The last 2 weeks have not gone well for the Sterling Golden Warriors.
That's actually a little bit of an understatement after a 48-7 loss to Kaneland, followed by a 58-21 loss to Rochelle.
"I've liked how the kids have responded," Sterling coach Jon Schlemmer said. "It's not an easy thing to play two teams like that and to get beat like that. They've responded well. We had a great Tuesday practice this week, and they're focused on fixing the problems."
While not many teams would envy that schedule, the Warriors are not going to get any sympathy from their Week 5 opponent, LaSalle-Peru.
The Cavs, coming off a NIB-12 crossover win against Yorkville, lost their first three games by a combined score of 139-20.
Those losses came to undefeated teams Lincoln-Way North, Washington and Rochelle.
LaSalle-Peru's lone win came over a previously undefeated team in the Foxes.
"Like us, they've really struggled to establish a running game," Schlemmer said. "They seemed to start to get that going last week, and they've made some adjustments from the first few weeks."
The Cavaliers, like the Warriors, have had success throwing the ball.
Quarterback Colby Sassano has completed 36 of 61 passes for 602 yards. He has also thrown six interceptions.
Damion Allen and Clay Vaini have been his favorite targets with 11 receptions each. Allen has 267 receiving yards, and Vaini has 153 yards.
The Warriors know this is a key moment in the season.
"This is a very important game," junior linebacker Brian Folsom said. "We want to show that we are better than we have shown the last couple weeks. We want to win, because its Homecoming, and it's the start of conference play."
The Warriors have been the dominant force in the NIB-12 West over the last five seasons, losing only two conference games in that span. They've won four conference titles in 5 years.
The coaches and players know they'll have to get better to keep that string alive.
"We have to get better at blocking, tackling," Folsom said. "Our defensive backs have do better. A lot of our fundamentals have to improve. We've made a lot of adjustments in practice this week, and I think we'll come out ready."
Tradition is on Sterling's side. They have beat LaSalle-Peru six straight times and in 11 of the last 13 meetings. Sterling also has not lost three games in a row since the middle of the 2001 season.
"You don't ever want to say something is a must-win game, but it's very important that we go out there and try to get some confidence," Schlemmer said. "We know we have some things that we do well, and we have to get back to doing those. We have a great group of seniors that have led this team, and they will get the team back on track."