Wheaton Warrenville South's defense making major impact
Practice makes perfect, but pressure -- especially on defense -- often makes for winning football.
Just ask first-year Wheaton Warrenville South coach Sean Norris. His senior-laden defensive line has been a breakthrough unit this season and nowhere was that more apparent than in the Tigers' 12-10 victory over St. Charles North last Friday.
Norris challenged his defensive line to put pressure on North Stars freshman quarterback Ethan Plumb, and his players responded, sacking Plumb six times and holding him to just 107 yards on 7-for-17 passing. All told, St. Charles North finished with just 200 total yards.
"That was our goal, to be able to put pressure on him," Norris said of Plumb. "He is a good player with a bright future, but we wanted him to feel that pressure."
Senior defensive tackle Kael Poulsen had two of those sacks, while senior defensive end Charlie Hoover had two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Complementing those efforts were those of two other seniors, defensive tackle Louie Bellocchio and defensive end Jimmy Hohnstein.
"We knew he was a freshman quarterback, and we have a talented D line up front, and our defensive coordinator said our front seven was more talented than their front seven," Poulsen said.
Norris said Hoover, a lacrosse player, shifted from defensive tackle to end this season, and "he's able to get after the quarterback and be really relentless."
Of Poulsen and Bellocchio, Norris said they "are really strong guys, dedicated to the weight room and bring that physicality to the middle. Both of those guys defeat double teams and get penetration in the backfield."
Hohnstein, a captain, also plays guard on the offensive line. It isn't easy, Norris said, "but it's that great high motor" Hohnstein has that's the difference.
The key to their work was the pressure they put on Plumb, but also giving the offense primo field position, which allowed senior kicker Ben Berkley to punch through the 29-yard game winner to help the Tigers improve to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the DuKane Conference.
"Honestly, we had no doubt in our mind the offense could get down the field," Poulsen said. "The defense played our role and made sure the offense had the field position it needed."
Kolke, Contreras key for Hinsdale Central:
Teams all over the county are relying on younger players to contribute immediately and for an example of this, look no further than Hinsdale Central (2-1 overall and 1-0 in the West Suburban Silver).
There, receivers Reece Kolke, a junior, and sophomore Carter Contreras are making an impact, according to coach Brian Griffin.
Kolke played at the sophomore level in the spring, and has made a smooth transition to varsity, according to Griffin. What are the big differences between levels?
"It's mainly the energy and atmosphere the team carries," he said. "In varsity, everyone is down to earth and working hard on everything we do, focusing on the little things."
Kolke said he has prepared himself well by lifting, watching film and being more physical with his blocks.
Contreras, who played on the freshman A team last spring, is the younger brother of former Red Devils' star Braden Contreras, who is now plying his trade at Valparaiso.
"I've learned so much from him, doing routes with him as much as I can," Contreras said. "Obviously, he succeeded a lot on the varsity level, so I've worked to learn everything I can from him."
Robinson strong for Montini:
Montini may be sitting at 1-2, but never underestimate coach Mike Bukovsky's crew. A major reason you shouldn't do that this season is super fast junior running back Josh Robinson, who had 63 yards rushing against a stout Marmion defensive line in a 27-10 loss Friday, along with the Broncos' only touchdown, an 8-yard catch.
Robinson is simply picking up where he left off last spring, Bukovsky said, when he had more than 500 yards rushing. He added that, "We knew he had potential to be a very good back for us. He's worked hard and we're looking for big things rushing for this year."
Robinson will take on even more importance after sophomore back Alex Marre broke his ankle against Marmion late in the game.
"I feel bad for the kid, because he's a hard worker," Robinson said of Marre. "Now I have to produce even more. It's next man up."