By Dave Oberhelman
Aurora Central Catholic (1-0) at Lisle (1-0)
Game time: 7:15 p.m. Friday, Benedictine University.
Last year: Did not play.
Last week: Aurora Central Catholic 21, Wauwautosa (Wis.) East 7; Lisle 33, Peotone 21.
Outlook: Given the uncertainty of scrambling after scheduled Week 1 foe Tilden bailed, losing three-year starting defensive back Roman Padilla (questionable) to injury right off the bat and starting two sophomores on the offensive line, ACC coach Brian Casey was pleased with the opener. "Now that we've got our feet wet we hope to see gradual improvement," he said. "If we can really do that I think we could be in good shape." This game against Interstate Eight Conference team Lisle renews a long-ago series ACC leads 3-1-1 (yes, a tie). In the first year under hall of fame coach Paul Parpet Sr., Lisle offers an experienced offensive line headed by three-year starter Jared Arellano; at 5-foot-11, 260 pounds, however, Arellano is the sole 200 pounder listed on a smallish roster. Regardless, Lisle ran for 298 yards against Peotone led by Mike Metoyer's 127 yards and 2 touchdowns, and 53 yards by Mark McGrath. The ground game is the emphasis while first-year starting quarterback Alec Van Volkenburg also gets his feet wet. He went 5-of-12 for 66 yards last week with 2 interceptions. Casey liked Lisle's defensive athleticism and it had better be against Chargers quarterback Matt Rahn and running back Brandon Babler. A senior playing in his first game since his sophomore year, Rahn had some ups and downs but accounted for 129 yards; Babler, a senior playing for the first time since his freshman year, was all Casey had said. On the field for all but 8 snaps while serving as defensive back, punter and kick returner, Babler ran for 104 yards with 2 touchdowns, had 33 yards receiving, averaged 34 yards a punt, made 7 tackles and intercepted a pass and returned it 29 yards to put away Wauwautosa, ACC's first pick-6 since 2011. Casey basically knew what he had there. He was more concerned and, later, happy with others such as linebacker Sam Keilty and his team-high 10 tackles, sophomore offensive linemen Jairo Varela and Jacob Ishmael and sophomore linebacker Patrick Flanagan. Also, senior nose tackle Khalil Guisse, who in his first organized game recovered a fumble, and defensive back Brendan Ruehl, who recovered a fumble and intercepted a pass. Casey's concern about a lack of physicality up front turned out to be no concern. He'll see what happens against the gritty Parpet. "Ultimately we've got to play better," Casey said.
Next week: Aurora Central Catholic at Chicago Christian (0-1), Sept. 12; Wilmington (1-0) at Lisle, Sept. 12.
Batavia (0-1) at Glenbard North (0-1)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Batavia 29, Glenbard North 26.
Last week: Oswego 40, Batavia 38; Centerville (Ohio) 33, Glenbard North 28.
Outlook: This writer was wrong last week. Batavia wasn't content to just run the ball behind its veteran line while quarterbacks Evan Acosta and Kyle Niemiec eased into their first pressure varsity experience. Instead Acosta completed 15 of 24 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown and Niemiec was 16 of 18 for 152 yards, 2 TDs. They hit nine different receivers led by Canaan Coffey with 13 grabs and 173 yards with touchdown receptions of 28 and 17 yards. "I was very, very proud off the kids," Bulldogs coach Dennis Piron said. "I thought that was a great thing for our young receivers and our quarterbacks." The goal now, of course, is to get the ground game up to speed after Batavia averaged 3.2 yards per carry, though big Noah Frazier bulled in for 2 touchdowns and junior Zach Garrett gained 41 yards. Despite that Oswego won on an untimed play after a questionable penalty call didn't dismay Piron's confidence in the defense though he admitted it was difficult for all involved to take. "That final barrage was an aberration," he said. Leading tackler Nick Bernabei was bolstered by a pair of new starters, Tyler Holl and Colin Thurston. The loss left Batavia the same as Glenbard North, 0-1. This series against the DuPage Valley Conference power was scheduled to extend to next season, but due to next year's DVC realignment it ends this season and leaves a Week 2 hole on Batavia's 2015 schedule. Batavia has won both prior meetings even with Glenbard North reaching the 2012 Class 8A championship game with Gatorade player of the year Justin Jackson, now a freshman running back at Northwestern. It was a 26-point second quarter by Centerville that was the Panthers' undoing last week. Ryan Wilkens' squad also mustered only 11 yards passing as quarterback Brett Gasiorowski went 3 of 187 with an interception. He was more of a bootleg threat last week with 58 yards rushing, and joins a pair of backs Piron is very concerned about -- speedy sophomore Vittorio Tricase and Devion Hodges, who will line up just about anywhere. The Panthers' quickness on the defensive line, the complexity of its veer offense and an ability to score quick and create points off turnovers all are things that concern Piron. It would be hard to consider the defending Class 6A champions starting 0-2, but given the opposition it would also not be alarming. "It's good for our program, but it's no easy task," Piron said.
Next week: Larkin (0-1) at Batavia, Sept. 12; Glenbard North at Brooks (0-1), Sept. 13.
Bronzeville (0-1) at Aurora Christian (1-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Aurora Christian 55, Bronzeville 0.
Last week: Hubbard 42, Bronzeville 22; Aurora Christian 42, Senn 6.
Outlook: Bronzeville will provide Aurora Christian something coach David Beebe said it can use -- tackling practice. Monday's practice included a 45-minute block of just that. Bronzeville coach Jamen Williams' Lions spread their offense and let their quarterback make it or break it through the air or on the ground, said Beebe, who earned his first victory as a head coach. "A lot of these kids make plays on their own," he said. "They find their own space and go for it." Bronzeville trailed Hubbard 34-6 after three quarters last week. Beebe "was thrilled" with his defense's quickness getting to the ball. They were almost too fast, he said, the 22 missed tackles listed on Aurora Christian's defensive stat sheet indicating once at the spot they gain control, square their shoulders and stay on their feet. That said, defensive lineman Jake Smith led last week's group with 7 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Offensively the Eagles and quarterback Austin Bray looked even better than in midseason form. Bray completed 24 of 32 passes for 287 yards and 6 touchdowns. Jacolby Maxwell scored twice in his 9 receptions for 124 yards while tailback Nick Edlund took 4 of his 5 receptions to the end zone and also ran for 43 yards on 4 carries. Tight end Dusty Barrett was a third receiver who averaged better than 10 yards a reception with 5 grabs for 52 yards. Beebe said receiver Jeremiah Wiggins suffered an upper-body injury but is still expected to play. Expect more of the same offensive production this week. "Other than the missed tackles I was pleased with the performance. Missed tackles is a problem we can solve."
Next week: Bronzeville at Marshall (0-1), Sept. 12; Aurora Christian at Lake Forest Academy (0-1), Sept. 13.
Marshall (0-1) at Kaneland (1-0)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Did not play.
Last week: Solorio 35, Marshall 14; Kaneland 30, Brooks 8.
Outlook: This opponent, a first-time foe for Kaneland, got contracted in the wake of Streator and Dixon leaving the Northern Illinois Big XII West, thus leaving a gap. Based on very slim information, Knights coach Tom Fedderly said the Commandos will run the Wildcat and wishbone, and feature senior running back Roger Williams. "We are kind of limited with what we have on them, so the second week, they could come out with anything," Fedderly said. They just might since Marshall trailed Hubbard 35-6 through three quarters. It's more about what Kaneland does and how it improves after last week, though. "We made some mistakes we have to correct," Fedderly said, of fundamentals like pad level on the line and controlling the football. The Knights, led at quarterback by first-time varsity starter Jake Marczukm, fumbled on their first three offensive series, but also took advantage 2 fumble recoveries and interceptions by Kyle Diehl, Brandon Kigyos and Isaiah Baerenklau, all newcomers to the 3-5 defense. Although Brooks passed for 267 yards, Fedderly also was pleased with cornerback Joey Esposito and linebacker Austin Vickery, as well as returnee Andrew Kray, the mainstay on the defensive line. After a slow start Fedderly attributed to nerves, Marczuk completed 11 of 22 passes for 176 yards with no interceptions and 2 touchdowns apiece, to Connor Fedderly and Tyler Paulson. Of note, however, was a near-immediate injury to Isaac Swithers, who affects Kaneland's game on offense, defense and special teams. He was getting an MRI on either Thursday or Friday, Fedderly said, and if unable to go Alec Aurelio gets the call as top running back against Marshall. He ran the ball 6 times for 28 yards against Brooks. Another junior Steven VanHorn, would sub for Swithers at his linebacker-defensive back hybrid. Either way, Fedderly said: "The game plan is going to be the same."
Next week: Bronzeville (0-1) at Marshall, Sept. 12; Rich Central (0-1) at Kaneland, Sept. 12.
Ottawa (0-1) at Marmion (1-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Marmion 45, Ottawa 0.
Last week: Leo 28, Ottawa 26; Marmion 26, Plainfield Central 7.
Outlook: A year ago Marmion outgained Ottawa 390 yards to 186. The Cadets credited 11 ball carriers for a total of 232 yards. Ground strength, options and run defense was Marmion's recipe against Plainfield Central and probably will be against Ottawa. After a 13-play opening drive capped by a short run by Noel Abraham, who led the Cadets with 72 yards rushing, Marmion was held off the board until a 20-point third-quarter explosion. "We made an alignment adjustment at halftime and the kids executed it and we scored three touchdowns," coach Dan Thorpe said. Although he claims his team is not the swiftest, Abraham broke a 53-yarder and Sean Campbell a 24-yarder. Headed by those two and fullback Lucas Warren, who ran for 63 yards and a touchdown and made 10 tackles at linebacker, Marmion ran for 242 yards to Plainfield Central's 33. The depth increases with the probable return from injury of running back Nate Traxler, and though Jordan Glasgow won't return to the offensive side Thorpe said the senior safety will be playing "full defense." The bad news is senior receiver Joey Cherwin is lost for the season with a knee injury. As for Ottawa, Thorpe said "unfortunately" Marmion played its best game of the season against them last year. The Pirates gave Leo all it could handle, ending the game on Leo's 37-yard line according to Andy Tavegia of The Times in Ottawa. Against Marmion, Ottawa ran for 164 yards but threw for 22, similar numbers to the Leo game. Pirates quarterback Trent Porter, whom Thorpe called a "deceptive ball-faker" heading a double-wing offense, threw for just 19 yards but led Ottawa with 69 yards rushing, Tavegia reported, among three runners with at least 40 yards. Field position will be key, as Ottawa kicker Tristan Cunha is capable of a 50-yard field goal. Also, the Cadets would like to enhance the passing game after Rusty Joyce and John Tate combined to throw for 50 yards. Turnovers and pass execution are Thorpe's among keys. "They're going to put eight people up on the line so we have to be able to throw the ball," he said. "We've got to pass protect, we've got to throw and we've got to catch it."
Next week: Ottawa at Kankakee (1-0), Sept. 12; Marmion at St. Francis (1-0), Sept. 12.
Richards (1-0) at Geneva (1-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Did not play.
Last week: Richards 28, Arsenal (Ind.) 9; Geneva 41, West Aurora 23.
Outlook: Hey, the last Kane County team to lose to Richards in the regular season (Batavia) went on to win a state championship (also over Richards). So if that were to come to pass, at least Geneva can hang its hat on that. As is, Vikings coach Rob Wicinski is gearing up to face a team he said "comes in with a lot of swag," and he don't mean bling. Headed by a pair of college recruits in returning quarterback Hasan Muhammad Rogers and receiver Spencer Tears -- bearing 10 scholarship offers and the No. 11 senior in Illinois according to "Edgy" Tim O'Halloran of Rivals.com -- the Bulldogs are currently rated No. 2 in Class 6A by The Associated Press and also by Rivals, No. 12 this week overall. Thirteen starters return from Tony Sheehan's state runner-up including running backs Romeo Johnson and Ramonta Hill. "Our boys better grow fast," said Wicinski, hoping that when Rogers and Co. break out of that spread offense and get in open space, Geneva can bring them down. Defensively Wicinski noted cornerbacks Ahmad Abdel and Dedrick Shannon, and honestly Richards had best be on its defensive game if it wants to beat Geneva. Wicinski liked how his offensive line executed and adjusted, and this is an area of strength the Vikings may own. Quarterback Daniel Santacaterina didn't need to throw much against West Aurora but when he did he was accurate -- 12 of 18 (67 percent) for 187 yards, no interceptions, touchdowns to receiver Pace Temple and two backs, Justin Taormina and Max Woodworth. "He did a nice job of staying within himself and going through his (play-calling) progressions, didn't try to do too much, and spread the ball around," Wicinski said. Taking a 41-9 lead through three quarters against what's seen as an improved West Aurora team, Geneva ran for 227 yards led by Woodworth's 85 on just 6 carries. Trouble is, Geneva may be without tailback Liam Burns and up to four defensive starters due to injury, including key linebacker Wyatt Shodeen. That would put more pressure on others such as Stephen Kemp, who after a dynamite sophomore year started his junior campaign with a team-high 10 tackles against West Aurora.
Regardless, Wicinski said: "Usually you see the best growth from the first week to the second week, and we're hoping to see that."
Next week: Shepard (1-0) at Richards, Sept. 12; Geneva at Streamwood (0-1), Sept. 12.
St. Charles East (0-1) at Jacobs (0-1)
Game time: 7:15 p.m. Friday.
Last year: St. Charles East 41, Jacobs 26.
Last week: South Elgin 49, St. Charles East 14; Barrington 37, Jacobs 0.
Outlook: St. Charles East was right there against South Elgin, trailing only 21-14 through three quarters when the levee broke. A third-down conversion by South Elgin started an unanswered 28-point onslaught, most of the damage done through the air and leaving Saints' head coach Bryce Farquhar looking forward to this week for his first varsity win. South Elgin converted 7 of 12 third-down opportunities. "That was one of our Achilles heels," Farquhar said. St. Charles East was not alone in that department as Jacobs came up empty, coughing up the ball 3 times and allowing a 32-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-4 play. Jacobs, which runs a spread offense and a three-man defensive front, allowed Barrington 431 yards but gained 301 itself. Track star and tailback Josh Walker ran for 109 yards and added 32 yards on pass receptions, while the Golden Eagles' sophomore quarterback Chris Katrenick teamed with receiver Kyle Copeland for 4 catches and 57 yards. Overall Katrenick completed 14 of 30 passes, and low completion percentage was St. Charles East's bugaboo as well. The Saints completed just 7 of 26 passes for 49 yards, with 3 interceptions. Jake Asquini caught 5 of those for 36 yards. "We have to have a better passing game, and that's what it comes down to," Farquhar said. "We're going to work real hard this week on high-percentage passes that allow us to have a little more success this week." The coach looks for another good job by his offensive line, which led a ground game that scored both last week's touchdowns -- by Ramon Lopez and Kyle Cook who each ran for more than 50 yards. "As a team I think running the ball we're going to be all right," Farquhar said. Each of these Week 2 opponents has issues it looks to clear up. "We think they're going to be a good opponent to come up against," the coach said. "They're going to come out strong like we will. They're in the same position as we are, being 0-1."
Next week: St. Charles East at Elgin (0-1), Sept. 12; Whitney Young (0-1) at Jacobs, Sept. 12.
St. Charles North (1-0)
at Plainfield Central (0-1)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Last year: St. Charles North 48, Plainfield Central 0.
Last week: St. Charles North 13, Elk Grove 2; Marmion 26, Plainfield Central 7.
Outlook: Based on what Marmion did to Plainfield Central and St. Charles North's defense against Elk Grove, the North Stars stand a decent chance at their first 2-0 start since 2009. The North Stars held Elk Grove without an offensive touchdown and allowed only 125 yards. Junior strong safety Jake Spaniol was this week's Tri-Cities defensive player of the week but he joined a crowd of impact players including linebacker Ben Thiele and defensive linemen Jordan Bergren and Quinn Calgagno -- the latter two combining for 6 tackles for loss and 3 sacks -- and another defensive back, Brendan Joyce, who came up with a key interception. And although St. Charles North used Nathan Didier's 85-yard return of the opening kick for one of its touchdowns and managed a relatively low 188 yards of offense itself, coach Rob Pomazak saw potential. The North Stars looked to be taking the ball in on a goal-line fumble and had two touchdowns taken back by penalties. "That's an extra 50 yards and 2 touchdowns," he said. He liked how junior quarterback Kyle Novotney, who scored on a 1-yard run, led St. Charles North with 70 yards rushing and commanded the offense's up-tempo "NASCAR" offense, kept on coming. "He took some big hits and kept getting back up and making plays for us," said Pomazak, who avenged last season's loss to the program for which he served as defensive coordinator. This week Novotney and the North Stars have a different look to contend with, Plainfield Central's 4-4 defense, not that common any longer. The Wildcats do have speed in Roger Thigpen and Kahmari Montgomery, but Marmion swarmed running back Akwasi Aikens, holding him to 21 yards on 11 carries. Last week's margin was not enough for St. Charles North to let down. "The kids are humble and looking to prove themselves," Pomazak said. "We're looking really just to go 1-0 this week."
Next week: St. Charles North at West Chicago (1-0), Sept. 12; Plainfield Central at Oswego (1-0), Sept. 12.
West Aurora (0-1) at Plainfield East (1-0)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Plainfield East 35, West Aurora 12.
Last week: Geneva 41, West Aurora 23; Plainfield East 36, Rich Central 20.
Outlook: Johnathon Doyle led off the scoring in last year's game against Plainfield East by hauling in a 55-yard Quintez Jones touchdown pass. Now Doyle's doing the tossing, and hopes to lead the Blackhawks to a better result. The main trouble against Plainfield East was allowing 405 yards nearly equally distributed between the run and the pass. Two of the Bengals' main weapons from that game return -- quarterback Cole Kotopka, who threw 3 touchdown passes and ran for another; and running back Jake Mayon, who scored touchdowns receiving and running, scooting for 139 yards on the ground. West Aurora gained a not-too-bad 264 yards but Blackhawks coach Nate Eimer recalled a blitzing Bengals defense that his team had trouble moving the ball on. "We cannot dig ourselves a hole," he said. "We're not a good third-and-15 team." Who is, though, except maybe Geneva, actually better on fourth-down last week against the Blackhawks, converting all three of those chances. Getting off the field defensively and staying on it offensively will be the keys throughout this year. West did let that game get out of hand against Geneva -- which reminded Eimer of an "upper-echelon (DuPage Valley Conference) team" -- letting a passable 20-9 first half deficit slip to 41-9 after three quarters. What Eimer enjoyed was a ground game that ran for 367 yards. DaQuan Cross led the team with 136 yards on the ground, averaging 13 a pop; and St. Francis transfer T.J. Jackson debuted with 115 yards and 2 touchdowns. Doyle added 56 yards on the ground. This will be the backbone of this offense, challenging opponents to stop it. "Everybody knows we're running the ball and we have the attitude that we're still going to run it," Eimer said. "It was a good feeling that we're making strides with that."
Next week: West Aurora at South Elgin (1-0), Sept. 12; Plainfield East at Plainfield South (0-1), Sept. 12.
Burlington Central (0-1) at Dixon (1-0)
When/where: today at 7 p.m.
Last year: Did not play
Last week: Hampshire 28, Burlington Central 18; Dixon 25, Monmouth-Roseville 0
Outlook: The Rockets played well last week, according to coach Rich Crabel. "We just made a couple of minor mistakes defensively that cost us some big plays in some crucial situations," he said. "But when you're playing against someone with that much talent, they make you pay for those little mistakes." Crabel and staff spent practice time on the basics of tackling and blocking this week after seeing results on film they didn't like. The good news for the Rockets is that running back Trevor Davison passed his concussion baseline test this week after missing the second half on Saturday. He sat out practices on Monday and Tuesday but is cleared to play this week, his coach said. Davison rushed for 53 yards on 8 carries before he left the game. "I expect him to play, but we'll play it by ear," Crabel said. 'I don't want anything reoccurring that might set him back further." Junior quarterback Robert Doubek saw mixed results in his first varsity start. He threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Brenden Bushy, but he was intercepted twice while completing 11 of 24 attempts for 146 yards. His top receivers were senior Ryan Anderson (3 rec., 109 yards) and Bushy (5-84). This matchup represents a reunion of sorts for Central fans and the head coaches. Dixon is guided by former Burlington Central coach Dave Smith, who led the Rockets to a 50-22 record and 4 playoff appearances in seven seasons from 1997-2003. Smith hired Crabel as Burlington Central's defensive coordinator in 1999 and they worked together for five years. Smith took over the struggling Dukes after they went 1-8 in 2010, but the program has failed to gain traction to this point. His Dixon teams have gone 6-22 through last week.
Next week: North Boone (1-0) at Burlington Central; Dixon at Rockford Lutheran (1-0)