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Scouting this weekend's Tri-Cities football games
 

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Scouting this weekend's Tri-Cities football games

By Dave Oberhelman

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

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Aurora Central (2-1, 0-1) at Chicago Christian (1-2, 0-1)

Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Immaculate Conception 33, Aurora Central Catholic 0; St. Francis 49, Chicago Christian 0.

Last year: Aurora Central Catholic 38, Chicago Christian 12.

Outlook: This is likely to be just what the doctor ordered for Aurora Central Catholic after last week's shutout. Granted, St. Francis may vie for the title in the powerful SCC Blue, but the Spartans held Chicago Christian to 103 yards of offense, 43 on the ground and 60 through the air. Out of a shotgun-spread offense Chicago Christian quarterback Christian Bolhuis, a sophomore, targets receivers Trevor Stephens and Cory Bulthuis, who did connect on big plays in a 56-12 loss to Momence. The Knights' sole win came in Week 1, 49-6 over North Lawndale, but they've since allowed a ton of rushing yards, 366 to St. Francis last week. That bodes well for Aurora Central Catholic's ground-based double-wing offense, which offers wingback Steven Amoni with 494 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns. Even in last week's loss Amoni ran for 119 yards. The Chargers should deal Chicago Christian a steady diet of backs Amoni, Brian Bohr, Steve Belovich and Roma Padilla while returning Julian Rios from injury. This might also be a good time to limber up the are of sophomore quarterback Matt Rahn, as Chicago Christian gave up a pair of touchdown passes to St. Francis. "We want to be able to be more balanced and look to do that as well," said Chargers coach Brian Casey. Despite last week's lopsided score, Casey said the team had perhaps its best practices of the season this week, and its goals -- Gold title, playoff berth -- are still in play. IC averaged about 5 yards a carry and converted 8 of 11 third-down plays, providing obvious areas of improvement for the ACC defense. IC coach Bill Krefft still praised ACC on its competitiveness and speed, and Casey seconded that. "Where last year (IC scored on) two-play drives, that wasn't the case this year. We definitely competed better," Casey said.

Next week: Aurora Central Catholic at St. Edward (1-2, 0-1), Sept. 21; Chicago Christian at Guerin (1-2, 0-1), Sept. 22.

Aurora Christian (3-0, 1-0) vs. Wheaton Academy (0-3, 0-1)

Suburban Christian Conference crossover

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday, West Chicago Community High.

Last week: Aurora Christian 56, Walther Lutheran 0; Montini 35, Wheaton Academy 0.

Last year: Did not play.

Outlook: Wheaton Academy is in the tough spot of facing defending state champions in consecutive weeks. But last week Montini couldn't have been too excited taking just an 8-0 lead into halftime. Coming off a Week 2 39-6 loss to Immaculate Conception, Wheaton Academy coach T.J. Ragan addressed the subject of competitiveness. The Warriors responded. "It was a totally different team than the week before," he said. Trouble is, while the Warriors bring several surefire football players such as running back-linebacker John Gemmel, receiver-defensive back Nathan Lopez, receiver-safety Matt Lindsay and offensive-defensive lineman Taylor Johnson, that's just too many hyphens. Wheaton Academy is down to about 21 healthy players, and it's hard to compete for 48 minutes against the likes of defending Class 3A champion Aurora Christian, which has only one lineman, Josh Kok, consistently going both ways. As depicted by last week's Walther Lutheran score, Eagles coach Don Beebe won't allow his players' edge to dull. "One thing about Wheaton Academy," Beebe said, "is they're not going to lay down, they're not going to quit." In fact the Warriors will send the 6-foot-7, 270-pound Johnson in to hassle Eagles quarterback Ryan McQuade, hopefully to add to Lindsay's 3 interceptions. Linebackers John Mark Wiersema, Camden Meade, Lopez and Gemmel will try to contain Aurora Christian's Chad Beebe, Ryan Suttle and Cory Windle, who Beebe hopes to really get going downfield. Last week they were on the receiving end of McQuade's 5 touchdown passes. Don Beebe knows exactly what Lindsay and Wheaton Academy quarterback Nate Martinez can do, having trained both of them at House of Speed. But in his stable he's got the likes of junior cornerback M.J. Zepeda, who last week made 11 tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown."They've got some capable kids that can make plays," Beebe said. "It's not going to be like we can go in there and kill this team if we don't play good."

Next week: St. Francis (3-0, 1-0) at Aurora Christian, Sept. 21; Wheaton Academy at Walther Lutheran (0-3, 0-1), Sept. 22.

Streamwood (1-2, 0-0) at Batavia (3-0, 1-0)

Upstate Eight Conference River Division

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Waubonsie Valley 56, Streamwood 0; Batavia 35, Geneva 21.

Last year: Batavia 49, Streamwood 6.

Outlook: Homecoming Week is a wonderful time for all but football coaches. Batavia's Dennis Piron and his staff should still survive provided the Bulldogs can minimize Streamwood's big-play potential. "Being a track coach I've seen a lot of their kids on the track, and they have a lot of speed and an awful lot of skill," Piron said. "I think they have kids that on any given play have the ability to take it to the house or pick off a pass." They include receiver-defensive backs Blake Holder, Deji Giwa and Sean Patterson, but the only touchdown the Sabres have scored the last two weeks was a 76-yard pass on the brother combination of junior quarterback Mason Polich to kid brother Noah Polich. It's questionable whether Streamwood can hold up to the Batavia pass rush by the likes of blitzing linebacker Cullin Rokos or defensive end Marquise Jenkins, who likely ended the season of Geneva quarterback Daniel Santacaterina, driving him to the turf for a broken collarbone. Batavia last week bolstered its secondary with the return of Vinnie Cerezo from his own shoulder injury. Piron cites Streamwood linebacker Vince Williams and defensive lineman Andy Leckie as players to watch, but last week Waubonsie Valley exploited the Sabres with 283 yards rushing, 130 of them by Austin Guido, a scatback who likes to take the pitch or stretch play around the corner. That would suit the style of Anthony Scaccia, who with seemingly with eyes in the back of his head can sense pressure and reverse field. He did so for 137 yards and 2 touchdowns last week, equaling Anthony Thielk's number of touchdown runs. Enjoying numerous weapons including quarterback Micah Coffey and receiver Zach Strittmatter operating behind co-captain linemen Sebastian Vermaas and Ben Link, Piron was left pondering the difficulties of homecoming and how to limit penalties and improve kick coverage. "We're hoping to come out and play a nice, crisp, mistake-free game," he said.

Next week: Streamwood at Larkin (2-1, 1-0), Sept. 21; Batavia at Lake Park (2-1), Sept. 21.

Larkin (2-1, 1-0) at Geneva (0-3, 0-1)

Upstate Eight Conference River Division

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Larkin 40, Elgin 12; Batavia 35, Geneva 21.

Last year: Geneva 50, Larkin 6.

Outlook: Geneva coach Rob Wicinski is hilarious but he sounded pretty serious saying he had people approaching him to say they could play quarterback. The concern came after Daniel Santacaterina was driven to the ground and suffered a broken collarbone after throwing a pass in last week's loss to Batavia. Wicinski, who said it was the first time he's lost a quarterback to injury, said the sophomore will have surgery this week and may return near the end of the season. Junior T.J. Miller, who relieved Santacaterina and threw 2 passes -- one that drew a pass interference call and the other an interception -- is the leading candidate for the job. Wicinski said, "There's like five in the mix." Quarterback is not the only spot injury has taken a toll; Dan Berendt, Jacob Bastin, Ford Dickinson, Joey Seybold, Jake Boser, Travis Champer and Nathan Balettie are all banged up and exist somewhere between doubtful and questionable for the Larkin game. Regardless, Wicinski said: "We'll just run our stuff." Not a bad idea. Lost in last week's rivalry defeat and the rising injury rate is the fact that tailback Bobby Hess ran for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns and fullback Luke Cella added an 80-yard TD run. Of his line that includes Jordan Hunter, Connor Chapman, Paul Douds, Kyle McNeil and now probably Jon Anderson in for Bastin, Wicinski said, "we've seen improvement." Also, linebacker Cody Murphy was named the Vikings' State Farm player of the week after making 12 tackles. Good news is in two seasons since joining the Upstate Eight, Geneva has outscored Larkin 119-33. The Royals, who this week, are celebrating their 50th anniversary, come off the emotional win over Elgin and a Week 2 win over West Chicago. More realistic when compared to Geneva's program, the Royals lost 60-20 to McHenry in their opener. Regardless whether Larkin loads up nine in the box to stop the run as Wicinski suspects, with the easier part of the schedule ahead the Vikings' eight-year playoff streak is still intact. "For us to do anything the rest of the year our defense has to make strides," Wicinski said.

Next week: Streamwood (1-2, 0-0) at Larkin, Sept. 21; Geneva at St. Charles North (0-3, 0-1), Sept. 21.

Kaneland (3-0) at Streator (0-3)

Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Kaneland 42, Sterling 0; Ottawa 41, Streator 0.

Last year: Did not play.

Outlook: Now up to No. 6 in The Associated Press Class 6A Poll, Kaneland faces a Streator team that, according to The Times of Ottawa, is mired in a 21-game losing streak, longest in school history. The Times reports that Streator quarterback Stephen Truchon has passed for 173 yards while backs Nick Hardgrove and Drew Muntz have run out of the I-formation for a respective 65 and 143 yards each with 1 touchdown. All of those numbers are attainable in one contest by Kaneland quarterback Drew David, tailback Jesse Balluff and fullback Nate Dyer. "They like to run the ball but they do have a pretty good quarterback," said Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly. "We've got to keep trying to improve." The Knights did just that against a Sterling team that had entered No. 6 in Class 5A. Kaneland, which capped its scoring on Dyer's second touchdown run with 4:46 left in the third quarter, won decisively but with a couple surprises. First, David attempted only 10 passes, a low number Fedderly doesn't recall happening before. He also was surprised to limit Sterling to 78 yards of total offense on 39 plays for 6 total first downs. "I was just hoping our kids would be ready and make the improvement that we've made in two weeks," Fedderly said. "I never thought we'd hold them to 78 yards." A key to that is the three-man defensive front of 6-foot-5, 240-pound Bradley Johnson, 6-4, 280 Justin Diddell and 6-4, 325 Jaumaureo Phillips. Together with an offensive line that hopes to return 6-5, 270-pound Joe Komel from injury (another 270-pounder, Evan Ortiz, started at guard last week, shifting 270-pound Alex Snyder to Komel's right tackle spot) gives the Knights the most heft up front in Fedderly's tenure. It also allows guys like linebacker Gary Koehring a free path to tackles. "It was a team effort," Fedderly said. "Our defensive line was doing a very good job. They didn't play their best in the first week but they made a big improvement in the Huntley game and last week."

Next week: Kaneland at Rochelle (3-0, 0-0), Sept. 21; Streator at DeKalb (0-3), Sept. 21.

Montini (2-1, 1-0) at St. Francis (3-0, 1-0)

Suburban Christian Blue

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday at College of DuPage.

Last week: Montini 35, Wheaton Academy 0; St. Francis 49, Chicago Christian 0.

Last year: Montini 33, St. Francis 14.

Outlook: Montini has been banged up, but quarterback Alex Wills, receiver Mark Gorogianis and running back Dimitri Taylor all should return. Key receiver Joey Borsellino (knee) and tight end Matt Brachmann (ankle) are doubtful. Tucker Mucha filled in nicely for Taylor with 318 yards rushing while Mike Dusek helps fill Borsellino's role in the spread offense. Broncos defensive linemen Fred Beaugard, Dylan Thompson, Edgar Ruano and Liam Kennedy are needed to penetrate St. Francis' offensive line. The Spartans ran for 366 yards a week ago; T.J. Jackson's 105 yards led 11 St. Francis ball carriers in the wipeout. Linemen Josh Croci, Robert Dwyer, James Kalfas, Alex Napoli, Kyle Bosch and Co. bring experience, size and agility. The passing combo of Michael Robinson to Andrew Brundage has been a nice surprise and lends balance, but St. Francis earns its pay on the ground. "If they outmuscle us up front they'll control the clock and the game," said Montini coach Chris Andriano.

Next week: Marmion at Montini; St. Francis at Aurora Christian.

Marian Central Catholic (3-0, 1-0) at Marmion (1-2, 1-0)

Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Marian Central Catholic 63, Guerin 0; Marmion 49, St. Edward 16.

Last year: Marian Central Catholic 28, Marmion 7.

Outlook: Marmion got off the schneid last week only to face perhaps the best team in the SCC Blue and The Associated Press' No. 4 team in Class 5A. "They have great schemes, they execute, so they're the real deal," Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said. Veteran Hurricanes coach Ed Brucker has a Minnesota-bound quarterback in 6-foot-5 Chris Streveler, a Western Michigan-bound offensive lineman in Kurtis Stirneman, a water bug back in junior Ephraim Lee and a whole lot of other pieces. According to McHenry County Sports.com Streveler has thrown for 587 yards and 7 touchdowns without an interception and has run for another 241 yards and 6 more TDs while receiver Greg Walczak averages 25.8 yards a catch. "We've got to keep the ball away from them because they're so explosive offensively," Thorpe said. Despite the St. Edward score and improved blocking by Andy Matthews, Kevin Lin, Oscar Garza, Peter Shares and Joe Talbot, the Cadets only ran 29 plays including 2 Charlie Clohecy punts. It's hard to maintain ball control when you score on your first play from scrimmage, and Jordan Glasgow, on his way to 154 yards rushing on just 9 carries, ran for touchdowns of 61 and 67 yards, and his 69-yard kickoff return set up a 1-yard TD run by Cody Snodgrass. Coming back from mononucleosis, Snodgrass was a big help defensively as well. He made 9 tackles, 3 of them on special teams, to bolster the unit headed by Mike Montalbano and Sam Breen, who made 8 solo tackles and assisted on 4 others. St. Edward held the ball 34 minutes, 46 seconds, according to Marmion stats. Should Marian enjoy such possession Marmion may again need to score 7 touchdowns in 29 plays. "The key, you've got to get out of the first quarter with these explosive teams," Thorpe said. "They're going to score, they're going to move the ball, but if they do we just can't panic."

Next week: Immaculate Conception (3-0, 1-0) at Marian Central Catholic, Sept. 21; Marmion at Montini (2-1, 1-0), Sept. 21.

Neuqua Valley (3-0) at St. Charles East (2-1)

Upstate Eight Conference crossover

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Neuqua Valley 42, South Elgin 20; St. Charles East 23, St. Charles North 13.

Last year: Did not play.

Outlook: St. Charles East can gauge its improvement against one of DuPage County's top teams. Neuqua Valley debuted this week at No. 10 in The Associated Press' Class 8A Poll. It features returning all-state back Joey Rhattigan, who has run for 583 yards and 8 touchdowns with a 261-yard game against Naperville Central. The offensive line features Central Michigan recruit J.P. Quinn at right tackle, another 270-pound probable college player in left tackle Andrew Geers and 230-pound left guard Kyle Bryant who's graded out higher than those two. Junior receiver Mikey Dudek was timed at 4.40 at Illinois in June; he gets the ball from able quarterback Dylan Andrew. Defensively the Wildcats field three-year starting linebacker Sam Norgaard and two-year starting defensive lineman Michael Casas. "I think our big advantage right now is we have a huge offensive line," said Neuqua coach Bill Ellinghaus. They'll test that edge against a Saints strength. Last week defensive end Andrew Szyman caused 2 fumbles and coach Mike Fields said the other end, Mike Eyre, had his best game. Linebacker Michael Candre recovered a fumble for a third straight week. Meanwhile, linebacker Joe Hoscheit carried the Saints to victory -- on offense. The fullback ran for two touchdowns, twice extended a drive on fake punts and took in a Jimmy Mitchell pass for a clinching 56-yard TD. St. Charles East allowed 6 first downs and caused 4 turnovers. Neuqua will have to be on the lookout for the passing combination of Mitchell to Brannon Barry, but so will the Saints' Andrew Badowski check Dudek and possibly receiver Jeff Evak should the great kick returner come back from a hurt knee. If the Saints' tailback Erik Anderson can't go with his own injury, Justin Cameron comes off a 60-yard game. Offensive linemen Ian Crawford, Nick Asquini, Tommy Wilson, Ben Smith, Brennan Bosch, Jose Flores and Cullen Cady -- really, the entire squad -- must execute precisely against this foe. "They are certainly bigger than us," Fields said, "but it's a challenge for us and you take a challenge head on."

Next week: East Aurora (0-3, 0-1) at Neuqua Valley, Sept. 21; St. Charles East at Elgin (0-3, 0-1), Sept. 22.

St. Charles North (0-3, 0-1) at Elgin (0-3, 0-1) Upstate Eight Conference River Division

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last week: St. Charles East 23, St. Charles North 13; Larkin 40, Elgin 12.

Last year: St. Charles North 37, Elgin 13.

Outlook: St. Charles North coach Mark Gould was concerned how his team would react in the wake of the loss to its greatest rival. He was pleasantly surprised. "It's been a great week of practice," Gould said. "The kids have been up and it seems like they're putting in even extra effort." A winless record does serve to motivate driven players, and toward that end something will have to give in this contest. Elgin does offer players such as quarterback Ryan Sitter, who came up last year to start as a sophomore, and running back Jaylen Clemons, who gained 102 yards last week against Larkin and 102 in the Maroons' opener against Dundee-Crown. Sitter is dangerous on his feet, too, and Joe DeBrocke caught a long pass last week, but consistency, size and particularly depth hurts Elgin. Only 24 players are listed on Elgin's roster, and St. Charles North will attempt to tenderize its two-way starting linemen with a ground game that seems to be getting better. George Edlund's 70 yards against St. Charles East were a season best, and despite the absence of center Eddie Pellissier (concussion), Gould hopes to get Evan Kurtz going as well. The quarterback spot may be a little up for grabs with Erik Miller still day-to-day with the shoulder he hurt last year. Last week with Ryan Fischbach at the helm Ben Kaplan had a huge night with 5 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. The defense returns Fabian Lara from a concussion, and the North Stars figure to squeeze Elgin offensively with defensive ends Wes Pasholk and Matt Pretet delivering a combination of physicality and quickness. The North Stars last week "were able to show what we could do," Gould said. "Now, it's just consistency."

Next week: Geneva (0-3, 0-1) at St. Charles North, Sept. 21; St. Charles East (2-1, 1-0) at Elgin, Sept. 22.

West Aurora (1-2, 0-1) at Naperville Central (1-2, 1-0)

DuPage Valley Conference

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Wheaton Warrenville South 14, West Aurora 7; Naperville Central 41, Glenbard East 7.

Last year: Naperville Central 35, West Aurora 14.

Outlook: "It's time to get a win," West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said this week. "Playing close doesn't do much for us anymore." Playing WW South to the teams' tightest score since a 21-16 loss in 2000 did little to satisfy Eimer even though the Blackhawks won the second half 7-0 on Booker Ross' 3-yard touchdown run and gained 13 first downs to the Tigers' 12. West has never beaten WW South in DVC play, last beating the Tigers in 1987, and here comes another club West is oh-for since joining the DVC in 1997. Daily Herald correspondent Kevin McGavin still recalls the Blackhawks' last victory over Naperville Central -- his junior year at West Aurora in 1979. The Blackhawks' defensive strength with cornerback Charles House and linebacker Matt Williams will be tested by the Redhawks' passing attack headed by quarterback Jake Kolbe. The junior quarterback last week welcomed receiver Ben Andreas back to the fold, and Andreas debuted with 5 catches for 193 yards mainly off bubble screens, and touchdowns of 51, 43 and 82 yards. Andreas and Lasoda Thompson rejoined an already packed Redhawks receiver corps featuring athletic Jimmy Nashert and Blake Butler. House, Tony Oros and the secondary will certainly need help in the form of a stiff pass rush by the line while also realizing Kolbe can run the ball. On the other side, West Aurora will try to renew a solid ground game. Eimer admitted having Quintez Jones pass 33 times last week was a bit much, and wants to establish Ross more. That again will come down to line play, an area Jorgelius Ramirez, big Shaq Redman and friends must win to taste victory against these upper-echelon DVC clubs. "We've taken some strides and now it's time to take the next step forward," Eimer said. "It's going to be a challenge but we're not in this for moral victories."

Next week: Glenbard North (2-1, 1-0) at West Aurora, Sept. 21; WW South (1-2, 1-0) at Naperville Central.

Burlington Central (3-0, 1-0) at Harvard (1-2, 0-0)

When: today at 7:30 p.m. at Dan Horne Field

Last year: Burlington Central 14, Harvard 0

Last week: Burlington Central 36, Rockford Christian 3; Byron 41, Harvard 13

Outlook: Taking their cue from no-excuses head coach Rich Crabel, the Rockets have been succeeding despite injuries to approximately 10 players since the season began. The latest player on the injured list is defensive back/flanker Damyan Vasquez. The senior is likely out for the season, Crabel said, after he sustained a knee injury in the victory at Rockford Christian. Quarterback Ryan Ritchie, who missed last week's game due to injury, could be cleared today to return to action, though the Central coaching staff will proceed cautiously with their three-year starter. "We'll take it day by day with him," Crabel said Wednesday. "He's got to do some things before we would let him get in a game. We're planning on Tyler Majewski starting again." Majewski, who quarterbacked at the lower levels, performed well last week in his first varsity start at the position. The senior completed 4 of 7 attempts for 58 yards. "He did a nice job controlling the game last Friday," Crabel said. "He did what we asked him to do." Ritchie's eventual return will allow Majewski to return to flanker and the defensive secondary. The running game got on track last week, thanks to solid performances from junior tailback Reilly Marino and recent sophomore call-up Trevor Davison. Marino carried 18 times for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns. Davison rushed for 85 yards and a score on 15 carries in his first varsity game. Central travels to Harvard for the second of 6 contests in the Big Northern East, a league now up for grabs following Genoa-Kingston's 24-20 road victory over defending league champion Richmond-Burton last week. The Hornets have lost two straight road games at Oregon and Byron since their season-opening, 25-20 home win against Rock Falls. "There's a lot of parity in the conference with people beating people," Crabel said. "We look at every game like it's the conference championship game."

Next: Genoa-Kingston at Burlington Central; Marengo at Harvard

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