Week 5 Herald-News Football Notebook: Joliet West players stepping in, a first win, no stopping A.J. Zweeres

Plus more from the L-W East, Bolingbrook, Seneca, L-W West sidelines

Joliet West players enter the field for their game against crosstown rival Joliet Central on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023 in Joliet.

More from the Week 5 sideline in the Herald-News coverage area, including notes on Joliet West, Morris, Lincoln-Way West, Seneca, Plainfield East, Bolingbrook and Lincoln-Way East.

Down key players, but not short-handed: Joliet West on Friday was without breakout quarterback Juan Rico and top linebacker/reigning Friday Night Drive Team of the Week MVP Micah McNair, both with leg injuries. Still, the Tigers pulled away for a 69-12 crosstown victory over Joliet Central.

QBs Adrian Ramirez and Alexander Cruz shared time behind center, combining for 218 yards passing and five touchdowns. They were just two of a number of players stepping up for Joliet West (4-1).

“Juan Rico went out last week in our second series,” Joliet West coach Dan Tito said. “We responded then and did so again this week. We also held out Micah McNair with a leg issue. We hope to have them both back for the next game, and we’ve had some others out with injuries, too.

“We want to get healthy, and in the meantime we will watch the film of [the Joliet Central game] to see who will be the starting quarterback going forward for next week if Juan isn’t back.”

Wide receiver Gavin Garcia – who scored three TDs in the win – has no doubt the Tigers can remain on the prowl during the home stretch.

“It’s just our connection,” Garcia said. “Coach Tito and a lot of our other coaches have moved up with us since we had them as freshmen. We can definitely win out and go into the postseason strong with this team this year.”

Coming home: Friday night was homecoming at Lincoln-Way West, and the Warriors (4-1) treated the crowd that overflowed the home bleachers to a thrilling 38-28 win over Bolingbrook.

Perhaps the Warriors were inspired by one of their most famous alumni. Before the game, it was announced that B.J. Bello, a 2012 West graduate who also played football for University of Illinois and Illinois State and in the NFL for the Browns, Eagles, Jets, Chargers and Titans was in attendance.

History lesson: Preparing his team to defend Andrew’s triple-option offense Friday night brought back some old memories for Lincoln-Way East coach Rob Zvonar.

In fact, it brought him all the way back to his days as an assistant on Rob Glielmi’s staff when there was only one Lincoln-Way.

“Their offense is an equalizer,” Zvonar said. “You don’t see it every night. You have four days to get ready for it. I think we did pretty good with it overall. You have to play assignment football, and you have to be really disciplined. There are going to be times where you’re one-on-one and have to make a play. I think we did a good job with that.

“We were laughing about how we learned how to defend this offense, and we’re all getting old, because I learned a bit about it under Rob Glielmi when we used to play Thornton in the ’90s with Antwaan Randle El.”

The Griffins were ready for it, holding Andrew to 180 total yards in a 49-7 win.

Jackson’s first win: Harvey Jackson Jr. picked up his first win as Plainfield East’s coach with a 21-13 victory over crosstown rival Plainfield Central.

Jackson served as an interim head coach at Bolingbrook last fall while John ivlow dealt with health issues. He was hired to be the Bengals’ new coach in April.

Jackson was the offensive coordinator for Bolingbrook’s high-octane attack last season and is hoping to bring that to Plainfield. Friday’s 21 points were a season high.

Big numbers: All season, the Bolingbrook offense has been putting up big numbers, and Friday night was no exception in a 38-28 loss to Lincoln-Way West.

Sophomore quarterback Jonas Williams was 20 of 28 for 336 yards and four touchdowns, while senior receiver Kyan Berry-Johnson caught 14 passes for 241 yards and two TDs. Junior receiver Chio Thomas had three catches for 93 yards and two scores.

Another forfeit for Seneca: Walther Christian has informed Seneca it intends to forfeit Friday’s Chicagoland Prairie League game against the Fighting Irish. Seneca head coach Terry Maxwell confirmed the forfeit to Friday Night Drive on Monday and stated his team is looking for a replacement.

It’s been an inauspicious inaugural season for the Chicagoland Prairie. This is the third conference game forfeited so far for the fledgling eight-school conference, two by Walther Christian and one by Westmont.

Walther Christian has been outscored a combined 213-2 this season.

Zweeres doing it all: One thing that the undefeated Morris team has tried to do all season is get the ball in the hands of senior receiver A.J. Zweeres.

Good plan.

In Friday’s 40-0 win over La Salle-Peru he caught four passes for 145 yards and two touchdowns and carried the ball three times for 41 yards and another score.

For the season, he has 23 catches for 481 yards and eight touchdowns and has carried the ball nine times for 70 yards and three scores. On defense, he has 14 tackles, four interceptions and a forced fumble.

He also has returned six kickoffs for 153 yards and five punts for 58 yards, including a touchdown.

Bolingbrook’s Jonas Williams finds Chico Thomas for a 73-yard touchdown pass against Lincoln-Way West on Friday, Sept. 22, 2023, in New Lenox.