Scouting this weekend's DuPage County football games
By David Oberhelman and Kevin Schmit
Brother Rice (8-0, 3-0) at Montini (8-0, 3-0)
Chicago Catholic League Blue
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last week: Brother Rice 48, Leo 0; Montini 27, Providence 3.
Last year: Montini 29, Brother Rice 28.
Outlook: The 2019 football merger between the Chicago Catholic League and the East Suburban Catholic Conference makes this the last title game in the storied CCL Blue. With Brother Rice scoring 273 points while allowing 52, quarterback John Bean leads a balanced spread set with 1,552 yards passing, 708 yards with 10 touchdowns to Dylan Summers. Bean and Jessi Plunkett head a ground game that's gained 1,480 yards with 24 touchdowns. Defensive end Justin Jefferson has 5 sacks and the Crusaders 13 interceptions overall. Montini counters with Jackson Bruscianelli's 88 tackles, Jermari Harris' 5 interceptions and totals of 39 sacks and plus-14 turnovers. Montini has outscored foes 302-46. Dual quarterbacks Deontay Bell and Robert Brazziel are in a rhythm, finding Nate Muersch, Zach Olson and Scott West for big plays without throwing an interception. With ball possession critical, running back Nick Fedanzo will get plenty of chances to add to his 782 yards and 8 touchdowns.
Lisle (8-0) at Coal City (7-1) Nonconference
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Last week: Lisle 41, Sandwich 8; Coal City 14, Reed-Custer 0.
Last year: Coal City 14, Lisle 7.
Outlook: Lisle won the Interstate Eight Small Division, its first conference title since 1981, and seeks its first 9-0 regular season since then, too. Five of the Lions' wins have been close and/or low-scoring and this could be another. IEC Large champ Coal City, which beat Lisle in 2017 on a last-second bomb, has allowed only 6 touchdowns with five shutouts, including each of the last three games. Lisle quarterback Jay McGrath and running backs Dylan Laue, Mike Walker and A.J. Casmer have had power-wing success between the tackles while keeping defenses off balance on perimeter passes to tight end Nick Martich and receiver Jakub Kowal, always up for a fly pattern. Against Sandwich, Demetrius King scored on a 93-yard interception return, one of 16 Lisle interceptions this fall. Coal City quarterback Payton Hutchings has thrown 7 touchdowns to 5 interceptions for a defense-first team that runs the ball with Daniel Jezik and Connor Skubic.
Marist (7-1, 6-0) at Benet (6-2, 4-2)
East Suburban Catholic Conference
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday at Benedictine University in Lisle.
Last week: Marist 42, Marian Central 6; Benet 58, Marian Catholic 0.
Last year: Marist 38, Benet 24.
Outlook: A 20-16 season-opening loss to unbeaten Brother Rice allowed Marist to lay in the weeds for much of this season. But after dominating Nazareth 34-13 in Week 7, the RedHawks look ready for another deep playoff run. With dual-threat quarterback Mike Markett leading the offense, they've averaged 42 points the last five weeks while allowing an average of only 6 points. Marist has two more of the best skill players in the ESCC with Jadon Thompson and Billy Skalitzky. It's a huge test for Benet's defense that's allowed a total of 27 points the last three weeks. In last week's win the Redwings allowed only 80 total yards and 2 first downs. Benet's offense needs to be wary of Marist's pass rush led by Charlie Laurencell among others. Last week Ben Hickey rushed for 2 scores and caught a touchdown pass from Colin Gillespie. Two-way standout Mike Wymer had over 100 yards only 13 carries as Benet wrapped up an unprecedented seventh straight playoff berth.
Naperville Central (6-2) at Cary-Grove (8-0)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last week: Naperville Central 35, Waubonsie Valley 14; Cary-Grove 21, Prairie Ridge 14.
Last year: Did not play.
Outlook: Naperville Central played Lincoln-Way East, the top-ranked team in Class 8A, in Week 2 so why not close the regular season against the No. 1 team in 6A? It's a challenge like no other for the Redhawks' defense, which has to prepare for Cary-Grove's triple-option ground attack where most of the action takes place inside of or close to the tackles. It helps that Naperville Central just faced Waubonsie Valley's gun option, and it also helps that Redhawks defensive coordinator Mike Ulreich is a graduate of Cary-Grove and played for the Trojans. Assignment football is critical for linebacker Matt Oliver and Naperville Central's defense, which must get off the field on third downs and not let Cary-Grove eat too much clock. The Redhawks need Western Michigan-bound quarterback Payton Thorne, who picked up an offer this week from North Carolina State, on the field to go to work. Similar to the Redhawks' defensive challenge, Cary-Grove's hasn't seen a quarterback like Thorne.
Wheaton Warrenville South (7-1, 5-1) at St. Charles North (6-2, 5-1)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last week: WW South 24, Glenbard North 13; Batavia 27, St. Charles North 24.
Last year: Did not play.
Outlook: With both teams locked into playoff position, this one's all about improving seeds. WW South has been hammered with injuries on defense, so much so that last week junior backup Will Cassin was pressed into full-time two-way duty at offensive line and linebacker -- and did a nice job. Defensive stalwarts Jack Kelly and Joe Ives continue to anchor the unit. Kelly had 11 tackles and a sack while Joe Ives had a Pick 6 to give him 6 interceptions on the season. Minnesota-bound Tyler Nubin is a primary concern for the Tigers, but they also must worry about quarterback Kyler Brown and running back Sam DeMarco. WW South's offense needs to find a spark again, especially with explosive receiver Tiwan Smith out of action. Between quarterback Noah Henkel and running backs Jake Arthurs and Prince Lankah, the Tigers aim to keep the chains moving. If it comes down to special teams, WW South has an elite kicker in Jack Olsen, who last week launched a 48-yard field goal.
Batavia (8-0, 6-0) at Wheaton North (4-4, 3-3)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Beating the top-ranked defending Class 7A champion is not an ideal must-win situation, but that's the Falcons' task. They beat St. Charles East last week thanks to six turnovers. Matching Batavia's physicality is crucial on both sides of the ball.
Burlington Central (2-6) at Westmont (5-3)Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Clutch Mason Pardy and Michael Thompson catches, Gavin Carr's 1-yard touchdown run with 17 seconds left and Hadi Hammadeh's PAT saved Westmont's playoff life last week. With just 18 playoff points Westmont must beat a larger Rockets team to get in.
Downers Grove North (4-4, 2-3) at York (3-5, 2-3)
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Back-to-back wins have the Trojans in position to be a qualifier with a third straight win. York's defense will key on quarterback Drew Cassens, who notched another 100-yard rushing effort. Dukes quarterback Joe Javorek last week threw 5 touchdown passes.
Fenton (4-4, 2-2) at Chicago Christian (5-3, 1-3)Game time: 7:15 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Fenton probably has the playoff points (35) but not the wins to reach Week 10; Chicago Christian has the wins but probably not the points (31). In addition to the Jeff Andrews-led defense against the run, Bison coach Matt Lynch says it's all about belief they can win.
Glenbard East (8-0, 8-0) at Larkin (4-4, 4-4)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Glenbard East has never had an unbeaten regular season (7-0-1 in 1965). Larkin will be determined to get that fifth win, but hard-hitting Rams linebackers Anthony Shockey, Jack Baka and Josh Landolina will be just as determined to win an outright UEC title.
Glenbard North (0-8, 0-6) at Geneva (2-6, 2-4)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Geneva's ground game obviously starts up front, where Glenbard North linemen Maurice Abdalla, Mayo Bola, Jaden Duenas and Jahquell Reese operate. It'd be a shame if senior linebacker and punter Mike Wellman can't finish his third year on varsity due to injury.
Glenbard South (4-4, 4-4) at West Chicago (1-7, 1-7)Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Glenbard South is in playoff mode and the return of a healthy Tavion Keith at receiver and back Antonio Carter with fresher legs helps. West Chicago senior linemen Joe Orr and John Karwoski play physical; receiver Mike Wagner has 44 catches for 500 yards.
Glenbard West (6-2, 4-1) at Proviso West (1-7, 0-5)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Expect a focused bounce-back effort from the Hilltoppers after last week's loss to Oak Park. Glenbard West would love to get its pass game going a bit with receivers Ethan Graff and Denin Limouris. Linebacker Will Skowronski has emerged on defense.
Hinsdale South (6-2) at Hinsdale Central (6-2)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Both teams already have clinched a playoff spot, so this chapter of the cross-town game is all about bragging rights. Red Devils quarterback Matt Rush was brilliant in last week's win over Lyons Twp., completing 12 of 15 passes for 219 yards and 4 TDs.
Lake Park (2-6, 1-5) at St. Charles East (4-4, 2-4)Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: The Lancers have lost two straight games, but they can still play the role of spoilers and end the Saints' playoff hopes. Running backs David Hardwick and Jordan Colon combined for 180 rushing yards last week. Nathanael Merchant added 140 passing yards.
Naperville North (3-5, 1-2) at Neuqua Valley (5-3, 2-1)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: The Huskies stood tall on defense in a win over Huntley, with defensive back Grant Pass coming through with 17 tackles. Seeking a playoff clincher, Neuqua counters with run-stopping linemen Matt Quinn, J.J. Robertson, Grant Pashkowsky, Justin Blazek.
Proviso East (2-6, 1-4) at Addison Trail (0-8, 0-5)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: The Blazers' offense is struggling in the absence of injured quarterback Nick Daudelin. Six turnovers doomed them last week against Morton. J.T. Daniels, Michael Ruggieri, Nico Nasti and Sammy Retondo continue to shine on defense for Addison Trail.
Riverside-Brookfield (2-6, 0-5) at IC Catholic (8-0, 5-0)Game time: 7:15 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: The Knights go for a sixth unbeaten regular season and top Class 4A seed. Quarterback Khalil Saunders delves deeper into the playbook this game, which also gives valuable reps to tackle Julian Vega, defensive backs Tommy Ryan, Nick Kozerski, Deontae Oatman.
St. Francis (6-2, 3-2) at Aurora Central Catholic (2-6, 1-4)Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: St. Francis showed no quit at IC Catholic, pleasing coach Bob McMillen -- but 5 turnovers didn't. Consistency is a key for the playoff-bound Spartans. So will be getting linebackers Marcus Ingold and Enzo Rendina to the edge against ACC's triple-option.
Waubonsie Valley (5-3, 1-2) at Metea Valley (1-7, 0-3)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Waubonsie leads the "Eola Bowl" 8-1. Metea's Colin Wilcox and Elijah Wright run the ball well, but that's hard to do against Warriors linebackers Carson O'Donnell, Ryan Mutz and Grayson Griffin. Loser of three straight, Waubonsie aims to improve its Class 8A seed.
Wheaton Academy (5-3, 2-3) at Aurora Christian (5-3, 2-3)Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: These teams haven't met since the last season of the Suburban Christian Conference in 2013. A potential Class 1A contender, Aurora Christian still throws the ball a lot, giving a challenge for Warriors Noah Jones, Gerald Blackmon, Steven Ryan and Michael Cortez.
Willowbrook (8-0, 5-0) at Downers Grove South (4-4, 4-1)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: The Warriors, bolstered on defense by linebacker Travis Moore and lineman Jazmany Mares, are a win away from their first unbeaten regular season since 1975. At the same time Willowbrook can end the playoff hopes of banged up Downers South.