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Larkin's Mo Jackson tries to break a tackle earlier this season. The Royals hope to end a three-game losing streak when they host Bartlett on Friday night at Memorial Field. | John Konstantaras~For Sun-Times Media
For Larkin to have a chance at achieving its goals this season, it needed just about everything to fall into place.
So far the Royals haven’t been able to catch many breaks as injuries and a lack of overall consistency have led to three straight losses and put coach Mike Scianna’s team on the verge of being eliminated from playoff contention.
Larkin (2-4) hopes to turns things around Friday night when it hosts Bartlett (4-2) in an Upstate Eight crossover clash at Memorial Field. One thing the Royals can hang their hat on is a history of playing tough against the Hawks, who own a 4-3 advantage in the all-time series between the schools.
“We still have goals in place to try and accomplish,” Scianna said. “It’s also senior night for us. We’ve had two seniors, (Adam) Hamiel and (Alex) Schabert, that have been there three years with us on the varsity level. It’s a big game for them and it means a lot to them.”
Hamiel and Schabert are indeed key contributors for Larkin on the offensive and defensive lines, but Schabert may be limited to only one side of the ball as he deals with a knee injury. The Royals also expect to be without junior quarterback Kemmerin Blalark for a second straight game as he recovers from a concussion.
In addition to those concerns, junior running back Damion Clemons could be out for the second week in a row with a hand injury. Scianna estimates Larkin may only have 25 players dressed this week, which won’t make matters any easier against a Bartlett team that is fighting for a playoff spot as well as it seeks its 12th trip to the postseason in 13 years.
“You never know if five wins is going to be enough because you might not have enough (playoff) points,” Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. “We’ve got to take care of business week after week. We can’t rely on somebody else. We’ve got to keep plugging away.”
The Hawks feature a defense led by senior linebacker Kevin Kirchhoff and senior defensive end Chris Kantzavelos, a Central Michigan recruit. The unit forced four turnovers in last week’s 21-13 win against Lake Park.
On offense, everything Bartlett does revolves around senior running back Aaron Everson, who leads the area by a wide margin with 1,195 rushing yards and 20 total touchdowns. He has run for more than 230 yards four times this season.
“We know what they’re going to do,” Scianna said of Bartlett’s offense. “They’ve got a great back you’ve got to try to stop.”
Larkin is coming off a 48-0 defeat at Batavia last week, which marked the second straight shutout loss for the Royals.
Junior linebacker Jeff Pruitt will make his second start at quarterback if Blalark is unable to play. Senior Mo Jackson leads Larkin with 423 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 76 carries.