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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 Catholic (3-1, 1-1) at St. Edward (1-3, 0-3)

Suburban Christian Conference crossover

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Aurora Central Catholic 59, Chicago Christian 19; Immaculate Conception 49, St. Edward 22.

Last year: Did not play.

Outlook: Aurora Central Catholic looks to continue where it left off, scoring on eight of nine possessions and the first six times it had the ball. Steven Amoni, now at 688 yards rushing, had 194 of those last week, and 2 touchdowns. Brian Bohr, Julian Rios and Steve Belovich also ran it in; the Chargers were in such good position after quarterback Matt Rahn hit tight end Jake McCarthy for a TD that Drake Riedy came in behind center and tossed another to Bohr. "It may have been the most productive game in three years in terms of efficiency," coach Brian Casey said. Yet Chicago Christian's long TD pass on its second play gave the Chargers something to work on for St. Edward, which should be hyped for homecoming. The Green Wave doesn't make its living by Mike Castoro throwing the ball, but 6-4 Andrew Yarwood can go up and get it, scoring twice against Immaculate Conception. St. Edward's emphasis is running back Davontae Elam. It's up to ACC defensive linemen McCarthy, Izzy Rosa, Josiah Padilla and Tony Hizo to occupy St. Ed's good-sized line and let linebackers Belovich, Cody Ekstrom, Jacob Holzer and Karlo Valenzuela pursue. "Ultimately our success will have to come up front," Casey said.

Next week: Walther Lutheran (1-3, 1-1) at Aurora Central Catholic, Sept. 28; St. Edward at Chicago Christian (1-3, 0-2), Sept. 28.

St. Francis (3-1, 1-1) at Aurora Christian (4-0, 3-0) Suburban Christian Blue

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Montini 28, St. Francis 7; Aurora Christian 55, Wheaton Academy 7.

Last year: Did not play.

Outlook: An intriguing matchup between defending Class 3A champion Aurora Christian and a St. Francis squad ranked No. 10 in Class 6A by The Associated Press. Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe wondered at season's outset how his club would contend in the SCC Blue coming from the Gold. The Eagles have skill-position players galore; any difference will be most pronounced on the line. "I think we're probably a little more physical up front," said Spartans coach Greg Purnell (who led St. Francis to the 2008 5A title). Despite the presence of 6-4, 258 two-way lineman Josh Kok, Beebe admits the Eagles don't have a guy like 6-6, 315, Michigan-bound offensive tackle Kyle Bosch. At right tackle fronting the Wing-T offense is 6-4, 280 Robert Dwyer. Bosch makes guest appearances on defense but otherwise the Spartans aren't that big on the defensive line -- just active and deep as Purnell subs in liberally. Aurora Christian offensive linemen Kok, Nathan Wells, Eric Motisi, Tristan Withrow and Jake Galbato must be on top of their game to protect quarterback Ryan McQuade and open cracks for backs Brandon Mayes and Legend Smith. McQuade already has thrown for 1,040 yards and 19 touchdowns, but against much less competition than St. Francis. Last week, receiver Chad Beebe set a program record with 16 receptions, for 207 yards. Tough Spartans Alex Alcantara and Dan Beck will draw a bead on the Eagles' receivers. "It's really going to come down to turnover ratio and it's going to come down to who can really control that line of scrimmage," Don Beebe said.

Next week: Marian Central (4-0, 2-0) at St. Francis, Sept. 28; Aurora Christian at Marmion (1-3, 1-1), Sept. 28.

Batavia (4-0) at Lake Park (2-2)

Upstate Eight Conference crossover

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

Last week: Batavia 33, Streamwood 0; Waubonsie Valley 49, Lake Park 28.

Last year: Did not play.

Outlook: Batavia rose a notch to No. 5 in The Associated Press Class 7A Poll after handling Streamwood. The Bulldogs gave Lake Park food for thought when 6-foot-4, 250-pound Adam Hunger ran twice for 5 yards and a touchdown blast. The tackle's backfield debut added another weapon in an arsenal which last week saw 10 different Bulldogs run or catch the ball, not including quarterbacks Micah Coffey and Dan Albrecht. Usual suspects Anthony Scaccia, Anthony Thielk and Zach Strittmatter will stretch the width and breadth of Lake Park's four-man defensive front. Last week's 441 yards of offense again revolved around offensive linemen Hunger, Sebastian Vermaas, Ben Link, Mitch Krusz, Connor McKeehan, Max Heidgen and Noah Cotten, a group Batavia coach Dennis Piron said is "ahead of last year." Lake Park returns all-conference linebacker Ronnie Castaldo, and linebacker Niko Daniello and lineman Craig Ryan are good ones but overall defense is not a strength; the Lancers allowed Waubonsie 487 yards. What Piron fears is a passing attack that can score from anywhere on the field. Lake Park quarterback Zach Gehant is a three-year starter with 13 touchdown passes to 1 interception, and receiver Kevin Teglia already has caught 27 passes for 508 yards and 10 touchdowns. Twice this year Teglia's set program records for longest pass reception, of 94 and 95 yards. The other wideout is Scott Filip, who this summer won a Junior Olympics decathlon in his age group. The ground game isn't quite as productive, Curtwan Evans leading with 292 yards, 2 TDs. Should Batavia linemen like James Millette and Ryan Minniti contain the run that'll allow linebackers Thielk, Cullin Rokos, Mickey Watson and rush end Marquise Jenkins to lower the boom on Gehant. "We feel like our front seven's coming along real nice right now," Piron said.

Next week: Larkin (2-2, 1-1) at Batavia, Sept. 28; Lake Park at Bartlett (3-1, 2-0), Sept. 29.

Geneva (1-3, 1-1) at St. Charles North (1-3, 1-1)

Upstate Eight River

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

Last week: Geneva 56, Larkin 23; St. Charles North 49, Elgin 0.

Last year: Geneva 54, St. Charles North 7.

Outlook: Good news finally arrived for both these teams, courtesy of District U-46. A very eventful day for Geneva, tailback Bobby Hess used what coach Rob Wicinski called a "lights-out" performance by right tackle Connor Chapman to run for 246 yards and 5 touchdowns, the long one an 80-yard scamper, while poised freshman quarterback Nick Derr assumed control and even threw touchdown passes to both Pace Temple and Kyle Brown. "He blended right in," Wicinski said. "The upper classmen are giving him grief, so they must like him." Yet this is a star-crossed season for Geneva quarterbacks. One week after Daniel Santacaterina left with a broken collarbone, backup T.J. Miller is questionable with an ankle injury. Wicinski could bring up 6-6 sophomore Mike Landi, but hesitates jostling frosh-soph rosters any more. Though left tackle Jacob Bastin and defensive tackle Jake Boser are probably still out, Nathan Balettie played a couple series on the defensive line and the Vikings dodged another bullet since linebacker Colin Griffin can play in a cast to protect a torn thumb ligament. That is important, as St. Charles North let loose with 92 yards rushing by Evan Kurtz and 73 from George Edlund, on limited carries, allowing junior Tim Hausl to come off the bench for 47 yards on 4 carries. "It takes the old monkey off your back, that's for sure," North Stars coach Mark Gould said of the win. Like Hess, St. Charles North has a special team threat in Nick McCullough, who returned a punt 83 yards for a score against Elgin. The Vikings may loosen the playbook for Derr more in his second game, but St. Charles North will likely throw the ball more. Ryan Fischbach threw a long TD pass to Zach Kirby, and receiver Ben Kaplan can really spread a defense. Defensively linebackers Reece Conroyd made 14 tackles and Alec Datoli returned 1 of 2 fumble recoveries for a touchdown. They and Nick Lynch, Tyler Ingham, Cody Mayhak and Kurtz have to stop Hess inside and out. "I think our guys have the idea down pretty well, but Geneva does their offense so well," Gould said. For teams a combined 1-6, this could be a good one.

Next week: Geneva at St. Charles East (2-2, 1-0), Sept. 28; St. Charles North at Streamwood (1-3, 0-1), Sept. 28.

Glenbard North (3-1, 2-0) at West Aurora (1-3, 0-2)

DuPage Valley Conference

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

Last week: Glenbard North 53, Glenbard East 14; Naperville Central 42, West Aurora 7.

Last year: Glenbard North 31, West Aurora 21.

Outlook: As usual in the DuPage Valley, West Aurora goes from frying pan to fire. Glenbard North has fallen out of The Associated Press top 10 teams in Class 8A, more due to other teams' rise than its fall. Since Batavia beat the Panthers 42-41 in the opener all they've done is outscore their next three opponents 132-36. We're saying here that West Aurora is better than both West Chicago and Glenbard East, but still. Always physically intimidating, bringing a chip in its shoulder, Glenbard North will deliver a bunch of 220-plus bruisers like Andrew Mulshine to the line, so pesky guys like 159-pound linebacker Mario Rodriguez can clean up. Offensively the Panthers have a power trio of quarterback Brian Murphy -- perhaps more dangerous on the ground than in the air -- receiver Ryan Storto and tailback Justin Jackson. "He's phenomenal," West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said of Jackson, who broke a 99-yard touchdown run against Batavia and an 82-yard kickoff return against Glenbard East. Jackson has run for 777 yards and 13 touchdowns on 80 carries. Containment by West Aurora linebackers Matt Williams and Spencer Thomas will be key to any success the Blackhawks have. Also will the continued pursuit of getting the ball to Booker Ross. Last week West Aurora sent him out to end for a few plays, and Ross caught all 6 passes Quintez Jones threw to him, for 51 yards. Ross also ran for a team-high 42 yards, 12 of them on the Blackhawks' sole touchdown. On the heels of a solid 14-7 loss to Wheaton Warrenville South, West Aurora let last week's game slip away, allowing 35 second-half points. Eimer praised his team's work ethic, and hopes that soon they'll make their own breaks. "The kids are working but it's just not showing on the field," he said, "and I think at some point it's going to show on the field."

Next week: Naperville Central (2-2, 2-0), Sept. 28; West Aurora at Wheaton North (4-0, 2-0), Sept. 28.

Kaneland (4-0, 0-0) at Rochelle (4-0, 0-0)

Northern Illinois Big 12 East

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday

Last week: Kaneland 41, Streator 0; Rochelle 47, Sterling 21.

Last year: Kaneland 34, Rochelle 14; Kaneland 20, Rochelle 14 (Class 5A quarterfinals).

Outlook: After all the preamble, which saw Kaneland outscoring its first three foes 160-59 and Rochelle doing the same 173-64, this is the first big test in the NIB12. "We're both undefeated and coming off the quarterfinals last year," said Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly. "It's getting to be a pretty big rivalry. This'll be a fun one." Both teams know each other well. Rochelle coach Kevin Crandall is one of the leading practitioners of the Wing-T. Running behind the likes of left tackle Tyler Mollet and tight end Tyler Vogeler, the Hubs have gained 1,565 yards on the ground, led by Marquez Felix, Evan White and Tony Walsh. But just when Rochelle sucks 11 defenders into the box Crandall will order quarterback Angel Burciaga to throw the rare (as in 125 total passing yards) forward pass, often for a long score. This is the epitome of assignment football. "You've got to trust your assignment and trust the other kid's going to do his," Fedderly said. The difference between last year's scores in the two games, he said, was in the quarterfinals Kaneland had the ball only seven times, including the victory kneeldown. He hopes for better ball control than that, and after Knights quarterback David Drew has thrown the ball just 19 times in two straight shutout wins, it's back to possession through the air. The good news is blowouts of Sterling and Streator allowed Dylan Nauert a couple more chances to run the ball outside, where he's a good complement to Jesse Balluff and short-yardage bulldozer Nate Dyer. Even better news is bit Joe Komel returns from injury to man the right tackle slot, moving Alex Snyder back inside to guard. In a game like this you'd believe homefield advantage would help, but maybe not. "We love to play there," Fedderly said. "It's like a small college."

Next week: DeKalb (0-4, 0-1) at Kaneland, Sept. 28; Rochelle at Yorkville (3-1, 0-0), Sept. 28.

Marmion (1-3, 1-1) at Montini (3-1, 2-0)

Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division

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

Last week: Marian Central 34, Marmion 7; Montini 28, St. Francis 7.

Last year: Montini 13, Marmion 6.

Outlook: Marmion angles to bolster its status among the SCC's Big Four. By record Montini would appear to be a heavy favorite, but last year's game was the Broncos' lowest-scoring contest, its closest beside a 21-20 loss to Marian Central. Against Montini junior quarterback Alex Wills and the spread offense, the Cadets will attempt to disguise schemes by doing things like dropping defensive end Joe Talbot into pass coverage and sending linebacker Charlie Clohecy or defensive back Jake Ruddy in on a blitz. "You've got to confuse their offensive players," said Marmion coach Dan Thorpe. But along with key receivers Joey Borsellino and Mark Gorogianis, running back Dimitri Taylor keeps things honest -- he ran for 183 yards against a good St. Francis team. Marmion defensive lineman Talbot, Alex Fritz, Matt Smith and Mike Hughes must assemble some sort of pass rush while linebackers Clohecy, Mike Montalbano, Cody Snodgrass and Sam Breen attempt to cover a passing scheme that seems to attack the sidelines more than down the middle, or deep. Offensively Marmion will face a tremendously physical Montini front seven. Quarterback Charlie Faunce returns from a back injury to give Thorpe the dual dimension he likes with thrower Brock Krueger, who completed the Cadets' lone touchdown pass last week, to Tyler Eberth. Jordan Glasgow continues to shine, 88 yards last week against Marian, which allowed 337 yards but only the one score. Marmion will need long sustained drives, especially since Montini kicker Andrew Harte delivers touchbacks on cue. "We need to step up and compete with the big boys -- and we can compete with the big boys," Thorpe said.

Next week: Aurora Christian (4-0, 3-0) at Marmion, Sept. 28; Montini at Immaculate Conception (4-0, 3-0), Sept. 29.

St. Charles East (2-2, 1-0) at Elgin (0-4, 0-3)

Upstate Eight River

Game time: 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Last week: Neuqua Valley 34, St. Charles East 0; St. Charles North 49, Elgin 0.

Last year: St. Charles East 10, Elgin 0.

Outlook: "Addition by subtraction" is how St. Charles East coach Mike Fields looked at the Neuqua game. Meaning, take what positives occurred -- Brannon Barry's 10 catches for 86 yards, sacks by Joe Hoscheit and Andrew Szyman, a spark at cornerback by Mitch Munroe -- and put that game in the rearview mirror. An opening kickoff return for touchdown and a couple muffs put the Saints in a 20-0 hole within 10 minute's. "If we can learn from those mistakes and move forward then it'll be a great learning experience," Fields said. Neuqua Valley is one of the area's top teams -- and the Saints should fully recover Saturday against Elgin. The Maroons will be propelled by a gathering of area veterans as part of Memorial Field's 50th anniversary celebration, and once past that early emotion St. Charles North will settle into tackling Elgin tailback Jaylen Clemons, who has run for 325 yards on the year and 88 against St. Charles North. The main problem for Dave Bierman's Maroons is numbers, only 24 listed on the roster. While Clemons, quarterback Ryan Sitter and receivers Jordan Smith and Joe DeBrocke are quality skill players, depth on the line and on defense is an issue. Szyman and Michael Eyre will try to exploit that for the Saints. Offensively, quarterback Jimmy Mitchell threw his first interception last week -- kind of amazing for a junior QB. The Saints hope to return running back Erik Anderson from injury, but Justin Cameron, Anthony Sciarrino and Hoscheit are a credible three-headed monster in the backfield. But after allowing Neuqua to get a good pass rush last week, Fields is expecting Elgin to bring it. "They've got some kids that can surprise you," he said. "I can care less what their record it."

Next week: Geneva (1-3, 1-1) at St. Charles East, Sept. 28; Elgin at East Aurora (0-4), Sept. 28.

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