Now that we've settled into the football season, storylines are developing everywhere.
This week's edition of Eyes on Five looks at some of the issues affecting DuPage County as we head into Week 4.
Many of you were either at Neuqua Valley's 24-17 victory over rival Waubonsie Valley, or you've since watched last week's highlights.
You've probably also seen the big lowlight.
A scrum broke out on Neuqua Valley's sideline after a play, and on Tuesday the IHSA announced punishments after reviewing the video. Two Neuqua Valley players and one Waubonsie Valley player will be suspended for this week's games.
The Wildcats will be short-handed at home against Wheaton Warrenville South, while Waubonsie Valley will be down a player at Naperville Central. The IHSA did not release the names of the suspended players, leaving that to the discretion of the schools.
If you watch the video, it's not difficult to figure out who won't be playing. Let's just say it'll have an impact on this Friday's action.
I typically don't dwell on the mundane rules of football...boring things about uniforms, cleats, equipment, etc.
This one, though, got my blood boiling a bit.
The National Federation of State High School Associations created a rule that the front and back of a football jersey can have the school name, logo, nickname or player name on it. Specific team nicknames and general words like "Pride" or "Tradition" are no longer allowed.
I first heard about this rule change while attending the West Suburban Conference preseason meeting and immediately turned my gaze to Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet. He helms the Hilltoppers, but the football team is better known as the "Hitters."
Because of this new rule, "Hitters" is technically no longer allowed on the front or back of Glenbard West jerseys, although Hetlet asked for and received from the IHSA a letter stating that his team is being granted a one-year reprieve. Several other teams will be granted a reprieve because uniforms were ordered before the rule was announced.
If I'm Hetlet, I keep fighting for "Hitters" to remain on the jerseys. It means too much beyond football.
Legendary Hilltoppers coach Bill Duchon created the Hitters Club in 1964 to honor football players who competed hard on the field and were gentlemen off it. Duchon dedicated the Hitters Club to Glenbard West graduate and football standout Bruce Capel, who was killed in action in Vietnam in 1966.
As evidenced by the tributes to Capel earlier this year -- the 50th anniversary of his death -- he remains a vital part of the community. Whatever rule the NFHS chooses to enforce won't change that.
The spirit of Capel, termed the "Original Hitter", will not fade. Regardless, no one should try scrubbing "Hitters" off any Glenbard West jersey.
That mentality flies in the face of everything we should love about high school athletics.
3. What...me worried?:
At what point should Montini fans be worried that the Broncos won't win a second straight state title Thanksgiving weekend?
If such a point actually exists, we're nowhere close to it yet.
It's true Montini's been outscored 89-38 in three games this season. There's no avoiding the Broncos' disappointing 44-13 season-opening loss to Maine South and last week's 38-6 defeat to Fenwick in the Chicago Catholic Green opener.
Clearly there's a bunch of work to be done in Lombard. That'd be troubling if the Broncos hadn't been in this position before.
Just two years Montini (1-2, 0-1) started the season 1-2 and finished second in the state. In 2010 a 1-2 started turned into a state title while 2-2 starts in 2009 and 2011 ended with championships.
Adversity is nothing new to the Broncos. Don't be surprised if they bounce back from their rough start...again.
This week the IHSA posted its first playoff outlook of the season.
There's a lot of info to digest in the outlook, but the first thing I look at is playoff points. That's the strength-of-schedule number representing the total wins by the nine opponents on a team's schedule. Playoff points are a tiebreaker used at the end of the regular season to determine what 5-4 teams make or miss the playoffs.
Last year Willowbrook missed the playoffs despite having a 5-4 record, a disappointment caused by a lack of playoff points. This year the Warriors have 7 playoff points through three games -- third fewest in the state -- which means they likely need to clinch a spot with 6 wins or by claiming West Suburban Gold championship.
Lake Park, which missed the 2014 playoffs as a five-win team due to low playoff points, appears in better shape with 15 points. It helps that the DuPage Valley Conference is off to a good start in nonconference play and the Lancers' nonconference opponent, DeKalb, is 2-1 and appears bound for another strong finish after the Lancers edged the Barbs on Friday.
We'll obviously dig deeper into the playoff outlook as the season progresses. Those are just a couple of initial thoughts.
5. Stat time:
In Lake Park's 28-21 win over DeKalb last week, the Lancers' 97-yard touchdown pass from Jackson Behles to Johnny Pacione set a record for the longest pass in the 60-year history of the program. It also turned out to be the game-winning play.
According to retired Lake Park coach, statistician and historian Dean Bladel, the scoring strike surpassed an 86-yard pass in 1970 and an 85-yard pass in 2002.
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