike Romeli preaches take-away and that could be a factor in this game. East has also been known to throw in a trick play or two when you least expect it so the Tigers better BEWARE! Another loss could sting them and their season hopes. So while the Tiger running game should be the difference here this could go either way if North has a letdown.
Oswego 35, Romeoville 34
This one has an interesting Points For & Against stat in that both teams have an identical 89-82 (+7). Who would have figured that huh? Somehow though it would seem that the Oswego Panthers (1-2, 1-0) have finally figured something out with their array of weapons. The most dangerous is dual threat RB Tyler Walsh, but RB Bryce Holm, WR Trevor Matczak and WR Zachary West give QB Steven Frank a lot of options similar to what Bolingbrook brought versus the Romeoville Spartans (2-1, 1-0). Will it be enough? Well it should be but I would not underestimate the Spartans either. RB Miguel Ford, WR Mark Hammond, WR Charles Hunter and WR Anthony Love have all stepped-up their games making QB Kelvin Jones all that much more dangerous. This one could be be a wide-open affair and it may just come down to the last possession?
Minooka 31, Plainfield Central 8
Well, if the Minooka Indians (1-2, 0-1) do not get out of their funk in this game then the high hopes many had for them will have been all for naught. Now I haven't heard if QB Shane Briscoe has reconsidered or not, but I think the team is better with him than without him because of his laser arm. So we'll have to see what is what but QB Jacob Czerniakowski can get the job done, albeit more with his legs than his arm but hey this is a team that did that for a few seasons with Joe Carnagio at the helm. Either way, though, the key here for the Indians will be whether or not RB Nathan Gunn and Victor Turpin can open the field for WR Zach Zamora, WR Anthony Mack, WR Shawn Bennett and WR Demarcus Williams. The Indians also have another offensive weapon in K Jacob Stytz so there is plenty of offensive fire power here folks and if Czerniakowski can hold steady in the pocket and find them all, well - this could be a blowout as the Plainfield Central Wildcats (0-3, 0-1) just don't have the same horses this season as in the past. But Wildcats QB Michael Smiles can throw that ball and if the Minooka secondary isn't careful they could get burned if he finds WR Kahmari Montgomery, WR Marcus Lopez or WR Joe Mongee White. But the Wildcats also need to control the ball - so the question is whether or not RB's LeAndre Jordan and Eric Rech have the vision to cut through the lanes that open up? Or will the Indians just finally bust out and have the game we all expect from them?
The Friday Night Results:
Plainfield South 34, Oswego East 3
Plainfield East 21, Plainfield North 16
Minooka 48, Plainfield Central 7
Oswego 31, Romeoville 13
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Tags: Anthony Love, Anthony Mack, Bryce Holm, Charles Hunter, Cougars Steel Curtain Defense, Demarcus Williams, Eric Rech, Football, High School Football, High School Sports, IHSA, Illinois High School Association, Jacob Czerniakowski, Jacob Stytz, Joe Carnagio, Joe Mongee White, Kahmari Montgomery, Kelvin Jones, LeAndre Jordan, Marcus Lopez, Mark Hammond, Michael Smiles, Miguel Ford, Mike Romeli, Minooka, Minooka Indians, Nathan Gunn, Oswego, Oswego East Wolves, Oswego Panthers, Plainfield, Plainfield Central Wildcats, Plainfield East Bengals, Plainfield North Tigers, Plainfield South Cougars, Prep Football, Prep Sports, QB Shane Briscoe, Romeoville, Romeoville Spartans, Shane Briscoe, Shawn Bennett, Southwest Prairie Conference, SPC, SPC Week 4 Previews, Sports, Steven Frank, Trevor Matczak, Tyler Walsh, Victor Turpin, Zach Zamora, Zachary West