FOOTBALL: Week six capsules

Coal City quarterback Payton Hutchings releases a throw as he's tackled during the Coalers' victory against Bishop McNamara earlier this season. The Coalers will put up their 5-0 record up against Manteno, and the Irish will travel to Wheaton Academy as they attempt to get back to .500.

Bishop McNamara at Wheaton Academy

Gametime: 7 p.m. (Thursday)

Players to watch: RB/WR/LB Owen Jackson, WR/RB/DB Manny Harris

Preview: The Irish are going to take all the healthy bodies they can and take the 90-minute trip to Performance Trust Field on a school night. The Warriors boast a 3-2 record, but those two losses came by 40-plus points to Immaculate Conception and St. Francis, two teams that defeated the Irish by a combined seven points. As long as they can field a healthy 11, the Irish should be able to return home victorious.

Pick: Bishop McNamara 45, Wheaton Academy 27

Andrew at Bradley-Bourbonnais

Gametime: 7 p.m.

Players to watch: LB Cadden Scroggins, DL/FB Hollist Daniels

Preview: The Boilers seemed to turn a corner defensively with their first-half performance against Bolingbrook last week, but the offense went in the opposite direction. After dropping 30-plus points in each of the first two weeks, the Boilers have scored just 40 combined points in their last three. The Thunderbolts have managed a 4-1 record and will look to simultaneously clinch their own playoff spot and all but eliminate the Boilers from postseason talk. Don’t expect the Boilers to let their SouthWest Suburban Conference rivals to do that on Homecoming night.

Pick: Bradley-Bourbonnais 23, Andrew 17

Thornridge at Kankakee

Gametime: 6:30 p.m.

Players to watch: WR Jonathan Pitts, WR/DB Chico Spivery

Preview: The Kays are well-rested and ready to get back on the field after an off week last weekend. Rust might be a worry early on, as you never know how a group of high school kids will react to so much time off, but this Kays group seems different and determined. The Class 5A postseason is an arm’s length away and the 10th-ranked Kays plan to ride their explosive offense and vicious defense to victory against a winless Falcons squad.

Pick: Kankakee 49, Thornridge 0

Manteno at Coal City

Gametime: 7 p.m.

Players to watch: Manteno — RB/LB Davey Wurster, QB Caleb Borkenhagen; Coal City — RB/LB Daniel Jezik, TE/LB Austin Pullara

Preview: The premier matchup in the Illinois Central Eight, this matchup features a playoff lock, Coal City, and a playoff hopeful in Manteno. The Panthers have shown a willingness of late to run the football and control games that way, and Borkenagen is the area’s leading passer with 1,293 yards. The Coalers haven’t allowed a point in conference competition this season, winning their three games by a combined 111-0 margin. The Panthers can score in bunches, but the Coalers will provide a different level of test.

Pick: Coal City 35, Manteno 21

Herscher at Wilmington

Gametime: 7 p.m.

Players to watch: Herscher — RB/LB Cody Lunsford, TE/DE Travis Jones; Wilmington — RB/DB Trey Shaw, DB Jack Narine

Preview: The Tigers couldn’t have picked a worse time to run into a Wilmington squad that is peaking and reaching full health. It’s been the opposite scenario for the Tigers, who have been as affected by the injury bug as any school in the area. The Wildcats didn’t have to throw a pass in last week’s 27-6 win at Lisle, and with Shaw back to full health to compliment Jake Rodawold in the backfield, they might not throw it again this week.

Pick: Wilmington 49, Herscher 10

Streator at Peotone

Gametime: 7 p.m.

Players to watch: QB/DB Max Gesswein, RB/LB Ben Balmer

Preview: Everyone knows the Blue Devils’ game plan is to run the ball and play defense each and every week, with this week being no exception. Balmer once again will shoulder a bruising ground game against a Bulldogs team reeling from a blowout loss to Coal City. But with the playoffs a month away, Gesswein might get a few opportunities to keep his arm loose and the passing game prepared should it need to be utilized more in November.

Pick: Peotone 34, Streator 7

Lisle at Reed-Custer

Gametime: 7 p.m.

Players to watch: RB/DL Cameron Bergman, WR/DB Gage Stamm

Preview: The Comets didn’t have their best showing against Manteno last week, but Lisle certainly has taken a step back the past two weeks. Stamm has emerged more in the passing game lately, and Bergman showed some solid running abilities in spurts last week. The Lions are a more beatable team on the road, but their ground game should travel well enough to leave Braidwood with a much-needed win for the playoff picture.

Pick: Lisle 24, Reed-Custer 10

Momence at Dwight

Gametime: 7 p.m.

Players to watch: Momence — RB/LB Grant Laney, OL/LB Kody Lawrence; Dwight — QB/DB Carson Crouch, RB/LB Daniel Gutierrez

Preview: Momence has shown continued offensive improvement but not enough to match what Crouch and the Trojans can do. Both teams will look to get their playmakers plenty of chances to pop a big run and physically pound out each and every yard they can. In a game such as that, count on the best player on the field to lead their team to victory. And for this matchup, Crouch will be the best player on the field every snap he logs.

Pick: Dwight 28, Momence 14

Iroquois West at Seneca

Gametime: 1 p.m. (Saturday)

Players to watch: QB/OLB Tibaldo Alvarez, WR/RB/S Auston Miller

Preview: The Irish gave Central all the Comets could handle last week and are able to knock off any Sangamon Valley Conference front-runners. The Raiders are a year or two away from being one of those front-runners, but they’ll spend the rest of this season looking to spoil opponents’ playoff hopes, starting this week. That will be easier said than done against the Irish.

Pick: Seneca 28, Iroquois West 7

Flanagan-Woodland at Milford-Cissna Park

Gametime: 7 p.m.

Players to watch: TE/LB Alex Barney, WR/DB Keegan Boyle

Preview: The Bearcats are by far the most dangerous 8-Man team in the state and have been since its inception. The Falcons have been decent competition with a 3-2 mark in their first year playing 8-Man football, but this will be their first experience against the state’s best. One of these days, someone will step up and give the Bearcats a test, but don’t count on that this week.

Pick: Milford-Cissna Park 62, Flanagan-Woodland 14

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