Coal City's Payton Hutchings breaks free for a 19-yard touchown run Friday in a 41-7 win over Manteno.
Coal City's Payton Hutchings breaks free for a 19-yard touchown run Friday in a 41-7 win over Manteno. — Dan Voitik for Shaw Media

Carmel (1-5) at Joliet Catholic (3-3)

When: 7:30 Friday

Last matchup: Joliet Catholic 56, Carmel 21 (2018)

About the Hilltoppers: It took a little while for the Hilltoppers to get going in the Week 6 win over St. Ignatius but they got a spark from a surprisingly productive aerial attack. They might not need that wrinkle to climb above the .500 mark in this one, but it would certainly be something good to have in their back pocket for the stretch run.

About the Corsairs: Carmel might have one of the more deceptive 1-5 records in the state. They've only been beaten soundly in one of those five losses, a Week 4 defeat at the hands of Providence. Three of those four losses were suffered by a combination of just seven points. Now with the playoffs out of the picture, Carmel could be a dangerous team just because of its ability with nothing to lose.

Pick: Joliet Catholic

Providence (4-2) at DePaul Prep (2-4)

When: Noon Saturday

Last matchup: Providence 42, Gordon Tech 0 (former name of DePaul) (2013)

About the Rams: Since opening the season with back-to-back wins over Chicago Public League schools, things have rapidly gone down hill for DePaul. The woes have been extremely evident on the defensive side of the ball where they have given up points in bunches for the last four weeks.

About the Celtics: The offensive faucet was completely shut off last week in a loss to St. Rita as the offense couldn't be found. Part of that may have been due to an injury departure made by starting quarterback Kevin Conway, but they weren't able to do much with him in the lineup either. Regardless of whether or not Conway is available the Celtics should be able to get back on track here.

Pick: Providence

Plainfield East (3-3) at Plainfield South (3-3)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield South 41, Plainfield East 7 (2018)

About the Cougars: It was another strong performance for the Plainfield South defense who will need to be sharp against a Plainfield East offense that has shown consistent offensive skills for much of the regular season. Plainfield South could put themselves in a firm position to win the Southwest Prairie East Division title with a win here.

About the Bengals: The Bengals showed some grit after giving away an early lead and bouncing back to collect victory with a late score. Joey Morgan continues to put up strong offensive numbers although he's likely to get as good a test as any he's had this season from a Plainfield South defense that has shown the propensity to make very stingy.

Pick: Plainfield East

Plainfield North (4-2) at West Aurora (2-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: First Meeting

About the Blackhawks: West Aurora traded early punches with Southwest Prairie stalwart Oswego in Week 6, but faded in the second half. They now find themselves backed into the corner from a playoff perspective and will need a solid defensive effort to rein in a Plainfield North offense that has the capabilities to be explosive.

About the Tigers: How will the Tigers respond to the first time they've faced some questions. After being completely held in check by Minooka in Week 6, the Tigers are likely chomping at that bit to get another chance to prove their mettle. Tigers quarterback Adam Smith wasn't give the time to utilize the weapons at his disposal.

Pick: Plainfield North

Joliet Central (0-6) at Joliet West (1-5)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: Joliet Central 20, Joliet West 9 (2018)

About the Tigers: Joliet West's playoff chances pretty much went out the window with a loss to Plainfield East, but they aren't entirely gone, but they'll need some help to have a chance. Regardless of how that plays out look to Joliet West to continue to feed their vert talented running back Trent Howland.

About the Steelmen: Joliet Central has had lots of problems on offense, and its only score in a Week 6 loss to Romeoville came on a fumble recovery. The Steelmen might find the sledding pretty difficult here despite Joliet West's record as in most games even against superior foes the Joliet West defense has been pretty solid.

Pick: Joliet West

Yorkville (6-0) at Minooka (6-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: First Meeting

About the Indians: Minooka is playing as good of football as anyone right now, particularly on defense. After allowing a potent Plainfield North team to gain some yards on a its inaugural drive in Week 6, the Indian defense pretty much stifled the Tigers from then on out. A balanced offensive unit is giving opposing defenses fits in regards as to who to key on.

About the Foxes: Yorkville has really shown its mettle in their first run through the Southwest Prairie Conference. The Foxes have particularly displayed a knack for getting defensive stops at the most opportune times. It will be interesting to see if Yorkville quarterback Josh Beetham can solve the riddle of the Minooka defense that others have not been able to.

Pick: Minooka

Romeoville (1-5) at Plainfield Central (0-6)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Plainfield Central 20, Romeoville 6 (2018)

About the Wildcats: The rough stretch for the Wildcats continued as they were soundly beaten by Plainfield South in Week 6, but there might finally be some light at the end of the tunnel for the Wildcats with the remaining stretch of schedule. They should certainly be more competitive the rest of the way, but the large amount of points they are allowing is still a problem that really needs to be addressed.

About the Spartans: A few weeks of upheaval had a good resolution for the Spartans as they collected their first win since 2017 in defeating Joliet Central in Week 6. Romeoville is now under new leadership with Justin Trovato as former head coach Oliver Gibson has departed the program midseason. Tyrell Ross-Childs had a huge game against Joliet Central, a trend the Spartans hope can continue.

Pick: Romeoville

Sandburg (2-4) at Bolingbrook (5-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Bolinbgrook 54, Sandburg 0 (2018)

About the Raiders: It took awhile to for the Raidrs to get going in a Week 6 win over Lockport, but they did get a breakout performance from sophomore running back Jaquan Howard which gives their offense another dimension to deal with should he be able to continue at the pace he displayed.

About the Eagles: Things haven't been going well for Sandburg as of late, they were shut out for the second time this season in a loss to Homewood-Flossmoor in Week 6 after letting a lead get away from them in a Week 5 loss to Lockport. Sandburg's offense might have a hard time getting on track against a stingy Bolingbrook defense.

Pick: Bolingbrook

Homewood-Flossmoor (5-1) at Lincoln-Way West (4-2)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Homewood-Flossmoor 28, Lincoln-Way West 14 (2018)

About the Warriors: Lincoln-Way West continues to grind opponents into submission and have done so largely on the back of bulldozing running back Caleb Marconi. Marconi had a relatively light workload for him in a comfortable win over Stagg in Week 6 but still surpassed 100 yards and scored two TDs. Expect him to get back to a regular workload this week.

About the Vikings: Homewood-Flossmoor regrouped nicely from an offensive outage against Lincoln-Way East in Week 5 by dominating Sandburg last week. But the Vikings would certainly like to put a better foot forward against an upper echelon opponent in the SouthWest Suburban and this game should provide that chance.

Pick: Homewood-Flossmoor

Lincoln-Way Central (1-5) at Andrew (5-1)

When: 7:15 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way Central 49, Andrew 13 (2016)

About the T-Bolts: Andrew has been one of the surprise teams in the SouthWest Suburban Conference this season already securing playoff eligibility with last week's win. Defense has been Andrew's calling card and they are doing just enough on offense to get through in toss-up level games.

About the Knights: Things haven't been ideal for Lincoln-Way Central in recent weeks but if the Knights can continue to stay upbeat there might be an opportunity for them to pull a mild upset here. Lincoln-Way Central's ability to keep games close but not quite finish them out has been troubling, but the margin between these two teams isn't as wide as the records suggest.

Pick: Lincoln-Way Central

Lockport (2-4) at Lincoln-Way East (6-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lincoln-Way East 63, Lockport 0 (2016)

About the Griffins: Back-up quarterback Ty Slager isn't playing like a back-up and he demonstrated it again during Lincoln-Way East's Week 6 win over Lincoln-Way Central. Slager tossed three touchdown passes and has kep the offense running smoothly in the absence of starter Kyle Quinn. Continued performance at that level can only mean good things for the Griffins.

About the Porters: If the loss to Bolingbrook taught us anything its that Lockport isn't going to back down from anyone. That attitude will serve them well in this one, as Lockport will now be locking horns with the best opponent they will face this season. Malik Mahlouf is having a strong season at wide receiver for Lockport.

Pick: Lincoln-Way East

Shepard (5-1) at Lemont (5-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 42, Shepard 7 (2008)

About the Indians: Lemont is clearly on a roll. Winners of five straight, the Indians are putting together truly dominant efforts on both sides of the football. Receiver Anthony Sambucci has been spectacular all season, but running back Alex Tagler has stepped up his game as of late allowing for a dynamic 1-2 punch at the top of the Lemont offense.

About the Astros: Shepard's record is a bit surprising, but they've done just enough to keep most of their opponents at bay. The Astros haven't played the strongest schedule with their lone loss coming at the hands of Blue Island Eisenhower, but we'll likely find out exactly what they are made of now as they have back-to-back contests with Lemont and Richards.

Pick: Lemont

Morris (4-2) at LaSalle-Peru (5-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Morris 63, LaSalle-Peru 13 (2018)

About the Cavaliers: LaSalle-Peru is another real surprise team thus far this season, and while the true rigors of their schedule are yet to come, barring something competely bizarre LaSalle-Peru is headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2009 as they are already playoff eligible. They have also already surpassed the season win total of any Cavalier team this decade.

About the Redskins: Morris hit a bit of a stumbling block against Sycamore and the loss saw a four-game winning streak come to an end. But the loss certainly can't be defined as a bad one as it appears Sycamore is now the odds-on favorite to capture the title in the Interstate Eight. Morris has an opportunity to get themselves playoff eligible and the odds seem to be in their favor.

Pick: Morris

Coal City (6-0) at Lisle (4-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Coal City 43, Lisle 14 (2018)

About the Lions: It has been a bit of a up-and-down campaign for the Lions, but barring a hiccup in Week 5 against Wilmington, Lisle's offense has been pretty productive posting 40-plus points in two of their last three games. They are going to need to be super sharp to keep that string going against Coal City's vaunted defense.

About the Coalers: So far, the Illinois Central Eight Conference hasn't put up much of a fight against Coal City. In fact, Manteno is the only team to have scored upon them in league play, netting a solitary touchdown against the Coalers last week. Maybe Lisle will bring a little bit more of a threat at the Coalers to prep them for a rivalry showdown with Wilmington in Week 8.

Pick: Coal City

Peotone (5-1) at Manteno (2-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Peotone 33, Manteno 13 (2018)

About the Panthers: Manteno and Peotone were once cooperative partners, but since Manteno broke off and formed their own independent program it has become a fierce rivalry. Seperated by just five miles on Illinois Route 50, the game has been coined "The Battle For Route 50" by both schools. Manteno's ability to match up in the trenches could give Peotone some problems.

About the Blue Devils: Peotone's grinder mentality really came in handy as they had to use a gritty second half effort to pull away from Streator in Week 6. Already playoff eligible, the Blue Devils would like nothing more than to pick up a win over their long-time rivals to help improve their seeding in the Class 3A playoff field.

Pick: Peotone

Reed-Custer (1-5) at Wilmington (6-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: WIlmington 38, Reed-Custer 13 (2018)

About the Wildcats: No one has been within twenty points of the Wildcats this season who are clearly on cruise control right now. The back end of the Illinois Central Eight schedule should provide tests (Coal City, Peotone), but for now the reasonable goal is to just stay the course and keep on doing what they have been doing. There's no reasonable reason to deviate.

About the Comets: Reed-Custer has found itself outmatched in nearly all of its Illinois Central Eight contests this year and this one looks like another high mountain to try and climb. The defense has played a little bit better as of late, but the Comets still need to find a way to provide some more consistent offense so the defense doesn't feel the excess strain.

Pick: Wilmington

Seneca (3-3) at Watseka (5-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Watseka 22, Dwight 16 (2018)

About the Warriors: The first part of the season was a breeze for Watseka, but when the level of competition rose to meet them in a battle of undefeateds the Warriors didn't have an answer for Clifton Central. Seneca played a tighter game with the Comets when they met, which should give Watseka pause before trying to look past them.

About the Fighting Irish: The first of two teams that are currently 5-1 that Seneca has to deal with prior to the conclusion of the regular season, and the Fighting' Irish will likely need to beat at least one of them if they hope to get back in the playoffs. Seneca has played well against the Sangamon Valley's best teams, but have been unable to claim a win against one of them.

Pick: Watseka

Dwight (1-5) at Iroquois West (1-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Dwight 51, Iroquois West 6 (2018)

About the Raiders: Sangamon Valley Conference play has not been kind to the Raiders this season, as their lone win came in a nonconference game against a woefully struggling Hoopeston program. In three conference games, Iroquois West has been outscored 117-27.

About the Trojans: Dwight has a real opportunity to piece together a winning streak as the Trojans were able to flex their muscles in a win over Momence in Week 6. Carson Crouch had another huge week for Dwight, but this time he got a little bit of help from Will Bergstrom.

Pick: Dwight