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Article updated: 9/27/2012 9:04 PM
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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 Christian (5-0, 3-0) at Marmion (1-4, 1-2)

Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division

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

Last week: Aurora Christian 41, St. Francis 14; Montini 30, Marmion 22.

Last year: Did not play.

Outlook: "This is the best 1-4 team in the state of Illinois," Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe said of Marmion. The Cadets' 30 playoff points, second only to DeKalb in Class 6A, don't dispute his claim. As it's been all season Aurora Christian remains The Associated Press' No. 1 team in 3A. The Eagles only added to the luster with their win over a strong St. Francis squad led by 224-pound Joel Bouagnon's 2 touchdowns on 207 yards rushing, a top-five program mark. He ran behind what Beebe called a "fantastic" effort by linemen Josh Kok, Eric Motisi, Tristan Withrow, Nathan Wells and Jake Galbato, an effort mirrored on the defensive side that allowed Bouagnon to also clean up at linebacker with 14 tackles. With receiver Chad Beebe out with a broken arm for the next six weeks a greater reliance on the Eagles' ground game may be the way. The Eagles lines will be challenged this week by Marmion's Peter Shares, Zach Siwiec, linebackers Charlie Clohecy and Sam Breen, and two-way lineman Matt Smith. Marmion, needing the win to remain playoff-eligible, will be well-versed against Aurora Christian's spread offense coming off the Montini game. Marmion got under the three-time defending 5A champ's skin when Mike Montalbano scored his second touchdown of the game on a 17-yard Charlie Faunce pass; Brock Krueger also threw a TD strike, to Seth Sevenich, in one of the Cadets' dual signalcallers' most complete games yet. What clicked was a return to Wing-T plays while remaining in a spread formation, which may pose problems for Aurora Christian. The main factor, though, could be the Marmion players' heart and pride, also fueled by homecoming as the Cadets fight to retain postseason hopes. "The kids aren't stupid," coach Dan Thorpe said. "We know this is our first round of the playoffs."

Next week: Immaculate Conception (4-1, 3-1) at Aurora Christian, Oct. 5; Marmion at St. Francis (3-2, 1-2), Oct. 5.

DeKalb (1-4, 0-1) at Kaneland (5-0, 1-0)

Northern Illinois Big 12 East

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

Last week: DeKalb 49, Streator 6; Kaneland 34, Rochelle 6.

Last year: Kaneland 49, DeKalb 38.

Outlook: DeKalb is fighting for its playoff life and Kaneland has risen to No. 5 in Class 6A -- to which Knights coach Tom Fedderly would say a hearty, So what. He and the rest of the many Knights returners well-remember last season when DeKalb led Kaneland 31-14 early in the third quarter, necessitating a 35-7 Knights comeback. There will be no looking ahead to Yorkville, Sycamore and Morris. "Not after last year, we're not going to do that again," Fedderly said. One of last year's main thorns, 6-foot-4 receiver Jake Carpenter, is back, and the Barbs also return fullback Dylan Hottsmith who scored against the Knights. Hottsmith may be joined in the spread and Pro-I looks with tailback Dre Brown, out last week with a concussion, Fedderly said. "They have talent over there, they've got some good-looking kids," he said. But Kaneland is rolling. The Knights held an unbeaten Rochelle team to 2.3 yards a play last week, including 131 yards rushing on 50 carries. Outside linebacker Blake Bradford made 11 tackles with 2 for loss while 325-pound defensive tackle Jaumaureo Phllips made 8 tackles with 2 for loss and forced a fumble. The Knights' big play potential came through with an 86-yard David Drew touchdown pass to Dylan Nauert and a 61-yarder to Jesse Balluff in the first half to break a deadlock. "In the second half our offensive line took over," Fedderly said, specifying guard Zach Theis with numerous pancake blocks. The coach also highlighted kicker Matt Rodriguez, who consistently plants foes at their own 20-yard line with touchback kickoffs. He joins Balluff and Zack Martinelli as Knights returners who provide an edge in special teams. "We're winning field position every game," Fedderly said.

Next week: DeKalb at Morris (5-0, 1-0), Oct. 5; Kaneland at Yorkville (3-2, 0-1), Oct. 5.

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

Upstate Eight Conference River Division

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

Last week: St. Charles North 25, Geneva 6; St. Charles East 58, Elgin 14.

Last year: Geneva 35, St. Charles East 17.

Outlook: Hard to believe, but a St. Charles East win would snap Geneva's eight-year playoff streak with three games to play. The Vikings' year from heck was depicted last week when linebacker Colin Griffin, thought to be able to play with an injured thumb in a cast, could not. Due to losing 13 players to injury over these first five games, in some positions the Vikings are down to second and third options. Regardless, no one's giving up, and coach Rob Wicinski will probably empty his trick bag against the Saints while trying to take advantage of their aggressive defense. There will be no fooling the Saints that tailback Bobby Hess will be Geneva's best offensive bet. The senior tacked on another 111 yards last week to increase his total to 709 yards with 9 touchdowns. St. Charles East can expect to defend the entire width of the field -- including freshman Nick Derr lofting it up to 6-foot-4 Kevin Brown -- and Wicinski is encouraged by the work of his offensive line. It was hard to see what St. Charles East got out of last week's game with struggling Elgin, but maybe it got one of the most important things of all -- confidence and swagger. Before Saints coach Mike Fields started subbing in the second quarter, leading 44-6, defensive end Andrew Szyman again proved he's a handful, and when the Saints offensive line of Nick Asquini, Brennan Bosch, Ben Smith, Ian Crawford and Tommy Wilson allowed fullback Joe Hoscheit to be touched, he ran people over. Perhaps the best thing to be gained was the return of tailback Erik Anderson from a shoulder injury. Anderson scored on a 25-yard pass from quarterback Jimmy Mitchell, who has solidified a position that for two years has been unstable, passing-wise. Such Geneva defensive stalwarts as Cody Murphy, Jake Will, Doug Davis and Nick Finnberg -- last week's Geneva State Farm player of the week after making 14 tackles -- will be challenged to stop Hoscheit, Anderson and fullback Jon Finn. "I can't fault their effort," Wicinski said, "and I think we'll represent this week."

Next week: Elgin (0-5, 0-3) at Geneva, Oct. 5; St. Charles East at Streamwood (2-3, 1-1), Oct. 5.

Larkin (2-3, 1-2) at Batavia (5-0, 2-0)

Upstate Eight Conference River Division

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

Last week: Streamwood 27, Larkin 0; Batavia 33, Lake Park 29.

Last year: Batavia 50, Larkin 6.

Outlook: What Batavia coach Dennis Piron excitedly addressed concerning Larkin was an offense his Bulldogs haven't seen probably since the Western Sun days. A double-option veer. Later in the season, against the likes of Cary-Grove or Prairie Ridge, this game may come in handy. "First and foremost, what a great opportunity to go against that kind of attack in the middle of your season," Piron said. He noted too that Larkin offers linemen whose size the Bulldogs haven't seen too often, either, probably not since Week 1 at Glenbard North. Larkin's Alex Schabert goes 320 pounds, Carlos Garcia and Adam Hamiel 285 pounds each. They'll attempt to spring Maurece Jackson and Mario Randazzo through the line; Jackson ran for 62 yards last week and 157 the week before against Geneva, albeit trailing the Vikings 42-7 by halftime. Batavia's goal will be to stop those two and force Larkin quarterback Kemmerin Blalark to the air. Streamwood's Austin Mugnai interepted Blalark 3 times last week; Geneva held him to 2-of-10 passing. In this version of "assignment football," Piron is counting on the quartet of safeties Robbie Bowman and Chris Moran and outside linebackers Cullin Rokos and Austin Thielk to search and destroy. Thielk did his job on both sides of the ball last week, scoring his second touchdown run to put the Bulldogs ahead for good, and clinching the win with an interception. Again showing diversity, Anthony Scaccia ran for 114 yards and Zach Strittmatter caught 7 passes for 102 yards and connected for 3 TDs with quarterback Micah Coffey. Thus far Batavia has run for about 500 yards more than it did last year at this time. Though Scaccia offers a waterbug the Bulldogs didn't have last season, Piron attributes that to his offensive line of Ben Link, Sebastian Vermaas, Mitch Krusz, Connor McKeehan, Noah Cotten, Max Heidgen, tight end Noah Frazier and Adam Hunger, a 250-pounder who sooner or later is going to come out of the backfield to catch a pass. The Bulldogs gained 30 first downs to Lake Park's 12. "I think (Larkin will) have a difficult time dealing with all the things we have to offer," Piron said.

Next week: Bartlett (3-2) at Larkin, Oct. 5; St. Charles North (2-3, 2-1) at Batavia, Oct. 5.

St. Charles North (2-3, 2-1) at Streamwood (2-3, 1-1) Upstate Eight Conference River Division

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

Last week: St. Charles North 25, Geneva 6; Streamwood 27, Larkin 0.

Last year: Streamwood 35, St. Charles North 9.

Outlook: Things have started to come together for St. Charles North, which beat Geneva for the first time in three varsity meetings. Quarterback Ryan Fischbach had one of, if not his best outing with an economical 10-of-18 passing for 178 yards and touchdown passes to the always-dangerous Ben Kaplan and tight end Garrett Johnson. The game seems to have slowed down for Fischbach. The offense wasn't a first-down machine, but contributed touchdown runs by Evan Kurtz and George Edlund, who if they continue to roll will make the North Stars dangerous. Defensively, St. Charles North forced 1-of-11 passing and got successive big plays from Fabian Lara, Reece Conroyd and Nick McCullough on a goal line stand. "We put 25 points on the board, that's the nice thing," said coach Mark Gould. "Offensively every week we're picking up a little more confidence." It's kind of hard to get a handle on the Stars' Week 6 opponent. Streamwood has had a Jekyll-Hyde season: consecutive shutout losses to Waubonsie Valley and Batavia (a pair of great teams) and last week's shutout win over Larkin. Perhaps it's a hit or miss squad that relies on big plays such as Blake Holder's 75-yard punt return touchdown, and Austin Mugnai's 50-yard interception return for another. Aside from junior back Lenard Brown's 96 yards rushing the Sabres' offensive numbers weren't spectacular, outgained 252-228 by Larkin. Gould hopes his offense can keep improving, and that defensive ends Matt Pretet and Wes Pasholk can disrupt the timing between Sabres quarterback Mason Polich and his track-burner receivers. With Batavia and South Elgin still on the North Stars' schedule and Streamwood also seeking playoff eligibility, this will be a test. "Streamwood, one thing about them is they're always very aggressive," Gould said. "They always come to hit us."

Next week: St. Charles North at Batavia (5-0, 2-0), Oct. 5; St. Charles East (3-2, 2-0) at Streamwood, Oct. 5.

Walther Lutheran (1-4, 1-2) at Aurora Central Catholic (4-1, 2-1)

Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division

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

Last week: Wheaton Academy 56, Walther Lutheran 52; Aurora Central Catholic 25, St. Edward 7.

Last year: Walther Lutheran 28, Aurora Central Catholic 26.

Outlook: Aurora Central Catholic has a chance at a fifth win and the playoff eligibility that goes with it for the first time since 1997. It's a step toward coach Brian Casey's goals when he took over three seasons ago. "I certainly think that would be an accomplishment to this point, because that would secure a winning record," he said. Walther Lutheran, fighting to stave off elimination, was among the teams that ruined ACC's 3-1 start last year. ACC has a speed advantage on many opponents, but probably not this one. Najee Toomer, Marcellous Brinkley, Kurtis Duff, Justin Tolbert and 6-foot-4 Jon Faqua are burners, and Broncos coach Bruce Tuomi will position them all over the field. Quarterback Joe Lomnicki's task is to hit them in stride. "Toomer will outrun you, Fuqua will outleap you," Casey said. But as Wheaton Academy proved last week in rallying from a 52-26 third-quarter deficit, Walther can be worn down. "We don't necessarily have the speed to run outside and make cuts outside because they're fast," Casey said. "Inside I think we have (an) advantage." Against St. Edward the Chargers also had mental toughness and adaptability. They took St. Edward's shot then made adjustments to come back with 22 unanswered points to beat the Green Wave for the first time since 2007. ACC scored twice in the last 3:23 of the first half on short runs by quarterback Matt Rahn and wingback Steven Amoni, now up to 792 yards rushing, 9 TDs. Defensively linemen Izzy Rosa (who has 13 tackles for loss), Tony Hizo, Josiah Padilla, Jake McCarthy, Dannny Mowka, Josh Karn and Joe Cisneros were the front line that held St. Ed's Davontae Elam to 37 yards on 14 carries. In this game they'll have to use their strength to overwhelm Walther's front and rush Lomnicki. "If we can't get pressure it's going to give the quarterback time to sit back and read," Casey said. "And we saw what happened last year when he did that."

Next week: Walther Lutheran at Chicago Christian (2-3, 1-2), Oct. 5; Guerin (1-4, 0-3) at Aurora Central Catholic, Oct. 5.

West Aurora (1-4, 0-3) at Wheaton North (5-0, 3-0)

DuPage Valley Conference

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

Last week: Glenbard North 28, West Aurora 14; Wheaton North 57, Glenbard East 7.

Last year: Wheaton North 38, West Aurora 7.

Outlook: West Aurora's back is firmly on the wall of playoff elimination. Wheaton North is the DVC co-leader, with Glenbard North, and is ranked No. 4 in Class 7A. "Defensively I think this might be the best group we've seen all year," said Blackhawks coach Nate Eimer. The Falcons' defense, headed by defensive end Kellen Cleveland, offers multiple looks and last week featured a 29-yard interception return for touchdown by defensive back Jaylen Howze. Offensively the Falcons bring a dual-quarterback approach of senior John Peltz and junior Clayton Thorson. In the Falcons' closest contest, a 21-7 win over Naperville North, each threw a touchdown pass to the other. Peltz added a scoring strike to running back Patrick Sharp, who like receiver Matt Biegalski is a track sprinter. Eimer typifies Peltz as the better runner, Thorson the better pocket passer, but he added: "They do pretty much what they want to do so far." For West Aurora to do what it wants, namely stay in the playoff hunt, the message is a two-fold one of consistency and making big plays when they can. Booker Ross' 2 touchdown runs -- one a Barry Sanders-style escape from within a horde of tacklers -- and quarterback Quintez Jones' 118 passing yards, 74 to Cole Childs, were no match for the 240 rushing yards gained by Glenbard North's Justin Jackson. Despite Jackson, Eimer was high on the play of defensive back Tony Oros, linemen Corey Williams, Blake Salesky, Jon Evans, Jakilo Lee, and linebacker Matt Williams, whose 8 tackles led the effort as usual. Another positive was climbing out of a 21-0 fourth-quarter hole. Eimer was encouraged by what he saw at practice again this week: "I think this is absolutely a great group of kids. They keep working hard every day and I think there's some great things coming this season, I really do."

Next week: West Aurora at Naperville North (2-3, 1-2), Oct. 5; Wheaton North at Naperville Central (3-2, 3-0), Oct. 5.

Burlington Central (4-1, 3-0) at Marengo (1-4, 0-3)

When: today at 7 p.m. at Rod Poppe Field

Last year: Burlington Central 55, Marengo 3

Last week: Burlington Central 26, Genoa-Kingston 14; Harvard 10, Marengo 6

Outlook: Quarterback Ryan Ritchie underwent surgery this week for a torn thumb ligament. Whether he can return this season in a cast at another position has yet to be determined. Capable senior Tyler Majewski will again take over as signal caller. In three games subbing for Ritchie this season, he has completed 24 of 34 attempts for 231 yards with 1 touchdown pass and 1 interception. "We miss a little athletically there, but Tyler does a really nice job running the offense," Central coach Rich Crabel said. "Unfortunately, it also takes him away from playing that receiver spot and he's played some cornerback, too." The Rockets have dominated the series against the Indians, winning the last 7 straight meetings. Central will look to stop Marengo senior running back John Lesiak in order to remain unbeaten in Big Northern East play. "He's going to draw a lot of our attention," Crabel said. "We'll be pretty focused on him."

Next: Richmond-Burton at Burlington Central; Marengo at Stillman Valley

Marian Central (5-0, 3-0) at St. Francis (3-2, 1-2)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday

The quick hit: St. Francis aims to end a two-game slide against a third straight highly ranked SCC Blue foe. Minnesota-bound Marian quarterback Chris Streveler is a beast, but he'll go up against St. Francis' Alex Alcantara, Dan Beck and punishing John Vargyas.

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