Win vs. Waubonsie builds confidence at Lake Park
In 2014 there was the last-minute victory over Glenbard North. The next year came a rousing win over Neuqua Valley.
In its fifth season competing in the DuPage Valley Conference, though, Lake Park's football program never notched a bigger win than last week's 36-34 nailbiter at Waubonsie Valley.
"This absolutely was the biggest one," said Lancers coach Chris Roll. "To get a win like that on the road against a great team, it was huge for us."
Coming off a 2-7 campaign during which they lost six straight to end the season, the season-opening victory couldn't be more welcome. Lake Park upset the Warriors following a scoop-and-score fumble recovery touchdown by defensive lineman Isaac Moore and a last-second defensive stand on a 2-point conversion attempt by Waubonsie Valley.
The victory allows Lake Park a level of optimism as it continues to chase its first playoff berth since 2009. A win over a state-ranked team like Waubonsie Valley did wonders for a roster that's worked hard to erase the sting of last season.
The Lancers will try to keep the momentum going Friday against Wheaton Warrenville South.
"This was the hope with having so many guys who played through that disappointment last year," Roll said. "They put in the work and got the job done."
Glenbard West coach Chad Hetlet received an interesting phone call at about 3 a.m. Saturday.
His offensive coordinator's wife was having a baby. John and Jessica Sigmund's daughter, Julianna Faith, was born at about the same time the Hilltoppers were kicking off against Maine South on Saturday afternoon.
"We were kind of scrambling a little bit," Hetlet said. "The timing was interesting."
Sigmund was a longtime assistant coach at Glenbard West before spending two seasons as the head coach at Elk Grove. Saturday was supposed to mark his return to the Hilltoppers' program as offensive coordinator and line coach, but plans changed.
The Hilltoppers lost 62-34 to Maine South but the offense showed its potential as Ryan Diver, Dre Thomas and Tyquan Cox piled up 227 rushing yards and quarterback Alex Hollensbe threw for 194 yards.
With Sigmund in place the rest of the season, Hetlet expects the offense to hit its stride before long.
"I think we saw glimpses offensively of how good we could be offensively," Hetlet said.
Everyone knew what to expect from Addison Trail's offense -- a dominant ground game led by running back Nick D'Ambrose and an experienced offensive line.
On the heels of last week's 28-0 win over Glenbard South, the Blazers also may have discovered a pleasant surprise.
"For our defense to shut them down like they did, that was good to see," said Blazers coach Paul Parpet Jr. "I was impressed with the effort they gave and the way they flew around."
Leading the defensive effort were linemen Jack Domek and Randy Petrbok, and linebackers Nick DiBernardo and Chris Lasanta. Petrbok and Lasanta also play offensive line while cornerback Chris Cici is another two-way player contributing at receiver.
Addison Trail especially controlled the game up front while amassing 292 rushing yards. The Blazers outgained Glenbard South 435-105 while notching 15 first downs compared to 5 for the Raiders.
Not a bad starting point for an inexperienced defense as the Blazers prepare for Friday's West Suburban Conference crossover against run-first York.
"We didn't know what to expect on defense, but they played well," Parpet said. "Those guys set the tone and led by example."
As Metea Valley warmed up before its opener against Neuqua Valley, the Mustangs' 6-foot-5, 285-pound Penn State commit Bryce Effner watched from the sideline in street clothes and his No. 79 jersey. Metea also lacked starting guard Joe Freedlund to a flu bug.
A left tackle ranked No. 9 among Illinois' Class of 2018 by Rivals and No. 37 among offensive linemen nationwide, Effner must wait for medical clearance after he was diagnosed with mononucleosis in July.
"He was in a bad mood Friday night," said Mustangs coach Ben Kleinhans. "It was just killing him not to be out there."
A healthy Effner would have effortlessly slid back onto Metea's offensive line, where he's started since his sophomore year. He would have played some defense, too, adding bulk to a solid run-stopping front that featured defensive linemen Aaden Hoag, Conor Murphy and Thomas Butler and linebackers Jack Belskis and Ryan Malone.
Effner's been tested numerous times and has been cleared for some physical activity but not for contact. Kleinhans said the senior feels well, but getting medical clearance is a "day by day, week by week" scenario.
"We'll work him back in slowly and make sure he's 100 percent before we turn him loose," Kleinhans said.
The defense begins:
Defending Class 3A champion IC Catholic Prep, on the road in Kankakee, showed coach Bill Krefft all the right things in a 43-7 win over Bishop McNamara.
"I'm very happy with how they responded to the adversity," Krefft said.
Leading 13-7 with around six minutes left in the first half the Knights "put their foot down," Krefft said, scoring 10 points for a 23-7 halftime lead, including a defensive score on Michael Johnson's safety.
In his first start as IC Catholic's No. 1 tailback, Lazerick Eatman ran for 103 yards and accounted for 209 all-purpose yards. Meanwhile, quarterback Luke Ricobene threw for 270 yards and 4 touchdowns. Defensively, stalwarts Kemon Reese, Khalil Saunders and Khali Saunders got a nice lift from sophomore linebacker Kevin Cooke's team-high 9 tackles.
"They did a nice job of building off the energy and staying in rhythm the entire time," Krefft said.
It's not an overnighter, but Glenbard South coach Ryan Crissey was excited about Friday's six-hour round-trip to Galesburg -- mainly the football game in between.
"The purpose was to find a 5A or 6A playoff-style football team in Week 2 and Galesburg presented themselves," said Crissey, whose Raiders, like Galesburg, lost their opener.
The last time Glenbard South put on this much mileage during the regular season was in 2011 when it visited Fort Zumwalt South outside of St. Louis, the second meeting of a two-year home-and-away contract. That one required an overnight stay, but Galesburg will be different enough.
"We're doing to do this in a day," Crissey said. "It's going to be unlike anything the kids have experienced."
Three coaches made their head coaching debuts last weekend. Another took the field with a new team. St. Francis' Bob McMillen, Montini's Mike Bukovsky and Westmont's Dan Woulfe all won their debuts, while Fenton's Matthew Lynch, who came over from Marengo, did not.
A few reflections ...
"I was really just excited for the boys," McMillen said. "They went through a lot last season and I was able to come in here and get these kids and these families and the school to back me. To be able to come out and get a win in the first game was exciting, especially when it took them awhile (Week 7) to get a win last year."
"It was a special night in a lot of ways," Bukovsky said. "Obviously, first and foremost my biggest concern was getting the kids ready and playing a football game. That hasn't changed for the last 28 years. But as you go through the night you realize how special it was and what it means taking over for a guy like this (former coach Chris Andriano). It's an awesome responsibility and an awesome opportunity, so I felt very fortunate to be in that spot."
"It felt great," said Woulfe, whose Sentinels needed to board a bus at 7 a.m. Saturday for a 9 a.m. game in Chicago. "What I liked most about it was seeing the group of kids that we have and seeing some of the history they have, to come back in a game they were behind at the half. To see it work out for them, it made me feel real good."
"We lost, that's how it went," Lynch said. "The kids played really hard. The kids made some mistakes, all correctable, and we move on."
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