ROCKTON- The Hononegah Indians trip down easy street will take a sharp turn Friday night.
The 3-0 Indians, who have yet to be challenged this season, will face similarly undefeated and unchallenged Rockford Boylan.
In what is clearly a down season for the NIC-10, there appears to be only three contenders for the title: Boylan, Hononegah and Harlem. Those three teams have combined to outscore their opposition 406-85 in the nine games, all victories.
So when two of those teams meet, it's a pretty big deal. When it's Hononegah and Boylan, the NIC-10's premier rivalry, this might well be the game of the year.
Hononegah coach Brian Zimmerman believes his team will be up to the task.
"We've mentioned to them that is' almost like a mini-playoff game," Zimmerman said. "We want to make it seem like a playoff game to stress the significance of it, but at the same time you don't want them to get uptight. It's a big game for a number of reasons, and one of those is that they are the best team we've faced so far. We want the kids to get excited about playing the, but at the same time we need to limit the mistakes and play in control. We will see how the kids respond to a big game."
Zimmerman said this year's Titans team is an improvement over last year's 4-5 squad.
"We are going to have to play four quarters and we're going to have to score some points to win Friday," Zimmerman said. "They have two running backs that are really good athletes, and they have an improved offensive line. They rotate in two quarterbacks, and both of them can both run and pass. They have a lot of things to throw at you."
Hononegah quarterback Ryan Van Schelven leads the NIC-10 with seven touchdown passes and he has yet to throw an interception. Running back Isiah Richardson leads the league with 470 yards rushing and tight end Nick Pierson tops the conference in receiving with 220 yards.
"So many teams don't see a true tight end like Nick is," Zimmerman said. "And we try to create good situations for him as well. When we flank him outside, a lot of times at 6-foot-4, he's matched up on a cornerback that's much smaller than he is. He's just a big boy receiver."
• BELOIT MEMORIAL (1-3) at MIDDLETON (2-2): Fresh off its first victory of the season, a solid thrashing of Madison East, Beloit Memorial will try to keep the good vibes rolling Friday night.
They face a Cardinals team that has outscored their opponents 90-0 in two wins, while their two losses have been by a combined eight points.
In other words, this isn't your ordinary .500 team. After beginning the season in an extended offensive slump, the Knights busted loose against cellar-dwelling Madison East Friday, scoring 28 second-half points in a 37-13 victory.
• MARKESAN (3-1) at PARKVIEW (0-2): It's been a strange start to the season for Parkview. After being forced to cancel its first game of the season, the Vikings lost their next two games before Montello postponed its game in Orfordville last week due to flooding that kept them out of school the entire week.
Rescheduling that contest has been tricky, according to Parkview athletic director Shane Suehring. There isn't a date that matches up on the schedules of the two teams, making an early-week game necessary if the game were to be rescheduled.
Markesan dropped its opening game 51-0 to St. Mary's Springs, but has since won three straight, including a come-from-behind 16-13 victory over Dodgeland last week.
• BIG FOOT (1-3) at CLINTON (1-3): The Chiefs and Cougars are both grateful for the presence of Whitewater in the Rock Valley. The Whippets are the only victim thus far for both teams, with the Cougars winning 47-15 two weeks ago and Big Foot pounding Whitewater 48-18 last week.
Chiefs quarterback Logan Eisched set a new school record with five touchdown passes, with Aidan Greco on the receiving end of three.
Things didn't go so well for Clinton, which dropped a 41-8 decision at Edgerton. Clinton coach Jacob Standiford said the team wasn't physical enough to earn the win.
"Our physicality in that game just wasn't on par with what Edgerton brought to the table," Standiford said. "They were a very impressive team. I expected to be much more competitive than we were, but we turned the ball over five times."
Standiford knows Big Foot has to view this as a winnable game on their schedule, just as Clinton is doing the same.
"I think we match up favorably with Big Foot talent-wise," Standiford said. "But I look for this to be a competitive game. In any football game, you have to take care of the ball if you want to win, it doesn't matter who you are playing. So we need to take care of the ball, and our offensive and defensive lines have to be physical. If we can do that, I'm confident that we'll be in a position to win the football game."
• RIVER VALLEY (0-3) at SOUTH BELOIT (0-3): The SoBos finally get an opportunity to play in front of their home fans Friday when they host a winless River Valley team.
South Beloit's three-game road trip to begin the season didn't go as planned, with the SoBos being outscored 133-14 in the three games.
River Valley has been even worse in its three games, losing by a combined 174-25.
• NORTH BOONE (2-1) at DIXON (2-1): It's homecoming week for the 2-1 Dukes, who have yet to play a close game this season. Dixon blew out Rock Falls and Oregon after being defeated 42-13 by Stillman Valley.
The Vikings outscored Mendota and Lutheran 98-12 to begin the season before Genoa-Kingston rallied to overtake North Boone 30-23 last week.
Dixon is led by RB Tyler Christiansen, who has rushed for 353 yards and six TDs.
North Boone QB Britton Morris is off to an outstanding start in his senior season, completing 53-of-99 passes for 792 yards and nine touchdowns against just one interception.