Benet's Wymer quickly making impact
Looking at Benet senior Mike Wymer, speed isn't the first thing that comes to mind.
But looks are clearly deceiving when it comes to the 6-foot, 190-pound linebacker.
In last week's 28-14 victory at Moline, the Redwings were nursing a 21-14 lead when Wymer -- playing running back -- burst past the defense for a 79-yard win-clinching touchdown. Deceptive as it may be, Wymer's speed proved to be a game-changer.
"He's the fastest player on our team, just breakaway speed," said Benet coach Pat New. "I don't think people realize how fast he really is."
They'd better learn fast.
Last season Wymer was an all-East Suburban Catholic Conference linebacker who finished third on the team with 91 tackles. His speed showed then with 12 tackles for loss, including 5 sacks.
Wymer also saw offensive action during Benet's second straight playoff run to the Class 7A semifinals, rushing for 141 yards and a touchdown on only 13 carries. He's picking up where he left off.
With starting running back Ben Hickey exiting the Moline game because of injury, Wymer is likely to see even more time on offense. If there's going to be rest for him, New said it'll likely come on defense.
"He's so effective running the ball for us," New said. "It really adds to our offense when he's in there."
Entering the season Glenbard East coach John Walters noted he officially had seven returning defensive starters. With cornerback Mashar Lewis also back, Walters felt like he had eight returning.
The 5-foot-10, 155-pound senior very well may have started his sophomore and junior years but after two years nursing the same injured knee, this season Lewis is finally back on the field.
Lewis played in the Rams program as a freshman, but in a noncontact preseason drill his sophomore year he sustained a knee injury. He thought it would heal on itself, and even tried to play basketball his sophomore year, but the knee never got better.
Lewis didn't see a doctor until January 2017. At that point he was told to take an MRI, and the injury was diagnosed as a torn ACL. That took Lewis out of his junior football season. Though inactive on game days, Lewis was a staple at practice unless he needed to miss for "doctor stuff," Walters said.
Finally returned to action, Lewis is part of a strength in the defensive secondary for Glenbard East (2-0, 2-0 Upstate Eight). Walters called him "one of the best cover guys in our conference."
In addition to returning kicks and punts for the Rams, Lewis has made 2 solo tackles and 2 assisted tackles, with a sack and another tackle for loss.
"We're happy to have him back, but I think the lesson of all this is the resilience he's shown the last two years, having to sit out," Walters said. "A lot of guys would have given up on that road, but he stuck with it and now he's making plays for us."
Wheaton Academy senior Jack Ryken splits time between golf and football. In football he splits the uprights.
The 6-foot-3, 175-pound senior had never before played football, Warriors coach Brad Thornton said. When preseason began Ryken approached Warriors coach Brad Thornton for a tryout.
"I was skeptical at first because you've got to see what the kid's got leg-wise," Thornton said. "He was booming them and you could see his form was pretty good right from the start."
So far in two decisive wins for Wheaton Academy Ryken is 11-for-11 converting extra points, and 1 of 2 on field goals with a 30-yarder in last week's 38-6 victory over St. Edward. Thornton said the one miss was due more to a faulty hold than it was to Ryken's effort.
On a daily basis the senior practices with the Warriors golf team and plays in its matches and tournaments. When finished on the links he'll join the football team, thanks to the cooperation of golf coach Scott Broman.
"A consistent player for us," Broman said, Ryken qualified for the 2017 Class 2A Lemont sectional out of the Montini regional.
Ryken also is the football team's backup punter, but through two games the Warriors had yet to punt. That may be different this week against juggernaut IC Catholic Prep.
"I expect that to change, being realistic," Thornton said.
There's a reason why opposing defenses are keying on Lake Park senior running back David Hardwick.
While he's been bottled up the first two weeks, the rest of the offense has tried to balance the load in an effort to free up Hardwick from the massive amount of defensive attention he's attracting.
"The first week (a 27-0 loss to DeKalb) we were really limited in our ability to do things offensively," said Lancers coach Chris Roll. "It has to open up for us to be successful."
Last week was a step in the right direction. Quarterback Dylan Curry completed 10 of 19 passes for 115 yards while junior Jordan Colon had a handful of carries and receptions.
Most important was Hardwick's 4-yard first-quarter touchdown run in a 30-0 win over Metea Valley.
"Teams are so focused on David, it's opening things up for everyone else and we have to take advantage," Roll said. "Hopefully we've done a couple of things to help balance it out."
Last season Drew Cassens played only in Downers Grove North's defensive secondary. This year the junior switched to the other side of the ball to become the team's quarterback.
As much as first-year Trojans coach Joe Horeni recognizes Cassens' defensive ability, there's no doubt where he's most valuable.
"It's not like he's just a quarterback who hands it off," Horeni said. "He's vital to our offense."
In Friday's 14-0 win over Leyden, Cassens rushed for 170 yards and threw for another 50. But in such a tight game -- it was scoreless at halftime -- Cassens also needed to spend significant time on defense.
Horeni estimates that while Cassens played every offensive snap, he also played in about 50 percent of the defensive snaps. It's not ideal, especially for a quarterback learning a new offense.
"It's something we have to be smart about," Horeni said. "We'll try to get him as much rest on defense as we can, but when the game's on the line, Drew Cassens is on the field."
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