Northwest Herald football game of the week

Cary-Grove (4-2, 4-0) 

at Jacobs (4-2, 3-0)

7:15 p.m. Friday’s Lester Johnson breaks down the game:

Cary-Grove scouting report

Offense looking good: Everybody knows the Trojans run the option offense, and now they are close to full strength. The emergence of freshman FB Tyler Pennington, who has run for 473 yards and four TDs in three starts, along with the return of RB Zach McQuade last week from a broken collarbone has sparked the offense. When Pennington gets his yards between the tackles, it opens the rest of the field for RB Matt Sutherland and QB Jason Gregoire. Gregoire has shown he can throw the ball when needed, but like most teams, the Trojans are more effective throwing when it is set up by the run rather than out of desperation. C-G crushed McHenry last week, so they should be firing on all cylinders. The Trojans’ offensive line will be key in this game.  

Defense will be tested: C-G allowed 14 points last week against McHenry, but it was after the starters were pulled. They have given up an average of 15.6 points a game. They will be challenged by the arm and legs of Jacobs QB Bret Mooney, who knows how to make big plays. The Trojans can’t forget about the run, but must focus on the Golden Eagles’ passing game. The defense will need to get pressure on Mooney and force him to make quick decisions in the pocket. The Trojans’ 3-3-5 defense is physical and fast, and that will help them keep the Eagles from making those big plays.  

Jacobs scouting report

Offense has playmakers: The Golden Eagles beat Crystal Lake South last week on the last play of the game, and that should give them a lot of confidence. Mooney has a strong arm and good speed. His favorite target is WR Hunter Williams, although RB Josh Walker, WR Cam McLain and several others can make plays. The Eagles will spread the field, usually with four WRs and Walker in the backfield. C-G has had some trouble with passing teams this season. The one thing that is hard to do against C-G is run to the outside. The Eagles will only be as good as the offensive line in this game, because Mooney needs time to make plays, and they need some form of a running game to keep C-G honest.  

Defending against the option: By now Jacobs had seen a lot of video on C-G’s option offense, but stopping it is a different story. One of the most important things for the Eagles’ defense is to stop Pennington between the tackles. They also have to watch Sutherland, who can hurt them if he gets outside. Jacobs has to get players to the ball and really wrap up against C-G. Jacobs gives up an average of 19.8 points a game. The Eagles can’t forget about the passing game of the Trojans, but the real focus is stopping the run. The more pressure Jacobs can get up the field, the easier it will be against the option.  

Final word

It really comes down to Jacobs’ passing game against Cary-Grove’s running game, and who stops the other. Both teams have won four straight games after starting 0-2 and are unbeaten in the FVC Valley Division. Jacobs needs to steal the early momentum because C-G plays really tough with the lead, and that would keep their fans in the game. Turnovers and special teams could make the difference in this game for first place.

Lester’s pick: Jacobs 28, Cary-Grove 24  

Lester’s other picks

Burlington Central at Richmond-Burton: R-B by 7 

Rockford Christian at Harvard: Harvard by 17

Stillman Valley at Marengo: Stillman Valley by 21

Montini at Marian Central: Montini by 10 

CL Central at Woodstock North: CL Central by 17

Johnsburg at CL South: CL South by 14

Dundee-Crown at Prairie Ridge: D-C by 10

Hampshire at Woodstock: Hampshire by 7

Huntley at McHenry: Huntley by 20

Grayslake Central at Grayslake North: GLN by 14

Kirkland Hiawatha at Alden-Hebron: A-H by 9

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