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updated: 10/6/2016 10:12 PM

Can Neuqua Valley survive the DVC season undefeated?

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  • Video: Football: Eyes on Five column

  • Neuqua Valley quarterback Jack Bastable and his teammates are undefeated through the first six games of the regular season.

      Neuqua Valley quarterback Jack Bastable and his teammates are undefeated through the first six games of the regular season.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

 
 

For weeks we've been talking about the upcoming football playoffs.

Even though we're already heading into Week 7, let's put that discussion on hold as Eyes on Five takes a moment to appreciate the rapidly fading regular season.

Surprise:

Every year we seem to say the same thing ... there's no way the DuPage Valley Conference champion will emerge without a loss.

Yet here we are with Neuqua Valley three wins from running the table. The Wildcats moved a big step closer with Friday's victory over previously unbeaten Naperville North.

If the Wildcats beat Wheaton North, Lake Park and Glenbard North, they'll break the trend of one-loss DVC champions the last two seasons.

Let's emphasize that this is a recent trend because before 2014, 15 of the previous 17 DVC champions went unbeaten in the league.

Of course, that's before the District 204 schools entered the scene.

With the three Valley schools in the mix, it'll be interesting to see which trend wins out. Will dominant DVC champs again become the norm, or will parity continue to overtake the league?

As long as the DVC remains at nine schools, plan on the latter.

Double duty:

Speaking of trends, there's a clear one developing throughout DuPage County. More and more players, especially the top ones, are starting to play two ways.

Players like Addison Trail's Darrion Conrad rarely come off the field, but two-way players are nothing new with the Blazers or several other programs. It's the traditionally two-platoon programs that are starting to lean toward putting their best players on both sides of the ball.

Naperville Central offensive lineman Trevor Campbell, committed to Western Michigan, started playing on the defensive line, while Glenbard West defensive standouts Dionte Moorehead and Jackson Goleash are getting more offensive reps. Notre Dame-bound Neuqua Valley senior Isaiah Robertson is at home whether he's playing receiver or defensive back.

I could go up and down every roster and find someone seeing double duty, but where it really stands out is at Wheaton Warrenville South. Quarterback Matt Dohse started playing linebacker for the Tigers, and it turns out he's a natural.

A quarterback playing linebacker? Unheard of in the DVC, but that's the state of the game right now.

With roster numbers shrinking and injuries mounting as the season progresses, every team's doing what it takes to have their best 11 on the field at all times.

Rowell-ing along:

Congratulations to IC Catholic Prep senior running back Jordan Rowell for cracking into the top 20 list of the state's all-time rushing leaders ... and for celebrating a birthday this week.

Having watched Rowell develop since his varsity debut as a freshman, I've truly enjoyed seeing him round out his game on both sides of the ball. Now college recruiters are going to be able to get a longer look at him.

Rowell verbally committed to Northern Illinois University in June, but last week he announced he's reopening his recruiting. He's still verbally committed to the Huskies, but he's taking some time to re-evaluate options that include offers from Iowa, Purdue and Miami (Ohio).

Of primary concern, though, is helping the unbeaten Knights win a Class 3A championship.

Fenton frenzy:

If motivation was needed to write a story about appreciating the waning weeks of the regular season, Fenton's Metro Suburban Blue game against St. Edward provided it.

The Bison (3-3, 1-1) won a 53-50 thriller on Friday, keeping their playoff hopes very much alive. The teams combined to score five touchdowns in the game's final nine minutes as the lead changed hands four times.

Ultimately, victory came down to Kyle Cacioppo's 11-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Santagata on the 12th play of a four-minute drive with 45 seconds left on the clock. A crazy ending fittingly included a matching celebration in front of a Homecoming crowd in Bensenville.

Regardless of whether or not Fenton reaches the playoffs -- Riverside-Brookfield (4-2), Wheaton Academy (4-2) and IC Catholic Prep (6-0) remain on the schedule -- the Bison have Friday's memory to cling to for a long, long time.

5. Stat time:

More congratulations are due to Hinsdale Central, IC Catholic Prep and Neuqua Valley for becoming the area's first three teams to clinch a playoff berth by staying unbeaten and notching their sixth victory.

Five-win teams Benet and Naperville North can clinch a berth with a win this weekend, while four-win teams Glenbard North, Glenbard South, Glenbard West, Wheaton Academy and Willowbrook can become playoff eligible with a victory.

Follow Kevin on Twitter

@kevin_schmit

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