Week 6 preview of football games involving Prairie Central and Dwight.

Prairie Central is on the verge of making a return trip to the postseason. Though a win this week will put the Hawks in a good position, it will take more wins to get a favorable first-round opponent.
    Dwight opened some eyes with a big-time win at home over Watseka last week. The Trojans are sitting in a less-than-admirable position with three losses, but last week’s win over the Warriors offers hope for a strong finish to the regular season.
    Both PC and DTHS will be on the road this week with tough matchups. The Hawks get St. Joseph-Ogden on the Spartans’ field. The Trojans trek to Momence to face a Redskins team that has given them fits over the years.
Prairie Central (4-1) at St. Joe-Ogden (4-1)
    What do these two teams have in common? They both have lost to Pontiac. There are differences in how those setbacks came about. PC lost at Lewis Field on its homecoming. SJO fell to the Indians on Pontiac’s homecoming.
    This game means a lot to both teams, who appear headed to the postseason. For Prairie Central, a road win over a tough opponent is a confidence-builder. It will also help the Hawks push forward to a possible higher seeding.
    “We need to control what we can,” PC head coach Kirk Brandenburg said. “How we play, how we get better and keep a good attitude going through the rest of the season.”
    The Hawks will be looking at a team similar to Pontiac in St. Joe-Ogden. The Spartans have a shifty and solid back in Dwight Colvin, who rushed for 139 yards last week. SJO can throw the ball with Keanen Swanson, who was 8 of 16 for 104 yards, but he was picked off twice.
    “We did play better vs. the pass last week,” Brandenburg said.
    “We did not play well up front last week at IVC. The intensity must be better to start the game this week,” Brandenburg added. “Colvin is one of the top running backs in the area; he is a high-motor kid that will be tough to stop.”
    When the Hawks have the ball, there are many things that can happen that will be very positive. Collier Palmore has emerged as a respected quarterback and Matt Kerns is more than capable at fullback.
    The speed of Wyatt Steidinger will be key in creating issues for the SJO defense.
    “Control the ball and control the clock will be key. If we control that phase of the game, we like our chances,” Brandenburg said. “Our balance is very hard to prepare for.”
     A win for the Hawks will give them an opportunity to be considered for the postseason because they will have 40 points. That’s not a guarantee, but is considered a solid number.
    However, the Hawks will look to add at least a sixth victory to guarantee a playoff berth.
Dwight (2-3, 1-2) at Momence (1-4, 1-2)
    Forty points could be the magic number for Dwight regarding the postseason. At 2-3, the Trojans are more concerned with one win at a time.
    DTHS got one big hige victory last week as it is now living by the Oakland Raiders mantra of “Just Win, Baby!”
    “After losing two straight games and things aren’t going the way you had planned, it’s a challenge to find the confidence to come out and beat a really good team,” DTHS head coach Luke Standiford said. “However, we were able to overcome some adversity and played like we were capable of and picked up a big win. A big part of that is the senior leadership that this team has.”
    With the likes of Logan Graham, Colton Holm and Chris Bement, among others, the Trojans can try to focus in on getting to .500, and then moving closer to the goal of the postseason.
    A look the schedule indicates that finishing at least 5-4 is quite possible, if not probable. Current speculation is that the Trojans, at 5-4, would have 40 points, which is a solid number to have when the selections are broken down and decided by those playoff numbers.
    It won’t be easy as the Trojans take to the road against an athletic Momence team on the Redskins’ home field.
    “They are loaded with fast athletic kids, and in my opinion the best quarterback in the conference,” Standiford said. “The biggest challenge that we will face is defending the pass for 5-plus seconds. Kobey Mazur does a great job of scrambling to find open players and has the ability to tuck the ball away and move the chains with his feet. We will not only need to put pressure on him, but contain him from getting out of the box.”
    That has been a problem in the past for Dwight against Momence. But ball-control on offense will help keep the ball out of the Redskins’ hands.
    Helping the Redskins is the return of Jason Bargy, a player Standiford calls “the best football player in the state.”
    “He will put pressure on our quarterback and their secondary will cover the field very well,” Standofrd said.
    Dwight is bigger up front on offense, but the Momence defense is quick.
    “We are doing a much better job of finishing our drives and not turning the ball over, which has been a problem so far this season,” Standiford said. “We are also making some big plays that has helped keep drives alive. Last Friday we had 13 plays that went for 10-plus yards in the second half, which allowed us to pull away from Watseka.”
    Momence has yielded the most points of any team in the conference, including 49 to league-leader Paxton-Buckley-Loda last week. DTHS is is fourth in scoring on offense in the SVC.