Every Tuesday at 7 p.m. throughout the high school football season, the WREX sports team provides comprehensive coverage leading up to the next Friday Night Football. We have our Top 13 poll, which features only teams from our viewing area in the NIC-10, NUIC Upstate, NUIC Northwest, Big Northern, NAC and NIB-12. We also reveal our upcoming Game of the Week and our Player of the Week from the previous Friday night.
Here's our Week 8 Top 13 poll, regardless of class.
13. Winnebago Indians (6-2) - After taking a 54-0 loss to Rockford Christian, Winnebago bounced back for a much-needed win at Lutheran to guarantee a playoff spot. The Indians will see how they stack up against one of the best 3-A teams in the state this week, hosting Byron.
12. Aquin Bulldogs (6-2) - With losses to the defending 1-A state champion on the Upstate division champion, the Bulldogs are still going to be a tough out in the 1-A playoffs, making the quarterfinals last year with many of the same offensive playmakers on the roster this year. Aquin ends the regular season at home against Milledgeville before the postseason begins.
11. Stockton Blackhawks (6-2) - Stockton, with wins over Aquin and Milledgeville, has clinched the NUIC Upstate title after an impressive two-point win over the Bulldogs on the Blackhawks' senior night in Week 8. Jesse Snyder has maintained the program's high level of excellence in his first season, and they can end their campaign on a winning note against Orangeville in Week 9.
10. North Boone Vikings (6-2) - The Vikes' six wins is their most in a single season since 2012 as they return to the postseason after missing in each of the last two seasons. This high-flying offense has a big challenge this week at home in the regular season finale - undefeated Dixon.
9. East E-Rabs (6-2) - History has been made for the E-Rabs, they're guaranteed their first postseason appearance since 2001, reaching their sixth win in dramatic fashion at Boylan. They go for their sixth win in a row this week against Belvidere North to end the regular season.
8. DeKalb Barbs (7-1) - If there was ever a time to take one more test before the playoffs, it's in Week 9 for DeKalb, drawing undefeated Sterling in a Big 12 crossover game. The Barbs are going to the postseason for the fifth season in a row under Matt Weckler.
7. Dakota Indians (7-1) - The Indians fought off a driving rainstorm and earned a hard-fought win against EPC in Week 8, bringing their winning streak to five games. A sixth in a row will be a tall task, as Dakota travels to Lena-Winslow for a date with the perfect Panthers in the regular season finale.
6. Auburn Knights (7-1) - The Knights rebounded from their first loss of the year with a dominant showing against Harlem. Getting healthy for the postseason will be their top priority, with a home game against playoff hopeful Guilford in Week 9.
5. Dixon Dukes (8-0) - Good luck trying to stop Arthur Cox, Noah Wilcox, and maybe the best Dixon offense they've ever put together. More than 54 points per game is hard to argue, and the Dukes can complete a 9-0 regular season mark this week against North Boone on the road in a game that will surely light up the scoreboard.
4. Forreston Cardinals (7-1) - The Cardinals are rounding into postseason form at the perfect time, racking up a 132-20 scoring line in their last three games with their potent running game and shutdown defense. Forreston goes for its sixth straight win at home in Week 9 against Amboy-LaMoille.
3. Hononegah Indians (8-0) - Even with Dallas Washington limited, Isaiah Richardson carried the load in Week 8 as the Indians continue their undefeated season, en route to a conference championship. A win at Harlem in Week 9 guarantees
2. Byron Tigers (8-0) - They're scoring more than 49 points per game, and can beat you with a who's who of running backs on offense. One more test stands in Byron's way as they go for a perfect regular season on the road at fellow playoff team Winnebago.
1. Lena-Winslow Panthers (8-0) - No one can stop Class 1-A's top ranked team. The Panthers took that top spot in the AP poll after beating Forreston, and they haven't looked back. They've allowed 21 total points in the last four weeks, and can wrap up a perfect regular season at home against Dakota in Week 9.