DuPage Valley Conference
DeKalb at Naperville North
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Last matchup: DeKalb cruised to a 49-14 win over the Huskies in 2019.
About the Barbs: The Barbs (1-0) scored on every possession in Week 2, except for their last possession in which time ran out. They scored three touchdowns in the final five minutes of the second quarter and two TDs in the final 92 seconds of the game.
DeKalb coach Keith Snyder said that quarterback Trenton Kyler and running backs Tucker Ikens, Toriano Tate and freshman Xavier Dandridge had good games because of what the offensive line was able to do.
“That was really impressive for a first game,” Snyder said. “They put out great holes there for Tucker and Toriano and Trenton. Even Xavier getting to run the ball. It started with the O-line. They set the tempo and game plan going forward for us.”
Cole Giradot had a lot to do with that on the left side for the Barbs.
With the Huskies likely to air it out, Snyder said “assignment, alignment and communication” will be key, as well as not trying to do too much.
“When you try to do someone else’s jobs, that’s when big plays happen,” Snyder said. “Plus we have to rally to the football. They threw even more than Metea Valley did Saturday, so we’re going to have to be ready for the air assault.”
About the Huskies: Naperville North (0-1) was behind 16-0 to Neuqua Valley but fought back in a 29-22 loss in the opener.
Snyder said it was another air attack offense, with brothers Stephan and Luke Williams targeted a total of 27 times – 17 to freshman Luke Williams.
“Their offense, with how vertical they were, reminded me of the Kaneland offense I grew up on and coached in for a long time,” Snyder said. “It’s verts and smashes, and those kinds of things, where they try to stretch you vertically with the talent they have on the outside.”
Snyder said like with the other DVC foes, the Huskies are a well-coached 8A school.
“They look much-improved on both sides of the line than they did a year ago. They have a nice little defense inside the box and their O-line has some big kids doing big things.”
Friday Night Drive Pick: DeKalb
Ottawa at Sycamore
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last matchup: The Spartans won 44-0 in 2019.
About the Spartans: Sycamore (1-0) left Engh Community Field with a Week 1, 12-6 overtime win against Kaneland.
The Knights missed a field goal as time expired, then Xavier Gagnepain came up with an interception and Nathaniel Atlepeter scored a touchdown as the Spartans won their opener.
“We feel good about 1-0, but we have a lot of correctable errors to get better in Week 2,” Sycamore coach Joe Ryan said.
Not only did Ryan say the team needs to focus on its assignments with a more consistent technique, but the team has to work on ball security. Sycamore fumbled four times, losing two of them.
“I think what we’ve done a really good job with over the years, and the kids have really bought into it, is we prepare like we prepare,” Ryan said. “It doesn’t change from one opponent to the next. We know we have to change our game plan based on who we’re playing, but our preparation is what’s important. It’s not who you’re playing, it’s how you prepare to play those games.”
About the Pirates: Ottawa (0-1) lost to host Plano, 20-7, in its season opener, avoiding a shutout with quarterback Braiden Miller hitting Jacob Serby for a 13-yard score with 27.9 seconds left. Miller had a solid effort in his first varsity start, completing 11 of 14 passes for 130 yards, with Briar Naggs registering five catches for 89 yards, and Serby and Ryan DeMoss each with three catches for 21 yards. If the Pirates hope to hang with the Spartans they will have to improve the running game that produced only 22 yards on 33 carries and then carry over a defensive effort that allowed the Reapers only 188 yards of total offense on 4.8 yards a play in Week 1.
Friday Night Drive Pick: Sycamore
Sandwich at Kaneland
When: 1 p.m. Saturday
Last matchup: Kaneland cruised to a 42-14 win in 2019.
About the Indians: The Indians (0-1) did a lot of things well in their 26-22, curtain-raising loss to Aurora Central Catholic. That includes having two 100-yard rushers (Seven Tornga with 139 yards and two TDs and James Coleman with 103 yards) and sprinkling in 53 yards passing from QB Drew Theurer, with Jacob Heilemeier hauling in 48 of those. The three turnovers, however – two interceptions and a lost fumble – offset that success and led to the loss. Ball and clock control will be key Saturday for the Indians to get to .500.
About the Knights: Coach Pat Ryan said the Knights (0-1) are going to change some things up after a 12-6 overtime loss to Sycamore.
Freshman Troyer Carlson will take over at quarterback.
“We think we’ll be able to throw the ball a little better, have a more vertical passing game with him,” Ryan said. “We need to be more versatile on offensive and Troyer gives us that.”
Ryan added that Sam Pryor will move back to guard, and three or four linemen are in the mix to start at center.
Kaneland had a chance to beat Sycamore but missed a field goal late and threw an interception in overtime.
Ryan said he was impressed with the defense, especially the line with Pryor, John Davis and Justin Jamrowski. Erik Teran had 22 tackles from his linebacker spot.
Friday Night Drive Pick: Kaneland
Big Northern Conference
Genoa-Kingston at Rock Falls
When: 2 p.m. Saturday
Last matchup: The Cogs opened the season with a 40-0 home win against the Rockets.
About the Cogs: The BNC took Week 1 off, electing to play a five-game slate, and the Cogs will open the season against the Rockets.
“I think we’re just excited,” G-K coach Chad Wilmarth said. “It’s an interesting year. We’re just happy to get the game we have. The kids are excited, especially the seniors.”
The Cogs were co-champs of the conference in 2019, sharing the title with Byron and Stillman Valley. Their run-heavy attack will feature Rhett Kline and Owen Simmons.
At quarterback, sophomore Nolan Perry will start, Wilmarth said. Connor Schwichtenberg will focus on linebacker after also playing QB last year. Schwichtenberg was all-conference as a linebacker last season.
“Connor is a returning all-conference player, and he will have an impact on both sides of the ball,” Wilmarth said, adding that he may switch his lineup around in Week 2.
About the Rockets: Rock Falls went 1-8 last year, picking up an upset win against Dixon but dropping its other eight games. The team last had a playoff berth in 1992 and last had a winning season in 2009. ..... Rock Falls will continue to stress the run in its second season under Kevin Parker, but will use a running back-by-committee approach. In 2019, much of the run game was focused around Noah Schueler, who was more of a power back. With his graduation, they go to the shifty speed of Booker Cross, as well as Dillon Schueler and Ryan McCord. Cross carried 54 times for 253 yards in 2019. All three will be back in the fall, as Cross and Schueler are juniors and McCord is a sophomore.
In some ways, the long offseason was something of a respite for the Rockets. In 2019, Parker was hired as head coach only weeks before practices began in August, not allowing for much time for the players to get used to things.
“It’s a lot different from last year’s Week 1, getting a new coach a month before the season started,” Cross said. “I think all the extra time we had this offseason we were able to hone our abilities, practice more, lift more, so we’re all bigger, stronger and faster.”
On defense, the Rockets still are looking for an identity, although Parker is hopeful his linebacking corps will be able to make a lot of plays and the linemen will be able to hold gaps. Parker is seeing a defense which is a step or two ahead of where it was last season.
Friday Night Drive Pick: Genoa-Kingston
South Beloit at Hiawatha
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Last matchup: Hiawatha won an 11-man contest between the schools in 2019, 48-14.
About the Sobos: South Beloit (0-1) is coming off a 52-26 loss to Polo. The Sobos were within a score at halftime but Polo pulled away in the second half.
Quarterback Chris Hummer was sacked four times in the loss. Miles Beckham had 166 yards receiving, including a 62-yard touchdown catch. Fernando Balderas had three touchdowns on the ground.
About the Hawks: Coach Jason Keneway said this is a much-improved Sobos team that the Hawks (0-1) beat the last four years in the Northeast Athletic Conference by a combined 195-36.
“They’re a lot different than they’ve been in the past,” Keneway said. “They have some young guys that are getting holder and have some big guys, especially on the offensive line. It’s interesting because we’ve turnover over quite a few guys and they’re bringing guys up. They looked good on film against Polo, played a heck of a game in the first half.”
Keneway said he’s learned the lessons from the team’s 18-6 loss to River Ridge. He said there was a lot to learn schematically. For instance, on the less wide fields, a safety is more able to cover defenders hashmark to hashmark, so one safety can be on two different receivers.
Things like that, Keneway said, are the biggest adjustment for the team in its first year in eight-man.
“The biggest thing to me is how narrow the field is,” Keneway said. “Obviously we have a practice film the same size, but things against the scout team don’t always translate into the game. You think you’re the greatest offensive coordinator in the world, then you get to a game and find out like it doesn’t work like it does in practice.”
Friday Night Drive Pick: Hiawatha