Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 9/20/2016 8:20 PM

Trying to figure out this head-scratcher of a season

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  • Video: Football: Eyes on Five preview

  • West Suburban Gold teams like Addison Trail and Willowbrook have a long way to go to sort out the league race.

      West Suburban Gold teams like Addison Trail and Willowbrook have a long way to go to sort out the league race.
    Paul MIchna | Staff Photographer


Four weeks in, and the football season's getting a little strange ... at least in DuPage County.

Sure, Glenbard West remains Glenbard West and Neuqua Valley remains Neuqua Valley. Beyond that it's tough to find normalcy.

Wheaton Warrenville South and Montini, storied programs with a combined 13 state titles, are a combined 1-7? That ain't normal.

As we head toward the midpoint of the regular season, this week's Eyes on Five looks at some of the oddness out there.

1. Back in business:

Two games, two losses. With the season barely started, Naperville Central could have steered it one of two ways.

The Redhawks responded with two straight wins, including last week's "upset" of Waubonsie Valley, to even their record and vastly improve their playoff chances.

Naperville Central (2-2, 2-2 DuPage Valley Conference) isn't out of the woods yet. Not even close.

But if the Redhawks beat Wheaton Warrenville South this weekend, they'll have a bigger margin of error heading into their trip to Ohio -- to play a nationally ranked team -- and a Week 7 cross-town game against unbeaten Naperville North.

Two straight wins may be the boost Naperville Central needed to make another run at the playoffs. Especially with Glenbard North, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley in the rearview mirror.

2. Meet the Mustangs:

Keep an eye on this week's "Eola Bowl" -- Metea Valley at Waubonsie Valley.

While we all know about Waubonsie's talent, despite losses the last two weeks, Metea might be the most-interesting team in the DVC right now.

Behind sophomore quarterback Payton Thorne -- the son of North Central College coach Jeff Thorne and grandson of retired Wheaton Warrenville South and North Central coach John Thorne -- the Mustangs notched their first win of the season last week by beating Wheaton North.

The Mustangs (1-3, 1-3) could just as easily be 3-1. Neuqua Valley handled them in the opener, but Naperville North beat them on a 2-point overtime conversion and Naperville Central edged them by 3 points.

Two things to watch in the next five weeks. Metea Valley could play spoiler to the playoff hopes for a few remaining teams on the schedule, and at the same time the Mustangs could make their own push to the postseason.

The first three weeks were hard on the Mustangs, but they're still one of those teams no one in the DVC wants to play.

3. Golden slumbers:

It's impossible to know how the West Suburban Gold race will turn out.

Willowbrook beat Addison Trail, Addison Trail beat Downers Grove South, Downers South beat Hinsdale South and Hinsdale South beat Willowbrook.

Two weeks into Gold play and it's already chaos.

Leyden and Morton are atop the standings at 1-0, but each of their wins came against Proviso East, which has been outscored 126-12 in four losses. The Eagles and Mustangs have combined for three wins, and two came against the Pirates.

If everyone keeps beating each other, it'll be damaging to the Gold's overall playoff hopes. Only the champion emerging from the chaos might qualify for the playoffs.

4. Coaching 'em up:

As well as Benet's secondary played during an East Suburban Catholic Conference victory over St. Viator, Redwings coach Pat New still holds bragging rights. Don't expect those rights to disappear anytime soon.

As a unit the Redwings snared 5 interceptions last week. Defensive back Ben Cooney, despite the daunting task of covering giant Notre Dame-bound tight end Cole Kmet, grabbed three of them.

Impressive, yes. But not even close to the program record.

Back in 1986, Benet intercepted Montini eight times en route to a season total of 34 picks. New, a senior on that team, had 5 interceptions against the Broncos.

I'm thinking that Montini performance was brought up by certain members of the coaching staff during team meetings this week. Probably a few times.

5. Stat time:

If you find any typos in this column, blame the hand cramps from covering last week's fast-paced matchup between the lightning offenses at Naperville North and Lake Park.

Heading into the game I put the over-under at 150 for total offensive plays. The under prevailed, but by very little.

In the Huskies' 28-20 DVC victory, the teams combined for 148 plays. Naperville North ran 81 plays and the Lancers ran 67.

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