Analysis | Friday Night Drive

2022 Suburban Life preview capsules for Week 2

Nonconference games

Lemont (1-0) at Nazareth (1-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 15, Nazareth 10 (2021)

About Lemont: Lemont leaned on its experience to get through a rigorous opening test against Libertyville, a good sign as it heads into what is likely its most challenging regular-season game. It was a wild contest that Lemont captured over Nazareth in the waning seconds last season, but they are hoping it doesn’t come to that this time around. Lemont’s offensive attack might not be able to exert its will freely against a Nazareth defense that shut out a talented Kankakee team in Week 1.

About the Roadrunners: Nazareth was on the winning end of what is an almost lock as the oddest final score of the season last Friday – a 2-0 win over Kankakee in a score befitting a soccer match. Regardless, the Roadrunners will gladly take the win over then No. 1-ranked Kankakee and it moves Nazareth from No. 2 to No. 1 in the latest AP Class 5A poll. It also might announce the Roadrunners’ return as a state title contender, if they ever did leave that spot. Gabe Kaminski, Tommy Taylor, Finn O’Meara and Braden Ferguson combined for four sacks, and James Penley had an interception for Nazareth against Kankakee. It doesn’t get any easier this week with Lemont, who last year beat Nazareth on a Hail Mary pass. Something to keep an eye on for Nazareth is the availability of Wisconsin recruit Justin Taylor, who left last week’s game early in the second half with what was termed as a “minor Achilles injury.”

Friday Night Drive Pick: Nazareth

IC Catholic (1-0) at Joliet Catholic (1-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: IC Catholic 22, Joliet Catholic 12 (2019)

About the Knights: IC Catholic opened in strong fashion, utilizing the electric QB/WR tandem of Dennis Mandala/KJ Parker to separate itself from Montini. They likely will try to do the same in Week 2, as Parker is a playmaker the Knights must utilize to try to keep the Joliet Catholic defensive front on its toes. This has evolved into a good rivalry between two schools that struggle to find willing nonconference opponents. In fact, IC’s win in 2019 is the last regular-season loss Joliet Catholic has taken to a non-CCL/ESCC team.

About the Hilltoppers: Joliet Catholic had a lot of personnel questions to answer in replacing key components to a team that rambled to the Class 4A state championship, and many were answered as they rolled to a win over Waterford. RBs HJ Grigsby and Aaron Harvey both eclipsed the 100-yard barrier, and the offense stacked up more than 500 yards. It seems unlikely things will be this smooth over a loaded scheduled, but there were multiple positive signs for JCA.

FND Pick: Joliet Catholic

-- Steve Soucie

Sterling (1-0) at St. Francis (1-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

About the Golden Warriors: Sterling, out of the Western Big 6 Conference, hosted Lakes in Week 1 and scored a 40-7 victory. Senior quarterbacks Kael Ryan and JP Schilling each scored two TDs. Running back Antonio Tablante is a player to watch. “Sterling is a very well-coached team that is very physical,” St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said. “We will need to match their physicality and play mistake-free football. We will have to spread the ball around and hopefully confuse Sterlings defense.”

About the Spartans: Some individual superlatives coming out of the Week 1 win at Lake Forest. Dash Dorsey had three catches for 75 yards and a touchdown, while Cole Pickler was active on defense with 9 tackles and 1 sack. Quarterback Alessio Milivojevic was 7 of 12 for 154 yards and a touchdown.

FND Pick: St. Francis

-- Mike Miazga, Daily Herald Media Group

Downers Grove North (1-0) at Willowbrook (0-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Downers Grove North 27, Willowbrook 14 (2021)

About the Trojans: It took an extra day, but Downers Grove North came away with an impressive 36-13 win at 2021 playoff team Hoffman Estates in a game that was postponed to Saturday because of a power outage. The Trojans’ win was just one result that stood out from an all-around impressive opening weekend for the West Suburban Silver. Noah Battle, one of the Trojans’ wealth of experienced skill-position players, got out well with 146 yards on just 16 carries with three TDs. Ben Bielawski was the ringleader of a strong defensive showing with four sacks and two other tackles for loss. A result like that can only give the Trojans confidence as they go back on the road to face a Willowbrook team licking its wounds from Week 1.

About the Warriors: A bit of a jarring result from Week 1 – not so much that Willowbrook lost, but the margin of defeat in a 28-0 loss to Notre Dame which was coming off a losing season. The Warriors, though, have tested themselves in the past with difficult Week 1 games against Chicago Catholic League teams and seemed to have bounced back well so the track record for resilience is there. Clearly getting the offense off the ground will be of high priority for the Warriors. This shapes up as one of the better West Suburban Conference crossover games with the class of the Gold going against a team looking to break into the upper crust of the Silver.

FND Pick: Downers Grove North.

Wheaton North (1-0) at Providence (1-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wheaton North 30, Providence 7 (2021)

About Falcons: The new-look defending Class 7A champs look like they’re still going to be a team to contend with, by the looks of Wheaton North’s 28-7 opening win over Downers Grove South. Junior Walker Owens, who saw some action as a sophomore, ran for over 100 yards and two TDs and junior QB Max Howser threw for 82 yards and a TD in his varsity starting debut as the Falcons rolled up 303 yards while holding the Mustangs to 114. Wheaton North should get a pretty good indication of where it stacks up in the coming weeks with games against Providence and then Batavia to open up conference play.

About the Celtics: It was a particularly gritty effort for Providence in its season-opening win. The Celtics blocked two punts in the win, including a fourth-quarter swat that led to a safety that ultimately accounted for the difference in the win. It’s the kind of thing that can give Providence some momentum as it tries to scratch and claw its way back into the upper rungs of the CCL/ESCC mix.

FND Pick: Wheaton North

Wheaton Warrenville South (0-1) at Neuqua Valley (1-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Neuqua Valley 26, WW South 7 (2021)

About Tigers: The Tigers ran into a buzzsaw on Saturday at Gately Stadium, as Simeon erased an early two-touchdown deficit by scoring the last 36 points in a 41-23 game. Priority one for WW South is getting its house in order defensively after being gashed for over 300 yards by Simeon running back Andre Crews. The quarterback competition is something to keep an eye on. Junior Luke Scherrman started last week, but sophomore Luca Carbonaro came off the bench to throw two TD passes to Braylen Meredith, and went the rest of the way. It would help either QB to establish the run with Matt Crider and Jake Vozza, easier said than done against a nasty Neuqua defense.

About the Wildcats: Neuqua, a team with 17 starters back from a Class 8A quarterfinalist, looked the part in Week 1. The Wildcats shook off three first-half turnovers, as senior QB Mark Mennecke threw for two TDs and Jaden McGee went over 100 yards with a TD. Neuqua’s defense, above all, was dominant in beating Oswego 28-3. Middle linebacker Cole Dutkovich is the ringleader of that Wildcats’ defense that didn’t allow a completed pass in the second half, but keep an eye on 6-foot-7 defensive lineman Justen Crawford. He had three sacks against Oswego.

FND Pick: Neuqua Valley

Glenbard West (1-0) at Downers Grove South (0-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Glenbard West 49, Downers Grove South 0 (2021)

About Hilltoppers: How good is Glenbard West’s offense? By early indications pretty darn good. With star running back Joey Pope out Week 1 while recovering from an appendectomy, junior receiver Julius Ellens dazzled both catching and running with the ball in an impressive 33-31 win at Marist. Ellens went over 100 yards in both receiving and rushing with two TDs in each, including an 80-yard TD catch from Korey Tai. Pope is expected back this week, which would seem to qualify as the rich getting richer. A young Hilltoppers’ defense appears to still have some growing to do, but the offense looks more than capable of holding down the fort in the meantime.

About the Mustangs: As was the case last season, the Mustangs really need to just survive a gauntlet of a first four weeks. Downers Grove South managed just 114 total yards last week against Wheaton North, 76 of those rushing from junior Deon Davis with the Mustangs’ lone touchdown. Ryan Dawson and the Mustangs’ passing game needs to establish some balance and the Downers Grove South defense must bear down against quite a high-powered opponent that had its way with the Mustangs last year.

FND Pick: Glenbard West

York (1-0) at Morton (0-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: York 54, Morton 0 (2021)

About Dukes: York did not encounter much resistance in its 42-0 Week 1 win over Schaumburg, with most of its starters only playing about a quarter. Kelly Watson ran for 107 yards and two TDs and Matt Vezza threw for 90 yards with four TDs. Defensively, linebacker Cole Ostendorf had six tackles, three tackles for loss, and two sacks. The first third of the Dukes’ season looks like one they’ll navigate without too much trouble but with huge expectations it’s doubtful they’ll take anyone lightly.

About the Mustangs: Morton, coming off an encouraging 3-6 season for a program that has struggled, dropped a 35-28 Week 1 game to Riverside-Brookfield in Week 1. Four-year starting wide receiver Leon Kelsick and 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end/defensive end Aaron Miramontes are among the players to watch for Morton. Clearly this is a tough challenge, but the Mustangs are showing signs of progress.

FND Pick: York

Lyons Township (1-0) at Addison Trail (1-0)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lyons 56, Addison Trail 0 (2021)

About the Lions: Lyons is coming into this one on a high after rallying from a four-point halftime deficit to win at 2021 playoff team Buffalo Grove 38-35 in Week 1. Junior running back Jack Cheney, who missed the last eight games of last season with a broken foot, is back in a big way. Cheney ran for 230 yards on 33 carries with four TDs. Not to be outdone, fellow junior and QB Ryan Jackson was 17-for-20 for 230 yards. That kind of production both on the ground and through the air is a good indicator of the work of linemen Kevin Cruz, Aidan Hallett, Eddie Tuerk, Mikey Nunez and Cooper Komsthoeft.

About the Blazers: Addison Trail, coming off an 0-9 season, got back in the win column in a big way with a 48-6 win over Maine East (also 0-9 last season) in Week 1. Junior QB Gio Long threw for 217 yards and three TDs and senior senior Damarius Allen ran for 135 yards and a score. For a team that scored just 63 points all of last season, that’s something to build on regardless of the opponent. That being said, the Blazers get a huge step up in class this week with Lyons. A competitive result could provide a sign that Addison Trail is not to be overlooked once intra-divisional play begins.

FND Pick: Lyons

Hinsdale Central (0-1) at Proviso East (0-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Hinsdale Central 51, Proviso East 0 (2021)

About the Red Devils: For the second season in a row, Hinsdale Central’s offense struggled in a Week 1 loss to Naperville Central - last Friday, a 24-9 defeat. The Red Devils should hope more history repeats itself as they won their next nine games in 2021. Hinsdale Central, at least through one game, is taking the approach of rotating its two QBs Billy Cernugel and Ben Monahan – at times even during the same drive. Cernugel passed for 71 yards and ran for 66 yards last week. Monahan finished with 46 yards passing and an interception and 33 yards rushing, but Hinsdale’s offense was held to under 100 yards in the first half. A matchup with a struggling Proviso East program should afford the Red Devils the opportunity to iron out the kinks before the Silver schedule gets rolling.

About the Pirates: Proviso East, coming off a 1-8 season, dropped a 47-22 Week 1 game to Champaign Centennial. The Pirates gave up a whopping 409 points last season, just over 45 a game, so this looks like a good tonic for what ailed Hinsdale Central in its Week 1 loss.

FND Pick: Hinsdale Central

Oak Park-River Forest (1-0) at Hinsdale South (0-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Oak Park-River Forest 48, Hinsdale South 7 (2021)

About the Huskies: The Huskies opened their season in fine fashion with an emotional 35-7 win over Fenwick – the first meeting between neighborhood rivals since 1989. Jack Gooch, a third-year starting QB, was 18-for-30 for 234 yards for two TDs and ran for a third. His favorite target, clearly, is senior Ryan Martin, who had nine catches for 135 yards. Oak Park-River Forest also forced six turnovers. Junior defensive back Khalil Nichols, who had three interceptions, is among the players to watch defensively.

About the Hornets: Hinsdale South dropped a 15-12 Week 1 game to Deerfield, the game-winning touchdown coming with 2:29 remaining. It’s a tough result, but there should be plenty to build on with a close outcome against a 2021 nine-win playoff team. Junior Nathaniel Fundator went over 100 yards rushing with a fourth-quarter TD run that had given the Hornets their final lead at 12-8.

FND Pick: Oak Park-River Forest

Hillcrest (0-1) at Montini (0-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: First known meeting

About the Hawks: Hillcrest, a proud program like Montini, itself comes in off a humbling Week 1 loss to CCL/ESCC powerhouse, 46-0 to Brother Rice. The Hawks took a bit of a step back with last season’s 5-5 finish, but skill-position talent remains in the pipeline. Running back Ajani Rush, a nationally-ranked track athlete who runs a 4.49 40, is one to watch.

About the Broncos: A disappointing Week 1 loss, particularly defensively, as Montini gave up 413 yards of total offense in losing to IC Catholic Prep 35-16. On the flip side, senior QB Cole Teschner threw for 201 yards and a TD to Mingo Nixon, who had seven catches for 84 yards. The Broncos have a bruising schedule ahead in the CCL/ESCC which makes this home opener one they really need to put in their back pocket as a win.

FND Pick: Montini

Moline (1-0) at Benet (0-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Benet 23, Moline 21 (2021)

About the Maroons: Moline, coming off a 9-2 season and second-round playoff appearance, beat St. Laurence 27-21 in Week 1. The Maroons accumulated 346 yards rushing on the ground, led by senior Riley Fuller’s 138 yards and three TDs.

About the Redwings: Benet comes in off a 21-13 Week 1 loss to Noblesville, Ind. With games the next two weeks against Brother Rice and St. Rita, the stakes for this game are plenty high. Benet has won three straight meetings with Moline, out of the Western Big Six, since 2018.

FND Pick: Benet

Thornwood (0-1) at Fenwick (0-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

About the Thunderbirds: Thornwood, 7-3 last season, is coming off a 41-14 loss to Marian Catholic in Week 1. The seven wins last season was the program’s most since 1994.

About the Friars: Fenwick looked like a team last week that had graduated 30 seniors, 14 of them starters, off a 2021 state champ. The Friars committed six turnovers and also struggled with penalties in a 35-7 loss to Oak Park-River Forest Saturday morning. The point total might not indicate it, but Fenwick’s defense looks much further along than its offense and will need to shoulder the load while an inexperienced group of offensive skill position players gets its fee on the ground. Senior EJ Hosty played most of three quarters at QB against OPRF, but junior Marek Hill came off the bench – it bears watching how that competition will play out. Whoever is at QB will certainly be looking for Dennis Moore, who had four catches for 136 yards and a TD last week. The schedule gets prickly once the Friars enter CCL/ESCC play, so banking a win this week is imperative.

FND Pick: Fenwick

Riverside-Brookfield (1-0) at Wauconda (1-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wauconda 20, R-B 0 (2021)

About R-B: Bulldogs coach Sam Styler was effusive in his praise of Ryan Novak, Drew Swiatek, Muhammad Salem and Jackson Ramos coming out of the Week 1 victory against Morton. “Ryan had a huge night,” he said. “Drew did a phenomenal job all night on defense, and it was clear Morton was trying to run away from his side because he was setting such a hard edge for us. Muhammad had his first start on varsity and was a difference-maker on the offensive side of the ball and on special teams. Jackson had a heck of a night on the offensive line. He was a guy that was imposing his will on their defensive line, and I think all our running backs were grateful to run behind a guy like that. We had so many guys do great things for us.” Now, the Bulldogs face a Wauconda team that pitched a shutout in its opener and is the defending Northern Lake County Conference champion. “Wauconda is going to be a very tough opponent, as they always are,” Styler said. “They are coming off a great season last year and had a big win last week. We know we are going to be making a long trip to a great environment, and were excited for the opportunity to compete. We need to beat their physicality they bring every game. We need to be sure to stop the run and get off the field on third down. We had a great night running the ball against Morton, so if we do what we do best, I believe we will be successful.”

About Wauconda: “Riverside-Brookfield is always well-coached and a tough team,” Wauconda coach Chris Prostka said. “They were a playoff team last year and they have a good number of players returning.” Prostka said the Wauconda defense and special teams played key roles in the Week 1 win over Aurora Central Catholic. “Our defense and special teams got us some great field position that resulted in scores,” he said. “Anytime the defense has a shutout, that is an excellent performance. We did have missed assignments in all three phases. We will certainly be working to clean those things up.” The Bulldogs won the turnover battle last week with two takeaways, one on defense (Jackson Ori interception) and one on special teams (Cole Porten recovering a fumble on a kickoff). Nick Smith led the defense with nine tackles, five for loss. Porten also ran six times for 77 yards and a score. “Cole ran hard for us and had an impact on special teams,” Prostka said. Logan Olsen was 7-for-8 passing with 2 touchdowns.

FND Pick: Wauconda

-- Mike Miazga, Daily Herald Media Group

Chicago DuSable (1-0) at Westmont (1-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

About the Panthers: The Panthers play in the Chicago Public League Blue-Southeast Conference and scored a 2-0 forfeit win over Chicago Juarez in Week 1. “This could easily be a challenge for us because we have no information on their program,” Jackson said. “Their Week 1 opponent forfeited. This week we are definitely going into Week 2 blindly. How do we overcome that obstacle? Basically practice every possible scenario as much as we can. We need to keep grinding the basics and fundamentals.”

About the Sentinels: Sophomore Lucas Fears was a key contributor for the Sentinels in their Week 1 triumph over Walther Christian. Fears led the team in tackles with nine and booked an interception back 75 yards for a touchdown. Lucas made his presence known all over the field, Westmont coach Taj Jackson said. Darius Stevenson keyed the Westmont running attack with 30 carries for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns. “Darius had a career day,” Jackson said.

FND Pick: Westmont

Wheaton Academy (1-0) at Chicago Christ the King (0-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

About the Warriors: In the Warriors 48-14 win over Marian Central last week, senior two-way lineman Jaret Jawor (6-3, 245) impressed. “The big man on the line is a leader, a captain and does his job,” Wheaton Academy coach Jim Johanik said. “He’s probably one of the most coachable kids I have ever had.” Junior defensive end-offensive tackle Ethan Brunner also caused havoc on both sides of the ball. “Ethan is explosive and intelligent,” Johanik said. “He had two sacks after running down the quarterback in the flat. Offensively, he’s a tactician.” Senior defensive back-wideout Breck Peacock was Wheaton Academy’s leading receiver and tackler (eight tackles, one interception), while sophomore Stephen Fellowes was the team’s leading rusher in a balanced offensive attack, Johanik noted. “Watch this kid develop over the course of this year,” he said.

About the Gladiators: Christ the King does not play in a conference (but is joining the Chicagoland Christian Conference next year along with Wheaton Academy, Aurora Christian, Chicago Christian, Hope Academy, Marian Central, St. Edward and Timothy Christian). The team opened the season with a 61-16 loss to Dakota. “I have nothing but admiration for what Christ the King is working to build on the west side of the city,” Johanik said. Johanik added a key for his team this week will simply be to gain more experience. “Week 1 answered some of the questions I had about our newer players,” he said. “I knew they were athletic, but until they see playing time, you never know if their athleticism translates to production. I believe success this week is simply seeing our guys gain more reps and experience.”

FND Pick: Wheaton Academy

-- Mike Miazga, Daily Herald Media Group

Upstate Eight Conference

Glenbard East (1-0, 1-0) at South Elgin (1-0, 1-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: South Elgin 41, Glenbard East 7 (2021)

About the Rams: No time being wasted here with two of the top teams in the Upstate Eight battling it out. “This is always a big game for both teams,” Rams coach John Walters said. “They have won the conference the last three years, including sharing with us in 2019. We have won it twice, including the share. It’s a big heavyweight matchup for Week 2. For us, we get back-to-back playoff teams to start the season. This will be a real good test for us. To be successful we have to execute on both sides and be efficient. The game will come down to a battle in the trenches on both sides.” Walters cited strong Week 1 play from Troy Cooper, Delmario Taylor and Dimitri Hritz.

About the Storm: “Glenbard East is big and strong at almost every position,” South Elgin coach Dragan Teonic said. “They return a lot of experienced players and are coming off a big win.” Teonic noted the Rams ran for 255 yards against Larkin and had 11 explosive plays. “Limiting that would go a long way towards being successful on Friday,” he said. “As always, their defense is solid and disciplined. They pursue and hit well. We have to win the line of scrimmage and secure the football to play well.” Teonic gave high marks to the play of senior linebacker Michael Tringali, junior quarterback Jake Sullivan, senior athlete Mason Montgomery and senior athlete Kyle Steinhofer in the Week 1 win against West Chicago.

FND Pick: South Elgin

-- Mike Miazga, Daily Herald Media Group