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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 (6-1, 4-1) at Marmion (2-5, 2-3)

Suburban Christian Conference crossover

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

Last week: ACC 55, Guerin 0; Marmion 14, St. Francis 6.

Last year: Did not play.

Outlook: Marmion holds a 16-10-1 advantage in this rivalry contest. Continued improvement by ACC could become make this as frenzied as their annual basketball games. As it is the Chargers achieved a landmark by securing their first playoff slot since 1997. Coach Brian Casey quipped that the early qualification has ACC "playing with the house's money," but the Chargers still need wins to lock an SCC Gold title over Immaculate Conception and Wheaton Academy. Last week Julian Rios and Brian Bohr each swept through the Guerin defense for 100 yards. They'll again deliver the mail should Steven Amoni not be able to play with a sore ankle and add to his 832 yards rushing. The key on both sides of the ball for teams that run similar offenses (also similar to St. Francis' Wing-T), will be sustaining blocks and not allowing line penetration. Its own playoff hopes gone, Marmion showed trademark toughness with its win over St. Francis. The score could have been higher had the Cadets not gotten a touchdown called back and ended the game deep in St. Francis territory. Jordan Glasgow, Jake Ruddy, Mike Montalbano and quarterback Charlie Faunce paced a 213-yard ground game, Ruddy returning from injury to join Montalbano with 10 tackles. Middle linebacker Sam Breen's 11 tackles and 2 pass knockdowns earned defensive player of the week honors -- all a credit to Matt Smith and his defensive line mates. Marmion and ACC will both place an emphasis on forcing the pass. That is out of each team's comfort zone, yet both Faunce and Blake Krueger have improved passing the ball and ACC's Matt Rahn has completed 52 percent of his limited (23) attempts. Faunce and Tom Jude each picked off St. Francis passes as did ACC's Zach Kavcar against Guerin. "We've got to get them to go three plays and punt and keep their offense off the field," said Marmion coach Dan Thorpe. "They'll be very content to go on 12-, 15-play drives. I'm concerned they'll pound it right at us." Should the Chargers succeed in this against one of the SCC's "Big Four," Casey said it could put the Chargers "back in the conversation...to where ACC was when it was playing great football in the SCC."

Next week: ACC at Montini (5-2, 4-1), Oct. 19; Walther Lutheran (2-5, 2-3) at Marmion, Oct. 19.

Aurora Christian (7-0, 5-0) at Montini (5-2, 4-1) Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division

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

Last week: Aurora Christian 47, Immaculate Conception 20; Marian Central 49, Montini 24.

Last year: Montini 55, Aurora Christian 14.

Outlook: The defending Class 3A champion visits the three-time defending 5A champ. Promoted after last season's SCC Gold title, Aurora Christian has beaten St. Francis and Marmion and a win here should earn at least a share of the Blue (they end against 1-6 Guerin). "This is just another stepping stone in the building of the program at Aurora Christian," Eagles coach Don Beebe said. "You've got to believe you can take out a giant like Montini." The Broncos will be loaded for bear after allowing Marian 28 unanswered second-half points. Outscoring Aurora Christian 151-22 the last three years, the Broncos' edge has usually been physicality and size, but Eagles' 224-pound running back-linebacker Joel Bouagnon, who has run for 532 yards and 6 touchdowns the last three weeks, is a load. Beebe also cites better depth on this year's offensive and defensive lines, a boon against Montini's two-platoon squad. In this game of spread offenses Montini's Dimitri Taylor is another top-flight back with 507 yards and 5 touchdowns. Montini's aerial attack may be altered if quarterback Alex Wills, who has thrown for 1,256 yards and 16 touchdowns, 10 interceptions, does not return after Marian knocked him out of last week's game. Should Wills not return that puts Jimmy Barron in the game, not quite the arm as Wills but better scrambling ability (receiver Joey Borsellino may get some snaps in the "Joecat"). Either way, both teams will want to force the other to the air. In that case, even without injured receiver Chad Beebe the past three weeks Eagles quarterback Ryan McQuade has completed 112 of 201 passes for 1,677 yards, 26 touchdowns, 8 interceptions. The huge key for Aurora Christian's success will be center Tristan Withrow and his offensive linemates reaching the second level so bruising Montini linebackers like Nick Sanzeri don't run downhill. Along with the usual turnover impact, each team fields a potentially game-changing kicker, both in field position and field goal range -- Montini's Andrew Harte, who booted a 48-yard field goal last week; and AC's Trevor Hills, who has a 47-yarder to his credit. This has the potential to be a really good game. "We just don't want to go in there and lay an egg," Beebe said.

Next week: Guerin (1-6, 0-5) at Aurora Christian, Oct. 19; Aurora Central Catholic (6-1, 4-1) at Montini, Oct. 19.

Batavia (7-0, 4-0) at St. Charles East (5-2, 4-0)

Upstate Eight Conference River Division

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

Last week: Batavia 35, St. Charles North 20; St. Charles East 23, Streamwood 7.

Last year: Batavia 43, St. Charles East 7.

Outlook: Batavia coach Dennis Piron reportedly gave his boys an earful following last week's game, but this week Piron stressed it was more a reminder of a task still ahead -- facing St. Charles East with the River Division title on the line. Piron said the Bulldogs needed "the right focus going into this week because St. Charles East is a heck of a football team." This is a game between two founding members of the Little Seven Conference, who played all but three years from 1921-64, according to Batavia historian George Scheetz. Piron, of the defending River champ, is not surprised the Saints (who won the UEC in the last solidified season of 2009) are in this position, not with the one-two punch of fullback Joe Hoscheit and the shiftiness and outside burst of Erik Anderson. Piron also noted that the Saints have lost only to Cary-Grove and Neuqua Valley, a pair of 7-0 teams. St. Charles East must establish a ground game to keep Batavia's offense off the field, but the Saints must also keep the Bulldogs off balance through the air with the arm of junior quarterback Jimmy Mitchell, who has receiver Brannon Barry as a go-to wideout and Anderson on play-action calls. The ultimate goal is consistency, Saints coach Mike Fields said. "We'd love to run the ball but we're realistic," he said, "They're going to put seven, eight guys in the box and we're going to have toplay real well to establish the run, so we're going tohave to take it as it comes." Both teams' effectiveness is thus reduced to how well the Saints' offensive line of tackles Nick Asquini and Tommy Wilson, guards Brennan Bosch and Ian Crawford and center Ben Smith can handle the likes of Batavia's Marquise Jenkins, Ryan Minniti, Mike Gates and James Millette up front. If Batavia can force repeated three-and-outs it'll suit their 36-point average. The Bulldogs have so many weapons and formations for Saints linebackers Hoscheit and Jon Finn, gamebreaker defensive backs Barry, Mitch Munroe and Anthony Sciarrino and terrorizing defensive end Andrew Szyman to try to contain. Piron and offensive coordinator Mike Gaspari have started to get Rourke Mullins in on the receiving act, where he joins tailback Anthony Scaccia, Michael Moffatt and the big wideout, Zach Strittmatter, with 602 yards and 10 touchdowns. Scaccia is up to 840 yards rushing with 7 touchdowns, a cutback whiz the Bulldogs didn't even have on last year's semifinal team. But Batavia will be the favorite, and that is pressure in itself, and the Bulldogs can't affort mistakes against a sound foe. "There's a lot on the line and as coaches and players it's a game to be relished," Piron said.

Next week: Batavia at Elgin (1-6, 0-4), Oct. 19; Larkin (2-5, 1-3) at St. Charles East, Oct. 19.

Metea Valley (2-5) at Geneva (2-5)

Upstate Eight Conference crossover

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

Last week: Metea Valley 55, East Aurora 12: Geneva 49, Elgin 6.

Last year: Did not play.

Outlook: Similar teams with same records. The similarity starts at tailback, where Metea's Cameron Wilson enters with 922 yards rushing to counter Geneva's Bobby Hess' 1,101 after a 249-yard, 6-touchdown effort in last week's homecoming pasting of Elgin. "They want to run it inside the tackles, but (Hess) has the ability to bounce it outside and use speed as well, like Cam does for us," said first-year Metea coach Ben Kleinhans. Both teams have solid receivers -- Batavia's 6-foot-5 Kyle Brown and Pace Temple, Metea three-year starting wideout Alex Hagemaster and slot receiver Blaze Miller. One difference is that while Geneva freshman quarterback Nick Derr has come along with his best game last week, 7-of-13 passing, Metea junior Blaise Bell has greater experience to go with a nice arm. He targets Hagemaster deep and often, but has thrown into tight spots for 8 interceptions. Geneva defensive backs Brett Landrum, Noah Parsons, Jeremy Hanson and Connor Slepikas will be on the alert. Metea, which lost senior defensive tackle Terry Campbell to a shoulder injury, happens to catch Geneva at perhaps its healthiest all season, not a good prospect for the Mustangs. Especially up front, where after missing more than a month with a knee injury senior offensive tackle Jacob Bastin may return to help contain Metea linebackers Donovan Rowsey and Jake Murawski. The Vikings feel good enough that defensive tackle Jake Boser, in his second game upon returning from broken ribs, not only made 4 tackles with 1 for loss plus a half-sack, against Elgin he went into the offensive backfield for 2 carries and 13 yards to earn Geneva's State Farm player of the week. Both Metea and Geneva are better than their records but like most sub-.500 teams mistakes will start a downward spiral. Metea will show no quit, but Geneva coach Rob Wickinski hopes that as the Vikings did with Elgin, installing early doubt helps sway the outcome. "If either team wants to give up the ball on either side, I think that's going to be a death wish for them," he said.

Next week: Geneva at Streamwood (2-5, 1-3), Oct. 19; Metea Valley at Waubonsie Valley (6-1, 3-1), Oct. 19

Sycamore (5-2, 2-1) at Kaneland (7-0, 3-0)

Northern Illinois Big 12 East

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

Last week: Sycamore 26, Rochelle 14; Kaneland 55, Yorkville 0.

Last year: Kaneland 35, Sycamore 21.

Outlook: The No. 2 team in Class 6A marched on, limiting Yorkville to 3 first downs while out-gaining the Foxes 417 yards to 59. The touchdown turnstile featured Jesse Balluff with 2 scores rushing and 2 more receiving, a 60-yard TD catch by Dylan Nauert and Drew David completing 8 of 13 passes for 175 yards. About the only negative in a game that saw reserves Tyler Carlson and Isaac Swithers score on touchdown runs and Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly's son, Connor, come in for a 4-yard pass reception, was the possible loss of tight end Tyler Slamans for the Sycamore game with knee trouble. Countering that will be the return of cornerback Dan Goress, who will mainly be counted on for run support against Sycamore. However, coach Joe Ryan's Spartans, clinching playoff eligibility over Rochelle, are a crafty bunch, causing 5 turnovers in a 13-0 loss to unbeaten Morris and getting a touchdown pass from quarterback Devin Mottet to receiver Ben Niemann against Rochelle. Niemann also returned an interception 82 yards to score, the Daily Chronicle reported. "What's tricky with them is they like to screen so much," Tom Fedderly said. "With their running game, you try to get so many guys up to stop the run and they throw the screens. That (Mottet) kid's pretty good with play action." Sycamore's ground game -- which earned a first-round playoff victory over the Knights in 2009, albeit with all-state back Markie Hayes -- got a reported 188 yards and 2 touchdowns last week by tailback Austin Culton, who has run for 869 yards and 10 touchdowns according to the Daily Chronicle. Fedderly is expecting a playoff atmosphere in this "big rivalry." He also expects his big offensive and defensive lines to carry the day. "I just think week in and week out, it's up front," Fedderly said.

Next week: Yorkville (3-4, 0-3) at Sycamore, Oct. 19; Morris (7-0, 3-0) at Kaneland, Oct. 19.

Larkin (2-5, 1-3) at St. Charles North (3-4, 3-2)

Upstate Eight Conference River Division

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

Last week: Bartlett 24, Larkin 7; Batavia 35, St. Charles North 20.

Last year: St. Charles North 29, Larkin 25.

Outlook: Despite the loss to powerful Batavia, St. Charles North showed many good things that will give Larkin trouble. "I think we battled real hard against a good team," coach Mark Gould said. The North Stars obviously had better give Larkin trouble as they need to win out for playoff eligibility, and even then their 32 playoff points are no lock given last year's 40-point cutoff. They can't control that, but they can control how the line of Chase Gianacakos, Eddie Pellissier, Camden Cotter, Eric Giers and Wes Pasholk -- the latter two both back from injury -- blocks for running back George Edlund and protects quarterback Ryan Fischbach. Last week run-blocking outranked the pass blocking as the North Stars allowed 5 sacks, but Batavia will do that. Fischbach also hit Zach Kirby on a 59-yard touchdown pass among Kirby's 135-yard total. Edlund ran for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns. The goal will be to sprinkle in some Ben Kaplan, Garrett Johnson, Evan Kurtz and keep Larkin's defense on a swivet. "I think we're best when we spread the ball around and keep them a little bit honest that way, and keep their running backs off the field," Gould said. "A lot of (Larkin's) backs go both ways. I'd rather have them running after us." He's talking of a group headed by Maurece Herrion-Jackson and Damion Clemons. Quarterback Kemmerin Blalark may return from injury, but regardless of who is back there the North Stars must outquick a huge Royals line offering Alex Schabert (320), Carlos Garcia (285) and Adam Hamiel (285). "When they get going they're like little steamrollers," Gould said. With the playoffs at stake he won't need a bullhorn to motivate his boys, homecoming or not. "I haven't really had to tell the kids the importance of it, they know how big this game is."

Next week: Larkin at St. Charles East (5-2, 4-0), Oct. 19; South Elgin (3-4) at St. Charles North, Oct. 19.

West Chicago (0-7, 0-5) at West Aurora (1-6, 0-5)

DuPage Valley Conference

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last week: Glenbard East 60, West Chicago 25; Naperville North 38, West Aurora 2.

Last year: West Aurora 41, West Chicago 0.

Outlook: The grueling DVC slate lightens considerably. That's a good thing after Blackhawks coach Nate Eimer felt last week's game was his team's least accomplished probably since last season. A fumble, sack and blocked punt all combined to help Naperville North score 3 touchdowns in 75 seconds and post a 21-0 lead less than six minutes into the game. The highlight was probably Spencer Thomas' punt block and another 10-tackle game by linebacker Matt Williams, 9 by Thomas. Compounding things for the Blackhawks, who allowed 296 yards rushing, was running back Booker Ross and Cole Childs getting belted around and receiver Aaron Kennebrew out sick; all should be back for this game, though receiver-defensive back Tony Oros remains out with a sprained ankle. West Chicago, whose closest contest was a 28-27 overtime loss to Addison Trail in Week 1, will figure this is its best bet for a DVC win before moving to the Metro Suburban next season. The Wildcats will charge hard with running back Miguel Flores, who scored on a 34-yard run last week; and quarterback Jordan Lelito, who passed for 164 yards. "The biggest thing for us is we need to come ready to play," Eimer said. He's got hungry fullbacks Christian Padilla and David Saad, a converted lineman, ready to roll, and expects nice things from backs Booker Ross and Dequan Booker behind two linemen bouncing back from injury, Shaq Redman and Denzel Davis. "Obviously it's a big game, we need a win," Eimer said. "It's been a tough six weeks and right now we're finding the right group that wants to finish this out right."

Next week: Naperville Central (3-4, 3-2) at West Chicago, Oct. 19; West Aurora at Glenbard East (1-6, 1-4), Oct. 19.

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