Bartlett begins season with heavy hearts

  • Bartlett coach Matt Erelenbaugh's team has began the season trying to cope with the car accident that the life of one of their players, Alex Czerwik.

      Bartlett coach Matt Erelenbaugh's team has began the season trying to cope with the car accident that the life of one of their players, Alex Czerwik. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/31/2021 7:26 PM

Bartlett's Week 1 game in Glen Ellyn against Glenbard South had a major emotional component to it.

The Hawks had teammate Alex Czerwik in their thoughts. Czerwik died in a car accident in early August in Bartlett. The crash also injured three other boys, including Czerwik's brother, Adrian.


"Although it will be an emotional night not having Alex Czerwik on the field with us, the whole team knows he will be there with us in spirit," Hawks coach Matt Erlenbaugh said last week. "We will go out and play with the same passion and intensity that Alex had for football and life."

Bartlett dropped its opener 28-0 to Glenbard South. The Hawks host an improved Streamwood team in a key early-season Upstate Eight Conference game Friday at Millennium.

Erlenbaugh said this year's team has quickly built a brotherhood. "They play for each other," he said. "There is a real sense of family among our guys. There are no 'me' guys out there. It's all about the team."

The numbers game: a

Marmion coach Dan Thorpe said participation numbers are on the increase at the Aurora school.

"It's nice for Marmion Academy to return to varsity numbers in the 40s so more kids play and there are less injuries and kids being tired."

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Numbers, Thorpe said, was a key in the Cadets' Week 1 contest against Bishop McNamara (a 12-7 Marmion nonconference win).

"The key to success is our numbers vs. their numbers," Thorpe said last week. "We hope to have no starter on the line go both ways, which will be huge with this heat. The heat will have a big impact in this game. We have size and speed and need to take advantage of that."

Thorpe is excited about his team's offensive prospects in the passing game with quarterback Danny Chung to Anthony Kuceba, Josh Lim, Jackson Burroughs and Dane Pardridge. The running game has Kuceba, Lim, Jacob Bottarini and Tyler Bradshaw behind a big offensive line of Robert Olsen, Matthew Harris, Jakob Saunders and Jerred Durian.

Corn boil!:

Batavia coach Dennis Piron echoes the sentiments of all area high school athletics coaches when it comes to things returning to as normal as they possibly can be with the pandemic still not completely off the radar.

"Really, being able to house our corn boil (through the Batavia boosters), our mom's clinics, team dinners and so on has been awesome," he said.


Maroons to watch:

Elgin coach Anthony Mason has his eyes on Matt Lawson and Tony Rios this fall.

"Matt is a dynamic sophomore who has impressed many colleges," he said. "I am looking to see what he can produce at the varsity level. Tony is an aggressive center who knows the game and has been a 3-year starter at this position."

Mason tipped his hat to his players for their work during the summer.

"I'm impressed with the commitment to the program," he said. "We have the highest numbers we have ever had in the summer and at this point in the season. We pride ourselves on improving athletes and making them elite in all they do. Players and families love our program because we go above and beyond for their success on and off the field."

Degrees of separation:

Some interesting tidbits on the impromptu Week 1 St. Viator-South Elgin nonconference game brought about by the pandemic. South Elgin walked away a decisive 48-7 winner.

South Elgin coach Dragan Teonic noted it was the first nonconference game an Upstate Eight Conference team has played since 2017. Storm offensive line coach Scott Smith spent 10 years as a teacher and coach at St. Viator, while assistant coach Don Guindon's entire family attended St. Viator.

Viking power:

Two Geneva notables are safety-wideout Mason Pawelko and outside backer Graham Borden.

"We are looking for Mason to make an impact on both sides of the ball with his size and speed," Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen said. "Graham lived in the weight room this summer. He looks like a completely different player this year. His is the leader of the defense and this team."

Football junkie:

Crystal Lake South coach Rob Fontana calls returning all-conference running back Nate Van Witzenberg a "football junkie."

"He can play all over the field on both sides of the football," he said. "Nate has such a high football IQ, he's like having another coach on the field."

Marines practice:

Streamwood coach Keith McMaster was proud of the work his team, which turned in a banner spring season, put in off the field this summer.

"Over the summer, members of our team helped with community events, youth events and even had one practice run by the Marines," he explained. "The team is looking to build on the successes of last season and is striving to make the playoffs this year."

In it for the long haul:

New coach Grant Dietz has big plans for the Larkin program. He made this observation about week one foe Glenbard East.

"(Glenbard East's) experience and expectations of a solid program," he said when asked what impressed him the most about the Royals' Week 1 opponent. "Having returning players and continuity of a staff helps programs be successful. Eventually, we would like to be in the same spot. Our biggest improvement has been in the way we have responded to change. The players have responded to the change with a positive mindset. We are coming together as a program. We still have a long way to go, but we are heading in the right direction."

Larkin dropped a 24-7 Upstate Eight contest to Glenbard East in its opener and heads to Bensenville Friday to play Fenton.

Offensive firepower:

Kaneland sophomore quarterback Troyer Carlson was voted one of the team captains.

"We believe it is the first time we've had a sophomore captain," coach Pat Ryan said.

Carlson started the last five games in the spring as a ninth-grader.

"He has grown a lot, but is still young. He has the ability to make big plays for us, but has to limit mistakes and protect the ball."

Carlson will have support from senior running back Corey Phillips and sophomore wide receiver Aric Johnson.

"Corey has the ability to turn a negative play into a big play," Ryan said. "Aric is dangerous every time the ball is in his hands. He can make big plays on offense and in our return game."

Look at the stats:

It's easy to see why West Aurora was a 26-14 nonconference winner over Plainfield South in Week 1.

West Aurora quarterback Gino Martino was near flawless, completing 20 of 23 passes for 254 yards and a touchdown. Jeremiah Johnson scored 3 touchdowns, 2 rushing and caught Martino's lone scoring strike. He finished with 19 carries for 94 yards.

West Aurora held a 382-136 total yardage advantage, a 56-37 nod in plays run and controlled the clock 29:56 to 17:48.

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