Josh Black

FNL Kickoff: Rockford Auburn at Machesney Park Harlem

Battle of Rockford teams rich with Illini prospects, commits, and more. Get the look ahead at Friday's matchup between Rockford (IL) Auburn and Machesney Park (IL) Harlem.

Both teams come into this matchup at 5-1, and both teams have the potential to put up a lot of points.  However, both teams will be coming off of weeks where they put up their season low in points (14 for Harlem, 7 for Auburn).

But Harlem may be looking for revenge after suffering their first loss of the season last week against Belvediere, a team Auburn defeated 43-18 already this year.  The Huskies of Harlem have to also be cautious to not overlook Auburn with a matchup against Rockton (Hononegah) lined up for next week.

But within this game, several talented players will take the field, including a pair of Illinois commits as well as a couple more Illinois prospects, one of which holds an offer.  We take a look at each of the key players in this matchup as well as an interesting matchup in the trenches.

Harlem At A Glance...

Harlem isn't traditionally a school that cranks out division one talent, and isn't considered one of the traditional powers in IHSA football, but the Huskies are putting together a strong season at 5-1 so far, and boast one of the state's most underrated defensive linemen in 2016 DE Josh Black.

Up until this season, Black was an offensive lineman only.  His film, though impressive, was entirely of him on offense.  This offseason, he began working out as a defensive lineman, and that is when things really took off for him. 

Black significantly improved his build, became more explosive, and seemed to adapt quickly to the other side of the ball.  So quickly, in fact, that by the time he camped with Illinois in June, he landed an offer from the Illini and committed shortly thereafter.  Friday may be a true test of just how much he has progressed in his new position as his opposition is one of the best he will face all year.

Auburn At A Glance...

Auburn, also 5-1 on the year, has gotten numerous big plays out of senior and Illinois commit Juwuane Parchman this year.  However, they may be without the two-way athlete and track star for this game.  

After reaching down to pick up a loose ball in last week's game, Parchman took a hit, causing a hyperextended elbow and leaving him in a sling at the time.  It is unclear as to whether he will be ready to go for this matchup yet.

Parchman is a versatile player who many project to the defensive side of the ball in college, but he has been just as productive, if not more productive, so far this year on offense.  He is a long strider who covers a lot of ground quickly, and is an excellent leaper who can go up and attack the ball in the air.  Defensively, he is working toward becoming more fluid, but he has the closing speed already that he will need at the next level.

The big guy for Auburn (quite literally) is 2017 offensive lineman Vederian Lowe.  Surprisingly nimble for his size, Lowe is a promising prospect at either tackle spot and plays with good pad level.  Much like with Black, Lowe has a chance to really prove himself in this one with a strong performance.

One prospect who also could be on the verge of some bigger offers is 2016 linebacker Alfonzo Lambert.  

Lambert, who camped with Illinois this summer, is athletic and has good instincts, but is a little smaller than his listed size.  He has the frame to put on more weight and be a physical outside backer in college.  He is the leader of the Auburn defense, and could catapult his stock if he continues to have a strong senior season.

Key Matchup...

This isn't one of those "the team who wins this battle will win the game" sorts of matchups, but it's hard not to track the matchup between Vederian Lowe and Josh Black.  Both have a lot to prove, and should be seeing a lot of each other throughout the night.  They may already be good friends off the field, and the two often work out together in the offseason, but I'm really looking forward to some nasty battles in the trenches between these two.

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