Mattoon (1-2, 0-0 Apollo) at Mount Zion (2-1, 0-0)
LAST WEEK: Mattoon beat Highland, 1-0 (forfeit); Mount Zion lost to Mascoutah 27-26.
LAST MEETING: Mattoon won 30-20 in 2013.
KEY PLAYERS: For Mattoon, Payton Hartbank, Sr., WR/DB; Malik Joyner, Sr., WR/DB; Braden Smith, Jr., QB/DB; Jacob Harris, Sr., TE/LB
For Mount Zion, Payton Grinestaff, Sr., QB; Mason Bruce, Sr., WR; Ryan Scharf, Sr., WR/LB; Tyler Hayes, Sr., RB; Brandon Price, So., WR/DB
KEYS TO THE GAME: Mattoon will have a week's worth of rust or rest after sitting out last week due to the forfeit. The Green Wave have to hope it was a week to solidify the defense a bit after a couple of bumpy opening games – albeit to quality teams – as they are still trying to figure out its depth chart. On offense, the Wave have some talented veterans for Braden Smith, who is stepping right into the QB spot with 543 yards in two games.
Mount Zion opens Apollo play against one of the teams it figured it had to beat to get to regain the conference crown. The Braves will have to eliminate the mistakes that crept into play a week ago to keep rolling. Any momentum would be big as Taylorville, the preseason favorite, comes up next.
MacArthur (3-0, 3-0 Central State Eight) at Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin (3-0, 3-0)
LAST WEEK: MacArthur beat Eisenhower 53-14; Sacred Heart-Griffin beat Jacksonville 49-10.
LAST MEETING: Sacred Heart-Griffin won 47-7 in 2011.
KEY PLAYERS: For MacArthur, ShawnTrez Spates, Sr., QB/DB; Jaquay Owens, Sr., RB/DB; DeVince Lewis, Sr., RB/DL; Shaquez Bond, Sr., WR
For SHG, Cody Bowman, Sr., LB; Gabe Green, Sr., QB; Quinn Oseland, Sr., OT; Sam Sergent, Jr., RB; Michael Zeigler, Sr., OT; Sam Bonansinga, Jr., WR/ DB
KEYS TO THE GAME: It's time to find out how MacArthur stacks up against the big boys of the Central State Eight. The Generals passed the first test, getting past Chatham Glenwood in overtime. But now they go up against the No. 1 team in Class 6A and the defending state champs. SHG's first three games have been done by halftime – the Cyclones have led 49-0, 48-0 and 42-7. Cyclones QB Gabe Green has thrown for 550 yards and eight TDs in his short stints. The team's top three rushers average 12.4 yards per carry or better.
But this is just the kind of situation that MacArthur thrives in. The underdog role suits the Generals, who believe they are faster and have better athletes than anyone in the league. So far that has helped overcome some mistakes. ShawnTrez Spates made the transition to varsity quarterback quickly. He'll have to keep progressing as SHG has already come up with seven interceptions this season.
Shelbyville (3-0, 1-0 Central Illinois) at Tuscola (2-1, 0-1)
LAST WEEK: Shelbyville beat Clinton 50-19; Tuscola lost to Sullivan-Okaw Valley 28-22.
LAST MEETING: Shelbyville won 28-6 in 2012.
KEY PLAYERS: For Shelbyville, Lucas Duckett, Sr., QB/DB; Tice Robinson, Sr., RB/DB; Adam Hudson, Sr., OL/LB; Jared Finley, Sr., RB/DB; Devin Peterson, Sr., WR/DB
For Tuscola, Nick Bates, Jr., QB/DB; Kaleb Williams, So., RB/LB; Clayton Turner, Jr., OL/DL; Zach Bates, Jr., RB/LB
KEYS TO THE GAME: Shelbyville, one of just two 3-0 teams left in the Central Illinois Conference, gets its first big test of the season. The Rams have been rolling so far with their bevy of veteran skill players coming through. Lucas Duckett (674 yards) is completing 65 percent of his passes. Tice Robinson has piled up 383 yards rushing. And Shelbyville has scored at least 47 points in each of its first three games.
Tuscola could have the firepower to keep up, though the Warriors were limited to three scores a week ago. Sullivan pulled off the victory by limiting Tuscola's big plays in the second half, particularly in the running game.
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Tolono Unity (3-0, 0-0 Okaw Valley), at Monticello (2-1, 0-0)
LAST WEEK: Tolono Unity beat Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley 48-8; Monticello lost to Clifton Central 21-14.
LAST MEETING: Tolono Unity won 7-0 in 2013.
KEY PLAYERS: For Unity, Colton Reed, RB/LB; Taylor White, QB; Cole Swearingen, DE; Hiley Freeman, WR
For Monticello, Brandon Wildman, So., QB; Clay Becker, Sr., RB/WR; Jacob Burton, Jr., RB/DB, Matt Baker, So., OL/DL; Chase Hinton, Sr., LB
KEYS TO THE GAME: Unity coach Scott Hamilton declared his team ready for the rugged Okaw Valley Conference after the past week's dismissal of GCMS. It's clear to see why. The Rockets, ranked No. 2 in Class 3A, racked up 522 total yards of offense in the win. Of that, 232 came running the ball. That's typical Unity football. But that means the Rockets got 290 through the air – and to four different receivers.
Monticello is coming off its first loss. It was a game in which the Sages could not get the running game going to help Brandon Wildman's emerging passing game. Monticello will have to regain footing in a hurry as next two weeks send the Sages on the road to face St. Joseph-Ogden, the No. 1 team in Class 3A, and then Maroa-Forsyth, No. 6 in 2A
Sangamon Valley (2-1, 0-0 Little Okaw Valley Northwest) at Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond (2-1, 0-0)
LAST WEEK: Sangamon Valley lost to Momence 27-0; Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond beat Oblong 33-13.
LAST MEETING: Arthur-Lovington won 32-6 in 2008.
KEY PLAYERS: For Sangamon Valley, Miles Hutchins, Jr., QB/LB; Wyatt Beals, Jr., RB/DB; Mason Hutchins, Jr., WR/LB; Garrick Myers, Sr.; ; Cody Cravens, Sr., OL/DL
For ALAH, Tyler Schuring, Sr., QB/LB; Steven Wright, Sr., RB/LB; Dylan Black, Sr., OL/DL; Kyle Feagin, Sr., RB/DB; Marcus Vanausdoll, Fr., WR/LB
KEYS TO THE GAME: Sangamon Valley returns to the Little Okaw Valley Conference after a short stint in the Sangamo with the hopes of making some noise this season. It initial game won't be easy, coming against a Dale Schuring coached team which won four of five games against Sangamon Valley during the Storm's previous stint in the conference. Sangamon Valley's only stumble this season was a week ago to the No. 2 team in Class 2A.
ALAH has been turning it up a notch a little bit each week as a load of new faces earn their places in the starting lineup. The key has been the presence of veteran quarterback Tyler Schuring, who is the area's top rusher at 563 yards, picking up yards at 12.8 yards per carry. Kyle Feagin has emerged as a big-play threat.
Casey-Westfield (3-0, 3-0 Little Illini) at Robinson (3-0, 3-0)
LAST WEEK: Casey-Westfield beat Flora 66-6; Robinson beat Marshall 21-7.
LAST MEETING: Casey won 34-0 in 2013.
KEY PLAYERS: For Casey, Trey Thompson, Sr., RB/DB; Corey Carver, Jr., WR/DE; Isaac Elkins, Jr., QB/DB; Dylan Lawrence, Sr., WR/DB
For Robinson, Jason Richart, Sr., RB; Joe Smith, Sr., RB/DB; Bucky Stevens, Sr., QB; Wes Harrison, Sr., OL/DL
KEYS TO THE GAME: Two teams predicted to battle for the Little Illini Conference title meet up in an early showdown. There were questions about how much time Casey would need to get up to speed with all the new faces in key positions. But the Warriors showed some real flash last week as it posted 57 first-half points. Isaac Elkins has shown he is capable of taking control of the team. And the defense has proven quite capable, allowing just 19 points. Next week Casey gets the league's only other 3-0 team – Lawrenceville.
Robinson has only been flashy in its efficiency. Jason Richart has run for 404 yards on just 48 carries. And Bucky Stevens is 15-of-19 passing for 233 yards. This past week's win over Marshall shows the Maroons are on path to at least duplicate last year's 8-3 season.