Football: Scouting the DuKane Conference
By Kevin Schmit
DuKane Conference Teams: Batavia, Geneva, Glenbard North, Lake Park, St. Charles East, St. Charles North, Wheaton North, Wheaton Warrenville South.
Key games: Geneva at Batavia, Sept. 28; Glenbard North at Lake Park, Sept. 28; St. Charles East at St. Charles North, Sept. 28; WW South at Wheaton North, Sept. 28; Batavia at St. Charles East, Oct. 5; St. Charles North at Batavia, Oct. 12; Batavia at Wheaton North, Oct. 19.
Top players: Isiah Brown-Dietzman, DL, WW South; Peyton Brown, QB, St. Charles North; Michael Jansey, LB, Batavia; Justin Jett, RB, St. Charles East; Xander Mueller, LB, Wheaton North; Tyler Nubin, WR-DB, St. Charles North; Patrick Panasiuk, OL, Lake Park; Antowon Tolbert, RB, Wheaton North; Reilly Waldoch, RB, Geneva; Luke Weerts, LB, Batavia; Mike Wellman, LB-TE, Glenbard North; Alex Westendorf, OL, St. Charles North.
Outlook: It's a new conference with old problems. Problem No. 1? No weeks off. Glenbard North, Lake Park, Wheaton North and WW South left the brutal competition of the DuPage Valley Conference, but it's no easier here. For Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles East and St. Charles North, who left the Upstate Eight Conference, this is a definite step up in competition. The elephant in the league is Batavia, the defending Class 7A champion. The Bulldogs continue their defensive tradition with linebackers Michael Jansey, committed to Northwestern, and Luke Weerts. The Bulldogs' biggest challenger might be the only team to beat them last year, St. Charles North. The North Stars bring back 16 starters, including the DKC's top player, Minnesota-bound receiver and defensive back Tyler Nubin. Glenbard North, Lake Park and Wheaton North all made the playoffs last season, and it'll be interesting to see who emerges among the former DVC schools. WW South is an unknown but has two quality defensive players in lineman Isiah Brown-Dietzman and defensive back Cedric Rowzee. Wheaton North won't be able to pound the ball as efficiently as last season, but the Falcons still boast running back Antowon Tolbert, who accounted for 400 of last year's 2,500 rushing yards. Lake Park running back David Hardwick-Kirkpatrick has the benefit of working behind lineman Patrick Panasiuk, who holds a Navy offer. Glenbard North's bread-and-butter remains the ground game and a stinging defense. With Mike Wellman back at linebacker, the unit remains strong. St. Charles East returns one of the DKC's most productive players in running back Justin Jett, who last season rushed for 1,300 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Quotable: "It's an exciting time," said WW South coach Ron Muhitch. "It's a little bittersweet leaving the DVC, but this is a great opportunity for us. It's a new start in a new conference."
-- Kevin Schmit