Football: Scouting the West Suburban Silver
By Kevin Schmit
West Suburban Silver Silver Division
Teams: Downers Grove North, Glenbard West, Hinsdale Central, Lyons Twp., Oak Park, Proviso West, York.
Key games: York at Lyons Twp., Sept. 7; Hinsdale Central at Downers North, Sept. 14; Lyons Twp. at Glenbard West, Sept. 29; Glenbard West at Hinsdale Central, Oct. 5; Hinsdale Central at Lyons Twp., Oct. 12; Oak Park at Glenbard West, Oct. 13.
Top players: Drew Cassens, QB-DB, Downers North; Tyquan Cox, RB, Glenbard West; Aidan Cruickshank, LB, Hinsdale Central; Zane Heemsoth, LB, York; Hank Knez, OL, Glenbard West; Greyson Metz, DB, Glenbard West; Jayden Rodgers, LB, Glenbard West; Izaiah Ruffin, DL, Oak Park; Matt Rush, QB, Hinsdale Central; Luke Skokna, RB, Hinsdale Central; Marky Winters, DL, Glenbard West.
Outlook: After winning at least a share of nine of the last 10 conference titles, Glenbard West again looks like a favorite. But there are plenty of X-factors including two new coaches -- Downers North's Joe Horeni, a Downers South grad arriving from Highland Park, and York's Mike Fitzgerald, Naperville North's offensive coordinator that last two seasons. The biggest X-factor will be how teams like Lyons Twp. and Oak Park replace key graduated personnel. Given the uncertainty elsewhere, all eyes turn to Glenbard West and Hinsdale Central. The Hilltoppers return 1,000-yard rusher Tyquan Cox and lineman Hank Knez to the offense. The defense returns seven starters led by third-year lineman Marky Winters, linebacker Jayden Rodgers and safety Greyson Metz, one of three sophomore up last year. Hinsdale Central has its most talent since reaching the Class 8A final in 2008. Running back Luke Skokna, who last year rushed for 1,264 yards, and quarterback Matt Rush, who missed much of last year due to injury, lead a potent offense. Linebacker Aidan Cruickshank, last season's leading tackler, is one of seven returning defensive starters. The noticeable difference you'll see at York and Downers North is on offense. The Dukes will have a fast-paced spread with running backs Josiah Scott and KeVon Robinson, while Downers North shifts from split-back veer to spread with quarterback Drew Cassens. Two of the top defensive players will be York linebacker Zane Heemsoth, offered by Ball State and others, and Oak Park lineman Izaiah Ruffin, committed to Cincinnati.
Quotable: "I loved my time at Highland Park," said first-year Downers North coach Joe Horeni. "But I want to be in a conference where every week is a test. That's what we'll get in the West Suburban Silver."
-- Kevin Schmit