What a difference a week makes. Week One saw the Southwest Prairie Conference (SPC) racked up six victories in eight games. Then Bim, Bam, Boom, we had an Southwest Prairie Conference Week Two Disaster as Teams Lose 6 of 8 Games. Well so much for hoping that this season would see this conference elevate their status as some of those losses were just too lop-sided to explain logically.
The two winners, though, are ones who have been looking for a breakout season for quite awhile. And I think one of these two will definitely succeed in that quest this season. But which one - the Oswego East Wolves (2-0, 0-0) or the Plainfield East Bengals (2-0, 0-0)? Well, their next game will go a long way in determining which one will, at least, be undefeated for sure after Week Three as they collide in one of the Southwest Prairie Conference openers on Friday Night in Oswego. Oswego East has beaten the Woodstock Blue Streaks (0-2, 0-0) 43-35 and the Glenbard East Rams (1-1, 0-0) 33-0 to complete their non-conference schedule while Plainfield East have defeated the Metea Valley Mustangs (0-2, 0-0) 37-17 and West Aurora Blackhawks (1-1, 0-0) 35-12 in theirs.
So it isn't surprising that both head coaches have their teams believing that anything is possible this season and a 3-0 start will just reinforce that. So as strange as this statement would have sounded a year ago - this game ranks as the Game of the Week. Although this game might be somewhat difficult to predict, I have to go with Head Coach Mike Romeli and the Bengals over Tyson LeBlanc and the Wolves because they have shown an ability to play well, thus far, on both sides of the ball. As well as, I think, versus tougher competition.
Of course that is not to take anything away from Oswego East. This is a good team this season and they have been very opportunistic. Heck, they forced Woodstock into losing that game against them as well as then going out and firing on all cylinders versus Glenbard East. East had defeated an okay Willowbrook Warriors (1-1, 0-0) team the week before (and who themselves were a 62-49 winner over the Lyons Township Lions (0-2, 0-0) this week). So that is why it is hard for me to see exactly how well the Wolves really stack up in this contest. Sure Metea Valley may be winless but they certainly have a decent program and will find their groove before the season is over. West Aurora, meanwhile, not only have some very talented athletes, but they will have what looks to be a bust-out season this year too.
Prediction: Plainfield East 36, Oswego East 23
Now in what should have been considered THE SPC Game of the Week, well, it appears as if this will just be another conference game between my preseason favorites as the Minooka Indians (1-1, 0-0) will be on the road versus the Oswego Panthers (0-2, 0-0). And while a loss here won't break anyone's season - it certainly has the potential to set the tone for what the rest of the season holds for either.
In week one, the Minooka Indians were firing on all cylinders against their I-80 rivals, the Morris Redskins (1-1, 0-0) defeating them 21-14 in hostile territory. But the Providence Catholic Celtics (1-1, 0-0) exposed every weakness in their 38-17 win over Minooka after losing to their arch-rivals Joliet Catholic Academy (2-0,0-0) 42-35 in week one. But I have to tell you, so dominant were the Celtics over Minooka that they were able to do so by rubbing a little salt in the wound as they mostly played their reserves in the 2nd Half. Like I said - what a difference a week makes! However, I did have some apprehensions with the Indians playing a two QB scheme as I just don't like it because Offensive Linemen must constantly adjust to the different styles of different play-callers and their cadences. Of course that is just my opinion, but I think that scheme hurts more than it helps.
Oswego, meanwhile, are just being scored upon early and often which forces them into playing catch up all night. In their first game versus the Geneva Vikings (1-1, 0-0) they were nearly able to pull out a hard fought come form behind victory after taking the lead with 3 minutes or so left only to see the Vikings burn them on the very next offensive series with an 80 yard sideline bomb. Now that one hurt Oswego folks because it was one they could have easily as won despite being out-played by Geneva most of the night. The following week, though, really left no doubts about how weak a defense the Panthers have as the Waubonsie Valley Warriors (1-1,0-0) smoked them 40-21. Oswego just never had a chance in that game!
So both teams are not what they should be given their pedigree and it might look as if it might be awful tough for either to pull out the minimum five victories to get them onto the IHSA State Playoff bubble let alone an automatic bid with six wins the way it looks right now. And that bothers me as I thought these would be the two best teams of the SPC before the season started. Can either team turn it around? Sure but another loss, especially for Oswego, could take its toll on them because the SPC will have some parity this season and Plainfield North could wind up in the drivers seat.
Prediction: Oswego 24, Minooka 22
The Plainfield South Cougars (1-1, 0-0) had some momentum after defeating the Lemont Indians (1-1, 0-0) 28-13 in convincing manner in their week one match-up. But after the Wheaton St. Francis Spartans (2-0, 0-0) steamrolled the Cougars 43-20. And I mean they were steamrolled folks as Cougars LB Clifton Garrett was literally flattened by Spartans RB James Butler. And so complete was this victory by the Spartans that it left more questions than answers about where the Cougars are at this season. People were just shaking their heads all-night long as they couldn't help but wonder where that aggressive play from the week before had evaporated to. Sadly, the Plainfield South Cougars were already out of this game by the end of the 1st Quarter! The only highlight of the night for the Cougars and their fans was an electrifying 75 Yard TD Run and 43 Yard TD Pass Reception by Cougars RB Joshua Harris.
And it doesn't get any easier this week as the Plainfield North Tigers (1-1, 0-0) will invade the Southside after they lost a 21-20 heart-breaker to the Pekin Dragons (2-0, 0-0) in Pekin. Plainfield North, unlike the other losing SPC teams though, should have beaten Pekin as they had them on the ropes after taking a 20-0 halftime lead into the locker room. But the Dragons were able to chip away at the lead until they finally took the lead, and the win, with under three minute to go in the contest.
So, one thing is pretty certain here, if Plainfield South have any expectations of winning this contest then they better get back the intensity they displayed in Lemont. Otherwise there is a very talented team (who feels that they let a victory slip away in Pekin) ready to send their own version of a steamroller, RB Quinton Hoosman, into battle. And he is more than capable of running over a defenseman or two on the way to the house if they let him as well as another weapon they need to watch out for in speed-ball RB Robert Baker because he can tear up some very serious yardage down the sidelines after a large Offensive Line clears the way for him.
So whichever team shows up for Plainfield South will determine who wins in what looks like a last possession type of game.
Prediction: Plainfield North 26, Plainfield South 19
The last of the Friday Night SPC openers will probably also determine who will be the cellar-dweller of the 2013-2014 IHSA Football Season. So who will it be folks? The Romeoville Spartans (1-1, 0-0) or the Plainfield Central Wildcats (0-2, 0-0)? But I have to tell you something, this may very well be the easiest game of the night to pick for me. Why? Because despite Romeoville losing in what looks like a 41-7 blowout to the Bolingbrook Raiders (2-0, 0-0), it really wasn't. This game was incredibly close at 13-7 until late in the 3rd Quarter before the Raiders were able to open the floodgates on them. The Spartans not only played tough but repelled the best efforts of the Raiders most of the night.
But hey, once Bolingbrook was able to open the flood gates against the Spartans, it turned into a gusher. But they would do that to just about any team they play. So this was no embarrassment for Romeoville at all. Matter of fact, they seem to have a different attitude this year and if they can just maintain that, they will surprise a few teams this season. So give Romeoville Head Coach Jeff Kuna some credit here, his team was well-prepared and I believe that they will be again versus the Wildcats. And don't forget - Spartans already have a nice win under their belt after defeating the Hinsdale South Hornets (0-2, 0-0) 32-29 in week one. Sure the Hornets may be 0-2 but they lost 28-0 to one heck of a Downers Grove North Trojans (2-0, 0-0) team that is already showing no mercy to its opponents.
The Plainfield Central Wildcats, meanwhile, have just looked bad in their first two games. They lost to the Aurora Marmion Academy Cadets (2-0, 0-0) 25-7 and St. Charles North North Stars (1-1, 0-0) 48-0. So it appears that the Wildcats will struggle to find consistency this season, although that is largely due to heavy graduation losses. But I suppose that happens to most programs at some point or another. And it just so happens that it is Central's turn this time around. Hopefully, though, as the season progresses perhaps Plainfield Wildcats Head Coach John Jackson will be able to instill that right attitude and combinations to get some confidence building wins.
Prediction: Romeoville 23, Plainfield Central 9
Tags: 2013-2014 IHSA Football Season, Clifton Garrett, Football, Football Predictions, High School Football, High School Sports, IHSA, IHSA Football, James Butler, Jeff Kuna, John Jackson, Joshua Harris, Mike Romeli, Minooka High School, Minooka Indians, Oswego East High School, Oswego East Wolves, Oswego East Wolves Head Coach Tyson LeBlanc, Oswego High School, Oswego Panthers, Plainfield Central Head Coach John Jackson, Plainfield Central High School, Plainfield Central Wildcats, Plainfield East Bengals, Plainfield East Head Coach Mike Romeli, Plainfield East High School, Plainfield North High School, Plainfield North RB Quinton Hoosman, Plainfield North RB Robert Baker, Plainfield North Tigers, Plainfield South Cougars, Plainfield South Cougars LB Clifton Garrett, Plainfield South High School, Plainfield South RB Joshua Harris, Quinton Hoosman, Robert Baker, Romeoville High School, Romeoville Spartans, Romeoville Spartans Head Coach Jeff Kuna, Southwest Prairie Conference, SPC, Sports, Tyson LeBlanc, Wheaton Spartans RB James Butler