Stakes high for Huntley's battle vs. Cary-Grove
The stakes are usually high when Cary-Grove and Huntley meet, but the ante has been upped on Friday's Fox Valley Conference showdown.
Huntley (3-0, 3-0) knocked off two-time defending league and Class 6A state champion Prairie Ridge 35-28 in Crystal Lake last Friday, snapping the Wolves' 30-game winning streak.
Thus, the winner of Friday's game in Huntley gains the FVC driver's seat, particularly if the Red Raiders prevail. They defeated Jacobs 42-7 two weeks ago. Cary-Grove (3-0, 3-0) hosts Jacobs in Week 7 and visits Prairie Ridge in Week 8.
"This is the win we really have to secure before we can even consider a Fox Valley Conference championship," Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak said. "That's the way the kids are looking at it."
Each offense is led by a senior quarterback in his first season as the starter. Each is thriving. Cary-Grove option quarterback Ben McDonald has rushed for a team-high 343 yards and 7 touchdowns on 43 carries and completed 19 of 27 passes for 309 yards and 3 touchdowns.
In last week's win against Prairie Ridge, Huntley signal caller Chris Raffin rushed for 4 touchdowns and threw for 250 yards and a score.
Raffin is protected by a big, physical offensive line, led by two-way standout Alex Pitrone (6-foot-3, 280 pounds). Weapons include returning all-FVC receiver Michael Boland (21 rec., 418 yards, 3 TD) and sophomore running back Ryder Havens, who in 3 games has rushed for with 363 yards and 4 touchdowns on 59 carries.
Huntley scored 48 points in Week 1 against McHenry (0-3) and 42 points in Week 2 against Jacobs (2-1).
"It starts up front. They have a very big and physical offensive line," Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg said. "And they have a lot of guys who are good role players, guys who you don't necessarily read about in the paper but do a great job of blocking for the quarterback and running back and pass blocking.
"They back it up with a dynamic quarterback who throws the ball well, runs real well, has real good presence in the pocket and seems like a pretty good leader. They are a real tough team to game plan for."
No time like the present: The St. Charles North coaching staff planned to use playmaking receiver Tyler Nubin at wildcat quarterback eventually.
"It's a look we were going to save until later in the season," North coach Rob Pomazak said last week.
The timeline to give Nubin direct-snap touches accelerated after senior quarterback Peyton Brown suffered a season-ending knee injury in the opener against Schaumburg.
Junior Kyler Brown, Peyton's brother, since has taken the reins and played well overall. He has completed 23 of 36 attempts for 284 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Nubin, a Minnesota recruit with 4.6 speed, adds a dynamic dimension to the backfield for St. Charles North (3-0). In two games since Peyton Brown was injured, the 6-foot-3, 191-pound Nubin has carried 18 times in wildcat formation for 117 yards and 2 touchdowns. He snapped a 3-3 tie against Wheaton North last week with fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 10 and 24 yards.
"I always love the ball in my hands," said Nubin, a two-way player who has 12 tackles to go with 12 receptions for 136 yards and a touchdown. "I just try to make plays. The coaches trust me to make plays out here."
Two of his 6 carries against Wheaton North resulted in touchdowns.
"I'm determined to get in the end zone every single time," Nubin said. "I love it."