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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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Batavia (1-1, 0-0) at Geneva (1-1, 0-0)

Upstate Eight River

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

Last week: Richards 31, Batavia 25; Wheaton North 42, Geneva 27.

Last year: Batavia 35, Geneva 21.

Outlook: Now in its 101st year spanning 94 games, Geneva owns the lead in the rivalry dubbed "The Biggest Game of the Year," 51-38-5. Batavia has won the last two outings but despite the Bulldogs returning to state prominence Geneva has been in both games. Vikings coach Rob Wicinski, though, realizes the task his squad is up against: "Batavia's running with some serious swag. They're going to be a tough nut to crack." Both teams come off losses to highly touted opponents, Batavia falling to the current No. 5 team in Class 6A and Geneva to the No. 6 team in 7A. When cornered the tricky Wicinski will pull out the fake punt on fourth down, the onside kick to try to catch somebody napping. Rest assured Piron has schooled his side extensively against such maneuvers. At the "skilled positions" these teams aren't that far apart and in fact Geneva quarterback Daniel Santacaterina thus far has the superior passing stats to Batavia counterpart Micah Coffey -- 36 of 66 passing for 635 yards, 6 touchdowns, to Coffey's 32-of-63, 399 yards, 4 TDs. Both teams have exciting receiving corps, Batavia leading off with Michael Moffatt and tight end Noah Frazier, Geneva's top two of Pace Temple and Kyle Brown, with Michael Landi starting to come into his own. The ground game offers diverse looks, Batavia's Anthony Scaccia a low-center of gravity water bug who has run for 172 yards rushing and 2 TDs, Geneva's T.J. Miller a pounder with 125 yards, 2 TDs. Defensively, Wicinski lauded the play last week of defensive end Stephen Kemp and linebacker Wyatt Shodeen, and they'll have to be on their game against Batavia linemen such as experienced Mitch Krusz, Connor McKeehan and Patrick Gamble, who will only get faster on the Burgess Field turf. Up front, though, appears to be one difference-maker in this game. Wicinski hopes to get much improved offensive line play to take pressure off Santacaterina, and to that end he hopes to return Ryan Powers to action, out for two games with a knee injury. But Batavia keeps that defensive line fresh, coordinator Matt Holm rotating in cadres of players around mainstays Ryan Minniti and James Millette. For example, while Batavia's defense is peppered by names like linebacker Anthony Thielk and safety Forrest Gilbertson, Piron awarded last week's defensive player of the week honor to junior defensive end Josh Leonhard. "We'll come to play, that's for sure," Wicinski said. "It's just a matter of if we can continue to get better." Piron said these teams have "found a lot more common ground" as respecting each other, but for 48 minutes that won't be very apparent. "Somewhere on Batavia's goal sheet," Piron said, "is beat Geneva, every single year."

Next week: Batavia at Streamwood (0-2), Sept. 21; Geneva at Larkin (1-1), Sept. 20.

St. Charles North (1-1, 0-0) at St. Charles East (2-0, 0-0)

Upstate Eight River

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

Live video streaming: @football.dailyherald.com, followed by postgame highlights.

Last week: St. Charles North 49, Plainfield Central 0; St. Charles East 41, Jacobs 26.

Last year: St. Charles East 23, St. Charles North 13.

Outlook: Leading up to his first St. Charles Crosstown Classic, St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak can feel the aura. "There's a difference in the air as you walk the hallways," he said. "I think even with the administration to the faculty down to the kids, I think anytime you play East there's a different level of competitiveness." Yet he's stressing a consistency of approach to which St. Charles East coach Mike Fields can relate. "To me it's Week 3, I want North to win every game except for ours," Fields said. St. Charles East holds a 9-4 lead in the series, which includes a 2005 playoff game, and has beaten the North Stars the last five games. Three in that recent streak have been within 2 points. "When you have two teams evenly matched it comes down to execution, who's going to dominate the turnover ratio and the penalty game," Pomazak said. Special teams, too. Pomazak praised special teams coordinator Tom Poulin, who in two games has gotten two blocked punts including last week's by Reece Conroyd recovered by Carson Schmitt for a touchdown. (Conroyd's seventh tackle will set a new North Stars tackles record of 259.) Pomazak said kick returners Dylan Hunter, Jonathan Elliott and Nathan Didier have averaged about 45 yards on kick returns; last week Kat Stutesman was a perfect 7-for-7 on PATs. On paper this looks like run versus pass. St. Charles North's line of Chase Gianacakos, Brendan McCarthy, Stephen Bancroft, Ryan Bagnell and Camden Cotter has set up tailback Evan Kurtz for 288 yards rushing, Nick Edlund for 84 and even quarterback Erik Miller for 72 yards. Meanwhile, Ball State-bound tight end Garrett Johnson has a team-high 7 catches for 79 yards followed by Nate Newbill with 55 yards receiving. Even though St. Charles East quarterback Jimmy Mitchell has gotten off to a dynamite start with 38 completions in 61 attempts for 531 yards, 8 touchdowns to just 1 interception, Saints coach Fields would like about 50-50 rush to pass. Fields has a good two-headed tailback combo in Erik Anderson and Ramon Lopez but it's hard to dismiss the deepest receiver group he's had: Brannon Barry, A.J. Washington, Mitch Munroe, Phil Hopper and Mo Flanigan, who last week caught 5 balls for 125 yards. They and a defense that features up-and-comer David Mason and veterans Mike Candre and Luke Spicer have St. Charles East 2-0 for the first time since 1998. While St. Charles North is "100 percent healthy," Pomazak said, St. Charles East left guard Jack Schultz (knee) is out, leaving Zach Reyes and Jack Sharkey rotating into the offensive line ensemble of Brennan Bosch, Steve Jagodzinski, Ben Smith and Zach Roberts. "It's never a dull moment when you play North," Fields said.

Next week: Elgin (0-2) at St. Charles North, Sept. 20; St. Charles East at Neuqua Valley (1-1), Sept. 20.

Aurora Central Catholic (2-0, 0-0) at IC Catholic Prep (1-1, 0-0)

Suburban Christian Gold

Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday, Plunkett Park, Elmhurst.

Last week: ACC 42, Bogan 7; Kaneland 45, IC 14.

Last year: IC 33, ACC 0.

Outlook: The premier game in the SCC Gold. IC has won the last 14 meetings, by 74-0 the last two seasons. ACC's favorable crossover schedule gives the Chargers the edge for the Gold title, but IC doesn't want to chase. ACC's double-wing offense sent fullback Matt Schaefer and halfbacks Julian Rios and Brian Bohr each over 65 yards rushing last week, Rios scoring on 3 runs and a 34-yard catch. The Chargers offensive line averages 277 pounds and size up front was a key for Kaneland against IC. As coach Brian Casey said, it will be no surprise the offense looks to run the ball first. ACC speed, not necessarily size on the line, is Knights coach Bill Krefft's concern; he looks for linebackers James Janowski and Liam Hendricks to maintain proper pursuit. Only Michael Perrone plays both ways on the IC lines, so Krefft hopes tempo can sideline ACC's no-huddle offense. A big problem is top skilled players Rashaun Epting and Clark Brinkman are both questionable with leg injuries, though quarterback Jack Copher comes off a solid game against Kaneland, 11-of-17 passing for 143 yards. "It's a matter of who wins the war in the trenches," Krefft said. To that extent, ACC's 290-pound Eddie Gonzalez was in on 10 tackles and 3 for loss against Bogan, second only to linebacker Jacob Holzer's 11 tackles. Another big boy, Mikey Malawski, was in on 7 tackles. This game could turn on field position. Not only did ACC's Enrique Anaya convert all 5 extra-point kicks, his kickoffs allowed Bogan to get past its own 26-yard line once. ACC keys include finishing drives, avoiding big plays against and matching IC's early intensity. "I think the advantage for us is, for the first time in probably 15 years we're bigger than them up front," Casey said. "That's a psychological advantage our kids have."

Next week: Chicago Christian (1-1) at ACC, Sept. 20; IC at St. Edward (2-0), Sept. 20.

Aurora Christian (2-0, 0-0) at Walther Christian Academy (0-2, 0-0)

Suburban Christian Conference

Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.

Last week: Aurora Christian 55, Bronzeville 0; Fenton 38, Walther Christian 13.

Last year: Aurora Christian 56, Walther Christian 0.

Outlook: In what was once a great Private School League rivalry Aurora Christian has won the last five meetings by increasingly wider margins. The recipe sounds the same at Walther (which last week changed its name from "Lutheran" to clarify its mission). In quarterback David Walton, running back Antwan Morrison and receiver Kurtis Duff, coach Bruce Tuomi has skill players who can score at any time, but low numbers and a line that probably will not hold up against Aurora Christian defenders including ends Jonah Walker and Jackson Carpenter, who Eagles coach Don Beebe said had the best game of his career last week. Between their pass rush and the outstanding secondary of safeties Noah Roberts and Brandon Walgren, corners Legend Smith and M.J. Zepeda, Aurora Christian has outscored foes 119-0, scored 4 defensive touchdowns, allowed 6 first downs and 99 total yards of offense. One thing Walther has on its side: "Historically we've never played good there," Beebe said.

Next week: Wheaton Academy (1-1) at Aurora Christian, Sept. 20; Walther Christian at Guerin (2-0), Sept. 20.

Glenbard East (1-1, 0-0) at West Aurora (1-1, 0-0)

DuPage Valley Conference

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

Live video streaming: @football.dailyherald.com, followed by postgame highlights.

Last week: Oswego East 33, Glenbard East 0; Plainfield East 35, West Aurora 12.

Last year: West Aurora 52, Glenbard East 18.

Outlook: These teams play for the last time as DVC foes before joining the Upstate Eight in 2014. Glenbard East comes off a shutout but in its opener Rams junior quarterback Drake Pusateri ran for 110 yards and passed for 225 yards, accounting for 3 touchdowns; Dominic Wilberton ran for the other score. Despite last week's offensive goose egg, Glenbard East and safety Mike Mastrodonato allowed only 215 yards of offense. In 2012 West Aurora, then 1-6, jumped all over the Rams to display their senior-based character. Blackhawks coach Nate Eimer hopes this year's young troops show similar stuff after allowing 405 yards to big-play Plainfield East. He was encouraged by what he saw in practice early this week, and he's high on sophomores Jonathan Doyle and Drake Spears, who figure to get a bunch of offensive touches. Last week's 141 yards rushing was fine, now to bulk up the passing game. "The key for us," Eimer said, "is play with effort for four quarters."

Next week: Glenbard East at Naperville Central (2-0), Sept. 20; West Aurora at Wheaton Warrenville South (2-0), Sept. 20.

Kaneland (2-0) at Sterling (2-0)

Nonconference

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

Last week: Kaneland 45, IC Catholic Prep 14; Sterling 35, Johnsburg 16.

Last year: Kaneland 42, Sterling 0.

Outlook: Kaneland is up to the No. 3 spot in Class 5A and Sterling enters at No. 10 based on last week's win and an opening 42-28 win over Metamora. The Golden Warriors seek their first 3-0 start since 2010 while Kaneland just won its 30th straight regular-season game. Sterling gets lots of offense and long scoring plays from senior running back Draque Penaflor-Heier, and Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly mentioned quarterback Bryan Lilly as someone to watch. Yet the Knights practice against Sterling's spread offense and 3-5 defense every day. SaukValley.com's Dan Woessner wrote that Sterling coach Jon Schlemmer said Kaneland's offensive line is the best he's seen in his tenure. Alex Snyder and Co. spring Jesse Balluff for 185 yards and 3 touchdowns last week before Fedderly called off the dogs in the third quarter. Gary Koehring (knee) looks ready after practicing this week, where he'll join linebackers Cole and Ty Carlson and touchdown-saving safety Isaac Swithers. "That kid is fast, man," Feddersly said of Swithers, a track man.

Next week: Streator (0-2) at Kaneland, Sept. 20; Sterling at Rochelle (2-0), Sept. 20.

St. Edward (2-0, 0-0) at Marmion (2-0, 0-0)

Suburban Christian Blue

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

Live video streaming: @football.dailyherald.com, followed by postgame highlights.

Last week: Marmion 45, Ottawa 0; St. Edward 43, West Hancock 0.

Last year: Marmion 49, St. Edward 16.

Outlook: St. Edward has held sway over the likes of West Hancock and Genoa-Kingston, but now enters grueling conference play against an improved Marmion squad. Leading St. Ed's onto Fichtel Field will be 190-pound running back Davontae Elam. A four-year varsity player, Elam started the season with 5 touchdowns, 4 on the ground, and 213 yards rushing; he added 61 yards and 2 TDs in last week's running-clock win. With Green Wave quarterback Bryan O'Neill also throwing 3 TD passes thus far it's not just Elam, Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said: "Diverse, very fun to watch." Thorpe hopes to exhaust St. Ed's seven two-way guys particularly on the line, where Cadets linemen Oscar Garza, Luke Juriga, Andy Matthews, Tim Clohecy and Zach Siwiec protected Brock Krueger for 158 yards passing and helped 11 runners gain 232 yards and 4 TDs. Lucas Warren, a 225-pound soph, headed the inside power game. Cadets tailback Jordan Glasgow (ankle) remains out.

Next week: IC Catholic (1-1) at St. Edward, Sept. 20; Marmion at Marian Central (2-0), Sept. 20.

Rockford Christian (0-2) at Burlington C. (0-2)

When: today at 7 p.m. on Rocket Hill

Last year: Burlington Central 36, Rockford Christian 3

Last week: Mendota 52, Rockford Christian 21; Stillman Valley 40, Burlington Central 0

Outlook: Two teams hungry for their first victory square off in the Big Northern East opener. Rockford Christian likes to spread the field and throw the ball, so a Central defense that has given up 629 of its 745 total yards on the ground must prepare for an aerial assault from the Royal Lions. "They have people all over the place and throw the ball 80 percent of the time," Central coach Rich Crabel said. "When that happens it only takes one guy to slip or break a coverage and they put 6 points on the board. Our team is in a good frame of mind. We've had a good week of practice." Unfortunately for the Rockets, the injury bug that bit them so hard last season has returned. Sophomore defensive back Adam Skirmont suffered internal injuries and may not return this season. Junior running back Trevor Davison, also a defensive player will miss this game with a knee injury. Senior running back Reilly Marino returned to practice this week after spraining an ankle early in the Week 1 loss to Hampshire. "It looks like we're into a season of fighting injuries again," Crabel said. "But this team still has the capability to go far as long as we do the things we need to do to be successful. We got it handed to us by Stillman Valley last week, but our offense took some good steps forward. I'd like to see us put some points up this week, but whether we're successful comes down to can we stop their passing game?

Next week: Genoa-Kingston at Rockford Christian; Harvard at Burlington Central

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