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Quarterback Bret Mooney helps lead Jacobs into an FVC Valley showdown against Huntley on Friday. | Donnell Collins~For Sun-Times Media
Huntley might be in the midst of an impressive three-game winning streak, but it has hardly had any time to celebrate.
Such is life in the Fox Valley Conference’s Valley Division, where every opponent is formidable and every game calls for a full week’s worth of preparation.
The Red Raiders bounced back from a pair of nonconference losses against quality teams to start the season by knocking off Prairie Ridge, Crystal Lake South and Dundee-Crown. Their reward is a Week 6 trip to play a talented Jacobs squad.
“If the Fox Valley is going to be this tough every year, I think they should build in a bye,” first-year Huntley coach John Hart joked.
Three of Huntley’s five games have been decided by five points or fewer, including last week’s 31-28 victory against Dundee-Crown. The Red Raiders can probably count on another nip-and-tuck affair against the Golden Eagles, who figure to come out with renewed focus after a disappointing 45-14 loss at Cary-Grove last week.
Jacobs (3-2, 1-1) still managed 367 yards of offense in the defeat against the Trojans and features a multi-faceted attack led by junior quarterback Bret Mooney, who has thrown for 999 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Senior Steven Varela has 481 rushing yards and 12 total touchdowns to lead the Golden Eagles ground game.
“These guys have great playmakers all over the football field,” Hart said of Jacobs. “I think the best throwing quarterback we’ve seen is (Mooney). He’s even better than the kid we saw from Kaneland in my opinion, so obviously that’s a concern.”
Huntley (3-2, 3-0) has a potent offense itself led by senior quarterback Kam Sallee, who has 695 passing yards and a team-best 333 rushing yards. His top target is senior receiver Bryce Beschorner, who leads the area with 488 yards and eight touchdowns on 26 receptions.
The challenges posed by the Red Raiders are certainly a concern for Jacobs, which allowed 602 yards to Cary-Grove last week and has yielded at least 42 points in each of its past three games.
“Sometimes we look very good on defense, and then other times we look like we’re not there,” Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. “We’ve worked very hard on that since Saturday and hopefully we’ll turn it around a little bit. We’ve given up way too many points and it’s got to stop.”
The Golden Eagles hold a 5-2 lead in the series between the teams since the Red Raiders joined the FVC in 2003.
Huntley running back Ethan Connor played last week but remains slowed by an injury Hart expects to linger for the rest of the season. Jacobs has good news on the injury front as senior left tackle Chuck Biligrien is set to return..
“(Huntley) is on a little hot streak having won three in a row,” Mitz said. “They’re playing very good football, there’s no doubt about it. It’s going to be a good test.”