Scouting Friday's Week 1 football games in the Fox area
Batavia at St. Charles East
When: Friday, 5:30 p.m.
Notable: A battle of two of the top three teams in the DuKane Conference from 2019. Batavia coach Dennis Piron knows the Bulldogs will have their hands full in St. Charles. "Their quarterback (Nathan Hayes) is back and is very good and they are always extremely sound with their offensive and defensive schemes," he said. "We have to play as well as we have prepared to be the best we can be." Look out for Batavia tight end Alex Faron and nose tackle Brey Ford. "Alex has quietly turned into a very special football player," Piron said. "Brey has worked incredibly hard this off-season and will be a big problem for opponents." St. Charles East coach Bryce Farquhar points out his team lost 19 of 22 starters from a year ago. "Batavia has to be considered the top team in the conference with all the talent they bring back," he said. "We will need for our offensive line and defense to be consistent to be able to win. With two-and-a-half weeks to prep we are trying to teach a small set of things well at this point." Farquhar has been impressed with junior offensive lineman Ty Risberg and junior linebacker AJ Gaca.
Jacobs at Huntley
When: Friday, 5 p.m.
Notable: Two teams that had opposite trajectories in 2019 with Jacobs finishing 3-6, while Huntley went 9-2, tied Prairie Ridge for the top spot in the Fox Valley and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. "Huntley will be well-coached and will have tough offensive and defensive linemen who will be ready to play," Jacobs coach Brian Zimmerman said. "Brad Walker (Huntley defensive lineman) is a heck of a football player and their quarterback (Bruno Bosman) is shifty, has a good arm and is tough to defend against the run and pass. We have to play fundamentally sound football, execute or play in all three phases and do our best to keep their offense off the field. I am excited for our players to finally get the chance to play." Zimmerman feels Ben Ludlum will make an immediate impact for the Golden Eagles at running back and defensive back after adding 20 pounds of muscle. Senior leader Ryan Golnick plays linebacker and defensive end and will get reps at tight end. "As Ryan goes, our defense goes," Zimmerman noted.
Glenbard South at Bartlett
When: Saturday, 2 p.m. (Millennium Field, Streamwood High School)
Notable: Both teams made the playoffs in 2019 with Bartlett sitting in a three-way logjam atop the Upstate Eight with Glenbard East and South Elgin. Glenbard South coach Ryan Crissey said his team must be aware of Bartlett standout and Central Michigan recruit Alex Pallela, as well as two-way receiving and hard-hitting defensive backfield threat Nick Bucaro. "Bartlett is a strong team that returns a lot of starters. Their strength is in their offensive line and defensive fronts," Crissey said. "Our offensive and defensive lines must step up and control the line of scrimmage. I have faith in our running backs to get the job done." South has seven starters back on each side of the ball. Crissey is looking for big things in this game from senior linebacker and Eastern Illinois commit Jeremy Gelino and junior running back Trevor Burnett. "We expect big years from them," he said.
Cary-Grove vs. Burlington Central
When: Saturday, 2 p.m. (At Huntley High School)
Notable: The Trojans made it to the third round of the state playoffs in 2019, while Central is returning to action after a 3-6 season. Cary-Grove coach Brad Seaburg took note of Central's recent success on the basketball floor. "Burlington Central has a ton of talent in the school, as indicated in its boys basketball conference championship last week," he said. "They return a very talented junior class with a lot of weapons, particularly Gavin Sarvis. We are going to need to wear them out on both sides of the ball, but that's easier said than done with their talent." Two players of note in this contest for the Trojans are seniors Andy Ciske at outside linebacker and defensive lineman Patrick Rocen. "They have been in the program for four years and are getting an opportunity to play," Seaburg said. "They have worked hard to be in a position to contribute this year." Central coach Brian Melvin said his team will see an industry benchmark right out of the gates. "Cary-Grove is the standard," he said. "They will always be physical, well-coached, disciplined and a state contender. To compete with them we need to do our job and trust ourselves defensively." Junior running back Sarvis and three-year starting quarterback Mark Ganziano lead Central on offense. "Gonzo is the undeniable leader of this team," Melvin said. "Gavin has come back bigger, faster and stronger, and looking to follow up on an excellent sophomore year."
St. Charles North at Geneva
When: Friday, 5:30 p.m.
Notable: The North Stars are coming off a 4-5 campaign, while Geneva did not win a game in 2019. "St. Charles North has a transfer quarterback from Bartlett (Michael Priami) and several fast, quick running backs behind a big and experienced line," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said. "They have two very good receivers returning that we could not contain last year, and they are always physical on defense. Looks like a team challenging for the conference championships, as they say, 6-0." Wicinski is high on two captains in all-purpose player Konnor Michelsen and linebacker John Petit. "Konnor cleans the locker room and cooks," Wicinski said. "He will be somewhere near the ball throughout the night. John has had an extremely nice extended off-season and hopefully will be near the ball, too."
Other GamesFriday, March 19
Crystal Lake C. at Crystal Lake S., 7 p.m.
DeLa Salle at Marmion Academy, 7 p.m.
Elgin at East Aurora, 7:30 p.m.
Glenbard East at Larkin, 7:30 p.m.
Ridgewood at Aurora Central Catholic, 6 p.m.
St. Charles North at Geneva, 5:30 p.m.
St. Edward at Aurora Christian, 7 p.m.
West Chicago at Streamwood, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 20
Hampshire vs. Dundee-Crown, 4:30 p.m. at Huntley
Kaneland at Sycamore, 1 p.m.
South Elgin at Fenton, 1 p.m. at Serpico Field, Melrose Park
West Aurora at Joliet Central, noon