Wheaton North receiver Matt Biegalski sure has good timing.
As the Falcons found themselves trailing by 25 points early in last week's second-round Class 7A football game against Fenwick, Biegalski decided to have his biggest high school game.
With Northwestern-bound quarterback Clayton Thorson finding his 6-foot-2, 185-pound target seemingly every play, Biegalski grabbed 14 catches for 245 yards and 4 of Wheaton North's 5 touchdowns.
"Biegalski was real good on Saturday," said Falcons coach Joe Wardynski. "He was really fighting on some of those passes. He came down with a lot of 50-50 balls."
Biegalski snared his first touchdown pass to pull the Falcons within 7-6, but then Fenwick unleashed 24 straight points to take a commanding 31-6 lead. Thorson and Biegalski hooked up again right before halftime -- a huge scoring play that gave the Falcons hope at 31-12 heading to the break.
A dominant third quarter for the Falcons (9-2) led up to the game's final score, a 13-yard pass from Thorson to Biegalski that put Wheaton North ahead for the first and only time at 32-31. The Falcons will play Lake Zurich in the Class 7A quarterfinals at 6 p.m. Saturday in Wheaton.
Biegalski, who has 50 catches for 961 and 12 touchdowns on the season, showed good timing off the field as well. Last Monday he verbally committed to play at Illinois State University.
"Maybe making that decision took some of the pressure off him and allowed him to play more free," Wardynski said. "Whatever it was, we sure needed him."
When Naperville Central coach Mike Stine settled in for some relaxing television time last Thursday, little did he know that he was about to see the key to victory against Homewood-Flossmoor.
While watching a college game between Stanford and Oregon, Stine noticed similarities between his offensive personnel and Stanford's. He also noticed similarities between Oregon and Homewood-Flossmoor.
Stanford beat Oregon, in part by using its physical play to offset Oregon's speed and athleticism. The next day -- game day -- Stine asked his offensive players if they felt confident instilling a new power formation for that night's game against H-F.
"It looked like us against Homewood-Flossmoor," Stine said. "They have so much speed on that side of the ball that we decided to take it right at them."
The players were all for it, and the result was nearly 300 rushing yards in a 24-21 victory. Ben Andreas and Kevin Clifford each had 100-yard games while quarterback Jake Kolbe added 56 yards.
In addition to the blocking from the offensive line, tight end Matt Alber and fullback Nolan Davis, the Redhawks received a boost with the addition of Alex Peterson, the team's left tackle until a torn ACL forced him out of the lineup. Peterson was cleared to play late last week.
Peterson's insertion as a second tight end was made possible thanks to the strong left tackle play by Dom Ventrella, whose rapid development at Peterson's position allowed Stine to be more flexible with Peterson.
Thanks to last week's discovery, the Redhawks (8-3) will give visiting Neuqua Valley a little more to worry about heading into their Class 8A quarterfinal game at 6 p.m. Saturday. Naperville Central beat the Wildcats 58-35 in nonconference action in Week 2.
"The stakes are so much higher, every play is going to be significant," Stine said. "This time of year you try to get creative and keep defenses on their heels."
Same stuff, different week:
Every week Downers Grove North coach John Wander is asked the same question.
And every week he typically doesn't know the answer until game time.
The question is, "Will 6-foot-6 junior quarterback David Edwards play?" The answer lately has been, "No."
"It's been a week-to-week, day-to-day situation for six weeks," Wander said. "Just like it's always been, we'll have to wait and see."
Last week Edwards took a few snaps in passing situations during Downers North's 10-7 win over Wheaton Warrenville South in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs. The lingering leg injury, however, doesn't allow the powerful quarterback to run the offense's split back veer to the precision it requires.
In his place Sebastian Calvino, the team's tight end, has been behind center most of the time. Against the Tigers he rushed for 120 of the team's 175 yards.
Standout defensive player Vontae Diggs also has seen time at quarterback, but he's been nursing an ankle injury. Diggs also tried to play during the WW South game but could only make it through a handful of plays.
Wander is hopeful both players will contribute in the Trojans' quarterfinal game against Mt. Carmel (10-1) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Downers Grove.
Downers North (7-4) will need all hands on deck to score an upset against the powerful Caravan.
"That's been our team all season, a key player has always been out for us," Wander said. "We'll probably use David a little bit more this week, but we'll have to wait and see."
Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus called it one of the best plays Neuqua Valley's ever had -- junior running back T.J. Scruggs' sprint to deny Simeon's Maurice Burton a touchdown, which impacted the outcome of the Wildcats' 27-20 victory.
Simeon led 14-6 in the second quarter when linebacker Burton picked off a pass and took off toward the end zone. Scruggs, 10 to 15 yards behind Burton, used his 4.7 speed to track down Burton 50 yards later and knock the ball from his hands. The football rolled through the end zone and instead of a possible 21-6 Wolverines lead it was a touchback.
"That was probably the best football play we've had all year, minus probably a couple Mike (Dudek) catches. It was just an all-out, tremendous effort, no give-up," Ellinghaus said of Scruggs, who ran for 121 yards and a touchdown.
Opportunistic defense was catching for Neuqua Valley. Later in the second quarter junior linebacker Nolan Dean fell on a punt in the end zone, blocked by Andrew Fraczek, to bring the Wildcats within 14-12. Dean then put Neuqua ahead 20-14 when he blocked a punt, scooped it up and ran 40 yards for a touchdown.
Scruggs' play denying Burton's touchdown reminded Ellinghaus of the famous one by Aurora Christian coach Don Beebe, who with the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII chased down the Dallas Cowboys' Leon Lett to also force a touchback.
"That's exactly what it reminded me of," Ellinghaus said. "In fact we used that as an analogy. He could very easily have given up and the play would have been over."
Montini defensive end Dylan Thompson was among 10 defensive linemen selected for USA Football's Under-19 National Team, which will play in the International Bowl on Feb. 7, 2014, in Arlington, Tx.
The Ohio State-bound senior will join two other local products chosen for the International Bowl -- Broncos teammate and linebacker Nile Sykes and Glenbard North's Northwestern-bound running back Justin Jackson, last year's Gatorade player of the year for Illinois. St. Rita quarterback Tommy Mister is the fourth Illinois player selected thus far.
Thompson, 6-foot-5 and 274 pounds, recorded 73 tackles, 17 for loss, with 7½ sacks as a junior. Despite missing all of one game and most of another due to injury, plus early exits during several running-clock victories, he enters Saturday's Class 5A semifinal against Joliet Catholic with 47 tackles, including 20 for loss and 12 sacks.
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