St. Edward's Rolando prepares for home finale
One of the Fox Valley area's gridiron good guys is calling it a day.
St. Edward coach Mike Rolando revealed this will be his final season at the helm of the Elgin-based Catholic high school.
Rolando is in the midst of his 18th season as St. Edward head coach and has a career 76-89 mark that includes 7 state playoff appearances.
Rolando's St. Edward football tenure trails only that of Greg True (21 years), for whom the Green Wave's on-campus home field is named after.
According to IHSA records, Rolando is St. Edward's all-time winningest coach. Seven of St. Edward's nine all-time playoff appearances have come under Rolando.
"It's been a great, long run," Rolando said. "I'm just ready to move on and spend time with my wife and see the kids in college. Football has been our life. It's just time."
Shane Finnane, a former player under Rolando and currently a member of the Green Wave coaching staff, will be the team's next head coach, Rolando said.
"We have some good, young guys, prior players, to take over," Rolando added.
Rolando's 2010 team went 8-3 and won the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division title. The Green Wave lost in the second round of the state playoffs that year to Mendota.
His 2014 team went a school-record 10-1, won the Metro Suburban East title and lost to Coal City in the second round of the playoffs.
St. Edward's 2019 team won the Metro Suburban Red title and lost a close 35-34 game to Guerin Prep in the second round of the postseason.
St. Edward is 1-5 overall heading into Friday's home finale at Greg True against Wheaton Academy (5-1) in Metro Suburban crossover action.
The Larkin football team finds itself right in the thick of the playoff chase, needing a pair of wins in its final three regular season games to become eligible to earn a 10th game for a second year in a row.
The Royals evened themselves at 3-3 with a win last week against East Aurora.
"We have to do a better job on the little things of the game and keep the intensity up for 4 quarters," Larkin coach Grant Dietz said. "We have to do a better job blocking and tackling."
Dietz said the stat sheet told a story a tad different in the East Aurora contest. "We were behind in every statistical category except the scoreboard," he said.
Diyoness King came through big for the Royals on special teams in the win. "Diyoness is our utility man," Dietz said. "Against East Aurora, he was our holder for extra point and field goal teams for the first time."
Michael Bresnen also was cited for strong play. "Michael is becoming a leader on defense," Dietz pointed out.
Another 3-3 team resides on the east side of town in Elgin High School, which like Larkin, can become playoff eligible with two more wins. The two teams meet next week with the loser likely having the playoff door shut in its face.
The Maroons have already matched their win total from a year ago.
"We can compete with anyone," Elgin coach Anthony Mason said. "We just have to take advantage of our opportunities when given, work hard and execute, and that will allow us to play good football."
One stat of note after six weeks, Elgin has outscored its opponents 91-74 in the second half this season.
The Sabres dropped to 1-5 with last week's loss to West Chicago.
"Blown assignments cost us big-time in the last game," Streamwood coach Keith McMaster said. "This was the most passing yards given up all season."
McMaster said the Sabres must work hard to cut down on turnovers on offense, and increase the number created on defense.
"We're minus-14 in the turnover battle," he said. "You can't win ballgames without controlling the football or taking it from your opponent."
Positives for Streamwood include sophomore Juan Cortes going for 80 yards rushing on 18 carries against West Chicago.
"On the good side of things Juan had the best day of his career," McMaster said. "This is a young team and some of our sophomores are contributing at a high level, especially defensively.
Jaiden Rumble and Cortes, McMaster noted, have been used on both sides of the ball. McMaster also is high on the efforts of Alex Flores.
South Elgin update:
Coach Dragan Teonic learned a big lesson coming out of the team's Week 6 win against previously unscathed Glenbard South that pushed it to 6-0 and put a guaranteed playoff ticket in its back pocket. South Elgin also commandeered sole possession of first place in the Upstate Eight with three to play.
"We are more physical and gritty than even I imagined," he said. "We are capable of playing different styles of football given the circumstances."
South Elgin rolled up 570 yards of offense, including a massive 446 on the ground. Nathan Downey, making his first start at quarterback, threw of 124 yards and a pair of scores.
"Nathan played a great game," Teonic said.
South Elgin also recovered 3 onside kicks in a row to start the second half, allowing the game to go from a 21-21 deadlock to a 42-21 Storm advantage before Glenbard South got the ball back.
Teonic noted South Elgin also is plus-9 in turnover ratio, owners of a 215-point differential and holds a 1,731-402 rushing yard advantage -- all ingredients that have led to a 6-0 start and a potential UEC title simmering to a boil on the stove.
West Aurora update:
West Aurora coach Nate Eimer, whose team looks to snap a 4-game losing streak Friday against 2-4 Oswego, liked the way sophomore Azruriah Sylvester played in the Week 7 loss to Yorkville (10-0).
"Azruriah was our leading tackler (team-high 10 tackles)," Eimer pointed out. "He was also picked on at cornerback and held his own."
Samuel Stone added 8 tackles in the Yorkville game, while Mason Rogers registered a sack.
Offensively, quarterback Gino Martino passed for 170 yards and has now thrown for 1,115 yards through 6 weeks with 8 touchdown passes.
Aurora Christian update:
The Eagles sit at 3-3 heading into a two-game stretch against Elmwood Park and St. Edward. A pair of wins would make Aurora Christian playoff-eligible. This is the first time Aurora Christian has traveled to Elmwood Park.
Aurora Christian coach David Beebe took a big positive away from the team's 42-12 loss to unbeaten St. Francis last week.
"We were ready to play, but could not sustain what was needed into the second half," Beebe said. "I feel like we grew through it though, which is critical this time of year."
Tommy Diamond continues to ascend as a centerpiece in the Geneva defense -- and it only takes a handful of plays to see why.
Whether Diamond flashes for two sacks in the Vikings' 42-0 win over St. Charles East last week or sports 33 total tackles, a team-high through six weeks, the junior linebacker is seemingly anywhere he needs to be.
"Tommy is a great player and he's only getting better," Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen said. "He's only had about [six] games on varsity, but he's just getting better and better."
"Tommy plays with great energy [and] great enthusiasm," Thorgesen continued. "Flies around and when you can do that [as] a defensive player, it's contagious, you know? That's what I think is one of the greatest compliments about Tommy: It's contagious."
That energy and enthusiasm then spreads across the football team.
"Defensive players on our team see it; everyone sees it and they want to play [that way] because it's fun," Thorgesen said. "He's a good football player for us."
Diamond averages 5 1/2 tackles per game, has 16 quarterback hurries, and two interceptions on the season.
"For me, a big [part of my impact] is just effort," Diamond said. "I try my hardest every play. I go all out knowing I can rest later, but I don't want to leave [any] regrets on the field. I go as hard as I can."
St. Charles East update:
Saints senior running back Trent Matejko is a major piece for the offense. After missing the previous two weeks with a torn PCL in his left knee, Matejko returned to the starting lineup in the Saints' loss to the Vikings.
Matejko ran for 39 rushing yards for the night, but also had a 52-yard touchdown run called back on a holding penalty.
"It was great to have him back and the guys up front for him, too," Saints coach Nolan Possley said. "The effort is there."
Week 7 in the DuKane Conference is unofficially rivalry week.
Perhaps one should be most circled of interest: Geneva (5-1, 3-1) will face Batavia (4-2, 3-1) for their 104th meeting in program history at 7 p.m. Friday in Batavia.
The Vikings have not defeated the Bulldogs since Dennis Piron became Batavia head coach, dating back to 2011. In the last five meetings, the Bulldogs have shut the Vikings out and outscored them a convincing 209-0.
Could this year be the year to turn the tide?
"I feel like we've got a good shot," Diamond said. "We got a lot of momentum riding with us right now. [The loss to St. Charles North] was tough, but we came out focused in practice this week and we're going to carry it on next week. We're going to be very locked in the whole week."
St. Charles North (5-1, 4-0) hosts St. Charles East (2-4, 0-4) at 7 p.m. With a victory, the North Stars will clinch a postseason berth for the first time since the 2018, when St. Charles North made it all the way to the Class 7A state final.
The North Stars have beat the Saints in consecutive seasons, but fell short 31-21 in 2019.
•On Oct. 7, the St. Francis and St. Charles football programs will host a pair of respective initiatives for their contests.
The Spartans, along with the cheerleading squad and band, will host a 'Pink Out' to support breast cancer research.
Also that evening, the annual Kick-a-Thon, which has raised over $1 million since its inception, will commence during halftime of the St. Charles East and North football game.
This year, the funds raised for Kick-a-Thon will benefit three programs: The Colette A. Miles Foundation, the Hardy Strong Foundation and Fox Valley Food for Health.
The Colette A. Miles Foundation strives to "provide comfort and support services to families affected by cancer." Support can include anything from financial support for medical bills, child care during treatment and more.
The 'Hardy Strong' Foundation was founded in honor of former St. Charles East star basketball player, Justin, who died following his battle with Stage IV stomach cancer. The foundation supports a scholarship fund to a future senior athlete demonstrating qualities Hardy demonstrated on the court.
Fox Valley Food for Health promotes nutrition-focused education for the community and also helps provide meals to families experiencing a serious health challenge.
T-shirts for the crosstown event are $10 and can be bought during respective school lunch periods with cash or a check. To donate to Kick-a-Thon, click on the link here and use the QR code.
-- Jake Bartelson contributed to this report