Scouting: Fox Valley's Week 9 football games

 
Updated 10/25/2019 1:02 AM

By Jerry Fitzpatrick and Dave Oberhelman

jfitzpatrick@dailyherald.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

doberhelman@dailyherald.com

Aurora Christian (4-4, 1-4) at Wheaton Academy (4-4, 1-4)

Metro Suburban Blue

Game time: 7:15 p.m. Friday.

Last year: Aurora Christian 34, Wheaton Academy 33.

Last week: Aurora Christian 53, Guerin 0; Riverside-Brookfield 20, Wheaton Academy 19.

Outlook: Aurora Christian coach David Beebe said his team entered playoff mode last week, when the Eagles blew out Guerin Prep 53-0 to snap a four-game losing streak and keep their postseason hopes alive. They did so without speedy sophomore running back/linebacker Josh Dornink, who has been out with an injury since the middle of a Week 5 loss at IC Catholic Prep. Dornink, who had rushed for 295 yards and 4 touchdowns on 42 carries for a 7-yard average, is a game-time decision, his coach said. Aurora Christian enters Week 9 with 35 playoff points and should have enough to qualify with a road win in the regular-season finale. "We're going to their place and I'm sure it's Senior Night," Beebe said. "It's put up or shut up time. Half our team is sophomores, which is fine, but we've been waiting for our kids to grow up and be a good football team." That four-game losing streak included a 2-point loss to Riverside-Brookfield (6-2) and a 10-point loss to Bishop McNamara (5-3), which scored a late touchdown to pull away. Beebe said his team needs to finish off an opponent when the opportunity presents itself. "Our kids need to learn how to close the deal," he said. "It's not a matter of care. It's not a matter of talent. These kids just need to learn to win when the going gets tough. We're on the brink, one game away from the playoffs, so I hope it's this weekend." Of course, Wheaton Academy hopes it's the one to celebrate. With a win it should be in, the Warriors' 38 playoff points likely a lock for a fourth playoff appearance in five seasons. That's if they can get a handle on Aurora Christian quarterback Ethan Hampton, who's delivered touchdown passes to 10 different receivers. The Warriors have upped their physicality, and certainly have the motor to make Hampton uncomfortable with defensive ends Christian Pares and Jared Samuelson getting a rush on and Jayson Rucker snagging 2 of the team's 8 interceptions. Wheaton Academy took a bunch of skil-position injuries early, but one of those affected, Shane Baumgarten, has become a jack-of-all-trades while his replacement at quarterback, sophomore David Dorn, has gone from being a game manager to a game impacter. This has the potential to be a thriller in line with the 2018 game, in which Wheaton Academy recovered an onside kick, scored in the last minute ... and missed the would-be game-tying extra point, its sole miss of the season. "It comes down to execution and mistakes," said Warriors coach Brad Thornton.

East Aurora (4-4, 4-4) at Elgin (4-4, 4-4)

Upstate Eight Conference

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last year: East Aurora 41, Elgin 14.

Last week: East Aurora 28, Fenton 21; Elgin 27, Larkin 21.

Outlook: Kudos to these programs for making this contest one of if not the most anticipated games in Week 9. East Aurora coach Nick Kukuc, a 2009 Naperville Central graduate who played running back at North Central College, seems to have breathed life into a Tomcats franchise that hasn't reached the playoffs since 1982. That 36-year period includes 11 winless seasons, 11 1-win seasons and a 44-game losing streak. (Uh-oh, East Aurora beat the Maroons in 2013 to end that.) Before this season the last time the Tomcats won more than 2 games was 2000. Likewise, inspirational Elgin coach Anthony Mason has the ear of his team, which hasn't made the playoffs itself since 2010. He tells them they're winners, and the wonderful senior Xavier Bonds goes out and converts the winning 2-point conversion against Streamwood. Mason mentions that he's anticipating a solid game by defensive lineman Mike Stine against Larkin and voila, 5 solo tackles with 2 for loss. "We like our chances if we go out there and execute," said Mason, noting those old standbys of blocking and tackling. Kukuc said basically the same thing: "The key to winning a football game is blocking and tackling while controlling the line of scrimmage." While Stine, Shannon Williams, David Berendt and the rest of Elgin's men in the trenches attempt to hold their own against the Tomcats -- it should be noted East Aurora has been outscored 253-176 while the Maroons remain on the positive side, 198-191 -- another focus will be on a nice array of athletes. A huge part of East Aurora's success is due to senior quarterback Orlando Garcia. The three-year starter has completed 74 of 142 passes for 1,018 yards, 9 touchdowns and, crucially, only 2 interceptions. On the ground he's either scrambled or called his own number for 721 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns. The Tomcats' other main skill player is senior receiver Sebastian Renteria, a special teams weapon with 381 yards on kick returns. A versatile type like Elgin's Bonds but without Bonds' big numbers, Renteria has caught 27 passes for 408 yards and 4 touchdowns and has run for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns, 18 yards a pop. Elgin has succeeded with its two-quarterback approach of juniors Gio Griffin and Jeffery Lomax, though the latter has come to the fore with his best performances each of the last two games, exploding for 308 yards passing with 3 touchdowns to help capture the Town Jug last week over Larkin. Receivers Bonds and junior Alex West (also the Maroons' top tackler at linebacker) each put up at least 147 yards of total offense in that game, Bonds showing his game-breaking ability by breaking a screen pass 82 yards for the game-winning score. Junior receiver Darien Jackson also stretches defenses with 27 catches for 580 yards and 4 touchdowns. While Mason is a win-the-day type of coach, he stressed the importance of this game. "The key is to execute and understand that this moment is bigger than just ourselves," he said. "It's about the city of Elgin. We need to go out there from the start to the finish and make the city proud."

Joliet Catholic (5-3, 2-0) at Marmion (6-2, 1-1)

CCL/ESCC White

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last week: Joliet Catholic 54, DePaul 0; Marmion 2, St. Joseph 0 (forfeit)

Outlook: Marmion Academy is back in the playoffs after a one-year absence. The Cadets -- whose only losses came by 7 points against top-ranked Class 7A team Mt. Carmel in Week 5 and by 5 points against Fenwick in Week 6 -- were credited with a sixth win last week when St. Joseph was forced to forfeit. Joliet Catholic's 3 losses came against St. Rita in Week 1 (31-14), IC Catholic Prep in Week 2 (22-12) and Brother Rice in Week 5 (28-20). There are only four teams in each division of the newly combined, 24-team CCL/ESCC. Marmion can gain a share of the White Division title if they can knock off the defending Class 5A champs at Fichtel Field. The Cadets are approaching the regular-season finale with a nothing-to-lose attitude. "Everyone is picking Joliet Catholic to win and we're already in the playoffs, so there no pressure on us," Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said. The veteran coach's message to his team this week? "Just go out and let it rip," he said. Marmion scores 26 points per game. The balanced offense has rushed 908 yards, led by senior running back Major Haas' 340 yards and 3 touchdowns on 39 carries (8.7 avg.). Haas also has 10 receptions for 186 yards and 4 scores. Junior quarterback Padraig Fitzgerald (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) has completed 58 of 129 attempts for 851 yards and 9 touchdowns and has been intercepted eight times. Sophomore Dane Pardridge has 27 receptions for 344 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Marmion 4-3 defense has been stellar in limiting opponents to 68 total points (8.5 ppg). Haas, a linebacker, leads the defense with 64 tackles (34 solo) and 11 tackles for loss. He has forced a fumble, recovered three others and snatched an interception. Other leading tacklers include sophomore linebacker Jacob Bottarini (45), junior linebacker Max Lambert (37), senior end Caleb Modlin (30) and senior defensive back Garrett Durian (26). Junior cornerback Jack Scales (23 tackles) has accounted for half of Marmion's 10 interceptions. The Cadets will try to slow a Joliet Catholic offense that averages 33.1 ppg, led by 6-foot-2, 210 sophomore tailback Jordan Anderson. "They are going to come at you with no splits on the offensive line and they play physical," Thorpe said. "And they can throw the ball so you have to be disciplined on defense. You have to come up and tackle and also play the pass because if you commit to the run or fall asleep, they'll hit you for the big play."

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St. Charles North (4-4, 3-3) at Wheaton Warrenville South (5-3, 3-3)

DuKane Conference

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last year: Wheaton Warrenville South 13, St. Charles North 11

Last week: Batavia 27, St. Charles North 26; Glenbard North 23, Wheaton Warrenville South 7

Outlook: St. Charles North, which advanced to the Class 7A title game last season, must win this DuKane Conference road game to return to the playoffs for a sixth straight year. The North Stars face a likely win-or-go-home scenario following last week's 1-point loss to conference co-leader Batavia, though it is possible some 4-win teams will make the dance due to the ongoing Chicago Public Schools strike. Regardless, the North Stars feel a sense of urgency. "This is Round 1 of the playoffs for us," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said. North was not at full strength last week. Senior quarterback Kyler Brown, who has thrown for 1,072 yards and 6 touchdowns, did not play. Neither did junior cornerback Jordan Nubin. Junior Sammy DeDobbelaere started in Brown's place and completed 4 of 7 attempts for 46 yards. He was intercepted once. Juniors Joey Policiano and Nick Schrepferman filled in for Nubin. "We're happy with what Joey and Nick brought to the table and (junior cornerback) Jim Durocher is having a great season for himself," Pomazak said. "We've got some depth there so we're OK, but we certainly want Jo back. He's a good athlete and is a great kid so we want him back as soon as we can get him." Wheaton Warrenville South feels a similar sense of urgency. The Tigers enter with only 32 playoff points but can clinch a playoff berth with a win. They boast the second-highest scoring offense in the DuKane Conference, averaging 28.8 ppg. It will be up to the St. Charles North defense, which was unable to protect a 20-7 lead a week ago, to step up. Pomazak believes it will after a good week of practice. "We continue to correct some of the defensive mistakes that didn't end some drives," he said. "That's kind of been the name of the game. The kids have done a nice job of responding here."

St. Edward (5-3, 5-0) at Ridgewood (3-5, 2-3)

Metro Suburban Red

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last year: St. Edward 28, Ridgewood 21

Last week: St. Edward 42, Westmont 0; Ridgewood 43, Christ the King 26

Outlook: Repeat Metro Suburban Red champion St. Edward is in the playoffs for the seventh time in 11 seasons. Mike Rolando, who lost the first 25 games he coached at the Elgin school, never takes postseason berths for granted. In fact, this week he sent an email to members of the St. Edward football community encouraging them to relish the experience because making the playoffs is never guaranteed. The Green Wave jockey for an improved playoff seed in Week 9 against a Ridgewood squad that has been outscored 189-186. The Rebels have lost conference games to Elmwood Park, Chicago Christian and Westmont. St. Edward defeated the same three teams by a combined score of 126-34, but Rolando has implored his team not to take this opponent lightly. "You never know what they're going to give you," he said. "They are playing their last football game. It's their last time putting a helmet on so they might play inspired. Plus, the weather is going to be colder than it has been. We haven't had a letdown game, so we have to continue doing what we've been doing. This has been a good, fun group to be around and they're having fun playing football, so that's a good sign." Rolando called it "a blessing" that all 22 players who began the season enter Week 9 healthy and eligible. The team of seven seniors, 11 juniors and four sophomores has outscored the opposition 259-136. Senior quarterback Anthony Holte enters the regular-season finale with 1,518 passing yards and 21 touchdowns. The 64-percent passer has completed 81 of 127 attempts, only 6 of which have been intercepted. He has been sacked 15 times. The offense has rushed for 1,145 yards, led by junior running back Joe Sacco's 486 yards and 8 touchdowns. Sacco also has 17 receptions for 324 yards and 6 scores. Junior Zeke Rolando leads the team with 34 receptions for 629 yards and 9 touchdowns. Senior Luke Breier leads a defense that holds opponents to 17 ppg. The linebacker paces the defense with 87 tackles, has forced two fumbles and recovered two more. Rolando lauded the play of his defensive linemen, all of whom are one-way players: senior tackle James Briscoe, senior nose guard Alex Walser, junior end Ryan Sauceda, sophomore tackle Max Kaufman, sophomore end Dave Kenny and junior tackle Tristan Merlin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Fenton (2-6, 2-6) at South Elgin (7-1, 7-1)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: Fenton must contend with a Storm squad ready to go after being held 40 points below its average with 4 turnovers in Bartlett's 17-14 win. That's despite outgaining Bartlett. Fenton's key player is running back Andre Bess, who has run for 1,013 yards and 13 touchdowns; quarterback Nick Benn has thrown for 1,478 yards, 11 touchdowns, but 9 interceptions. While linebacker Vince Clinite and cornerback Shiking Marshall deal with them, Storm quarterback Ben Karpowicz will work to increase efficiency in a passing game that averaged 9 yards a completion last week, though he and Sam Robles ran for 54 and 72 yards, respectively.

Larkin (1-7, 1-7) at Glenbard East (7-1, 7-1)Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: The Royals took a good Elgin team down to the wire before falling 27-21 in the battle for the Town Jug. Larkin can bring many positives from that game, such as quarterback Dontrell Maxie throwing for 227 yards and Marc Narvaez running for 95. The senior-sophomore defensive end combination of Zach Miller and Omarion Thomas looks to pressure Glenbard East quarterback Conner Cerkas. The Rams receiving corps, headed by Deon Cook with 43 catches for 803 yards, will test Jamarion Stubbs, Trevor Matison and Steven Skeate, like Narvaez a senior in his final game as a Royal.

Oswego East (4-4, 0-4) at West Aurora (2-6, 0-4)Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: Hey, here's a name familiar to West Aurora fans -- Battle. This time it's Keion Battle, Oswego East receiver who Rivals.com lists with an offer from Western Michigan. Someone in addition to the University of St. Francis should give Logan Mont a look, because the West Aurora senior receiver seems to set another record every time out, along with quarterback Will Tammaru. Mont's 17 receptions last week against Minooka set a program record as did Tammaru's 32 completions and his 34th career touchdown pass. Mont, now up to 980 yards receiving, has caught 10 of those TD passes this season. Throwing the ball 42 times, Tammaru got at least 5 receptions apiece from Mont, Bohdi Thomas and Derrick Merrell, and there'll be more of the same Friday. Northern Illinois-bound Matt Johnson comes off maybe his best game this season with 8 tackles and a sack.

Streamwood (2-6, 2-6) at Bartlett (7-1, 7-1)

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: Like Glenbard East and South Elgin, Bartlett aims to improve its playoff seed and move to 8-1 to secure a share of the Upstate Eight Conference title, which would be the Hawks' first since winning the UEC Valley in 2011. Streamwood counters with its option offense led by quarterback Andrew Phan and running backs Buddy Martinez and Sirrion Dixon. Streamwood turned the ball over in its loss to West Chicago, and winning the turnover battle was among Bartlett's feats in its 17-14 win over South Elgin for the Rivalry Bell. In perhaps a hint of things to come, coach Matt Erlenbaugh used linebacker Abel Serrato at fullback for the first time, and moved Alec Palella to defensive end from linebacker. Those two combined for 20 solo tackles, 6 assisted tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and a forced fumble.

Cary-Grove (6-2, 6-2) at Burlington Central (3-5, 3-5)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: Cary-Grove looks to shake off a 42-7 loss to Prairie Ridge and get back in the win column. The defeat knocked the Trojans out of a three-way tie for the Fox Valley Conference lead. They were outgained 295 total yards to 154 and lost the turnover battle 3-0. Burlington Central won 3 of its first 6 FVC games but has dropped two in a row to league co-leaders Prairie Ridge and Huntley by a combined score of 120-29.

Crystal Lake South (5-3, 5-3) at Prairie Ridge (7-1, 7-1)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: This battle between Crystal Lake rivals is important to each team's playoff position. This was a close game last time around. The Wolves beat the Gators 28-21 in 2018, when both teams advanced to second-round playoff games. Prairie Ridge is fresh off a 42-7 win at Cary-Grove. CL South lost at home to Cary-Grove 34-0 in the season opener. Senior running back Des McCarthy rushed for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries in last week's 28-21 win over Jacobs.

Huntley (7-1, 7-1) at Dundee-Crown (0-8, 0-8)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: The Red Raiders can clinch at least a share of their first Fox Valley Conference title since 2015, when they won the FVC Valley Division with a 5-0 record. Huntley pasted Burlington Central 64-13 last week, its best scoring output of the season. The Raiders, who average 38 ppg, will likely guarantee themselves a first-round home playoff game with a victory.

Hampshire (1-7, 1-7) at McHenry (3-5, 3-5)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: Hampshire attempts to finish the season on a 2-game, Fox Valley Conference winning streak. The Whip-Purs gained their first victory of the season last week -- a 12-0 win over Dundee-Crown. Jackson Milison and John Brady Young each rushed for first-half touchdowns and the defense made the lead stand up, led by Neil Sakolari (6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss), Young (5.5 tackles, 2 tfl) and safety Shandon Suma (5 tackles, tfl). McHenry's 42-21 loss to Crystal Lake Central last week was its fourth straight defeat.

Crystal Lake Central (5-3, 5-3) at Jacobs (3-5, 3-5)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: Jacobs aims to finish the season on a high note. The Golden Eagles handed Fox Valley Conference co-leader Huntley its only loss in Week 2 and opened the season with 3 straight wins. They have lost five straight since. Last week's 28-21 defeat at Crystal Lake South will likely keep Jacobs out of the playoffs for a second straight season. CL South limited the Eagles to 75 yards rushing.

Wheaton North (4-4, 2-4) at Batavia (6-2, 5-1)

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: The Bulldogs can clinch a share of their second consecutive DuKane Conference title with a win. Batavia has its hands full with the Falcons. Wheaton North won 24-19 at St. Charles East last week and needs a win to become playoff eligible. Batavia senior Art Taylor last week rushed for 124 yards and 3 touchdowns on 19 carries and scored the game-tying touchdown with 1:02 remaining in a 27-26 comeback victory at St. Charles North.

St. Charles East (6-2, 4-2) at Lake Park (3-5, 2-4)

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: The Saints were knocked from a three-way tie for first place in the DuKane Conference last Friday when Wheaton North claimed a 24-19 decision. Senior running back Cole Conn led the offense with 100 yards rushing and Clay Conn had an 8-yard scoring reception in a losing cause. Sophomore quarterback Nathan Hayes was limited to 136 yards on 8-of-23 passing. Lake Park snapped a 3-game slide with last week's 41-2 win at Geneva

Geneva (0-8, 0-6) at Glenbard North (5-3, 5-1)

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: Geneva looks to avoid its first winless season since 21st-year coach Rob Wicinski's first campaign in 1999. Gaining an elusive victory will be a tall task against the DuKane Conference coleading Panthers, who can clinch a playoff berth and at least a share of the league title with a victory.

LaSalle-Peru (5-3, 4-2) at Kaneland (6-2, 4-2)

Game time: 7 p.m. Friday.

The quick hit: This game is about playoff positioning more than anything. Kaneland has clinched a playoff berth for the third straight year under third-year coach Pat Ryan. LaSalle-Peru is a postseason shoo-in with 37 playoff points entering Week 9. These teams enter tied for third place in the Interstate Eight Conference behind Sycamore and Morris, teams that have defeated both the Knights and the Cavaliers.

Aurora Central Catholic (1-7, 0-5) at St. Francis (7-1, 5-0)

Game time: 7:30 p.m. Friday at Wheaton College

The quick hit: How brutal has the Chargers' schedule been? Six of their opponents are playoff eligible entering Week 9. Two others are 4-4 with a shot to qualify this weekend. St. Francis might be the toughest team ACC will face this season. The Metro Suburban Blue-leading Spartans have outscored their opponents 379-131 and can clinch the conference title with a win.

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