Northwest Herald football game of the week: Prairie Ridge vs. Boylan
No. 13 Prairie Ridge (7-4) at No. 1 Rockford Boylan (11-0)
1 p.m. Saturday
McHenryCountySports.com's Lester Johnson breaks down the game:
Prairie Ridge scouting report
When PR has the ball: The Wolves run the triple option and do not throw much. Last week, QB Brett Covalt was 2 of 6 for 39 yards. One of the completions was a 28-yard TD with a minute left that tied the score, and the extra point won it. Covalt leads the team with 875 rushing yards and 15 TDs, and had 140 yards and a rushing TD in last week's win against Marmion. Zack Greenberg (668 yards, 9 TD), Brent Anderson (715, 4) and Steven Ladd (281, 3) round out the Wolves' backfield. Prairie Ridge averages 24.8 points a game, but it's 39.2 during their five-game winning streak. Prairie Ridge has 198 points, 28 TDs and over 2,000 yards in its five-game winning streak. The Wolves have been playing much faster on offense and have gained confidence. The Wolves rushed for 276 yards last week.
Stopping Boylan: Prairie Ridge has allowed an average of 19.1 points a game this season and 16.2 over its five-game winning streak. The Wolves' defense played well in the first half last week and then gave up 20 points in the second half. In Round 1 it was the defense that won the game with a late stand, but in Round 2 it was the offense that bailed out the defense. The good news is they held a decent running team in Marmion to 56 total rushing yards. They gave up 204 passing to the Cadets. Cary-Grove, which runs a similar 3-3-5 defense as Prairie Ridge, held Boylan to 17 points and 209 total yards last week. They can not let QB Demry Croft beat them. Slow him down and they have a chance.
Boylan scouting report
When Boylan has the ball: Boylan averages 33.8 points a game, but was held to 17 last week at C-G after a scoreless first half. Croft made some big plays in the second half, throwing for a TD and converting some big third downs. Croft has thrown for 1,546 yards and 15 TDs, and threw only his second interception of the season last week. Croft also has run for 571 yards and 9 TDs. Nicholas Pumilia leads the team with 683 rushing yards and has two TDs. The Titans should have better luck with the passing game this week after facing both a tough C-G defense and a strong wind last week. Prairie Ridge gave up 204 passing yards last week, most of that in the second half. Brock Stull (531, 6) and Ryan Stanicek (393, 5) are the Titans' leading receivers.
Defending the option: Coaches say it's hard to practice for an option team, but Boylan should have an advantage playing its second triple-option team in a row. The Titans beat Cary-Grove last week and held the Trojans to 10 points and 260 total yards (160 rush, 100 pass). The fourth-quarter interception by Matt Sciame deep in Boylan's own end to keep the lead was huge. Prairie Ridge probably will add some new wrinkles, but that familiarity with the option should be helpful. The Titans allow an average of 19.3 points a game this season. They will need to slow down Covalt and win the physical battle on the line to have a chance. Boylan won't have to worry as much about the pass as they did against C-G, but Prairie Ridge can still make plays when needed.
Prairie Ridge rides a five-game winning streak into this game, and Boylan has won 11 straight. I expect a good game from the Wolves' defense, but I'm not sure the offense will score enough. Boylan has won a lot with its offense this season but will need another big effort from the defense to win. If Prairie Ridge gets behind and has to throw, that could spell trouble. Boylan beat Prairie Ridge, 14-7, in the 2010 quarterfinals. This game could look a lot like last week's Boylan-C-G contest.
Lester's pick: Boylan 21, Prairie Ridge 14