Colin Wagner for preview

(NCE PHOTO/GREGORY MYERS)

North Newton senior Colin Wagner was a 1,000-yard rusher last season and led the team in tackles in one of the area’s best two-way performances.

County rivalries will highlight week one of the 2019 area prep football season, with Kankakee Valley to visit Rensselaer Central and North Newton to travel to South Newton on Friday, Aug. 23.

Both the Bombers and Spartans are eyeing a successful season, and both programs are expected to challenge for conference titles in the regular season before duking it out for a sectional title in late October.

Here is a week-by-week rundown of this year’s football match-ups with a preview of the Game of the Week for the regular season’s nine weeks:

2019 PREP FOOTBALL

WEEK-BY-WEEK SCHEDULE

Friday, Aug. 23

Kankakee Valley @ Rensselaer Central, 7 p.m.

Carroll @ Tri-County, 7 p.m., EST

North Newton @ South Newton, 7 p.m.

West Central @ Caston, 7 p.m., EST

GAME OF THE WEEK

Kankakee Valley vs. Rensselaer Central (Cracker Barrel): Rensselaer has won 8 of the last 11 against its rivals, but the Kougars pulled within a score of the lead last year in a highly contested first half. The Bombers would respond with three unanswered scores in the second half in a 34-12 win. The Bombers bring back most of their entire lineup, including several pieces on the defensive side. KV is auditioning for a starting quarterback in place of Wade Williams, a 2019 graduate. Gage Stowers and Eli Carden are getting looks at that position and coach James Broyles is in the process of putting viable pieces around them, including an experienced line.

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Friday, Aug. 30

Rensselaer Central @ North Newton

Kankakee Valley @ Wheeler

South Newton @ West Central

GAME OF THE WEEK

Rensselaer Central vs. North Newton: The Bombers are 21-0 against the Spartans during coach Chris Meeks’ tenure on the sideline. With senior Colin Wagner returning to North Newton’s backfield this fall, the Spartans feel they have a shot at beating Meeks and his program this year. Wagner was a 1,000-yard rusher last season and led the team in tackles in one of the area’s best two-way performances. It’s likely coach Scott Rouch will move Wagner to quarterback to ensure he gets his touches, but Rensselaer’s defense excelled in stopping the run last year. The Spartans will have to pass if they hope to move the ball downfield.

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Saturday, Aug. 31

Tri-County @ South Decatur

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Friday, Sept. 6

Rensselaer Central @ Western

South Bend Washington @ Kankakee Valley

West Central @ Tri-County

North Judson @ North Newton

Frontier @ South Newton

GAME OF THE WEEK

South Bend Washington vs. Kankakee Valley: The match-up is far from intriguing, but this game represents the first time KV will play in its new stadium on its new turf. Expect a rowdy fan base and a fast-paced game as the Kougars snuggle into their new environment.

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Friday, Sept. 13

Twin Lakes @ Rensselaer Central

North Newton @ Kankakee Valley

Tri-County @ North White

Carroll @ South Newton

Culver @ West Central

GAME OF THE WEEK

Twin Lakes @ Rensselaer Central: Twin Lakes has yet to finish above .500 in Hall of Fame coach Scott Mannering’s three seasons on the sideline and not much is known of the Indians this season. He has yet to beat the Bombers as Twin Lakes’ head coach, but his Lewis Cass team of 2008 did beat Rensselaer in a regional contest, propelling the Kings to a state finals berth. Rensselaer has won 9 of its last 11 meetings against the Indians, who face Western (7-3 in 2018), Northwestern (1-9) and Tipton (9-2) prior to traveling to Rensselaer.

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Friday, Sept. 20

Rensselaer Central @ West Lafayette

Lowell @ Kankakee Valley

South Newton @ Tri-County

West Central @ South Newton

GAME OF THE WEEK

Rensselaer Central vs. West Lafayette: West Lafayette has enjoyed four straight lop-sided wins over the Bombers in Hoosier Conference West Division action, including a 69-14 trouncing last season. The Red Devils won’t be as formidable this year as that state championship squad, but they will still be awfully good and they get the Bombers at home. A win in this one should propel the Red Devils to another West Division title.

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Friday, Sept. 27

Lafayette Central Catholic @ Rensselaer Central

Kankakee Valley @ Hobart

North Newton @ Frontier

South Newton @ Covington

West Central @ North Judson

GAME OF THE WEEK

Lafayette Central Catholic vs. Rensselaer Central: The Bombers missed out on a golden opportunity to beat the Knights for a second straight season last year in Lafayette, allowing a late score in a 26-21 loss. In fact, the Bombers have had chances at two wins on LCC’s field over the past five years. The Knights will be formidable once again this fall, so this will give the Bombers a good gauge at their own talent level.

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Saturday, Sept. 28

Tri-County @ Heritage

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Friday, Oct. 4

Rensselaer Central @ Benton Central

Kankakee Valley @ Andrean

Frontier @ Tri-County

North Newton @ Delphi

North White @ South Newton

Winamac @ West Central

GAME OF THE WEEK

Kankakee Valley vs. Andrean: The Kougars expect to be competitive in the first handful of games on their schedule, so this game will give them a good idea of the progress they’ve made. The 59ers own a 10-0 record against KV over the past 10 seasons and are expected to be a contender for another Northwest Crossroads Conference title this fall. Staying close will give KV confidence as it begins preparation for a tough sectional.

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Friday, Oct. 11

Rensselaer Central @ Northwestern

Highland @ Kankakee Valley

Tri-County @ Covington

North Newton @ North White

South Newton @ Casey-Westfield, IL

West Central @ Frontier

GAME OF THE WEEK

North Newton vs. North White: If all goes well, North Newton should be on target for another Midwest Conference title when it visits Monon in week 8. The Vikings will be improved with a number of returners, but the Spartans have more talent overall, with Wagner the best athlete on the field.

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Friday, Oct. 18

Rensselaer Central in Hoosier Conference Playoff

Munster @ Kankakee Valley

Tri-County @ North Newton

South Newton @ Lake Station

North White @ West Central

GAME OF THE WEEK

Tri-County vs. North Newton: The MWC title has come down to this final game in each of the past two years, with both teams picking up a win. The Spartans earned a surprisingly easy 30-6 win last year in Wolcott and could dominate again this year with Tri-County in a rebuild.