October 20, 2021

Steve Soucie: 1 thing that stood out from all 24 teams at the Red Grange Classic

Efforts abundant by Classic teams

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Organized chaos is something that might safely be demonstrated by the actions at the Red Grange Classic.

With 16 teams playing on eight fields at all times during the event, teams were all trying to get a handle on not only their opposition but themselves.

Here's a quick look at the efforts of each of the 24 teams Friday:

Aurora Christian (1-2-1 in pool play): By far the smallest school in the field, the Eagles showed no signs of being overwhelmed. The set of offensive skills displayed by Aurora Christian look like they would be an absolute load for opponents to have to deal with in the Class 1A field.

Batavia (1-3): There are many reasons why this program has only dropped nine regular season over the last eight seasons. Some of them are how well-prepared they are and how infrequently they make mistakes. Those things were on display on Friday as well.

De La Salle (0-4): The Meteors are hoping the new Catholic League/East Suburban Catholic Conference alignment will help them become a regular playoff participant in the very near future. The Meteors look like they may have the offensive tools to get that done.

DeKalb (2-1-1): The Barbs were certainly one of the more outwardly energetic teams at the Grange and it was reflected in the team's play. New head coach Keith Snyder will hopefully be able to maintain that heading into a regular season schedule that on paper looks certainly very difficult.

Glenbard North (4-0): A tremendous step in the right direction for the Panthers who endured a brutal regular season last year (0-9). The schedule doesn't get any easier this year, but things like these should get them in a more positive frame of mind moving forward.

Huntley (2-1): It's somewhat difficult to forecast what might happen at the top of the Fox Valley this season, but after witnessing the efforts of the steady Red Raiders it is very hard to forecast a scenario where they won't be heavily in the mix.

Kankakee (1-3): The Kays had a few moments, but it is was also easy to see that the program still has some strides to make. On the positive side, there's some very young talent on first-year coach Derek Hart's roster than can be cultivated and nurtured.

Lincoln-Way East (1-3): The Griffins are still trying to figure out some things as far as where their personnel might be best served. A lot of players are getting repetitions which is exactly the scenario Rob Zvonar wants for his roster right now.

Maine South (4-0): Wait. The Hawks were just one of four teams to emerge from the day without a loss, and the only one to score over 100 points in their pool play games? Color me shocked. Expect more precision and complete competence once we get into the regular season.

Montini (2-2): The morning session wasn't very kind to the Broncos as they suffered back-to-back losses, but the Broncos were sharper after the weather stoppage and it is still a team that very much has to find its footing. If history is any indication, they will.

Naperville Central (2-2): If Friday was any indication of what we might see once the regular season rolls around, sign me up. The offense has the capabilities to be one of the state's more entertaining units led by electric junior quarterback Sam Jackson.

Naperville North (1-2-1): It felt like the Huskies were involved in a number of back-and-forth high scoring contests all day. It is also probably a good primer of what they might expect in the regular season in a deep DuPage Valley Conference this season.

Neuqua Valley (3-0-1): The Wildcats were only a tie with DeKalb away from running clean through pool play unscathed. It's a great sign moving forward to set them on the right foot in what looks like a robust schedule that includes nonconference games with Stevenson and East St. Louis.

Oswego East (2-2): A solid workman like effort from the Wolves, who will need to keep that exact same mentality heading into the regular season as they were placed in a potentially absolutely brutal division of the Southwest Prairie.

Rochester (2-2): One has come to expect a high octane offensive performance from the Rockets and they didn't disappoint on this day. The routine of Rochester terrorizing the Central State Eight and the Class 4A playoff field will likely continue.

St. Charles East (2-2): The Saints seemed to have a little more edge on offense and that should serve them well if it continues into the regular season. The DuKane Conference looks deep and the Saints would like nothing more than to do a little more pushing around than they did last year.

St. Charles North (0-4): The winless mark might give you pause for the Stars, but head coach Robert Pomazak is openly tinkering with the engine of his car right now. Using the approach that tinkering is what the summer season is for could pay dividends in the long run.

Simeon (1-1): The weather delay led to the Wolverines making an early departure on the day, but even in limited exposure you could see that Simeon will certainly remain a team to keep an eye on in the Chicago Public League ranks.

Thornton (4-0): The Wildcats free-wheeling offensive style fit perfectly into this format, but it isn't hard to imagine a scenario where the skill sets shown here could be translated into a dangerous 11-man crew when all facets are on the field.

West Aurora (2-2): The Blackhawks run more often than they throw, but this set-up gives them a chance to expand and diversify the playbook a little bit. They certainly didn't show weakness though and that balance could help them in their new conference, the Southwest Prairie.

Wheaton North (1-2): The Falcons truly broke even on the day, scoring 63 points while allowing 63 points. It looks like there could be more in the offensive tank though behind quarterback Mark Forcucci.

Wheaton Warrenville South (2-2): The Tigers made a rather dramatic step forward last season after a few years of non-playoff berth seasons. Friday's effort showed a precise team that isn't likely to let the program slip out of playoff contention again.

Willowbrook (3-1): The Warriors looked a little outmatched in one of their early games against Thornton, but proceeded to demonstrate over the course of the rest of the day that they won't go quietly into the good night.

York (1-3): The Dukes were below .500 on the day, but were in every single game they played. They appear to have the potential to be able to be a factor in the West Suburban Silver, particularly if they can get solid line play to complement what appears to be a willing offensive unit.

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie

Steve Soucie has been the Sports Editor at the Joliet Herald News since August of 2018. Prior to that, Soucie worked at the Kankakee Daily Journal and for Pro Football Weekly.