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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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Geneva (4-2, 3-1) at Elgin (0-6, 0-3)

Upstate Eight River

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

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

Last week: Geneva 35, St. Charles East 21; East Aurora 25, Elgin 22.

Last year: Geneva 49, Elgin 6.

Outlook: Against a winless team that gave up 277 yards to an opponent that hadn't won in 44 games, Geneva is expected to win. That's not an easy place to be. "This game is all mental," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said. "(The Vikings) need to get themselves in proper positions and do what they've been taught to do." Still, an offensive line headed last week by left guard Ryan Powers, and a newfound 1-2 tailback punch of Liam Burns and T.J. Miller -- who Wicinski said had his best, most quick-footed, slashing game with 113 yards and 4 touchdowns -- is anticipated to roll. Wicinski said to watch out for Elgin back Dontrell Gaddy, three-year starting quarterback Ryan Sitter -- who threw for 3 touchdowns last week -- but mainly another veteran, tailback Jaylen Clemons, very dangerous in space. After a grueling six weeks gelling Geneva should enter confident and fired-up after consecutive wins over St. Charles teams that, as Wicinski said, "re-established us as a team to be reckoned with."

Next week: Geneva at Metea Valley (3-3), Oct. 18; Elgin at Streamwood (0-6, 0-3), Oct. 18.

Yorkville (4-2, 1-1) at Kaneland (6-0, 2-0)

Northern Illinois Big 12 East

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

Last week: Rochelle 30, Yorkville 14; Kaneland 35, DeKalb 12.

Last year: Kaneland 55, Yorkville 0.

Outlook: It's great to see Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Hall of Famer Karl Hoinkes have the Foxes above-.500 at a program that hasn't finished above .500 since 2002. But Yorkville hasn't scored more than 14 points in three straight games and that just won't cut it against a Kaneland team averaging 41. Despite the presence of 225-pound junior linebacker Ben Badalamenti, Yorkville allowed two Rochelle backs to surpass 100 yards rushing and, according to the Rockford Register Star, didn't gain a first-half first down and finished with 187 yards of offense. That was more than 100 less than Kaneland quarterback Drew David passed for against DeKalb -- 330 yards with touchdown passes to receiver John Pruett and tight end Tyler Slamans. Yorkville will be challenged to get a push on Kaneland's three-man defensive front of Jaumaureo Phillips, Justin Diddell and Andrew Kray. A potential area to fix was DeKalb's touchdown runs of 77 and 89 yards. Yorkville will also try to limit that. "I'm sure they'll try to hang onto the ball and limit our possessions," Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly said, "make us put drives together."

Next week: DeKalb (3-3, 0-2) at Yorkville, Oct. 18; Sycamore (6-0, 2-0) at Kaneland, Oct. 18.

St. Francis (3-3, 1-3) at Marmion (5-1, 3-1)

Suburban Christian Blue

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

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

Last week: Marian Central 34, St. Francis 28; Marmion 35, Aurora Christian 13.

Last year: Marmion 14, St. Francis 6.

Outlook: Marmion coach Dan Thorpe poses the question: "Can we get two wins against two quality opponents two weeks in a row? We haven't done that." It hasn't been that long, only since the Cadets' Class 6A runner-up season of 2010. For Thorpe that's too long. As with last week, when Marmion held the ball for 29 minutes, 33 seconds compared to Aurora Christian's 18:27, ball control remains the key. That's because St. Francis has one of the most dangerous weapons around, 207-pound tailback James Butler, who has run for 810 yards and 12 touchdowns -- and last week uncorked a 70-yard pass to top receiver Matt Hanson for a touchdown. Thorpe was impressed not only by St. Francis' 28 points in Woodstock, but also by Spartans quarterback Zach Prociuk, arguably St. Francis' most proficient passer in years with 42 completions in 75 attempts for 500 yards. Prociuk, Thorpe said, "is what hurt Marian." The Cadets got hurt by an injury to starting guard Andy Matthews, who joins fellow ACL victim/lineman John Gauthier on the sidelines. Yet by getting off to an early lead on the legs of Jordan Glasgow, who finished with 137 yards and 3 total touchdowns, the Cadets were able to throw when they wanted to. Brock Krueger completed 7 of 10 passes with touchdowns to Glasgow and Enzo Olabi. St. Francis coach Greg Purnell lamented starts in the last three games that have had the Spartans down two scores after a quarter. That somewhat takes the ball out of Butler's hands, not the plan regardless of Prociuk's proficiency. Both teams run 3-5 defenses headed by compact linebackers Sam Breen for Marmion, Justin Flood for St. Francis. St. Francis doesn't want to depend on a Week 9 win over St. Edward to make the playoffs. "We've got to have it," Purnell said. As a wild card, Marmion punter Nick Ferarro averaged 43.8 yards on 5 punts last week (and at defensive end also knocked Aurora Christian quarterback Austin Bray out of the regular season), which plays into Thorpe's field-position plan. "We've got to go on 95-yard drives and keep the ball away from Butler," he said.

Next week: Marmion at Aurora Central Catholic (4-2, 2-2), Oct. 18; Guerin (2-4, 0-4) at St. Francis, Oct. 18.

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

DuPage Valley Conference

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

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

Last week: Wheaton North 52, Glenbard East 7; Glenbard North 34, West Aurora 13.

Last year: Wheaton North 48, West Aurora 21.

Outlook: West Aurora goes from trying to contain a Northwestern recruit at tailback in Glenbard North's Justin Jackson to a Northwestern recruit in Wheaton North quarterback Clayton Thorson. The 6-foot-4 slinger has thrown for 1,456 yards and 14 touchdowns and is fleet afoot with 214 yards rushing, 6 touchdowns. His main targets are deep threat Matt Biegalski, averaging 19 yards per catch with 5 scores; and possession receiver J.P. Forcucci, who has 31 catches, 5 TDs. All of these players will challenge Blackhawks safeties Drake Spears and Alex Shire and cornerbacks Sean Anthony and Daquan Cross. Biegalski, a track sprinter, will fly down the sideline or right down the middle of the field. The key, West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said, is control the ball. Despite the score last week, that's what the Blackhawks did, holding it 26 minutes, 27 seconds to Glenbard North's 21:30. Also despite the score, Eimer said last week was "probably the most fun I've had." That's because the Blackhawks made it a close game through halftime, down 14-0, and when the game threatened to get away from them, marched 70 yards to score on quarterback Quintez Jones' touchdown run. "When you give effort like we did last week, that's big," Eimer said. Against Wheaton North, Cross, Dantrel Gillespie and Isaiah Ruffin will hope to avoid Wheaton North linebacker Beau Martin while the defense tries not to allow Thorson the big play. "If we can hang on to the ball for 30 minutes we'll be in the game, and right now I just want to be in the game at the end and have a chance to win," Eimer said.

Next week: Naperville Central (5-1, 3-1) at Wheaton North, Oct. 18; Naperville North (3-3, 2-2) at West Aurora, Oct. 18

Streamwood (0-6, 0-3) at St. Charles East (4-2, 2-1)

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 55, Streamwood 6; Geneva 35, St. Charles East 21.

Last year: St. Charles East 23, Streamwood 7.

Outlook: "We're just trying to get better," St. Charles East coach Mike Fields said. Up front is one of the target areas as well as scoring in the red zone after three chances came up empty last week. Bright spots last week included the two-way play of Ramon Lopez, who ran for 43 yards and a touchdown, and made a team-high 11 tackles; and Brannon Barry, who on Monday secured his second scholarship offer, Illinois State joining Western Illinois. Geneva also nicked the Saints by converting nine third-down chances, and the Saints will be on the alert against a pretty good quarterback in three-year starter Mason Polich. Though tailback Erik Anderson may see more time coming back from injury, St. Charles East will lack about nine contributors resting injuries, including receiver A.J. Washington, to made 6 catches for 99 yards against the Vikings. The goal is to improve, move on and prepare for Batavia and Larkin. "The score is not what we were talking about this week," Fields said. "We told the boys to come out and play their best football."

Next week: Elgin (0-6, 0-3) at Streamwood, Oct. 18; St. Charles East at Batavia (5-1, 3-0), Oct. 18.

Aurora Central Catholic (4-2, 2-2) at Guerin (2-4, 0-4)

Suburban Christian Gold

Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.

Last week: ACC 41, Walther Lutheran 6; Wheaton Academy 55, Guerin 14.

Last year: ACC 55, Guerin 0.

Outlook: This Guerin team is better than last year's model, which in 2012 got outscored 435-43 and didn't score from Weeks 3-9. Still, ACC's offensive and defensive lines, linebacker corps and variety of running options may give the Gators fits. The Chargers' tendency to start strong -- a 48-20 first-quarter edge -- could also take the wind out of Tony Pecoraro's squad. Formerly banged-up Brian Bohr returned last week and ran for a team-high 105 yards on 8 carries; he's got 271 yards on the year, third behind wingback Julian Rios and quarterback Matt Schaefer. The line of Alec Licar, Eddie Gonzalez, Mikey Malawski, Mike Shanahan and now Chris Nilo, filling in for injured Tony Hizo, has been solid all year and is at least as stout as Guerin's biggest lineman, 275-pound Byron Smith. The 1-2 punch of ACC linebackers Cody Ekstrom and Jacob Holzer will target Guerin's top back, James Cockrell. (Provided he's healthy -- Gators dropped like flies last week against Wheaton Academy.) A big concern is keeping Guerin quarterback Tyler Flynn within the hash marks. The junior can extend plays, which last week led to touchdown passes to receiver Joe Binkowski and good-looking tight end Joe Topping. ACC, which unfortunately lost tight end Sean Anger to a broken collarbone, looks to play crisp and cut the penalties. "We're not a good enough team to just show up and have the other team bow down," said Chargers coach Brian Casey.

Next week: Marmion (5-1, 3-1) at ACC, Oct. 18; Guerin at St. Francis (3-3, 1-3), Oct. 18.

Aurora Christian (5-1, 3-1) at IC Catholic Prep (3-3, 2-2)

Suburban Christian Conference crossover

Game time: 1 p.m. Saturday.

Last week: Marmion 35, Aurora Christian 14; Montini 38, IC 21.

Last year: Aurora Christian 47, IC 20; Aurora Christian 28, IC 21 (Class 3A second round).

Outlook: Notwithstanding that first game last year, aside from Montini perhaps only IC has consistently played the twice-defending Class 3A champs as well. The main intrigue is how the Eagles fare without big-armed quarterback Austin Bray, who separated his shoulder last week and is out until at least the playoffs. Coach Don Beebe may offer Brandon Walgren running wildcat but is also poised to start 5-10, 165-pound freshman Ben Weerts behind center Tristan Withrow. "I don't think it'll affect us at all, to be honest," Beebe said. IC coach Bill Krefft confers: "They might be more limited than they'd like to be, but I still think they're a dangerous football team." As are his Knights, who moved to a spread offense from a strict option and have developed behind quarterback Jack Copher and skilled guys Rhashaun Epting, Jordan Rowell and Clark Brinkman. Up front, Aurora Christian has a decided edge in size and strength over an IC offensive line whose 210-pound Steven Stamm is the heaviest, but after playing hulking Kaneland, Marian Central and Montini the Knights are used to that. What may happen is Aurora Christian repeatedly pound the ball with 578-yard rusher Legend Smith and hope to catch IC off balance with a quick slant or post to the middle, where AC has hurt the Knights before. Also, Noah Roberts has returned 3 punts for touchdowns, another possible factor. "It really comes down to three, four plays historically against IC," Beebe said.

Next week: Montini (6-0, 4-0) at Aurora Christian, Oct. 19; Walther Christian (1-5, 1-3) at IC, Oct. 19.

Batavia (5-1, 3-0) at St. Charles North (3-3, 2-2)

Upstate Eight River

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

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

Last week: Batavia 46, Larkin 14; St. Charles North 55, Streamwood 6.

Last year: Batavia 35, St. Charles North 20.

Outlook: As Batavia coach Dennis Piron noted, St. Charles North has been in every game it's played, win or lose. North Stars coach Rob Pomazak noted, however, it's time to beat a quality opponent. Both running Evan Kurtz and quarterback Erik Miller return to the field after resting injuries last week. They'll need top form and much help against a Batavia team that returned defensive lineman Ryan Minniti and linebackers Anthony Thielk and Donovan Kilker to be as healthy as ever. The run -- Miller with 254 scrambling yards, Kurtz with 821 plowing yards -- remains the North Stars' bread and butter, but Batavia defensive linemen such as ends Noah Frazier and Josh Leonard are salivating to line up against Michigan State-bound Chase Gianacakos and stall the ground game. Pomazak vows to make Batavia defend the width and breadth of the field and has a tight end, Garrett Johnson, to hold the Bulldogs to it. Defensively, North Stars linebackers Reece Conroyd, Carson Schmitt and Cameron Mackenzie will be challenged to wrap up slippery Batavia tailback Anthony Scaccia, who has run for 770 yards and 9 touchdowns and has scored 5 times catching passes out of the backfield. Batavia quarterback Micah Coffey has mainly targeted Michael Moffatt thus far among his wideouts, but there are a bunch of Bulldogs to watch out for. A key is St. Charles North's secondary, which has intercepted 11 passes led by 3 each from Tyler Bell and Mitchell Riggs. Unfortunately the North Stars have lost cornerback Jonathan Elliott for good, to recurring concussions. "We're hoping they're struggling with our offensive balance, and what they choose to take away," Piron said.

Next week: St. Charles East (4-2, 2-1) at Batavia, Oct. 18; St. Charles North at Larkin (3-3, 2-2), Oct. 18.

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