Two games into the season, St. Viator has already equaled its 2011 win total with victories over Foreman and Deerfield.
It's the result of a culture change created by new head coach Brandon New, who stressed that everyone had a clean slate coming into this season.
"To be honest, everything is different," New said of changes from last season to this season. "I came in day one and told them that the past is the past. There is only one direction to go, and that's forward."
The Lions' success has started on the defensive side of the ball as Marty Cukierski and Connor Kinasz have assumed leadership roles for a squad that has allowed only 3 points thus far.
"Defensively, we came in and simplified things," New said. "I didn't want them to think. I wanted them to play fast and aggressive."
After not playing since his freshman year, Mayo Arogundade has been a welcome addition, and along with Ben Dickey and Kevin Hammarlund, have really impressed New.
Viator takes a step up in competition tonight when they host traditional powerhouse Joliet Catholic (1-1) at Forest View Educational Center. The Lions are 0-26 all-time against the Hilltoppers.
"This is a great measure of progress that we've made," New said. "You can't ask for a better opportunity."
Grens, Pirates look forward to test: Elk Grove and Palatine aren't buying into the hype of their showdown that takes place tonight at Chic Anderson Stadium. For last year's divisional winners, this is just another game.
"I don't think it will define our season one way or the other, but it will certainly let us know where we are," said Elk Grove coach Larry Calhoun. "Palatine is obviously a very good football program. They are ranked, with a lot of high expectations just like us. It's a good matchup and it will let us know where we stand."
"This will be another indicator of areas that we need to improve on," said Palatine coach Tyler Donnelly. "That's how we view it. We are still only a shadow of what our real team is going to be. They are a great opponent so it's just another test."
The Grenadiers defense, which has allowed just 6 points all season, will have its hands full despite an injury-riddled Pirates squad.
"Everyone on our side of the ball has to play their responsibility to perfection," Calhoun said. "They have some big playmakers."
Palatine has been hit with the injury bug, but you won't hear them complaining. Key offensive weapons Jesse Bobbitt, Cam Kuksa and Chaka Kelly have all already missed time this season but with so much depth, the Pirates offense hasn't skipped a beat.
Alex Nawrot had four 4 touchdowns last week and quarterback Ethan Olles has provided stability.
"If there were a year with all of these crazy freak injuries to happen, this is the year," Donnelly said. "Hopefully we can weather the storm."
'D' joins the fun at Meadows: In 2011, Rolling Meadows approached most games ready for an offensive shootout. There were times, like in their shutout of Hersey in Week 9 to make the playoffs, that their defense excelled. But for the most part, the Mustangs knew they had to put up points to win.
A lot has changed since last year. In its first two games, Meadows has allowed only a late touchdown last week to Barrington in which their first-stringers had already called it a night.
"It's been night and day from last year," said Meadows coach Matt Mishler. "We felt we had to outscore our opponents."
An already aggressive Meadows offense led by Jack Milas has had even more freedom to operate thanks to the defense, which has created shorter fields and allowed them to take a few more shots.
"This year, we have been able to be free-wheeling and know that our defense is most likely going to stop them," Mishler said.
Mario Lucchetto was everywhere against Barrington and along with David Sobkowicz and Adam Pavlakisq, has set the tone with pressure on the opposing quarterback. On one play last week, Pavlakisq went sideline to sideline to force a Bronco fumble which Jacub Szylak scooped up and returned for a touchdown.
"We couldn't have expected anything more out of them," Mishler said. "We were excited going into the season about what we had. I thought our front-7 would be pretty good. I didn't quite expect them to be as dominant as they have this season."
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