Geneva (2-0, 0-0)
at St. Charles East (0-2, 0-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Geneva 30, St. Charles East 20.
Last week: Geneva 33, Wheaton North 24; West Aurora 20, St. Charles East 7.
Outlook: St. Charles East has yet to beat Geneva in the two meetings since coach Mike Fields took over the Saints after a decade in Geneva coach Rob Wicinski's program. Yet last season's 20-10 St. Charles East lead through three quarters doesn't have Wicinski fooled despite St. Charles East having been outscored 48-7 thus far this season. "We'll get their best game, their kids are always fired up," Wicinskis said. "Coach Fields will have them prepared." Fields humorously noted that this is a new season: "That's all gone. I used to have a 32-inch waist, as well." Geneva wasted no time responding to Wheaton North's touchdown pass on its first play from scrimmage last week, as the Vikings used 3 touchdown runs by Parker Woodworth and surprise tactics 2 perfectly executed onside kicks by erstwhile quarterback Matt Williams to Jake Peterson to overcome the Falcons. "We're real please with the behavior and the demeanor of my players," Wicinski said. "They didn't put their heads down." In solidifying the tailback spot Woodworth now has run for 279 yards and a 6.2-yard average; Williams is 19-of-34 passing for 347 yards and has added 92 yards rushing. The Geneva ground game will be bolstered by the return of fullback Mike DuVair and possibly tailback Bobby Hess. Wicinski said three-year starting right guard Jake Mills "is at another level" right now, and right tackle Connor Chapman came on last week. Headed by safety Peterson and linebacker Jake Powers, the Vikings defense yielded against Wheaton North's speed but didn't buckle, ending the game on middle linebacker Nick Caruso's first interception of the year. They'll be hungry to let loose on a St. Charles East offense that's obviously struggled to put points on the board and has gained just 224 yards of offense through two games. West Aurora jumped right on the Saints when it recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. St. Charles East compounded the error later by committing four holding penalties that each negated first downs. The sole score came on swift nose tackle (and track hurdler) Nick Devor's 97-yard kickoff return. While Fields hopes defenders such as Devor, John Kelley, Tim Leibforth and Anthony Niemiec the latter two recovered a fumble and picked off 2 passes last week, respectively can reign in Williams, the main thrust remains on offense. There, Fields is looking for an offensive line surge by juniors Tommy Wilson and Ian Crawford to steamroll. and Kyle Lanthier to add a perimeter receiving threat. As always, Fields is sunny-side up: "Really the effort's there, they're great kids. Most of them don't have varsity-level experience, and that's priceless."
Next week: Elgin (1-1) at Geneva, Sept. 16; Larkin (1-1) at St. Charles East, Sept. 16.
Batavia (2-0, 0-0)
at Larkin (1-1, 0-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Batavia 41, Larkin 0.
Last week: Batavia 48, Plainfield East 7; Larkin 18, West Chicago 16.
Outlook: Entering Upstate Eight Conference River Division play, Batavia seeks its first 3-0 start since 2005 when the Bulldogs won their first four en route to a Class 6A runner-up finish. "It'll be a big football game for our team," said Batavia coach Dennis Piron. "It's our first conference game, we really want to get off to a good start." That was the case for the Bulldogs last week when Evan Zeddies scored on Batavia's second possession, a 52-yard catch from Noel Gaspari. Zeddies was the first of seven different Batavia players to find pay dirt; through two games 10 different players have scored, led by kicker Brandon Clabough's 18 points on 3 field goals and 9 extra-points. Gaspari was an efficient 12-of-19 against Plainfield East and on the season has completed 62 percent of his passes for 484 yards, 4 touchdowns. Last week the Bulldogs defense, headed by linebackers Sean Oroni and Austin Higgins, safety Kevin Schroeder and linemen Marquise Jenkins and Alec Lyons, allowed just 149 yards including 46 on the ground. A real bright spot was simply the return of senior Cole Gardner from a summertime knee injury. "I actually probably felt the best of the whole week, in the game," said Gardner, who regarded 4 tackles and 2 quarterback hurries in intermittent play on both sides of the ball. This week Gardner, Oroni, Austin Higgins and other Bulldogs will have their sights set on bottling up Larkin quarterback Matt Newquist in the pocket. The experienced 6-foot-4 senior led Larkin in rushing in the Royals' wins over McHenry and West Chicago, and last week passed for 217 yards without an interception. Newquist beat West Chicago on a 76-yard touchdown pass to Justin Banks, who caught 9 passes for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns. Piron said Larkin's offense offers the same challenges as Plainfield East not letting athletes such as Banks get behind the defense but the primary concern is Newquist. "We've got to contain the quarterback on play-action bootlegs and the scramble," Piron said.
Next week: Bartlett (1-1) at Batavia, Sept. 16; Larkin at St. Charles East (0-2), Sept. 16.
St. Charles North (0-2)
at Neuqua Valley (1-1)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Neuqua Valley 49, St. Charles North 12.
Last week: Plainfield Central 26, St. Charles North 21; Naperville Central 28, Neuqua Valley 14.
Outlook: The visiting North Stars are certainly due some good luck in this Upstate Eight Conference crossover after a pair of excruciating losses. The real doozy was last week when, with the ball at their own 20-yard line and 45.7 seconds left to protect 21-20 lead, St. Charles North snatched defeat 40 seconds later on a blocked punt that Plainfield Central recovered in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. After something like that you can either hold a pity party or, as North Stars coach Mark Gould told Daily Herald correspondent Craig Brueske, "You go right back to work." The bitter loss, which handed St. Charles North its first 0-2 start since 2007, negated some positives, such as linebacker Brent Battle's defensive strip and 88-yard return for touchdown; 2 more touchdown grabs by receiver Oshay Hodges from quarterback Collin Peterson; and 102 yards rushing by junior back George Edlund. Yet the North Stars' inexperience continues to show defensively, allowing Plainfield Central 393 yards on the ground. As Gould and his staff might as well say after last week in particular, following Neuqua Valley's loss to Naperville Central, coach Bryan Wells said: "The focus is us." Likewise inexperienced especially on defense returning only linebacker Sam Norgaard and dynamite defensive end Mike Ippolito to St. Charles North returning defensive starters Sam Scorby and Shawn Meaney Neuqua Valley has allowed 426 yards on the ground in two games. Offensively the Wildcats have a sound back in Joey Rhattigan, who has scored 6 touchdowns already, but Naperville Central's secondary came up with 4 interceptions last week, and the Redhawks left quarterback Nate Boudreau battered, but ready to go this week, Wells said. Should St. Charles North hold Neuqua to 203 yards of offense as Naperville Central was able to, the North Stars stand to take a 3-2 lead in this short-lived series.
Next week: St. Charles North at Streamwood (2-0), Sept. 16; Neuqua Valley at East Aurora (0-2), Sept. 16.
West Aurora (2-0, 0-0)
at Wheaton W. South (0-2, 0-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: WW South 42, West Aurora 6.
Last week: West Aurora 20, St. Charles East 7; Maine South 13, WW South 9.
Outlook: West Aurora has been here before, plenty of times. In 11 of the 14 seasons the Blackhawks have been members of the DuPage Valley Conference, including each of the last seven years, they've entered league play 2-0. That was then and this is now. "We're excited," said coach Nate Eimer, whose ability to get his players scooting around impressed St. Charles East coach Mike Fields last week. "I think this group feels they can go in there and compete. It's going to have to take a great effort." That goes without saying against the defending two-time Class 7A state champions. It would appear that with two losses and an unsettled quarterback situation starter Thaddeus Armstrong, a transfer from Ottawa, has been replaced for at least a series in each of WW South's first two games the Tigers' star has dimmed. Yet, as Maine South coach David Inserra reminded Tigers coach Ron Muhitch last week, Maine South started last season 0-2 and went on to win the 8A title. WW South's opener was a 21-7 loss to Glenbard West, which figures to also vie for a 7A crown. Key to slowing the Tigers will be identifying where Dan Vitale is. The Tigers' championship-caliber opponents have so far limited the 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior back to about 80 yards rushing. Offense also remains a work in progress for West Aurora, Shon Enoch's 143 yards rushing last week spearheading 307 yards of offense but just 2 touchdowns by Nate Zinzer and Tony Oros due to 3 fumbles and 2 interceptions. The flying Blackhawks' defense is the strong suit. "They dominated the whole football game, did everything for us," Eimer said. That started with Brandon Warren's fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchdown, Booker Ross' interception, Kendall Williams' team-high 8 tackles and 2 tackles for loss apiece by Matt Williams and Terrence Pierce. The Blackhawks, who return lineman D.J. Nelson and receivers Preston Felker and Cole Childs from injury, will try to outflank WW South's junior-based offensive line. Certainly West Aurora will have to play its cleanest, most complete game against these titans to achieve their first 3-0 record since 2002. "We've got quite a few kids who've been in this situation before and hopefully they don't take anything for granted," Eimer said.
Next week: West Aurora at Naperville Central (1-1), Sept. 16; WW South at Naperville North (1-1), Sept. 16.
Kaneland (2-0) at Dixon (1-1)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Kaneland 55, Dixon 6.
Last week: Kaneland 34, Huntley 13; Rock Island Alleman 35, Dixon 12.
Outlook: Their Northern Illinois Big 12 East opener against Rochelle still two weeks away, Kaneland continues to tune up with crossovers. Dixon is now led quality coach Dave Smith, who in the past took Burlington Central and most recently Mt. Zion to playoff berths. "To me they look very organized and they're well-coached," said Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly. He saw Dixon run mainly spread offense, but the Dukes can go option behind running quarterback Scott Goad, and as Fedderly said, a running quarterback can always pose problems. Dixon beat East Moline United 26-0 in its opener before falling to the No. 1 team in the AP Class 4A Poll. (Kaneland's ninth in the 6A Poll.) Fedderly figures Dixon's base 46 defense will send a lot of blitzers. That would figure particularly since quarterback Drew David is a sophomore. He has yet to play much like a sophomore, passing for 203 yards and 2 touchdowns against Brooks' blitzing defense in Kaneland's opener. David's stats topped that last week against a Huntley squad that preferred to sit back in coverage 11 of 19 for 224 yards, 4 touchdowns and 1 interception. "We could have had a few more plays, but going 11 for 19 against a 7A school, we were real happy with that," Fedderly said. David threw 2 more touchdown passes to Sean Carter, another to Quinn Buschbacher and got Kyle Pollastrini into the act as well. Kaneland got another great look at its skill-spot future with sophomore Jesse Balluff. Adding to his touchdown run on limited carries against Brooks, versus Huntley the track sprinter took 7 handoffs and ran for 88 yards including a 47-yard touchdown run. Balluff's emergence should take some of the attention off Buschbacher, who needed to run the ball only once against Huntley while catching 5 passes for 92 yards. The prowess of Kaneland's still young-yet-experienced offensive line must be matched by nose tackle Ben Kovalick and the Knights' 3-5 defense against Dixon's Goad and back Dirk Spence. "We've just got to force and contain, and fill in the lanes," Fedderly said. "We've got to take care of our gaps."
Next week: Kaneland at LaSalle-Peru (1-1), Sept. 16; Rochelle (2-0) at Dixon, Sept. 16.
Marmion (1-1, 0-0)
at Montini (1-1, 0-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Montini 27, Marmion 21 (OT).
Last week: Marmion 6, Fenwick 0; Loyola 41, Montini 24.
Outlook: Starting now with the visiting Cadets, Montini will try to fend off challengers to its Suburban Catholic Conference Blue Division crown. Last year's Week 9 epic ended with Montini's Jordan Westerkamp rising between two Marmion defenders for a 10-yard touchdown catch in overtime. The Nebraska-bound receiver already has 15 catches for 260 yards and 4 TDs while junior quarterback Mark Gorogianis has completed 30 of 56 passes for 419 yards, 4 TDs and 4 interceptions. The main import of last week's loss to Loyola, coach Chris Andriano said, was exposing weaknesses in tackling and offensive execution. Andriano figures Marmion to double-cover Westerkamp, so that may give more opportunities to possession receiver Anthony Taylor, bubble-pass target Joe Borsellino and a pair of mainly untested juniors, Mike Dusek and Ryan Starbeck. Marmion will also key on running back Dimitri Taylor, Anthony's younger brother, who surprised Palatine in the opener but held by Loyola to 55 yards on 13 carries. Since Marmion has run for 371 yards to only 47 passing led by Garret Becker's 150 yards rushing and a touchdown expect the Broncos to load the box and dare Charlie Faunce to throw the ball. "I think they're going to be hungry from the overtime loss last year," Andriano said. "I think that'll be a factor early in the game, the emotion." That certainly played a part in Marmion's shutout win over Fenwick. "When you play with emotion and respect for the game," Cadets coach Dan Thorpe said, "good things happen." The best things were controlling the ball for 19 of 24 minutes of the first half, in which Kyle Kozak scored from 6 yards out for the game's only touchdown. Daily Herald writer Dave Heun noticed a defense-by-committee approach headlined by Ryan Glasgow, Pat Bakala, Tyler Boyd, Blake Mickey and middle linebacker Mike Shares, and after Dan Wedge came up with a key late sack, Thorpe said: "The phone rang, and Danny Wedge answered it." Cadets defensive backs Kozak, A.J. Friedman, Rob Voirin and Jake Ruddy will have to answer the Westerkamp challenge, as will the well-conditioned offensive line against Montini's huge defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson (6-4, 315) and middle linebacker Franklin Bruscianelli. Last season Marmion led the Broncos 21-0 then let them slip away. Thorpe has no need to psyche up his players for the rematch. "It's a great privilege to play the two-time state champions," he said.
Next week: St. Edward (2-0) at Marmion, Sept. 16; Montini at Marian Central (2-0), Sept. 16.
Aurora Christian (2-0, 0-0)
at Chicago Christian (0-2, 0-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Immaculate Conception 42, ACC 14.
Last week: Aurora Christian 48, Chicago Academy 0; Momence 49, Chicago Christian 7.
Outlook: On the face of it this looks to be another easy victory for Aurora Christian, which has now crept up to sixth in The Associated Press Class 4A Poll. Eagles coach Don Beebe will suffer none of that speculation, however. "We're competing," he said. "I don't care who you're playing, you're competing." The main thing about Chicago Christian first-year coach Eric Washington's Knights, aside from starting the season with twin 49-7 losses to Marengo and Momence, is they have just 18 players, though sophomores have been added to the mix. "(Washington) has them playing hard but they're young and there's not a lot of them and they've got nine guys going both ways," Beebe said. That's too thin to be going against Eagles quarterback Anthony Maddie and the sideline-to-sideline spread offense. In building a 41-0 first-half lead over outmanned Chicago Academy, the wily Maddie completed 11 of 17 passes for 230 yards and a whopping 6 touchdowns, to five different players with Cory Windle scoring twice. Brandon Mayes caught a 75-yard strike and intercepted 2 passes on defense with another called back by a penalty. More bad news to the Eagles' receiving corps, though: Brandon Walgren, himself a sophomore who got more reps in the wake of injuries to Chad Beebe and Grayson Roberts, suffered a separated shoulder. Mayes, Suttle, Josh Jungels, Noah Roberts, Kenny McCracken and, out of the backfield, Mitch Holtz will hold the fort. Headed by linebacker McCracken's 6 tackles, 17 different Eagles made tackles last week while holding Chicago Academy to minus-10 yards rushing. That's the type of intensity Beebe will demand again this week, especially when Aurora Christian has won only once in his eight years when traveling to Palos Heights "like a bad golf hole," he said. "I'm not going to let these kids have a letdown."
Next week: Guerin (1-1, 0-0) at Aurora Christian, Sept. 16; Chicago Christian at ACC (2-0, 0-0), Sept. 16.
Immaculate Concept. (2-0, 0-0)
at Aurora Central (2-0, 0-0)
Game time: 5 p.m. Saturday.
Last year: Did not play.
Last week: Immaculate Conception 1, Edwardsville (Mich.) 1 (forfeit); ACC 26, Marengo 25.
Outlook: Aurora Christian is favored to win the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division, but these two squads also have their eyes on the title. Only one will probably remain a viable candidate. ACC coach Brian Casey calls this the program's biggest game since 1998. Immaculate Conception followed its 38-12 Week 1 route of Ridgewood with a long trip to Michigan only to earn a forfeit win after repeated lightning delays caused cancellation. The Knights, who won the Class 2A state championship in 2008, return senior back Matt Mesnard, who in 2010 ran for 511 yards and 8 touchdowns. He joins Danny DeAngelo and Dan Vatch in a crowded spread offense which ran for 220 yards against Ridgewood. That game also featured the IC debut of junior quarterback Demetrius Carr, a transfer from St. Joseph who ran for 2 touchdowns and passed for 2 against Ridgewood. He'll gain big blocker Christian Lopez (6-3, 320), back from a concussion. Defensively the Knights feature linebacker Mike Lestina, defensive end Coleon Leverson and safety Charlie Pulkownik, and the best thing they got out of last week's trip, aside from a tour of Notre Dame, is their health. "We're still fresh, no injuries," said first-year head coach Chris VanDyke. Not so for ACC, banged up plenty in its rally over Marengo but returning cornerback Anthony Andujar from a knee injury. Casey said the story of last week's lightning-postponed nonconference win was erasing an 11-point deficit in 22 seconds. Showing an improved passing game after a Week 1 run-fest against Rockford Lutheran, quarterback Kyle Clechenko tossed touchdown passes of 17 and 43 yards to speedy Luke Dickerson to squeeze past Marengo. Clechenko has now run for 240 yards and thrown for 162. Though Chargers' punter Michael O'Donnell turned the field position tide with his 65-yard punt that preceded ACC's late thunder as well as an Andujar interception and Nick Holzer fumble recovery 13 penalties hurt the Chargers. Reducing those, winning the turnover battle and stopping IC's between-the-tackles ground game are among the goals. "This is a huge game for us," Casey said. "If we can get this one we stay on the road of playing in Week 9 (versus Aurora Christian) for the conference championship."
Next week: Walther Lutheran (1-1) at IC, Sept. 16; Chicago Christian (0-2) at ACC, Sept. 16.
St. Edward (2-0, 0-0) at Wheaton Academy (0-2, 0-0)
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday, Wheaton College
The quick hit: These newcomers to the hardy Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division may view this as their best bet for a conference win. Junior Nate Martinez steps in as full-time quarterback for Wheaton, which seeks consistency on both sides of the ball.
South Elgin (0-2, 0-0) at Lake Park (1-1, 0-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday
The quick hit: Following Chris Roll's first win as Lake Park head coach, seniors like Cole Sheeks and Matt Shannon will recall last year's 48-0 pounding by the Storm. Junior back LaCurt Evans clocked Glenbard East with 4 touchdowns and 136 yards rushing.
Rock Falls (0-2) at Burlington Central (1-1)
When: today at 7 p.m. at Rocket Hill
Last week: Sycamore 20, Burlington Central 17, OT; North Boone 27, Rock Falls 0
Outlook: The Rockets came close last week to winning their second straight game before falling in overtime, but close isn't good enough under the Rich Crabel administration. "We're happy about the fact that we played well in the last game, but with us and our kids we don't really think of it as a moral victory because it didn't go in the W column," Crabel said. "I'm happy with the way we're playing, but we still have room to get better and the kids want to get better." The Rockets' 4-3 defense has been by returning all-Big Northern East middle linebacker Chandler Crary, who is averaging 16 tackles per game, according to his coach, followed closely by senior safety Al Willett. Johnny Major has also played very well, Crabel said. The offense could have a big day in this Big Northern crossover against Rock Falls, which joined the BNC-West this season. The Rock Falls Rockets have been outscored 79-6 by Harvard and North Boone. "This team is a little different in that they have a wide-open offense, sometimes in shotgun and sometimes with one back or no back at all," Crabel said. "We worked real hard in the summer on stopping that so I believe we'll be prepared. We think we match up pretty well with this team. I'd like to see the offense improve on last week's performance. We did a better job throwing the ball, but we didn't run as well as we'd like. We've gotten after the offensive linemen this week to rise to the challenge."
Next: Burlington Central at Stillman Valley; Genoa-Kingston at Rock Falls