Naperville Central's Randle ready to make a big impact

  • Naperville Central's Niko Gordon runs with the ball during football game between Hinsdale Central vs Naperville Central.  August 27, 2021.

    Naperville Central's Niko Gordon runs with the ball during football game between Hinsdale Central vs Naperville Central. August 27, 2021. Gary E Duncan Sr./Shaw Media

By Gregg Voss
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/31/2021 7:47 PM

Naperville Central senior outside linebacker Ty Randle is one of a host of names you'd better get to know this season because he's already making an impact.

He was a defensive stalwart in the Redhawks' 14-2 season-opening win against tough Hinsdale Central last Friday, recording two sacks and forcing a fumble. He made a winner out of first-year coach Mike Ulreich, longtime defensive coordinator under his predecessor, Mike Stine.


"He had one sack on the back side and (the quarterback) didn't see Ty coming," Ulreich said. "You kind of saw it coming from our sideline. He had a great opening game for his senior year."

Randle stands at 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, and according to Ulreich, "has grown-man strength. When he gets his hands on you, good luck."

So what's it like sacking a quarterback, Ty?

"On offense, it's like scoring a touchdown," Randle said, adding that a hyper-focus on strength and conditioning helped the Redhawks beat not only the Red Devils but Friday's heat and humidity.

"As a team we all lifted in the morning before school, and during the summer, we lifted," he said. "It worked, as our whole team got stronger. I think that's what really helped us with our game."

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As for Ulreich, a defensive whiz, he found himself in the weird position of calling the offense. But no matter. It was a victory in his first outing as a head coach, something he'll remember for the rest of his life.

"During the national anthem, I had a quick moment of reflection and was just thankful for that opportunity and just enjoy it for a moment," he said. "It's a special opportunity lead the program."

A name to learn:

Across town at Naperville North, the name you better become familiar with is also a senior outside linebacker, Eric Allen. He was a backup during the spring season but has elevated his play into a starting position for the Huskies.

He made his presence known in a 35-13 victory over Benet on Friday in a game played at Benedictine University.

According to Naperville North coach Sean Drendel, at 5-8, 180 pounds, Allen isn't "your prototypical huge linebacker who eats nails. He packs a big punch, plays the game hard and he's exactly what you want."


Admittedly, Allen was a bit nervous in his first play as a starter.

"But after the ball was snapped, all that went away," he said. "Last year I was a backup, watching the guys in front of me, and I think they really helped me be ready for this year."

York offense moving fast:

If you want new names, there are plenty of them over in Elmhurst, where York coach Mike Fitzgerald is enjoying his team's new-look offense. It played well in Friday's 37-7 road victory over Schaumburg.

How do you describe that new offense in one word?

"Up-tempo," said senior quarterback Colin Doherty, who completed 8 of 12 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 45 yards on 5 carries and a score. "We're trying to go fast. We've got a lot of guys we can rotate in and out."

Senior running back Mark Schneider, who missed the spring season due to a fracture in his lower back, took a different point of view.

"Depth," he said. "We have a lot of depth and we're disciplined. We're speedy, and we have a lot of guys that can be scary with space."

And how. Junior receiver Charlie Specht had 5 catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Kelly Watson, who can also play some receiver, had 11 carries for 37 yards and a score. Matt Vezza, a junior quarterback, glowed in the few series he played, going 3-for-5 for 73 yards.

Numbers game:

Ever wonder how high school football players get their numbers? Glenbard West senior defensive end Philip Dozier provides unique insight.

At his school returning starters and varsity seniors get first pick of numbers. Since Dozier was a part-time returning starter, he chose No. 90 after wearing No. 99 last year. He chose that in honor of his older brother, Aaron Braz-Dozier, who wore the number as long snapper for the Hitters' team that won state in 2012.

"He wore it his senior year, and growing up, he would be the rock for me," said Dozier, who was a key cog in Glenbard West's 50-26 victory Saturday over Grandville (Mich.). "I wanted to play football at one point and he pushed me and pushed me."

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