Waubonsie Valley junior tight end Chuck Robinson is a handful on offense. Last week he displayed his skills on defense as well.
Looking to bolster the pass rush with both Harold Jenkins and Marcus Francique injured, Waubonsie (3-2, 3-2) used Robinson on defense in the Warriors' 24-21 DuPage Valley Conference victory over District 204 rival Metea Valley.
Primarily at defensive end with some reps at tackle, the 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior made 7 tackles, including a quarterback sack and tackle for loss on Metea's last drive. Offensive lineman Dan Dominiak also made his season debut on defense, getting a sack as well.
Coach Paul Murphy said defensive coordinator Ron Griffin had asked if Robinson -- who also caught 5 passes for 66 yards against Metea -- could play on defense after outstanding practice performances with the scout team.
"Our tackles couldn't block him, they were going crazy, he was so quick and fast," Murphy said.
Robinson played about 20 snaps on the defensive line last Friday. Murphy said more will come throughout the season.
"He's an athlete, he's probably our best athlete on the field," Murphy said. "No question about it, he's got Division I talent. It's time for college coaches to realize how talented he is."
Next man up:
For all the experience Naperville North (5-0, 4-0) returned on defense heading into this season, linebacker Jake Jegglie was considered one of the top leaders of the unit. When he went down with a season-ending injury a few weeks ago, it left a huge void.
Teammate Derek Amend has done his part to fill that leadership role on defense.
"He's always been a good player for us, but since Jake's gotten hurt Derek's played even better," said Huskies coach Sean Drendel. "We're not surprised at all at how Derek's stepped up."
Amend, who now makes the defensive calls, shifted from outside to middle linebacker and Ryan Marrano -- the lone starting junior on defense -- entered the lineup. In last week's key DuPage Valley Conference victory over Glenbard North, Amend notched 11 tackles and had 2 quarterback hurries.
"We were counting on him, but he's taken it upon himself to be the leader of the defense," Drendel said. "He's really been key for us."
Wheaton North (3-2, 2-2), after being hit by a string of injuries, broke a two-game losing streak with last week's 20-10 DVC victory over Lake Park. With a playoff berth still the goal, the win came at the perfect time.
"You could sense the kids' confidence starting to come back," said Falcons coach Joe Wardynski. "Just getting another win under our belt, we felt like we were getting back on track."
The Falcons lost defensive back Luke Bennett, defensive lineman Lavon Thomas and running back Reese Dickinson to season-ending injuries, and they were also without Nevada-bound linebacker Danny Walker for their Week 4 loss to Metea Valley.
Walker returned against the Lancers and made an immediate impact. He had 8.5 tackles, including 2 sacks, and blocked a punt.
Wheaton North hopes to keep its positive momentum going this weekend against Glenbard North.
"It helped to get at least one of our guys back," Wardynski said of Walker's return. "He's got a level of athleticism where we don't have a lot of guys like him."
Getting the "W":
West Chicago can breathe a little easier after its first win of the season, 20-19 over Upstate Eight Valley Division foe East Aurora.
Highlights included touchdown runs by Trey Lally, Zach Stefan and Frank Aniello's game winner, plus a triple-combo smothering of East Aurora's punter by Lally, Brandon Bennett and Christian Bernal.
To Wildcats coach Ted Monken the highlight was the execution that allowed West Chicago to improve to 1-4, 1-1.
A snuffed punt, a goal-line stand, grinding out the last four minutes on the ground -- "that's how you win football games," he said.
"Hopefully it really shows our guys that when they do what they're supposed to do and execute their assignments you can have success," Monken said.
"We're just happy to get the win and hopefully it gives us a little bit of momentum and confidence, and helps us get better in practice."
Last week Neuqua Valley became the first of four DVC schools to head out of state for its lone nonconference game, and the Wildcats responded with a victory over Bishop Chatard in Indiana.
Now it's Naperville Central's turn to hit the road.
Riding a three-game winning streak that put the Redhawks (3-2, 3-2) back in the playoff picture, they'll head to Ohio on Friday morning to take on state power St. Edward. Ranked nationally at one point, the Eagles enter the game with a 4-1 record.
"We saw them on ESPN a few weeks ago but honestly, we haven't thought about playing them until this week," said Redhawks coach Mike Stine. "But they look awfully good. They're kind of a combination of Neuqua Valley and Glenbard North."
Stine said the varsity team will leave Naperville at 7:45 a.m. Friday and stop in Toledo to get in a quick workout and eat lunch. The team will walk the playing field and watch a game in Lakewood Friday night, kick off its game at 1 p.m. Saturday and hopefully be back in Naperville by 9 p.m. that night.
Then it's time for a shortened week in preparation for the cross-town game against unbeaten Naperville North at North Central College.
"There was a lot of planning involved with this trip, but we've been working on it for about six months," Stine said. "Hopefully it all goes well."
Give him a hand:
Lo and behold, there was Wheaton Academy senior Mikey Alfano making tackles and, most impressively, catching passes against Riverside-Brookfield, ahead of schedule after getting the tip of his right index finger taken off Week 1 at West Chicago.
Wearing a brace on the finger and bandaging it to another for protection, the receiver-defensive back tied Noah Jones for a team-high 4 catches for 48 yards and made 5 tackles, though Wheaton Academy (4-1, 0-1) lost its Metro Suburban Blue opener.
Warriors coach Brad Thornton expected Alfano to return this season but not inside of four weeks. The coach said Alfano could feel the injured digit but not enough to hold him out. In practice the senior showed he could catch the football and play through the pain, so he sprung right into action against Riverside-Brookfield.
"He didn't miss much of a beat from where he started the season against West Chicago," Thornton said.
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