Scouting this weekend's DuPage County football games
By David Oberhelman and Kevin Schmit
Benet at Naperville North
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Did not play.
Outlook: Right down the road from each other, these local rivals finally face each other on the football field. This is a big opener for third-year starting Benet quarterback Colin Gillespie, who last season threw for 1,461 yards and rushed for 347 yards. He's got another group of quality receivers in Luca Hall, Lucas Kosiba and freshman Pierce Walsh. Gillespie will carry the load on offense more than ever, especially with his legs in the run game. As for the Redwings' defense, watch out for Miami of Ohio-bound Jacob Snell and Cole Walsh on the line after they combined for 7.5 sacks. They'll try disrupting the passing attack of Naperville North quarterback Anthony Gabrione and receiver Matt Maschmeier, who had 18 catches for 206 yards. Maschmeier will be all over the field for the Huskies -- including in the secondary with Nico Cegles, Michael Miranda and Angel Adorno trying to slow down Gillespie. With Batavia looming next week, this would be a huge win for the Huskies.
Next week: Moline vs. Benet at Benedictine University; Batavia at Naperville North.
IC Catholic at Belleville Althoff Nonconference
Game time: 7 p.m. Friday, Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.
Last year: IC Catholic 50, Belleville Althoff 14.
Outlook: Coming off two straight Class 3A titles and success-factored into Class 4A for the 2018 season, IC Catholic actively sought out larger nonconference opponents like Althoff, which had gone 9-2 in 2017. The result was a shocking opening-night ICCP victory, also at Illinois Wesleyan, in which the Knights led 50-0 at halftime. A sophomore then, Kyle Franklin ran for 206 yards and 4 touchdowns, on his way to 2,378 yards rushing with 37 touchdowns to help the 14-0 Knights win a third straight title. Meanwhile, Althoff went 1-8. Crusaders like 276-pound lineman Mack Harris, receiver-defensive back Nick Alberico and quarterback Will Ache -- who passed for 171 yards against the Knights -- will remember. Franklin this year will scamper behind an all-new offensive line and may even play some at linebacker. Of main interest will be at the quarterback spot, where both Tommy Ryan and Danny Cronin could take snaps for the Knights.
Next week: IC Catholic at Joliet Catholic; Belleville Althoff at Vianney, Missouri.
Maine South at Glenbard West
Game time: 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Last year: Maine South 35, Glenbard West 14.
Outlook: These perennial powers -- Maine South is ranked third in The Associated Press Class 8A poll and Glenbard West is sixth in 7A -- lock horns again as the Hilltoppers try to beat Maine South for the first time in three tries. Much of last year's state quarterfinal team graduated for the Hawks, although they do boast perhaps the state's top offensive lineman in Northwestern-bound Pete Skoronski. Receiver Ryan Kilburg, committed to Western Michigan, will be working with mostly untested teammates, although running back Johnny Palumbo is a Montini transfer. Glenbard West counters with its standard punishing ground game led by running backs Joey Richmond, Nic Seifert, Jalen Moore and Samson Zander. Don't fall asleep on the passing game with receivers Denin Limouris and Sean Michel, who is one of three third-year starters on the defense. Dave Lanciloti is a force on the line, and linebacker Greyson Metz is entertaining a bunch of college scholarship offers.
Next week: Mt. Carmel at Maine South; Leyden at Glenbard West.
Naperville Central at Hinsdale Central
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Last year: Hinsdale Central 35, Naperville Central 34.
Outlook: All eyes will be on what's expected to be an explosive Naperville Central offense led by junior quarterback Sam Jackson, a Minnesota commit. He's joined by an immensely talented receiving corps headed by returner Bo Turner and transfers Jadon Thompson, an Illinois commit, Reggie Fleurima, Keon Green and Jake Lynch. Defensively the Redhawks are thinner on experience but Jamarri Moore returns to the secondary and Sean Key and Angelo Eklou are back on the line. Two huge questions for the Redhawks...can they run the ball and can they stop the run? Hinsdale Central, with longtime assistant Brian Griffin taking the helm, has scattered experienced. Offensive lineman Kiran Amegadjie is committed to Yale while defensive back Owen Goss is headed to Colgate. First-year quarterback Mike Brescia has one of the area's top receivers to work with in Braden Contreras, who last season caught 32 passes for 641 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Next week: Lincoln-Way East at Naperville Central; Hinsdale Central at Morton.
Neuqua Valley at Glenbard North
Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Last year: Neuqua Valley 27, Glenbard North 6.
Outlook: The Wildcats return nine offensive starters including quarterback Mark Gronowski, who last year threw for 1,200 yards, a slew of receivers and four offensive linemen. But don't forget about running back Armani Moreno, a junior who rushed for 439 yards as a sophomore. Keep an eye on Neuqua Valley's defensive line, headed by J.J. Robertson, as it contends with Glenbard North's massive offensive line. Metea Valley transfer Jack Belskis slides right into the unit at middle linebacker. Glenbard North, ahead 3-1 in this series, took its lumps last year in a winless season but should be dramatically improved behind a slew of returners plus young talent. Panthers receiver-safety Kobie Jamison can change field position and the score with one play or kick return. The best news for returning quarterback Mike Vazquez and tailback Jordan McQuarter is Jahquell Reese, Ben Voigts and John Cassidy return reps and great size to an offensive line that will average nearly 300 pounds.
Next week: Neuqua Valley at Stevenson; Glenbard North at Warren.
The Rest of the Best
Collins at WestmontGame time: 7 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Collins went 8-2 and averaged a decent 25 points last season. Westmont will try to play a little keepaway via an improved ground game, one of coach Dan Woulfe's goals. He hopes 240-pounders Ryan Midgley and Logan Hicks pave the way.
Conant at Addison TrailGame time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: The Cougars run an option offense headed by fullback Malik Frederick, who last season rushed for 533 yards. With youth on both sides of the ball, Addison Trail relies on the steady leadership of receiver A.J. Carlson and linebacker Sal Napoli.
Downers Grove North at Buffalo GroveGame time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Downers North quarterback Drew Cassens returns for his third varsity season, and he'll work with running back Josh Lumpkin and receiver Henry Gates. Buffalo Grove rebuilds after graduating 37 seniors from last year's team.
Glenbard East at ElginGame time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: The visiting Rams begin their defense of the Upstate Eight Conference title. They graduated a ton, but the excitement remains. So does guard Connor Peterson, who heads an otherwise new line that'll attempt to open lanes for back Chris Whitehead.
Harvard at LisleGame time: 7 p.m. Friday at Benedictine University in Lisle.
The quick hit: Lisle's 28-7 win over the Hornets kicked off a landmark season for the Lions. It's Aidan Lombardo's turn to lead Lisle at quarterback, and Cole Campbell may turn some heads at running back. Senior Connor Nigro is a three-year starting safety.
Hinsdale South at KanelandGame time: 7 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: While quarterback Marquese Garrett runs the Hornets' offense, two-way players like Jeremiah Kinsey, Jason Williams, Jaylon Smith and Lucas Kozak will take care of the rest. Containing Kaneland quarterback Joe Smith won't be easy.
Lake Park at DeKalbGame time: 7:15 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: With so much youth peppering the Lancers' lineup, returning running back Jordan Colon is the perfect player to calm the nerves. DeKalb needs to get the most out of its nonconference games before heading into DuPage Valley Conference play.
Larkin at FentonGame time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Fenton makes its Upstate Eight Conference debut against a team that also went 4-5 last season. The Bison have an edge in experience with solid skill players such as receiver Diamon King and 220-pound running back-linebacker Ethan Doliente.
Montini at Hudson, Wisconsin (0-1)Game time: 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
The quick hit: Needing a nonconference foe, Montini will make the 740-mile round trip to this school near St. Paul, Minnesota. The Raiders were 7-3 last year. Montini will hit them with exciting rushers like DiAndre Harris and C.J. Bufkin behind a large line.
Oak Park at Waubonsie Valley Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Last year's 24-17 decision was a huge win for the Warriors, who hope to ease 1,000-yard rusher Bryce Logan into the season. Oak Park junior quarterback Jaden McGill is poised for vast improvement after an up-and-down sophomore season.
Providence at WillowbrookGame time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: After barely reaching the playoffs last year Providence aims to roll with an experienced squad. Speaking of experience, Willowbrook quarterback Sam Tumilty is back after last year piling up 3,800 yards of offense and 46 touchdowns.
St. Francis at ArgoGame time: 7 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Deservedly, there's been much said about Spartans quarterback Tommy Rittenhouse and his receivers. It's also good to run the ball. Ben Radel and Mike D'Orazio run behind a line including freshman center T.J. McMillen, son of coach Bob McMillen.
South Elgin at West ChicagoGame time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: The Wildcats head right into the Upstate Eight frying pan against a conference favorite. A key to West Chicago's success Friday and all season will be whether back Jordan Garcia can reel off yardage. It's the football debut of 6-4 wideout Mark Pinkevich.
Streamwood at Glenbard SouthGame time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Glenbard South escaped with a 23-10 win in last year's Upstate Eight debut by scoring 13 points with little more than two minutes left to play. Quarterback Nick Plaso looks for more cushion behind a wealth of weapons such as Trevor Burnett.
Urbana at Wheaton AcademyGame time: 7:15 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Wheaton Academy gets interesting nonconference openers. Urbana, 0-9 in 2018, must deal with returning Warriors linemen like 275-pound Daniel Kowalczyk and 6-foot-5 Masa Kasai. All the better to protect new quarterback Shane Baumgarten.
Wheaton North at Downers Grove SouthGame time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Falcons sophomore quarterback Mark Forcucci may be part of an inexperienced backfield, but there's experience with receiver Christian Halstead. Western Illinois-bound Mustangs senior Shawn Lee anchors the line on both sides of the ball.
Wheaton Warrenville South at Metea ValleyGame time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: The Tigers' secondary made a ton of big plays last season and a new crew of playmakers hopes to do the same. Between running backs C.J. Wilcox and Elijah Wright and tight end Austin Frederick, Metea Valley also has its share of playmakers.
York at SchaumburgGame time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The quick hit: Dukes running back Nick Conroy, who last year rushed for 401 yards, and quarterback Max Assaad get the offense in gear behind four returning offensive linemen. Saxons junior running back Mike DiGioia rushed for 550 yards as a sophomore.