The once-muddled Fox Valley Conference Valley Division football picture has come nicely into focus.
Cary-Grove and Jacobs, after four weeks of division play, have established themselves as the Valley’s best teams. That makes for an enticing matchup as they both ride four-game winning streaks into Friday’s 7:15 p.m. game at Jacobs Athletic Field.
“We’re both undefeated [in division games], both on four-game winning streaks, we’re both rolling and we’ll see who’s the better team on Friday night,” Jacobs quarterback Bret Mooney said. “It’s definitely going to be a huge game for the conference [division title].”
C-G (4-2 overall, 4-0 FVC Valley) is trying to win the FVC or Valley championship for the eighth time in 10 years. Jacobs (4-2, 3-0) has not won an FVC title since sharing with Crystal Lake Central in 1979.
Both teams got off to 0-2 starts against powerful nonconference opponents but have since hit their stride.
C-G needed late heroics in Week 3 against Huntley as quarterback Jason Gregoire hit wide receiver Larkin Hanselmann with a 60-yard pass in a 16-13 victory.
Jacobs defeated Crystal Lake South, 26-20, last week on one of the most amazing final plays a team could deliver. Mooney scrambled 26 yards downfield after time had expired, then fired a lateral halfway across the field to running back Josh Walker, who raced the final 30 yards for the touchdown.
“We have to win two games, and Jacobs is one of them,” C-G coach Brad Seaburg said. “We want to take care of business this week for sure.”
The Trojans have allowed only 14 points in the past three games, and freshman fullback Tyler Pennington has sparked the offense, averaging 157.7 yards a game.
“It’s going to be kind of a two-taled story,” Golden Eagles coach Bill Mitz said. “How are they going to defend the pass? And how are we going to defend the run? If we defend the run well, we’re good. We all know what you have to do when you play [Cary-Grove], you have to stop the fullback. If they defend the pass well, they’re going to be really good.”
The Trojans had back-to-back shutouts before last week’s 48-14 victory over McHenry, but they have not seen a quarterback like Mooney, who is completing 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,178 yards with 14 touchdowns and five interceptions.
“They have a real good quarterback, and we have to stop his passing,” C-G defensive end Joey Maxwell said. “We have to put a rush on him and try to get some interceptions.”
Mooney distributes the ball around to Hunter Williams, Camden McLain and Ryan Sargent, and Walker, with his speed, provides a big-play threat running or receiving.
“[C-G’s defense] plays hard,” Mooney said. “We have to match their intensity and we’ll do pretty well. They’re not the biggest defense, but they’re definitely pretty fast.”