So, Bismarck-Henning's football team is 0-4.
Don't tell Salt Fork coach Brian Plotner that his state-ranked and undefeated squad could have an easy time this week against the Blue Devils.
"They've played outstanding competition," Plotner said. "To be 0-4 is not an indicator of how good they are."
B-H opened with back-to-back games against St. Thomas More and Villa Grove, schools that enter Week 5 with a combined 7-1 record.
Then, B-H played Milford and Westville, both of whom are 2-2 though Milford lost a one-point decision in its opener and Westville was ranked fourth in the preseason state Class 2A poll.
"This (B-H) is a team very capable of being .500 with a different schedule," Plotner said. "The (Ian) Marx-(Brian) Clapp tandem is as good as most we'll see."
Both of the Blue Devils' primary ball carriers are seniors. Marx has averaged 111 yards rushing the past three games. Clapp is averaging more than 100 all-purpose yards per game when rushing and receiving are combined with kick returns.
Sophomore Kyle Lamm has been the receiving headliner. He is the only Blue Devil with pass receptions in every game. Overall, he has caught seven passes for 137 yards.
The Blue Devils are coming off a 42-14 loss to Westville. Clapp had a season-high 13 tackles and freshman Reed Collins was in on nine stops.
Plotner hopes this week isn't the one where his prediction about the Blue Devils comes true: "They'll win games this season," he said.
A short pass from quarterback J.D. Learnard to end Sean Nicholson turned into one of the game's biggest plays last week when the Storm broke open a scoreless game in the third quarter en route to beating Milford 16-0.
"It was a short route that turned into a big score (92 yards)," Plotner said.
Salt Fork needed the passing game to be efficient since injuries sidelined the team's top two senior rushers and the four leading ball carriers against the Bearcats were all freshmen or sophomores.
Cody Davis gained 69 yards, Brandon Dixon had 49 yards and scored a TD, Kye Draper had 14 yards and Drew York added 11 yards. Dixon is the lone freshman in the otherwise all-sophomore group.
Plotner said "it's up in the air" whether backs Matt Ford or Chet Moreland will be available for Friday's 7 p.m. game at B-H.
Having a backup like Davis as the featured fullback is not all bad, Plotner said.
"We feel like we have three who can start," he said. "A kid like Cody would start somewhere (else)."
Learnard passed for a season-high 260 yards last week, his third game this season above 160 yards.
Cody Nicholson had 11 tackles and Caleb Williams 10 against Milford. Despite playing with a bruised shin suffered a week earlier, Cody Nicholson had a team-high four tackles for loss.
Defense was an area of emphasis this week at practice.
"We were not sound in our pass coverage," Plotner said. "We had some defensive breakdowns that could have caused the score to be significantly different."
There will be a guaranteed first-time winner at Danville's Drummy Field on Friday. What needs to be resolved is whether it will be the hometown Hilltoppers or the visiting Hoopeston Area Cornjerkers, both of which are 0-4 this season.
The schools have had two common opponents since Vermilion Valley Conference play began. Oakwood/Armstrong-Potomac defeated Schlarman 53-0 two weeks ago. Last Friday, O/A-P beat Hoopeston 52-0.
Schlarman is coming off a 47-7 setback to Georgetown-Ridge Farm last week. The previous week, G-RF beat Hoopeston Area 8-0.
Vinnie Miller did a little bit of everything for the Hilltoppers vs. G-RF. In his first game as the starting tailback, he rushed for 132 yards, he caught four passes for 62 yards, he threw a 37-yard pass to Kyle Golden and defensively, the safety was in on a team-high 15 tackles.
"Vinnie and Steven Kutz are my two mainstays right now," Schlarman coach Jay Willaman said.
Kutz had 14 tackles and rushed for 56 yards on 10 carries.
Miller was shifted from wideout to the backfield, Willaman said, because "people were doubling up on him and trying to take him out of the game."
The Hilltoppers will likely be without starting nosetackle Mike Callahan for the remainder of the season. He is a senior who suffered a knee injury against the Buffaloes.
"He had done a fantastic job," Willaman said.
As Schlarman tries to rebuild its passing attack, senior James Cook will move from the line to a wideout position. Sophomore Mallory Lampkin, who started at tailback for three games but sat out last week, will also line up as a receiver.
Solomon Crenshaw, who had been out with a rib injury, is another prime pass-catching candidate.
At one time last week, Willaman had four sophomores and three freshmen on the field. Two of the ninth-graders were linemen.
"The future of the program is fantastic," Willaman said. "I feel sorry for the seniors who went through the (JV) program last year and stayed with me. The biggest thing is trying to get a win for those kids.
"Hoopeston is probably the most winnable game we've had this year."
Cornjerker coach Jeff Ohlemeyer is also changing personnel due to injuries. Starting quarterback Tate Compton suffered a concussion last week and Ohlemeyer said, "I'd be surprised if he is cleared to play," against the Hilltoppers.
His backup is freshman Wes Rush who completed 5 of 22 passes for 46 yards in his varsity debut.
His completion totals were deceiving, Ohlemeyer said.
"We had at least six (passes) that were right in the breast plate that we dropped," he said.
After falling behind O/A-P 45-0 at halftime last week, the coach made wholesale changes defensively.
"We made major adjustments, mostly based on attitude," he said. "We played the JV defense the entire second half."
One of those players, freshman noseguard Matt Watson, had a team-high nine tackles. Sophomore Tyler Selsor finished with seven stops.
They've put themselves in position for increased game action.
"Matt will start and Tyler will see more significant playing time," Ohlemeyer said. "They earned that with their performance last week."
An offensive bright spot for the Cornjerkers last week was end Jason Leigh, who had his fourth straight multiple-catch game. He hauled in four passes for 27 yards.
The outlook at Hoopeston is similar to what exists this week at Schlarman.
"We feel good about this week," Ohlemeyer said.
Two of the VVC's hottest teams will do battle on Friday in Oakwood when the Comets play host to Georgetown-Ridge Farm.
Each school started 0-2, but is riding a two-game winning streak. Friday's winner will be no worse than in a tie for first in the conference and could be the outright leader if Salt Fork would stumble at B-H.
The similarities are such that O/A-P coach Gary Denhart told his players, "You're looking in the mirror this week. They're coming in here with the same outlook and the same enthusiasm."
After his team's most recent victory, Denhart said, "I'm about as satisfied as I can be."
The preparation for the game against Hoopeston was exemplary, he said.
"There wasn't any complacency," Denhart said. "We had a great week of practice. I was so impressed with both sides of our line."
Among the line standouts were Jacob McGlaughlin, making his second start.
The sophomore caught the attention of the coaching staff in a Week 1 loss at Arthur.
"When someone got hurt, I said, ‘Hey, I need a lineman,' and he sprinted on the field," Denhart said. "I had to ask, ‘Who was that?'
"Anybody who takes that initiative has made a spot for himself."
Injured linemen such as Ray Withers and Zach Weddle are back in action. Blake Warren, who didn't start last week, "went in the second series and never came out of the game at defensive tackle," Denhart said.
Senior Brady Leeman has scored 54 points the past two games, 12 on conversion kicks following TDs.
Corey Pankow had six tackles and J Sutton four to lead the defensive effort against Hoopeston. Ryan Robertson picked off two passes. Leeman and Sutton had one interception apiece.
Senior Aaron Williams had two interceptions last week against Schlarman - both of which he returned for touchdowns - and earned a prominent spot in the school's all-time record book. Only one former Buffalo (Don Cash in 1984 vs. Westville) had more interceptions in a game (three).
Williams also had a third defensive score, taking a fumble 6 yards to the end zone.
G-RF coach Jason Baccadutre sees this week's game as one of the key ones for the Buffaloes.
"A lot might determine who goes to the playoffs and who doesn't," Baccadutre said.
Williams wasn't alone in excelling on the defensive side last week.
Eric Hepburn had a team-high 11 tackles and a trio of Buffaloes (Zack Digby, Ross Olson and Chase Vire) had nine stops apiece.
Robert Parker and Alex Pratt also intercepted passes and Brandon Herrin had a fumble recovery.
"The kids are finally getting confident, having fun and playing with a little emotion," Baccadutre said. "Football is an emotional sport and we can ride that.
"Knowing that they can is half the battle. They have to get mentally confident in themselves and they will be fine."
In his second game as the starting quarterback, Parker rushed for a career-high 168 yards and had his top passing performance, 81 yards.
"He is a great little player," Baccadutre said.
The Tigers snapped their first two-game losing streak since 2005 - when the team also started 1-2 - by virtue of the 42-14 victory over Bismarck-Henning last week.
Coach Guy Goodlove had high hopes entering the Week 4 game.
"By far, it was our best week of practice," he said.
He said that sophomore Matt Maser is entrenched as the quarterback and when Dustin Billings returns from a four-game suspension in another week, he'll be worked into the lineup as a receiver.
"Dustin is a great athlete, but it's best to keep Matt there and move forward," Goodlove said. "Dustin is 6-foot-4 and will be tough to guard."
Maser has completed 18 of 32 passes with just one interception in three games. He has thrown for 404 yards.
"Matt is continually getting better," Goodlove said. "He's a double threat who throws a nice ball and it's like having a third running back in there. Do you take the pass away or do you play against the run? That presents defenses a tough challenge."
Sophomore Brandon Pratt had 200 yards rushing and 85 yards on pass receptions last week. Five of the 16 times he touched the ball, he scored TDs.
"He has the ability to make so many things happen," Goodlove said. "He reads his blocks and is able to cut off of his blockers. He is very quick and has the ability to make tacklers miss."
Westville will play at Milford on Friday in a showdown of teams with 2-2 season records.
"Milford has some athletes who are tough and not afraid of contact," Goodlove said. "We'll have to keep the pressure on."
Westville's top tacklers last week were Dusty Zaayer (11) and Pratt (eight).
"We're seeing the old Dusty we saw last year," Goodlove said. "He is starting to settle into a groove. He played his best game."
The Bearcats had plenty of positives last week, despite the 16-0 loss to Salt Fork.
Three Bearcats had at least 40 yards rushing. Three squad members completed passes and five players had receptions.
"We would move the ball, but it just so happened that we had three key drops (potential receptions) in one game," head coach Nate Albaugh said. "If we get any of those, it's a different game.
"If you were watching as a fan, it was a heck of a game. As the coach on the other side, it was hard to swallow."
Albaugh has been trying to convince his team that they are capable of playing with the elite teams in the VVC. Friday's game, he said, was a significant step forward.
"The positive is that they see those kind of comments are not lip service," Albaugh said. "They now believe it themselves."
Just in time. The Bearcats play their homecoming game against an opponent (Westville) which was state ranked in the preseason and is still getting votes in the Class 2A poll.
"This is big-time varsity football in the state of Illinois," he said. "Two great teams back-to-back. They're learning how you prepare. We're really working hard.
"We want to beat a great football team. We had a chance last week, but didn't get it. We have another chance this week."
Milford has a question at quarterback. Trevor Lucht is coming off his first 100-yard passing performance (103 yards), but suffered a sprained ankle in the game.
"He is still limping, but we're preparing as if he will be healthy," Albaugh said. "As of right now, all systems are go."
Jordan Scherf, who had a team-high 67 receiving yards last week, also led the Bearcats in tackling with 10. Junior Kristopher Evans had eight stops.