Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 9/27/2017 3:51 PM

Benet adjusting to playing without QB Boyle

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  • St. Viator's Nate Peters and Casey Kmet bring down Benet Academy's quarterback Matt Boyle during the first half of varsity football on Friday.

      St. Viator's Nate Peters and Casey Kmet bring down Benet Academy's quarterback Matt Boyle during the first half of varsity football on Friday.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer


Benet's loss to Nazareth didn't end on Friday.

In the wake of quarterback Matt Boyle's thumb injury, it looks like the Redwings' football team will be without their senior leader for a while. Backup Colin Gillespie stepped in for Boyle in the third quarter as Nazareth held on for a 24-14 victory.

It'll be up to the 6-foot-1, 175-pound sophomore to lead the offense this week against Marian Catholic (0-5, 0-3) as Benet (3-2, 2-2) tries to get back to winning in the East Suburban Catholic Conference.

"More than anything, I just feel bad for Matt," said Benet coach Pat New. "He worked so hard in the off-season and he's a senior. I really wanted to see him do well this season."

Gillespie saw limited action against St. Laurence and Marian Central before being thrust into the Nazareth game. He'll be helped by experienced skill players around him like senior receivers Jack Eschenbach, Nick Keyes and Ben Cooney.

Defensive starter Connor Reid, another senior, will get a look in the backfield as Benet tries to adjust its offense a bit.

"(Gillespie's) surrounded by real good players and he just needs to trust them," New said. "He'll be ready to go. We just need to adjust."

Pay dirt:

Waubonsie Valley tight end Charles Robinson scored the first two touchdowns of his senior season in last week's 27-19 DuPage Valley Conference victory over Metea Valley in the "Eola Bowl."

The plays showed why the 6-foot-4, 215-pound receiver gained a multitude of offers before committing to Northern Illinois.

On the second play of the game, Robinson faced single coverage on the perimeter. He grabbed Tanner Westwood's pass, got free with a stiff arm and outraced pursuit for a 69-yard touchdown.

"I think we caught them by surprise lining him up wide as opposed to in the slot," Warriors coach Paul Murphy said.

In the fourth quarter Robinson used his height and 38-inch vertical leap to score on a short fade route. Earlier that drive he scored an apparent touchdown from about 35 yards out that was negated by penalty. Robinson finished with 6 catches for 110 yards.

Waubonsie Valley (2-3, 2-3 DuPage Valley Conference) hosts Wheaton Warrenville South on Friday, then faces a trio of teams now 4-1 -- Lincoln-Way Central, Naperville North and Wheaton North. To reach the playoffs an 11th straight year it's likely the Warriors can go no worse than 3-1 down the stretch.

Getting Robinson into the end zone can only help.

"Absolutely it was good to see," Murphy said. "It ends some of his frustration and it showed that if we run good routes and put the ball in the right spot he can still make plays for us."

Settling in:

Ever since Glenbard West (4-1, 2-0 West Suburban Silver) lost 62-34 to Maine South in the season opener, the defense has been a work in progress.

The work continues, but the unit is starting to settle in. The last four games Glenbard West has allowed an average of 7 points.

"It's been a process," said Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet. "They're getting better every week, but we still need to get better."

For a few weeks Glenbard West relied on two-way play from offensive standouts Ryan Diver, Alec Pierce and Sam Fenske to shore up the defense. But thanks to improved health and the emergence of younger players, the two-way play is starting to slow down.

Three sophomores -- cornerback Sean Michel, linebacker Greyson Metz and lineman Dave Lanciloti -- have more than held their own. Linebacker Dan Howard returned from injury last week, while Ben Norgaard shifted from the line to linebacker and junior Kyle Dell slid into another linebacker spot.

With safety Pat Howard aiming to return from injury for this week's game against Lyons Twp. (5-0, 2-0), the defense is nearly at full strength. And Diver, focusing last week on the offensive side of the ball, rushed for 50 yards and caught 5 passes for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns.

"At the level we have to play we're doing what we have to do," Hetlet said. "It really helped our offense to see Diver out there with fresh legs."

Full speed:

Fenton coach Matthew Lynch thought that in Glenbard South's 24-20 win over the Bison the two best players on the field were Fenton's Dylan Butts and Glenbard South quarterback Jack Crouch, who ran for two touchdowns and threw for the game-winning touchdown to Nick D'Ambra to improve to 3-2 and 1-0 in the Metro Suburban Blue.

Glenbard South coach Ryan Crissey chimed in on Crouch, a senior who takes advanced-placement courses, scored a 32 on the ACT and has drawn interest from Washington University in St. Louis, University of Chicago, Tufts University in Massachusetts and other rigorous institutions.

"There's really no hiding it, as Jack goes we go. He's a dynamic athlete," Crissey said.

"You have to be able to honor his running ability and his passing ability. It's nice to have an athlete who can turn something out of nothing. He's able to process defenses really well and really quickly."

Crouch enters this week's Metro Suburban Blue game at Wheaton Academy leading the Raiders in rushing with 235 yards and has thrown for 825 yards and 7 touchdowns.

As a sophomore Crouch was pressed into service due to injury and has since matured into his role as a leader. Crissey called him naturally quiet but said Crouch "brings more energy than he used to." He'll even play receiver on scout team.

"We love to see that," Crissey said, "as long as he doesn't get hurt."

Growing up:

Hinsdale Central (4-1, 3-0 West Suburban Silver) entered the season with more than half its lineup filled with non-seniors. It affected the defense more than the offense, especially early in the season.

The offense leaned on key returning starters like running backs Luke Skokna and Garrett Oakey along with Indiana-bound tight end Matt Bjorson. The defense didn't have comparable experience and it showed.

The Red Devils traveled to Ohio to play state power St. Xavier in the opener, and the still-unbeaten Bombers rolled to a 43-14 victory. A young defense couldn't grow up quickly enough.

"The young kids got thrown to the wolves in that first game," said Hinsdale Central coach Dan Hartman. "They were so inexperienced, we kept the game plan pretty simple."

Hinsdale Central broke in sophomores Owen Hare and Nick Franko, both linebackers, and defensive back Owen Goss. In the last four games -- all wins -- they've blended well with the few seniors in the lineup, including lineman Caleb Lagestee and defensive backs Nick Biancalana and Lonnell Smith.

"Week by week we've opened up the playbook and we've gotten better," Hartman said. "The defense doesn't have any superstars, but they play well as a group."

First homecoming:

It's the first homecoming as a coach for St. Francis' Bob McMillen. Like most high school football coaches he worries about distractions leading to Friday's game with St. Ignatius -- to a point.

"It's not about me, it's about the boys enjoying their days in high school," McMillen said. "For some of these kids, especially the seniors, it's their last homecoming, so they should enjoy this time."

Parents have devised a full slate of daily activities. Monday's was a water balloon toss between sophomore and varsity groups, and though Spartans quarterback Sidney Moore and receiver-defensive back Joe Lang looked solid the varsity lost.

"We found out we've got some guys who can't catch a water balloon," McMillen said.

As long as St. Francis (1-4, 0-2 Chicago Catholic League Green) can catch a football on Friday night and didn't get weighed down by the sweets table on Tuesday, McMillen enjoys it. Again, to a point.

"It'd be a lot more fun for me if we were on a four-game winning streak rather than a four-game losing streak," he said.

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