No. 11 Conant (6-3) at No. 6 Jacobs (7-2)
7:30 p.m. Friday
McHenryCountySports.com's Lester Johnson breaks down the game:
Conant scouting report
Cougars can score: Conant scored an average of 26.6 points a game during the regular season and will need every bit of that to beat Jacobs. The Cougars finished the regular season by winning their last two games and are coming off a big win against Fremd. Conant likes to throw the ball ,and QB Danny Modelski has 2,010 passing yards to prove it. Modelski has completed 52 percent of his passes and has 24 TDs with four picks. They have four players who have at least 22 catches and 360 yards. Bryson Brown leads the team with 34 catches for 531 yards. The Cougars' spread the ball around with five players having three or more receiving TDs. Two of those five are the Cougars' leading rushers. Elias Gardner has 554 yards on 111 carries, while Brown has 238 on 79 carries.
Defense will be tested: Conant allowed an average of 20.3 points a game during the regular season. Kevin Copher and D'Angelo McBride each have three interceptions to lead the team. DL Tyler LaBarbera is a force for the Cougars. The senior has 58 tackles, with 16 tackles for a loss and seven sacks. LB Mike Kos leads the defense with 84 tackles, four of those for a loss, and has two sacks. The Cougars' defense will be challenged by a host of skill players on the Jacobs offense. If they don't get pressure on QB Bret Mooney and prevent those big plays Jacobs is known for, it will be a long night.
Jacobs scouting report
Offense is clicking: The Golden Eagles are led by Mooney, but they have several players who can make big plays. RB Josh Walker ran for 251 yards and three TDs in last week's win against Dundee-Crown. He has plenty of quickness and speed to hurt defenses. He's fifth in the area with 913 rushing yards and has 10 TDs. Mooney is third in the area with 1,652 passing yards and has 17 TDs with eight picks. Mooney has serious arm strength but has been hurting a lot of teams with his running ability and is always a threat to take off. Mooney's favorite receiver is Hunter Williams, who's fourth in the area with 667 yards on 50 catches and has eight TDs. Cam McLain, Ryan Sargent and Walker round out the top targets. The Eagles will spread the field and try to let their athletes make plays. They are trying to establish the run more to have balance. They averaged 29.8 points a game for the regular season.
Protect the nest: Jacobs allowed an average of 20 points a game for the regular season. They will face a Conant team that has thrown for more than 2,000 yards. It will be up to the line and linebackers to get pressure on Modelski, and the defensive backfield will be busy. Keeping the Cougars' passing game in check and forcing some turnovers are keys. If the defense can keep it close on the scoreboard, the Eagles' big-play offense can pull out a win. The Eagles held Dundee-Crown to seven points last week and have some momentum.
Jacobs is on a seven-game winning streak and won the FVC Valley Division outright. The common opponent for both teams is Barrington. The Eagles lost to the Broncos, 22-15, while the Cougars lost to them, 32-20. Both teams throw a lot, and that should make for plenty of turnover opportunities. The team that plays disciplined and limits turnovers will have the edge.
Lester's pick: Jacobs 28, Conant 21
Lester's other picks
St. Edward at Harvard: St. Edward by 1
Marian Central at Bremen: Marian by 14
Hampshire at Kaneland: Kaneland by 21
Prairie Ridge at Lakes: PR by 3
Rolling Meadows at Grayslake North: GLN by 7
Dundee-Crown at Oak Park-River Forest: OPRF by 14
Alden-Hebron at Stockton: Stockton by 17
Richmond-Burton at Evergreen Park: EP by 10
Cary-Grove at Guilford: C-G by 13
De La Salle at CL Central,: CLC by 21