Aurora Christian (1-0) at St. Edward (1-0)
When: today at 7 p.m. Greg True Field
Last year: Aurora Christian 55, St. Edward 22
Last week: St. Edward 15, Genoa-Kingston 14; Aurora Christian 48, DuSable 0
Outlook: Fresh off a thrilling road win, St. Edward welcomes the defending Class 3A state champion Eagles to Elgin for its home opener. Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe's team is riding a 10-game winning streak and is ranked No. 1 in this week's Associated Press Class 3A poll. "They've won quite a few in a row," St. Edward coach Mike Rolando said. "They're a good team. They're No. 1 in the state and they have a lot of Division-I guys back. Our kids are looking at it as a great opportunity. They are not intimidated at all." St. Edward would like to control the clock and keep the potent Aurora Christian offense off the field. St. Edward tailback Davontae Elam will be key to that strategy. He rushed last week for 167 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 carries. He'll be the focus of Aurora Christian senior Joel Bouagnon, a Burlington Central transfer who made 11 tackles at linebacker last week. He's committed to NIU, as are two key members of the offense: running back Brandon Mayes and receiver Chad Beebe. "Our players are going to play as hard as they can and we'll control the things we can control," Rolando said. "If there's a way to win, they'll find it." Daytime temperatures are expected to reach the upper 90s, but the Green Wave can handle the heat. In warm conditions last Friday, no St. Edward players experienced cramping, thanks to properly hydrating throughout the week, Rolando said.
Next: Marmion at St. Edward; Walther Lutheran at Aurora Christian
Stillman Valley (0-1) at Burlington Central (1-0)
When: today at 7 p.m. at Rocket Hill
Last year: Burlington Central 35, Stillman Valley 7
Last week: Burlington Central 17, Hampshire 7; Tinley Park 17, Stillman Valley 16
Outlook: Last week's victory over Hampshire was a major lift for the Rockets, who took the field with multiple unproven players on defense and at some key offensive skill positions. "On paper they were better than us," Burlington Central coach Rich Crabel said of Hampshire, "but we have some young kids playing who grew up pretty quick. They played hard and aggressive against a pretty good team." Crabel and his staff seek to build off that effort in the home opener, a Big Northern Conference crossover. The Rockets gained 157 yards on the ground last week, 94 by quarterback Ryan Ritchie, who ran for touchdowns of 27 and 8 yards. He also threw for 105 yards. Central would like to see increased production from its running backs. Crabel said practices this week were focused on "a couple of things offensively." The offense could get a boost with the return of one of three injured linemen, junior Victorious Almasi. The lines could use the help against the Cardinals. "They're even bigger than Hampshire up front," Crabel said. "We know they're going to be big and play physical football. Their quarterback is doing a nice job and their fullback is a big physical kid. We have to stop their running game."
Next: Burlington Central at Rockford Christian; Oregon at Stillman Valley
Hampshire (0-1) at DeKalb (0-1)
When: today at 7:30 at DeKalb High Field
Last year: DeKalb 37, Hampshire 14
Last week: Burlington Central 17, Hampshire 7; Galesburg 22, DeKalb 13
Outlook: Hampshire wants a win. A program accustomed to winning through the years has dropped 4 straight dating back to last season and 17 of 19 dating back to 2010. "We just have to get over that hump and get that W now," said veteran coach Dan Cavanaugh, who directs a still-young but more experienced team this season. "We were disappointed we didn't come away with the win last week. We thought we should have. (Burlington Central) is a good football team, but we thought we could have played better." Offensively, the Whip-Purs gained just 202 total yards in the hard-fought rivalry game. The defense played well enough to win, allowing 262 yards, but Cavanaugh said his team needs to be more consistent on both sides of the ball. The DeKalb offense gained 295 yards last week in a loss to visiting Galesburg, but the Barbs defense gave up 413 yards, 401 on the ground. "They've got some big, talented athletes and some big linemen," Cavanaugh said. "They're a talented bunch, so we need to play well."
Next: Hampshire at Grayslake Central; Sycamore at DeKalb
Lake Zurich (1-0) at Cary-Grove (1-0)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Al Bohrer Field
Last year: Cary-Grove 10, Lake Zurich 7
Last week: Cary-Grove 49, St. Charles East 33; Lake Zurich 21, Fremd 0
Outlook: Lake Zurich enters ranked No. 8 in Class 7A. Despite a convincing victory last week, Cary-Grove slipped out of the top 10 in the Class 7A state poll but still gained 22 votes. Cary-Grove's offseason position switch bore fruit in its first test last week. Senior Kyle Norberg, a linebacker for two years, enjoyed a successful debut at fullback with 21 carries for 189 yards, including a 45-yard touchdown. Norberg still plays part time at linebacker. The otherwise green Cary-Grove defense held St. Charles East's attack in check before substitutes entered the game with the Trojans leading 42-13. The Bears are a young team offensively. First-year coach Dave Profitt's returns only two starters from a squad that last season finished 10-3 and lost to Boylan in a Class 7A semifinal, linemen Jerry Bauer and Matt Schirrmann. However, Lake Zurich still gained 241 yards on the ground last week, led by senior running back Connor Schrader (115 yards, TD). The LZ defense didn't allow any Fremd rusher to gain more than 48 yards and held the Vikings to 101 yards passing. "Their defense is very good again," Seaburg said. "Even though they don't have size across the board like in the past, they have some guys that do stand out. They get to the ball very, very fast, which is a concern."
Next: Cary-Grove at Crystal Lake South; Mundelein at Lake Zurich
Crystal Lake Central (1-0) at Crystal Lake South (0-1)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Ken Bruhn Field
Last year: Crystal Lake South 9, Crystal Lake Central 0
Last week: Marian Central 31, Crystal Lake South 0; Crystal Lake Central 27, Huntley 26
Outlook: CL South ran into a buzz saw last week against a ranked Marian Central team expected to contend for a Class 5A state title this season. The attitude remained positive in practice this week as the Gators prepped for their crosstown rival in the home opener. "We're working hard and that's a good sign," CL South coach Chuck Ahsmann said Wednesday. "They realize that the team we played was really good. Still, we do have to some things and get better because Crystal Lake Central is a quality football team." The Gators have won 9 straight meetings against the Tigers since 2000, but CL Central is coming off a confidence-building victory. Last week the Tigers rallied from a 12-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Huntley in the first of two straight FVC crossovers. Junior quarterback Kyle Lavand threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Alexander with 4 seconds remaining for the winning score, capping a 91-yard drive. "They are basically running two offenses, the spread and Cary's double wing," Ahsmann said. "You have to be prepared to stop the run and be able to drop back and cover." They don't run a ton of option, it's more toss sweep or fullback dive looking off the option. We have to be ready for that, but they also come out in five-wide (formations). They give you a lot to prepare for." The Gators would like to better establish their running game. Last week seven ball carriers managed only 96 yards, led by 31 yards on 11 carries by junior Eric Landis.
Next: Cary-Grove at Crystal Lake South; Crystal Lake Central at Woodstock
Johnsburg (0-1) at Jacobs (1-0)
When: today at 7:15 p.m. at Jacobs athletic field
Last year: Jacobs 28, Johnsburg 0
Last week: Jacobs 35, Marmion 13; Grant 42, Johnsburg 7
Outlook: It was a great start last week for the Golden Eagles overall and for junior quarterback Brett Mooney in particular. The 6-foot-4 junior excelled in his first varsity start, completing 8-of-16 passes for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns, both in the first half. "Those numbers could have been even better but we had a couple of dropped balls," Jacobs coach Bill Mitz said. "It was a very good first game for him. I know he's excited, as we all are, to play in front of our home crowd for the first time this season." Jacobs demonstrated good balance offensively with 187 yards rushing, led by seniors Steven Varela (21-97) and Greg Sidor (10-79). Johnsburg's prime offensive weapon is 6-foot-5, 235-pound tight end Mike Conroy, also a defensive end. He scored the Skyhawks' only touchdown last week when he caught a 35-yard, fourth-quarter pass from sophomore quarterback Nick Brengman. Coming off a winless season in 2011, new coach Mike Maloney's team demonstrated it still has work to do on defense. Johnsburg allowed more than 350 yards rushing against Grant in the opener. That could open up room to run for Varela, Sidor and Co., who gain another weapon with the return of junior lineman Blake Broz (6-3, 260). from injury. He did not play last week. Jacobs' goal in this FVC crossover is simple week-to-week improvement. "Our main focus is just to get better at what we're doing," Mitz said. "We have a couple of things we had to shore up. There were some first-game jitters and we made some mistakes. We want to improve on that this week."
Next: Jacobs at Grayslake North; Woodstock North at Johnsburg
Kaneland (1-0) at Huntley (0-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Huntley athletic field
Last year: Kaneland 34, Huntley 13
Last week: Crystal Lake Central 27, Huntley 26; Kaneland 25, Brooks 24
Outlook: The Red Raiders seek their first win of the season in the home opener, a tough test against state-ranked Kaneland. Riding a 19-game regular-season winning streak, the Knights enter the game ranked No. 7 in Class 6A. Coach Tom Fedderly's team returns four big starting linemen, junior quarterback Drew David, running back Jesse Balluff and seven starting defenders from a team that last year went 12-1 and advanced to a Class 5A state semifinal. David threw for 39 touchdowns and 3,306 yards out of the shotgun spread, and Balluff led Kaneland in rushing (1,095 yards) and receiving (530). "They are extremely well coached and they don't seem to have many flaws schematically or physically anywhere," Huntley coach John Hart said. "(David) is a good Division-I prospect, and they've got a couple of kids who can really stretch the field." Huntley allowed 300 passing yards last week against Crystal Lake Central's spread. The Raiders hope to follow the lead of Chicago Brooks, which nearly upset Kaneland last week at Gately Stadium. The Knights didn't take their first lead until David threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Zach Martinelli with 3:11 left in the fourth quarter. Huntley enters the game with the same confident approach it took into the CL Central contest. "We're the very same team we were last week except we're 0-1 right now," Hart said. "We have the opportunity to change that this week." Senior running back Ethan Connor left last week's game with an ankle injury, but his status is probable for Kaneland, Hart said.
Next: Huntley at Prairie Ridge; Sterling at Kaneland
Dundee-Crown (1-0) at Streamwood (1-0)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Millennium Field
Last year: Streamwood 40, Dundee-Crown 17
Last week: Streamwood 38, Hoffman Estates 20; Dundee-Crown 54, Elgin 12
Outlook: With rugged conference tests ahead for both teams, this nonconference game is critical to the playoff aspirations of each. A 2-0 start would position either for a realistic run at 5 or 6 victories. The Chargers draw a much stiffer test in Week 2 against a playoff-tested team. Streamwood has a deep, fast, tall group of receivers, led by NIU-bound senior Blake Holder. He made 2 catches for 19 yards and a touchdown last week, but the bulk of the yardage went to fellow wideouts Deji Giwa (6 rec., 91 yards, TD) and 6-4 junior Sean Patterson, whose only catch went for an 84-yard touchdown. Streamwood senior quarterback Jordan McFeggan completed 10 of 19 attempts for 205 yards and 3 touchdowns. The D-C offense was led by junior running back Cody Lane, who rushed for 140 yards and 5 touchdowns last week against Elgin to help the Chargers snap a 26-game losing streak. "They look pretty solid," Streamwood coach Cal Cummins said of the improving Chargers. "They look to be a lot stronger and they execute better. We don't like to think that a game so early in the season is a must-win, but it is an important game if the kids are going to reach some of the goals they've set." It's a case of good news, bad news for the Dundee-Crown defense. Senior Ryan Suwanski, a returning defensive end, is eligible to play this week after completing the necessary practice time. However, junior inside linebacker Jordan Linson will be out for at least a week after sustaining a noncontact leg injury in the Elgin game. He'll be replaced by senior Bobby Nelson, said Andriola, who stressed the importance of gaining a second straight victory. "Good teams can have one slip up and still make the playoffs, but we're not that kind of team yet," he said. "If we play our best and they play their best and they beat us, I'm not going to be a dissatisfied guy."
Next: Waubonsie Valley at Streamwood; Dundee-Crown at McHenry
Bartlett (0-1) at Elgin (0-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Millennium Field
Last year: Bartlett 42, Elgin 0
Last week: Wheaton North 49, Bartlett 0; Dundee-Crown 54, Elgin 12
Outlook: A pair of U-46 rivals aim to get the bad taste out of their mouths with a victory in this nonconference game. The Hawks suffered the worst beating in the program's 15-year history last week against Wheaton North, the No. 4 team in Class 7A. Bartlett will use sophomore quarterback Jordan Flint at quarterback due to the broken clavicle sustained by senior starter Steve Hrbacek on the fourth play of the season opener. Hrbacek is out for the season. Flint may be eased into the position with senior Kyle Garcia occasionally taking snaps. "They both do things well and we'll play to their strengths," Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said. "It's Jordan's job. He had his moments in passing league this summer. We'll miss Steve's leadership, but I think Jordan will have the team behind him." The Hawks will try to improve upon a running game that was held to 128 yards by the Falcons. Senior running back Aaron Everson led the way with 98 yards on 17 carries. Elgin is in a far better spot than a week ago, when only 16 players dressed. Nine more Maroons have put in enough practice time to play this week. Another boost comes from the return of senior tight end/linebacker Mitch Poltersdorf from an injury that forced him to miss the season opener. "Atmosphere-wise it's been way better this week," Bierman said of practices. "It's good to have everyone in action. When kids never get a break, even in practice, it wears on them a bit. I was proud of the kids last week. They fought all the way to the end. That's all you can ask of them." Bierman wants to see a disciplined, focused effort from his Maroons against Bartlett. "We know what Bartlett does, but we're more concerned with ourselves and getting better fundamentally," he said. "If we don't line up right, block right and tackle right, nothing else matters. I just want to see us get better."
Next: East Aurora at Bartlett; Elgin at Larkin
Larkin (0-1) at West Chicago (0-1)
When: today at 7:30 p.m.
Last year: Larkin 18, West Chicago 16
Last week: McHenry 60, Larkin 20; Addison Trail 28, West Chicago 27, 2 OT
Outlook: A flurry of Larkin turnovers in the second quarter against McHenry quickly turned what was a close game into a rout. If the Royals can better protect the ball against West Chicago, they could develop into a dangerous offensive unit. Senior Mo Jackson and junior Damion Clemons are a potent 1-2 tailback punch and junior fullback Mario Randazzo gained running room in the opener. Junior quarterback Kemmerin Blalark demonstrated decent field vision in completing 8 of 16 attempts for 200 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown pass. He also threw 2 interceptions: one an ill-advised throw as he was being pulled down; the other a pick-6 on a tipped pass over the middle. The larger issue was the defense, which allowed nearly 300 yards rushing against McHenry. The Royals made some adjustments this week after viewing film. "Up front on defense is where the big mistakes came from," Larkin coach Mike Scianna said. "When the line made mistakes it affected the linebackers, which then affected the defensive backs. Our guys were out of position. We've shored that up, hopefully." West Chicago's defense forced 6 turnovers last week against Addison Trail, including 2 interceptions returned for touchdowns. The Wildcats went for the 2-point conversion in overtime last week. Following a pass interference penalty, the potential game-winning pass fell incomplete in a 1-point loss. "They were right there, so they can sniff it," Scianna said of West Chicago. "We'll have to slow down the tempo a bit and control the clock and get first downs." Scianna said linebacker/running back JD Darke is probable. He left late in the game last week with an ankle injury.
Next: Larkin at Elgin; Glenbard North at West Chicago
Benet Academy (1-0) at South Elgin (1-0)
When: Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at South Elgin athletic field
Last year: first meeting
Last week: South Elgin 48, Downers Grove South 35; Benet Academy 62, Washington 0
Outlook: Benet equaled its 2011 win total last week with a thrashing of Chicago-Washington. The Redwings scored more points in that game than all of last season (43). They step up in class this week against South Elgin, which was tested in Week 1 by a perennial playoff team in Downers Grove South. The Storm offense was balanced in the win over the Mustangs, passing for 250 yards and rushing for 219. Junior quarterback Robert Cuda completed 16 of 30 passes and threw 4 touchdowns in his first varsity start. Senior tailback Jeff Broger rushed for 160 yards and 2 touchdowns on 19 carries. The South Elgin defense was led last week by linebackers Chris Bingham, Nate Marotta, Brad Simmons and Dalton Garland, who finished with similar tackle statistics, coach Dale Schabert said. They'll try to stifle a Benet offense led by senior quarterback JT Crosby and junior running back Ryan Gourley, who scored on 3 short touchdown runs last week. "They have a good coaching staff that will have their kids prepared," Schabert said. "They have a roster with lots of tall, lean, athletic kids. (Crosby) is tall and gets a good look at the field, and he has some tall receivers. They're disciplined on both sides of the ball. We got a good test last week and I'm sure that will help us because this will be another tough game."
Next: Neuqua Valley at South Elgin; Benet Academy at St. Patrick