Taylorville at Mount Zion
RECORDS: Taylorville is 4-0, 1-0 Apollo; Mount Zion is 3-1, 1-0.
LAST WEEK: Taylorville beat Salem 36-14; Mount Zion beat Mattoon 48-19.
KEY PLAYERS: For Taylorville, Brandon Odam, So., QB (681 yards); Parker Stokes, Sr., LB (38 tackles); Evan Champley, Jr., RB/LB (257 yards); Jack Curtin, Sr., DB; Heath Fleming, Sr., LB (48 tackles); Gunder Reese, Sr., OL/DL; Justin Wright, So., RB (264 yards)
For Mount Zion, Brandon Price, Sr. QB (445 yards rushing, 891 yards passing); Charles Kuhle, Sr, WR/DB (610 yards, 7 TDs); Peyten Chappel, Sr., RB/LB (215 yards); Andrew Auton, Sr., OL/LB; Nate Ewing, Sr., OL/DL
KEYS TO THE GAME: It's only Week 5, but this could be the Apollo Conference championship game. Both teams have done a good job of reloading. Taylorville is getting it done with the league's stingiest defense, although the Tornadoes still see room for work there. And they haven't seen the toughest part of their schedule yet. The first four opponents are a combined 3-13.
Price continues to get more comfortable under center for the Braves. He threw for 357 yards a week ago. He's also the team's leading rushing. Like the Tornadoes, the defense is the key for Mount Zion. In their three wins, the Braves held teams to eight points per game after allowing 28 points a year ago. Taylorville won both games last season – a 31-6 decision in Week 5 and a 36-14 win in the opening round of the playoffs.
Shelbyville at Warrensburg-Latham
RECORDS: Shelbyville is 2-2, 1-1 Central Illinois; Warrensburg-Latham is 3-1, 1-1.
LAST WEEK: Shelbyville lost to Tuscola 40-22; Warrensburg beat Sullivan-Okaw Valley 75-35.
KEY PLAYERS: For Shelbyville, Cade Watson, Jr., WR/DB (177 yards); Tyler Gottfriedt, Jr., RB/DL; Lyle Jefson, Sr., QB/RB; Kentrell Beck, Fr., WR (327 yards); Turner Pullen, Jr., QB (350 yards rushing, 498 passing); Clayton Peterson, Jr., DL (34 tackles)
For Warrensburg, Diondre Lewis, Jr., RB/LB (428 yards); Dionte Lewis, Jr., QB/LB (623 yards rushing); Mitchell Leathers, So., DB; AJ Speasl, So., OL/LB (34 tackles); Tanner Martin, Sr., K
KEYS TO THE GAME: An important CIC matchup should be a shootout. Pullen has put up huge numbers in two games, including 420 yards of total offense in last week's game against a strong Tuscola defense. He's spreading the ball around. Against Tuscola, three receivers had at least 87 yards.
Warrensburg scored 48 straight points a week ago en route to posting 72 on Sullivan-Okaw Valley. Diondre and Dionte are getting accustomed to their new roles. Each had more than 200 yards rushing last week and combined for 10 touchdowns. So far relying on the ground game has been enough to overcome a struggling defense that will get severely tested tonight and next week (vs. Tuscola).
Tuscola at Central A&M
RECORDS: Tuscola is 4-0, 2-0; Central A&M is 2-2, 1-1.
LAST WEEK: Tuscola beat Shelbyville 40-22; Central A&M lost to Clinton 35-26.
KEY PLAYERS: For Tuscola, Dalton Hoel, Jr., WR/DB; Kaleb Williams, Sr., QB/LB (595 yards rushing, 249 yards passing); Hunter Woodard, Jr., OL/DL; Ray Kerkhoff, Sr., OL/DL; Lukas Hortin, Sr., WR/DB
For Central A&M, Keaton Garner, Sr., WR/DB (357 yards); Jackson Bugg, Sr., RB/DB (210 yards rushing, 182 yards receiving, 40 tackles); Jameson Smith, Jr., QB (744 yards passing); Riley Black, Jr., RB/LB (180 yards rushing, 39 tackles); Peyton Denton, Sr., OL/DL; Luke Schinzler, Sr., LB (45 tackles)
KEYS TO THE GAME: Tuscola has rolled through four weeks without really needing to get its offense unleashed. The Warriors have nine scores by its defense or special teams. But Williams has shown he's capable of controlling the quarterback spot, with more than 840 yards of offense. Next for Tuscola is 3-1 Warrensburg and 4-0 St. Teresa. A&M needs this one to stay in the conference race and perhaps the playoff race as none of its final four opponents have a losing record. But the Raiders have the offensive weapons to make any of them interesting if the defense (34 and 35 points in the two losses) can give them a chance.
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Sangamon Valley at LSA
RECORDS: Sangamon Valley is 4-0, 1-0; LSA is 4-0, 1-0.
LAST WEEK: Sangamon Valley beat Cerro Gordo-Bement 13-6; LSA beat ALAH 46-8.
KEY PLAYERS: For Sangamon Valley, Wyatt Royce, Sr., RB/DB (617 yards); Jimmy Staab, Sr., WR/QB//DB; Brendon West, Sr., LB (38 tackles)
For LSA, Jackson Allen, Sr., RB/DB (241 yards rushing, 210 yards receiving); Seth Reynolds, Jr., WR/LB (194 yards); Israel Cooper, Sr., OL; Kholbe Leaks, Sr., OL/DL (32 tackles); Briley Housh, Sr., QB/DB (300 yards rushing, 699 yards passing); Chandler Carter, Jr., LB (41 tackles)
KEYS TO THE GAME: Neither team has been pushed too hard this season. That figures to change tonight. Sangamon Valley's opponents are a combined 4-12. The Storm lost a lot of productivity from last year's team but it's again getting it done on the ground with Royce and Highley being the top contributors. Sangamon Valley is again expected to go with Staab at QB in place of the injured Nathan Highley. LSA's opponents are a combined 3-13, but the Lions have treated them that way too, putting up 37.5 points per game. The biggest reason is that Housh has a better command of the offense. He has put up good numbers while throwing just one interception.
Springfield Southeast at Eisenhower
RECORDS: Springfield Southeast is 1-3, 1-3 Central State Eight; Eisenhower is 4-0, 4-0.
LAST WEEK: Springfield Southeast lost to Springfield 38-12; Eisenhower beat Springfield Lanphier 59-8.
KEY PLAYERS: For Southeast, Gavin Webb, QB (792 yards passing); Vincent Hill, RB (170 yards rushing); Mark Johnson, WR (251 yards); Treyvon Williams, WR (207 yards)
For Eisenhower, Cayleb Dehority, Sr., QB (824 yards passing); Stephon Bobbitt, Sr., WR (429 yards); Bryson Bonds, Sr., RB/LB (435 yards); Eric Thomas, Sr., WR/DB; LaMontie Williams, Sr., DB; Tymon Scott, Sr., RB/DL
KEYS TO THE GAME: Southeast finished last week's game without Webb, who injured his shoulder. The absence hurt as the Spartans put up just 38 yards of offense in the second half. Southeast needs to get back to playing the way it did the first two weeks of the season as it faces consecutive games against Eisenhower and (4-0) Sacred Heart-Griffin. Southeast hung tight with Glenwood, falling 62-45 before beating Lanphier 54-13 in Week 2.
Eisenhower has steamrolled the teams it was expected to and will now see if it can keep delivering the kind of balanced offense it has been using. Eisenhower's stretch run consists of four teams with a combined 13-3 record. A win today likely gives Eisenhower the playoff points it would need for a second straight trip and would be the first time an Eisenhower team has started a season 5-0.
Monticello at St. Joseph-Ogden
RECORDS: Monticello is 4-0, 1-0 Okaw Valley; St. Joseph-Ogden is 2-2, 0-1
LAST WEEK: Monticello beat Tolono Unity 52-36; St. Joe lost to Champaign St. Thomas More 27-26
KEY PLAYERS: For Monticello, Caleb Hanson, Sr., QB (334 yards rushing, 1,176 yards passing); Nathan Harman, Jr., LB/OL (52 tackles); Noah Zimmerman, Jr., OL/DL; Lucas Lieb, Jr., RB/DB (240 yards); Nathan Graham, Sr., WR/DB (494 yards)
For St. Joe-Ogden, Marty Wright, Sr., QB (376 yards passing); Jack Fritz, Sr., RB/LB (425 yards rushing); Dwight Colvin, So., RB/DL (230 yards); Colton Hale, Sr., LB (25 tackles); Thomas Wimmer, Sr., OL/LB
KEYS TO THE GAME: For the second straight week, Monticello plays a Saturday night game and for the second straight week it is against a perennial Okaw Valley power. The Sages handled it pretty well last week as they dumped Unity, which had been ranked No. 9 in Class 3A. The Sages (No. 3 in 3A) were led by Hanson, who has been more than a capable replacement for highly recruited Brandon Wildman. Hanson had 395 yards passing against Unity and has more than 1,000 for the season.
St. Joe doesn't bring in its usual gaudy record but has faced a tough schedule. This past weekend, the Spartans held 4-0 St. Thomas More to 16 yards rushing but gave up four touchdowns through the air. St. Joe's problems have not been on the offensive end. After a Week 1 48-12 loss to Class 3A No. 2 Wilmington, the Spartans have scored 41, 41 and 26 points.