Win or lose, the attitude's stayed positive with Wheaton Warrenville South's football team.
It's been a lot of "lose" for the Tigers, but that changed last Friday when they notched their first victory of the season with a 44-0 DuPage Valley Conference win over Metea Valley. Ryan Young rushed for 210 yards and 4 touchdowns while quarterback Zach Harris threw for 150 yards and a score.
After suffering eight straight losses dating back to the end of last season, it was a welcome reward.
"Every week after a game they've come back spirited and committed," said Tigers coach Ron Muhitch. "There hasn't been a single Monday that we haven't started the week with a really good practice."
WW South (1-6, 1-6) hopes to start a winning streak by beating Lockport (1-6) on the road in nonconference play on Friday.
The Tigers close their season -- and their time in the DVC -- with a Week 9 home game against Naperville North. Next year WW South, Wheaton North, Glenbard North and Lake Park are leaving the DVC to form the DuKane Conference with Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North.
The Tigers would love to leave the DVC on a high note.
"There's no doubt our guys wish we could have won more games," Muhitch said. "But to a player they'd say they've had a good experience this year."
Naperville North (5-2, 4-2 DuPage Valley) has fallen behind in the second half of six games this season and rallied to victory four times. The latest comeback was last Friday's 44-41 cross-town win over Naperville Central.
As exhilarating as it's been to watch the Huskies, it's not the ideal way to go through a season.
"Coming back every week isn't something you want to rely on, but we're confident enough to expect good things to happen," said Naperville North coach Sean Drendel.
Naperville North endured four first-half lead changes and watched the Redhawks pull ahead 27-23 in the third quarter. The Huskies flipped a switch and the game with a 65-yard touchdown run by Ameir Wilbourn, a forced fumble and a Brett Zdrubecky touchdown run.
As the Huskies close the regular season and head into the playoffs, they'll surely be battle-tested by the many close games.
Just once in a while, though, they'd like a nice and easy Friday night.
"Our kids work hard to try to make things happen, and they did that on Friday," Drendel said. "It's been a pretty cool thing for them."
Benet (5-2, 4-1) was just getting on the buses in Lisle to head to Joliet Catholic for last Friday's East Suburban Catholic Conference game.
Then the lights went out.
A car accident in Joliet knocked out the power at Joliet's Memorial Stadium, forcing the Redwings' to postpone their game. Turned out to be a pretty uneventful Friday night.
"We were about to leave when we got the phone call," said Benet coach Pat New. "We looked at different places to play that night, but JCA couldn't get buses or anything. We had to postpone."
Because the University of St. Francis had a game scheduled at Memorial Stadium the following afternoon, and because Benet didn't want to play that night, the game was rescheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday.
Despite being a bit out of rhythm with the delay and the odd start time, the Redwings still did something for the first time in program history. They beat Joliet Catholic for the third straight year.
"It was kind of a bummer because we really wanted to play Friday night," New said. "But we were still able to come out of there with a win."
The St. Francis Spartans are a week healthier and excited to play Fenwick after forfeiting last week's game against Chicago Hope Academy amid concerns of gunshots near Hope's field on Sept. 29.
"The boys were disappointed, they wanted to play, they felt they lost a game in their season," said Spartans coach Bob McMillen. "But from the standpoint of administration and our school I think it was a smart move, and safety and protecting our kids comes first."
St. Francis (1-6, 0-2 Chicago Catholic League Green) got in some great practices during the interim, McMillen said. The break also allowed several players to recover from injuries. Quarterback Sidney Moore and running back-linebacker Sam Sidari both went out of the Week 6 loss to St. Ignatius and speedy running back-cornerback Joe Lang also got a week healthier. The Spartans also hope to return running back-safety Zach Radel, out injured since the start of the season.
It's an interesting game for McMillen considering his background with Fenwick coach Gene Nudo.
After an All-America football career at Illinois Benedictine, McMillen had professional tryouts with the Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers and Buffalo Bills and with the Iowa Barnstormers of the Arena Football League. He found no takers.
Then offensive line coach with the Arena League's Arizona Rattlers, in 1995 Nudo called McMillen and convinced him to head West. That started a career in which the "Iron Man" running back-linebacker became one of the Arena League's greatest players.
"Thirteen years later I'm in the hall of fame, because of Gene Nudo," McMillen said.
In the pros:
Despite fielding prep superstars such as Garrett Goebel and the father-son tandem of Bob and Jordan Westerkamp, Montini (5-2, 2-1 Chicago Catholic League Green) had never had a player stick on a National Football League roster -- until this season.
On Monday night Montini coach Mike Bukovsky and former coach Chris Andriano were among the welcoming party bound for Soldier Field to catch up with former Bronco Jaleel Johnson of the Minnesota Vikings. An all-Big Ten defensive tackle at Iowa drafted in the fourth round by Minnesota, the 6-foot-3, 316-pound rookie is second on the Vikings' depth chart at defensive tackle.
Johnson even got some television face time in the Vikings' 20-17 victory. Unfortunately, it was for being flagged on a face mask penalty.
What a feeling:
Westmont (3-4, 1-4 Interstate Eight Small) made just enough big plays to beat Lisle 18-14 and head into Streator thinking anything's possible.
"For this season it fuels our last two weeks," said coach Dan Woulfe, whose Sentinels won their first IEC Small game since Oct. 9, 2015. Westmont ends the regular season at 3-4 Streator and hosting 1-6 Plano.
"Just the fact that the playoffs are conceivable if we win out, I know it's going to fuel our practices especially this week. That's a huge plus. Losing four straight doesn't do much for the excitement," Woulfe said.
Senior linebacker Tanner Plowman did what he does against Lisle, 15 tackles with two fourth-down stops. The real excitement was junior running back Troy Schlicher -- Lisle coach Paul Parpet Sr. coached his father at Addison Trail -- breaking Brenton Baldwin's screen pass 53 yards for a touchdown.
And then junior linebacker Mike Thompson recovered a muffed punt reception that led to Baldwin's winning 5-yard run. Thompson recovered a fumble earlier and on offense caught a fourth-down pass to continue the game-winning drive.
Regardless of these next two weeks, Woulfe hopes an Old Plank Road Trophy victory for the first time since 2014 "kind of sends a message."
"It'll still take some time to get the program where we want, but a win like that will make it easier to recruit the hallways and to keep guys out, if you can get a win over one of the best teams in the conference -- a team that was within 28-25 of Wilmington just the week before."
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