Scouting the DuPage Valley Conference football season

  • Neuqua Valley's Armani Moreno, left, is one of the top returning players in the DuPage Valley Conference this season.

    Neuqua Valley's Armani Moreno, left, is one of the top returning players in the DuPage Valley Conference this season. Daily Herald File Photo

 
By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/12/2021 2:37 PM

DeKalb2019 record: 6-4, Class 7A first round

Coach: Keith Snyder

 

Worth noting: Snyder said he's expecting big things out of the offense this year. He's moved over Tucker Ikens and Kaeden Gunn from the defensive side of the football to add more weapons under third-year starting quarterback Trenton Kyler. Ikens will added a powerful backfield runner to compliment Trenton McCullom and Devonte Harris, while Gunn will join Ethan Cano as targets at wide receiver. "When every kid can stretch the field and score, it's a lot harder to defend," Snyder said. "We feel comfortable saying we have six to seven kids that can score every time they touch the ball. Yeah, we feel pretty good about that." The Barbs will also start a freshman at free safety, one of the key positions in their defensive scheme. Snyder said Talon Tate, in a fall season, may have played corner but since the short season this year is so close to his freshman year, they have given him the nod at free safety.

Metea Valley2019 record: 1-8

Coach: John Parpet

Worth noting: While Metea's record might say otherwise, Parpet's 2021 squad is not bereft of talent. Junior quarterback Logan Fredericks (6-3, 170), an all-DVC special mention pick as a sophomore, threw for 1,574 yards and 8 TDs in 2019 and completed 62% of his passes, while junior wideout Jalen Johnson averaged 17 yards and had 3 scores in his first two 2019 games before being felled by injury. Junior right tackle Jake Pauline (6-2, 300) gave up only 2 sacks in 200-plus attempts protecting Frederick. Junior wideout-DB John Flynn, plus 9-game 2019 starters Balin Hoag (DT-OL), Shane Murphy (TE-DE) and Ryan Kelly (LB) return as well. Kelly is headed to Illinois Wesleyan ... Parpet said in three of the team's last five games in 2019 it was in contention late in those contests. "Year two's goal is to take the next step and win those close games," he said. "We certainly scored enough points to win those games (averaged 26 points the last 5 games). If we come out on top, the record looks a lot different." ... Parpet said the Mustangs' defense is athletic and hungry and looking for an identity ... "The goals remain the same," Parpet said. "We want to put a product on the field that you cannot overlook week to week. The most important is to keep things in perspective and make sure our seniors get their six games."

Naperville Central2019 record: 4-5

Coach: Mike Stine

Worth noting: While Central went 4-5 a year ago and missed the playoffs, it did have success in the DVC, going 4-1 ... Stine has no shortage of talent returning with junior wideout Reggie Fleurima (6-2, 210) regarded as one of the top players in the state -- big, strong and physical with high top-end speed, Stine noted. Senior wideout Keon Green (returning all-DVC) led the team in receiving yards in 2019, while senior all-DVC linebacker Shane Roth is back after leading the team in tackles. Stine regards 6-2, 230-pound defensive lineman Patrick Grange (Western Michigan) as one of the top DLs in the conference. He's added 30 pounds since the last time the Redhawks played, Stine added. Stine feels senior linebacker Luke Peterson will combine with Roth to form one of the top LB combos in the state. Senior Aiden Ellison is ranked as one of the top 10 kickers/punters in the country and also starts at inside linebacker ... A pair of transfers are junior running back Antonio Torres (RB-DB, all-conference at Waubonsie Valley), also one of the top wrestlers in the state, and senior defensive back Jaden McGill, in from Oak Park-River Forest ... Quarterback Sam Jackson graduated early and is now at TCU, which means Owen Prucha takes the controls this spring under center ... "We feel we have a chance to be a very exciting offense this season," Stine said. "This team has worked very hard and has been able to stay focused and positive over the past 12 months. We have great leadership from the senior class. They are all very excited to have an opportunity to have a senior season with their teammates." ... Stine said the top goal is to provide a positive experience for the seniors, and the Redhawks hope to contend for the conference title.

Naperville North2019 record: 2-7

Coach: Sean Drendel

Worth noting: The Huskies will be led this season by the likes of returning seniors Stephan Williams (WR), Lontrez Duckworth (RB), Connor Corrigan (DE) and Dane Tsao, along with junior Zeke Williams (WR-DB) ... Corrigan is a returning all-DVC player ... Drendel's squad features four college commits in defensive back Anthony Bonamo (North Central), offensive lineman Nick Grace (Cincinnati), offensive lineman-long snapper Ben Kuefler (St. Ambrose) and linebacker Adam Sturtz (Butler) ... Offensively, Drendel likes the team's mix of experience and young talent at all positions. "We are working hard to mold that into a cohesive group," he said. "I like our effort in practice, and we hope to use our talent to be very explosive and make big plays." ... On the other side, Drendel noted the Huskies' front seven is a huge plus. "We are very experienced and very stout," he said. "It's a veteran group with team leaders who love to run to the ball and hit. They have had the upper hand in practice so far." A pair of key newcomers include quarterbacks Jon Bell (senior) and Aidan Gray (sophomore) ... Drendel said the DVC, with its six-team makeup, will provide a unique experience in a unique school year. "With it being a league of six teams, we will have a chance to play every conference team and have a chance to be conference champs," he said. "I think every team in our league is very solid, so it will be a dogfight every week. We are looking forward to facing an opponent on the field."

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Neuqua Valley

2019 record: 9-2, Class 8A second round

Coach: Bill Ellinghaus

Worth noting: The defending conference-champion Wildcats are flush with talent on both sides of the ball, including seniors Armani Moreno (6-1, 205, RB), Trey Borske (6-1, 220, LB) and Palmer Domshke (5-10, 170, K-DB), to go with juniors Andre Cobb (6-1, 170, DB-WR) and Carter Sessa (6-0, 180, WR-DB) ... Moreno (headed to Grand Valley State), Borske (Winona State) and Domshke are all returning all-DVC and Daily Herald All-Area picks ... Ved Arora (Case Western Reserve) and Garrett Stare (Wisconsin-Plateville) also are college bound, but Stare is out this spring due to injury ... As of this writing, Ellinghaus said the quarterback position has been looked at very closely, but has not been decided yet with junior RJ Cluxton (6-3, 225) and sophomore Mark Mennecke (6-0, 175). "We have two kids there we are excited about," he said. ... "We are optimistic this year with some key guys returning such as Armani on offense and Trey on defense," the coach said. "However, we have to round out a bunch of positions with young guys who have not played a ton of varsity reps. This group has persevered through a lot already and continues to grind it out. They seem to be ready for whatever we throw at them. We are hoping to give these seniors some much-deserved closure to high school football in these crazy times."

Waubonsie Valley2019 record: 4-5

Coach: Tom Baumgartner

Worth noting: The Warriors will lean on the experience of seniors Sean Clinton (6-1, 160, WR-QB), Jake Strater (6-2, 180, LB-S), Max Drohan (6-1, 220, OL-DL) and CJ Hobbs (5-7, 155, RB) ... Clinton, all-DVC in 2019 and the team's only returning offensive starter, will play at Middlebury College in Vermont, while Strater is St. Ambrose-bound. ... "We have a young group from top to bottom," said Baumgartner regarding the Warriors' offense. "It's a group that has a lot of young playmakers and a young group of linemen looking forward to developing this spring." ... Strater is the only returning starter on defense ... Key newcomers include juniors Tyler Helbring (WR-DB), Nate Pappas (QB), Jabron Lee (RB), Jose Barragan (OL-DL), Josh Sullivan (DB-WR) and Will Puls (LB) ... Baumgartner said he's been most impressed by two observations thus far. "Their 'compete' level and the closeness of the group," he said. "They love getting after it in practice and in multiple sports. They are very tight knit and in step with each other. We want to have fun and enjoy our time together as a program. It has been a rough year for so many, and we are grateful to get to be together and have a season."

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCHSean Clinton, Waubonsie Valley, WR, sr.: Clinton was an all-DVC selection as a junior and is the Warriors' only returning starter on offense.

Connor Corrigan, Naperville North, DE, sr.: Corrigan (6-2, 230), an all-DVC selection as a junior, headlines a strong Huskies defensive front seven.

Logan Fredericks, Metea Valley, QB, jr.: Threw for 1,574 yards in eight games with 8 touchdowns, while completing 62% of his passes in 2019.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Keon Green, Naperville Central, WR, sr.: Green was an all-DVC pick in 2019 after leading the Redhawks in receiving yards.

Armani Moreno, Neuqua Valley, RB, sr.: Moreno, headed to Grand Valley State, is a returning all-DVC and Daily Herald All-Area pick. Moreno had a pair of 3-TD games against Metea and Naperville North in 2019.

FIVE MISS MATCHUPSWeek 1 -- Naperville North at Neuqua Valley: The battle of Naperville kicks off right out of the gates with two of the city's three high schools doing battle.

Week 2 -- Neuqua Valley at Naperville Central: A battle of the DVC's top two teams in 2019. In the previous battle, Neuqua downed the Redhawks 19-14.

Week 3 -- Naperville Central and Naperville North: Central has won the last two meetings and 3 of the last 5 contests in this rivalry.

Week 4 -- Waubonsie Valley at Neuqua Valley: The Wildcats won last year's intradistrict meeting by a 35-14 count.

Week 5 -- Naperville Central at Metea Valley: No doubt, positioning/seeding for the Week 6 DVC Square Off will be front of mind for both teams. This will be the first Friday night contest for both teams after playing on Saturday for the first four weeks of the season.

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