South Elgin senior quarterback Hayden Nelson and Naperville North junior safety Joe Zitella have earned Daily Herald MVP honors for their football performances in Week 1.
Hayden threw for 339 yards and 4 touchdown to help the Storm pull away to victory against St. Charles East.
Zitella broke up an attempted 2-point conversion pass in the final moments to help the Huskies hold off Neuqua Valley 14-13; he also had an interception and forced a fumble.
Hayden Nelson, South Elgin: This 6-foot-1, 173-pound quarterback shined in his debut as the starting quarterback for the Storm. The senior completed 21 of 29 passes for 339 yards, including touchdowns strikes of 39, 19, 9 and 28 yards. His pair of fourth-quarter touchdown throws helped South Elgin break open a 7-point game and defeat host St. Charles East 49-14.
Austin Bray, Aurora Christian: The plan was to work on the 6-foot-4, 230-pound quarterback's completion percentage. In a 42-6 nonconference win over Senn the senior couldn't have been much sharper. Bray completed 17 of 21 first-half passes and finished 24 of 32 for 287 yards. He threw for 6 touchdowns plus a 2-point conversion.
Quintin Brown, Westmont: The 6-foot-1, 187-pound Brown was golden in the Sentinels' 56-34 nonconference win over Chicago Christian. The senior running back carried the ball 24 times and gained 307 yards with touchdown runs of 2, 2, 52 and 55 yards. For good measure he tacked on an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Riley Lees, Libertyville: Lees read his keys, brilliantly. The junior quarterback engineered a Wildcats' season-opening, 41-31 win over Palatine with both his legs and arm. He rushed 21 times for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns, and also threw for 154 yards and 3 scores on 9-of-16 passing.
R.J. Mattucci, Rolling Meadows: The Mustangs have built a reputation for churning out excellent quarterbacks, and it looks like Mattucci will only add to it. In his first varsity start, the senior rushed for 183 yards and 2 TDs and also completed 11 of his 13 passes for 90 yards and another score as Rolling Meadows edged St. Viator 29-27.
Joe Zitella, Naperville North: The 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior free safety came up with multiple big plays as Naperville North held on for a hard-fought 14-13 victory over Neuqua Valley. In addition to notching 8 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble, Zitella also broke up a 2-point conversion pass in the game's final moments to seal the win.
Jeremy Behnke, Huntley: This prospective college lineman helped the Huntley defense keep the Bartlett offense scoreless in a 17-7, season-opening victory at Millennium Field in Streamwood. A senior, the 6-footer finished with 3 solo tackles, 6 assists, half a sack and 3 knockdowns of Bartlett quarterback Jordan Flint.
Max Chung, Wheeling:The Wildcats' senior defensive back help his team take a big first step toward a possible playoff berth with a 34-20 victory over visiting Mundelein. Chung had 2 interceptions as Wheeling's defenders clamped down in the second half against the Mustangs for a nonconference Week 1 win.
Stevie Ciolek, Wauconda: A three-sport athlete, he watched from the sideline last fall, missing the entire football season due to a concussion. Talk about making up for lost time. The senior defensive back intercepted a Woodstock North pass and returned it 50 yards for touchdown, sparking a season-opening, 28-21 win.
Jake Spaniol, St. Charles North: The North Stars defense allowed no points in its opener, a 13-2 nonconference win over Elk Grove. Coach Rob Pomazak called this 6-foot, 175-pound junior "a huge reason" for that. At strong safety Spaniol made 10 tackles, 3 for loss. He made solo stops on two fourth-down plays and also intercepted a pass.