Today marks the halfway point of the high school football regular season.
While there have been plenty of story lines through the first 4 1/2 weeks, the most obvious trend is that the 2013 season has been unpredictable.
It started with a stormy Friday night in Week 1 that postponed almost all of our games and has continued with upsets and unexpected blowouts.
Now I'll try the impossible, and predict the unpredictable. I'll take my best stab at how the 15 area teams will finish this season.
Let's start out in the NIB-12 West:
There's no denying the Dukes have improved from the 0-9 season from 2012 more than even their 1-3 record indicates. They hit the NIB-12 West slate this week with a rough matchup with Geneseo.
Besides Geneseo and Sterling, I think the Dukes have a good chance of beating the other three NIB-12 West teams.
My prediction: Dixon 4-5
The Warriors started the year in a big way by defeating 5A No. 9 ranked team Metamora. It's gone a bit downhill since that including blowout losses in NIB-12 crossover games against Kaneland and Rochelle.
Even so, I think they along with Geneseo are the class of the NIB-12 West this season. The Week 7 matchup with the Maple Leafs should determine the conference crown. Right now, the Maple Leafs seem a slight favorite at home.
My prediction: Sterling 6-3
Big Northern West
How the Hawks handle the pass on defense could determine if they qualify for the playoffs. They'll see some of that this week against Rockford Lutheran and get a heavy dose in Week 9 against the Rock Falls Rockets.
I think they take losses at Lutheran and Winnebago, but beat Byron and Mendota at home. If they control the ball at Rock Falls on Oct. 25, they'll finish playoff eligible. I think they will.
My prediction: Oregon 5-4
Rock Falls (1-3)
My lack of faith in the Rockets stems from the fact that they just can't seem to stop anyone on defense. Their offense is dangerous, which means they could always unexpectedly win a shootout.
But this isn't the NFL, and teams with good defense still beat good offenses.
My prediction: Rock Falls 3-6
Three Rivers North
I am torn on the Clippers. I think they are better than what they showed in the first 3 weeks, but I am not sure if that makes them better than the Three Rivers North competition they will see the next five games.
I could see Amboy finishing anywhere between 5-4 and 2-7, but I think injuries and inconsistency will cost the Clippers too much.
My prediction: Amboy 2-7
Bureau Valley (1-3)
Like the Storm, it feels like the Clippers should have a better record at this point. BV has a good QB in Parker Neuhalfen, and they have some solid weapons around him.
That being said, I do think the Storm improves during conference play and squeak into the playoffs.
My prediction: BV 5-4
I think the Panthers have established themselves as a contender for the North title. The big challenges in the second half of the season will come against Newman on Oct. 11 and against Orion on Oct. 25.
They are going to split those two games: Falling to Newman and beating Orion. The good news, they'll win the rest and make the playoffs.
My prediction: EP 6-3
This could be a 'what if' team. If Ethan Jones had not been injured early in a Week 2 game against Kewanee, it seems possible the Steamers beat both the Boilermakers and Morrison. Instead, they lost both games, putting the pressure on for the rest of the season.
It will come down to Week 9 game at Bureau Valley. I have both teams at 4-4 going into the game, and right now, I give a slight nod to the Storm.
My prediction: Fulton 4-5
The Mustangs have played better than expected, considering the numbers crunch the program is facing. I think that lack of depth – as it did against Newman last week – catches up to them in the second half of the season.
My prediction: Morrison 3-6
The Comets haven't steamrolled the competition as expected this season. The two games I've seen, they've had a bad habit of sleepwalking through a half. They won't be able to do that against Erie-Prophetstown (Week 7) or Sherrard (Week 8) and get away with it.
Newman teams always seem to improve as the season goes on. This won't be any different.
My prediction: Newman 8-1
Eastland-Pearl City (4-0)
The Wildcatz have been impressive so far. They face a tough test on Friday against the Le-Win. If they pass that one, a Week 9 meeting with Forreston could determine the conference.
They survive both threats, and turn their focus on improving in the playoffs from recent letdowns.
My prediction: EPC 9-0
West Carroll (0-4)
The Thunder have had to face the best-of-the-best in the NUIC through the first 4 weeks. With that behind them, things will improve in Savanna.
It won't be enough to make the playoffs, but it could give them something to build off of in 2014.
My prediction: West Carroll 3-6
The Raiders lost starting quarterback Bret Gittleson early in the season and have had 13 different players carry the ball out of the backfield.
AFC will look to find some stability in the second half, but probably won't find a lot of wins in a tough NUIC.
My prediction: AFC 2-7
A Week 1 win over Warren had the Missiles hoping for big things in 2013. Then they lost starting QB Kameron DawTyne in Week 2, and he might be done for the season.
The Missiles will have tough games with Stockton, Aquin and East Dubuque in the second half of the season.
My prediction: Milledgeville 2-7
The Marcos have fought back after a slow start in Week 1. They'll be dangerous against Aquin on Friday and Eastland-Pearl City in Week 6.
Even if they lose those two, I think the Marcos can win out after that.
My prediction: Polo 5-4