Monday Morning Quarterback: Week Three

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Happy Tuesday! The Monday Morning QB comes a day late this week, thanks to the Labor Day holiday. Hope everyone enjoyed the long weekend.

Let's take a quick look around the prep football landscape this morning, shall we?

• BELOIT TURNER: Let's be honest, that was a tough one for Turner against McFarland Friday night. Was it a catastrophic loss? No, it wasn't. Those don't exist in week three.

But I will say it did alter my perception of the Trojans, if only slightly. In the first two games, the Trojans dominated their opponents up front. Essentially, they did whatever they wanted to do.

They looked like the most physical team in the conference, one that could just manhandle their way to a 9-0 or 8-1 season, Rock Valley Conference co-champs at the least.

Now, the 8-1 record is still possible. Being a co-champ (or, if things break right, even outright champion) is still possible. But the Trojans will now need to count on the kindness of strangers if their hopes of wining a conference crown can be realized.

East Troy and McFarland, the league's last remaining undefeated squads, will meet Friday. It's clear the Trojans should be..well, big Trojan fans Friday. That at least opens the door to controlling their own destiny.

Win the remainder of their games, including the tilt against East Troy, and they will have at least a share of the title.

That's all logistics. Let's talk about what concerned me Friday night. I just didn't expect the Trojans to be out-muscled on the line. McFarland really, really impressed me. They controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

Turner's defense stiffened when it had to, and deserves a ton of credit for allowing just nine points. But with the exception of one drive, the Spartans held that Trojan attack in check.

It seems as though the passing game hasn't made the leap that many expected, at least not through three games. Turner wasn't forced to move the ball through the air in its first two games, but when they had to Friday night, it was a struggle.

D Strong got it going a little in the second half, and he presents a huge target for junior quarterback Kenny Draeving. But he faced a lot of pressure throughout the night, and Turner couldn't move the ball consistently on the ground to ease some of that burden.

Here's another factor: The Trojans don't have that one true breakaway threat this year to take the top off the defense. Sereno Ferone and Juan Reyes were explosive athletes that made plays.

This year, Turner has to pound it out, three to five yards at a time, in order to be successful. Now, Nano Reyes and Jordan Majeed are talented, hard-working guys that any team would love to have. But I'm not sure I would consider them home run threats at this point.

It will be fascinating to see how this team responds. One thing Turner hasn't lacked in there Derek Diehl era, from the head coach on down, is confidence. Has that shaken a bit, or was this just a bump in the road?

The Trojans travel to Evansville-Albany this week in what should be an opportunity to get right again. I'm confident they will do exactly that.

• HONONEGAH: The Indians had another ho-hum blowout victory Friday night, this time over Freeport. The start of the season has gone exactly to plan thus far for Hononegah. The defense is stepping up when needed, and the experienced offense is simply rolling through the competition.

This week will offer a slightly more interesting test, as the Indians must travel to Swanson Stadium in Rockford to take on East, another 2-0 team. Still, I don't view the E-Rabs as viable contenders for the NIC-10 crown. East's two wins have come over a Belvidere team that has fallen on hard times (where have you gone, Vern Pottinger?) and a 6-2 win over an Auburn team that will struggle this year as well.

The Indians will eventually be tested. Belvidere North and Boylan look pretty strong, and Harlem could be salty as well. But expect another laugher Friday.

• BELOIT MEMORIAL: After Friday night's loss to La Follette, it's time to re-set the bar on the 2018 season. That doesn't mean the year has to be a failure or anything. It just means that making a cogent argument that the Purple Knights can finish the season 5-1 isn't possible.

So, what can be done? Well, the Knights can take down Madison East this Friday. They can beat Janesville Parker. That's two. How about finding one more in there somewhere to finish with a respectable 3-6 mark? It's not what the team hoped for at the beginning of the season, but it's also not a step back in the long rebuilding process.

The Knights hung with the Lancers for a half Friday, but the age-old lack of depth problem reared its ugly head again in the second half. And that's a problem that isn't going to simply vanish in the season's final six games. Win Friday night, Purple Knights, and the outlook for the remainder of the season looks much more palatable.

• CLINTON: I predicted a breakout performance from the Cougars Friday night, and that's exactly what happened. Clinton hung 47 points on Whitewater. The Whippets at this point are like a triage unit. They travel the Rock Valley, diagnose what's wrong with their opponents, and then immediately fix what's wrong with them.

It's not great for them, but they are providing a terrific service for the rest of the conference.

The Cougars now have hit the re-set button, and the playoffs still aren't out of the question. The Rock is down this year. There's just no question about that. Can Clinton find four more wins in the last six games? I think it's possible. Edgerton could be one of those swing games Friday night. Get that one, and it becomes a lot easier to count to five.

• BRODHEAD-JUDA: The final score read 30-7, but the Cardinals' game at Edgerton wasn't that lopsided. They trailed by just a touchdown at halftime before falling apart in the second half. That's too bad, too, because a 3-0 start in this league is a near-guaranteed playoff berth. Let's see what Jefferson has to offer Friday night. I was a little stunned to see them only beat a really down Evansville team by a point Friday night. They have switched to a spread offense this season, and the transition has been a rough one. Let's see if the Cards can bounce back.

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