Football: Scouting the 2021 fall season in the Mid-Suburban League

  • Hersey's Ben Clawson is one of the top returning players in the Mid-Suburban League this season.

    Hersey's Ben Clawson is one of the top returning players in the Mid-Suburban League this season. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Conant's Giuseppe Dugo returns for his third season as the Cougars' quarterback.

    Conant's Giuseppe Dugo returns for his third season as the Cougars' quarterback. Daily Herald File Photo

 
By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/18/2021 8:02 PM

BUFFALO GROVE

2021 spring record: 5-1

 

Coach: Jeff Vlk

Worth noting: The Bison have 15 returning players, 8 of whom have been starting since they were sophomores. Buffalo Grove is coming off its best season since 2017 when it went 9-2. Trystan Anderson and Eli Shereshovech will be on the defensive line and anchor that squad which will also feature Scott Murray and Matthew Wolverton. Michael Cervantez steps into play quarterback and will have a plethora of wide receivers to throw to in Scott Murray, Andre Luyando, Jacob Prawica, Tommy Spiegelman. Cole Nixon, who ran well last season, will be back at running back while sophomore Anthony Polano should also see action. The Bison will be heading to New Lenox to open the season at Lincoln-Way Central.

ELK GROVE

2021 spring record: 1-5

Coach: Miles Osei

Worth noting: After three years of smashmouth football, Elk Grove will find out how life is without Ian Ridge, who gained over 3,700 yards in his career. The Grenadiers will lean hard on DE/TE Brady Tosterud, who has been attracting some college interest. Elk Grove should be strong defensively with Michael Rivera and Kachi Ugwu returning at linebacker while Danny Gaskill and Garrett Ewen return in the defensive backfield. Luke Crimmins is also back at wide receiver. The Grens open their season as road warriors with three consecutive away games at Maine West, Schaumburg and Vernon Hills before returning home to play Maine East.

HERSEY

2021 spring record: 3-3

Coach: Joe Pardun

Worth noting: With Jimmy Makuh returning at quarterback and running back/wide receiver Ben Clawson back, the Huskies may have the top 1-2 offensive punch in the conference. Hersey has a solid corps of returnees on both sides of the ball, especially in the skill positions. The offensive line, which is a bit on the smaller size averaging 215 pounds, does have experience. It returns four starters including the Pflomm brothers, Justin and Tyler, along with Alex Jalaca and Ryan Demspey. Josh Bontje, who returns at defensive back, will be one of the Huskies' strengths on defense. Hersey will be on the bus for a 6 p.m. Opening Night starter in New Lenox at Lincoln-Way West.

PROSPECT

2021 spring record: 5-1, MSL East champs

Coach: Dan DeBoeuf

Worth noting: The Knights came so close to winning the MSL championship game over Barrington, getting intercepted at the goal line in the final seconds. Now they will have to look to replace the main corps of an offense that averaged nearly 50 points per game. The key that resurgence will fall on junior Frank Covey. The junior started last year for Prospect at wide receiver, and he will move to quarterback this year. Wide receiver Owen Walter along with offensive linemen Sam Tsgallis and Clayton Kamp are the only returning starters on offense. The Knights should be improved defensively with 9 returning starters. Linebacker Peyton Burgh will key that defense along with Jacob Grzesiak and Gino Paredes. Prospect opens its season at Sandburg and then hosts Fremd.

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ROLLING MEADOWS

2021 spring record: 2-4

Coach: Sam Baker

Worth noting: It was a rough spring for the Mustangs. They lost more games during that shortened season than in the previous two full seasons combined. But fall brings a different feel for Meadows with 13 returning starters. The key skill positions are still being worked out. The quarterback situation is not quite settled, with Michael Brigham and Evan Grace locked in a battle. Skip Rozanski, Sam Englund, Travis Prickett and Devin Owen will each be looking to lock up the starting role at running back while PJ Ford returns to anchor the line. Meadows has qualified for the playoffs for 9 consecutive fall seasons and 16 of the previous 17. The Mustangs have four of their first five games at home.

WHEELING

2021 spring record: 0-6

Coach: Peter Panagakis

Worth noting: The Peter Panagakis era begins at Wheeling with the Wildcats looking to snap a 19-game losing streak. Depth and experience could be an issue as the Wildcats have 37 varsity players, which is up from the 20s a week ago. Wheeling will be looking to either senior Brandon Roman or junior A.J. Marchetti to run the offense at quarterback. Simon Micula, who is a junior, returns to start at running back. The Wildcats open the season with Round Lake, which has won just one game in each of its last three seasons. Then they bounce to the other side when they face off against Barrington in a MSL crossover game.

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Trystan Anderson, DE, Buffalo Grove, sr. -- Three -year starter who is gaining increased interest from colleges.

Peyton Burgh, LB, Prospect, sr. -Returning starter who will anchor Prospect's defense.

Ben Clawson, WR, Hersey, sr. -- All area wide receiver/running back last year with 19 TDs.

Frank Covey, QB, Prospect, jr -- Covey, who was the top receiver a year ago, slides over to QB this year.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Jimmy Makuh, QB, Hersey, sr. -- Threw for nearly 1,400 yards along with 18 TD's last year.

FIVE CAN'T MISS GAMES

Week 1 -- Hersey at Lincoln-Way West: The two 7A powers collide as the Huskies travel to New Lenox.

Week 2 -- Fremd at Prospect: MSL crossover week. This game was canceled last season.

Week 5 -- Buffalo Grove at Prospect: MSL East action begins with the top two teams from last year squaring off.

Week 6 -- Rolling Meadows at Hersey: This game has been a shootout the last three years with an average of 73 points scored in each game.

Week 8: Prospect at Hersey -- Prospect ended a 7-game losing streak to the Huskies with a 49-29 win last spring.

MID SUBURBAN WEST

BARRINGTON

2021 spring record: 6-0, MSL West champs, MSL champs

Coach: Joe Sanchez

Worth noting: The Broncos are still riding high after winning the first MSL championship game since 1974 last spring. They are hoping that success can springboard them into this full season of play. The Broncos return 10 players who saw action last season including receivers Ben Cocoma, Connor Lee and Jack Serrano; offensive linemen Peter Hutchison, Will Warman, Adam Krieps; defensive linemen Owen Powell and Luke Rosenzweig; and defensive backs Danny Sheedy and Nick Bordenet. But they will have to replace their two biggest offensive spots. Harley Thompson will be at quarterback while Evan Panesis will be at running back. Both saw very little action last season. That never seemed to faze Barrington, which has always found a way to reload, and the Broncos are looking to qualify for the playoffs for the eighth consecutive time. The Broncos will get acclimated quickly with an opening game against Warren.

CONANT

2021 spring record: 2-4

Coach: Bryan Stortz

Worth noting: The option is still alive and well at Conant. Giuseppe Dugo, who has started for the Cougars for the past two seasons, is back to showcase his skills in managing the option. But graduation took away one of the area's best backs in Malik Frederick, who took his talents to Harvard. Dominick Minninni, who is a junior, will fill that role this season for the Cougars. Conant will have dangerous wingbacks in Ryan Kutella and Cody Biedke. The Cougars will also have some size up front with 6-5, 310-pound Blake Mueller, 6-4, 320-pound Alex Valdez and 6-3, 210-pound Patrick O'Connor blocking. Defensively, the Cougars will be inexperienced with Biedke leading the way at linebacker. Gracie Rodriguez also returns to handle the placekicking duties. Conant opens with three straight road games before returning home to play New Trier.

FREMD

2021 spring record: 4-2

Coach: Lou Sponsel

Worth noting: With one of the toughest schedules in the state, Fremd will need to find out about itself in a hurry. The Vikings face Lake Zurich, Prospect, Maine South and Evanston before heading into the competitive MSL West. The Vikings have some great skill players back in wide receiver Archie Cox, RB Taytum Carmichael and tight end Bo O'Brien. Caidan Suchy will take over as quarterback. The offensive line will not be as big as it has in the past but could be more athletic. The Vikings will need to fill some holes on defense, where they lost 9 starters. Michael Keuhn, Donnie Carl, Casey Bending, Alex Skaria and Nate Tofilon also return to give the Vikings some experience on both sides of the ball. For the first time in seven seasons, there will not be a Walsh or a Haas on the Fremd varsity football field.

HOFFMAN ESTATES

2021 spring record: 3-3

Coach: Tim Heyse

Worth noting: There must be something in the water in Hoffman Estates. Traditionally one of the smallest teams, the Hawks now boast an offensive line with an average size of 6-foot-3, 286 pounds and is anchored by two-year starter Laduan Jones (6-4, 395). The Hawks can fly with three-year starter and Western Michigan recruit Jashawn Johnson the key to the passing game. A pair of juniors, Aidan Cyr and Nate Frank, are battling for the quarterback job while Yoshua Pettis-Taylor and Stephon Sellers will be at running back. The Hawks also have depth with only Johnson and Pettis-Taylor going both ways. Hoffman Estates is on the road for its first three games. The Hawks also have just three teams on their schedule with a smaller enrollment than them.

PALATINE

2021 spring record: 4-2

Coach: Corey Olson

Worth noting: Palatine has a tremendous corps back this season as the Pirates make their push for the gold. Leading the way is Iowa-commit Jake Bostick. The senior wide receiver is tough to defend and will give defenses fits. Also giving defenders fits will be sophomore running back Dominick Ball, who will be a huge up and comer this year. He will have returning offensive linemen Adam Heikinin and Tony Machado to run behind. Grant Dersnah, who got some varsity snaps last spring as a sophomore, will take over full time at quarterback. Palatine will also be tough defensively with linebacker Mitch Larkin and defensive lineman Jhermari Mabry leading the way. Kam Lewis also returns at defensive back. The Pirates open their season with three consecutive road tilts before coming home to face Maine South on September 17.

SCHAUMBURG

2021 spring record: 1-5

Coach: Mark Stilling

Worth noting: After ending the spring season with an impressive win, the Saxons are hoping to use that as a springboard in the fall. Schaumburg has not been to the playoffs since 2017, but there is reason for optimism this season. The Saxons return Takumi Fred at running back this season after a solid spring. Quarterback DJ Wilson picks up the reins this season and he will have a solid corps of wide receivers in Omarion Jones and Fabian Baez along with newcomers Andrew Phan and Daniel Uczarczyk. Defensively, the Saxons are led by defensive ends Hayden Mores and Evan Rees with nose tackle Gabriel Dominguez clogging the middle. John Sanfilippo, Mike Connolly and Zach Heumann all saw action at linebacker in the spring while Kyle Gonzalez and Jacob Acevedo are looking to step up at defensive back. The Saxons play four of their first five games at home.

FIVE PLAYERS TO WATCH:

Dominick Ball, RB, Palatine, soph: The speedster came into his own in the second half of last season

Jake Bostick, WR, Palatine, sr.: Scored 11 touchdowns last season and has committed to Iowa

Archie Cox, WR/DB, Fremd, sr: Had 29 catches for 561 yards last season

Jashawn Johnson, WR, Hoffman Estates, sr: Three-year starter, committed to Western Michigan

Giuseppe Dugo, QB, Conant, sr.: A three-year starter and a magician with the ball in Conant's option offense

FIVE CAN'T MISS GAMES

Week 1 -- Warren at Barrington: Six Flags comes to Barrington and the two Class 8A powers will see who can ride better.

Week 3 -- Fremd at Maine South: The Vikings head to Park Ridge to see if they can ground the Hawks.

Week 7 -- Barrington at Palatine: Barrington has won the last 4 matchups.

Week 8 -- Palatine at Fremd: The annual "Battle of the Tracks" for town bragging rights.

Week 9 -- Hoffman Estates at Palatine: Palatine has shut out Hoffman the last two seasons.

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