High School football game of the week preview: Sycamore vs. Lakota East

It will be a fight for survival Friday night in our game of the week as Lakota East heads to Sycamore in a GMC showdown.

Both teams are on the outside looking in at the post-season. A loss will doom one team. The other will see the victory keep their slim post-season hopes alive.

Let's take a closer look at the conference showdown set for Friday night.

LAKOTA EAST (4-4, 2-3) at SYCAMORE (5-3, 2-3)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
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PLAYERS TO WATCH: The emergence of David Chenault has loaded the Lakota East backfield with options. The junior has run for 502 of his 708 yards in the last four weeks. Quarterback Eric Eichler has ran for 556 yards and he takes care of the football with only two turnovers this season. Bobby Brown has ran for 523 yards and is averaging 9.3 per carry.

Linebackers Tinashe Bere (pronounced Bear) who has committed to Duke and Jay Cobbs have been beasts in the middle of the Sycamore defense. The duo has combined for 110 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, forced seven fumbles and recovered four more. Quarterback Greg Simpson has accounted for 65 touchdowns (46 rushing, 19 passing) during his career.

TEAM TRENDS: In all four of Lakota East’s losses the team has given up at least 31 points. The Thunderhawks offense has run the ball 87.7 percent of their plays.

The combined record of the three squads that Sycamore has lost to is 22-2. The combined record of the five schools they beat is 7-34. Defense has been the name of the game for Aviators. They are giving up just 16 points and 219 yards per contest while holding opponents to just 26.5 percent on third-down conversions to go along with their 21 takeaways.

LAKOTA EAST’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Contain Greg Simpson. By limiting the Aviators quarterback Lakota East can make life easier for their defense making someone else try to beat them. Simpson turned the ball over three times last week and has nine on the year. That plays in favor of an opportunistic Thunderhawks defense that has come up with 15 takeaways this season.

SYCAMORE’S KEYS TO VICTORY: Move the chains. A big reason why Sycamore won 17 regulars season the two seasons prior to 2013 was their ability to convert 46.5 percent of their third down attempts on offense. This season the Aviators are converting just 29.5 percent of their third down tries. In their three losses it gets even worse at a 25 percent conversion rate.

Prediction: SYCAMORE 28, LAKOTA EAST 24

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