Analysis | Friday Night Drive

Suburban Life football preview game-by-game capsules for Week 4 of the 2022 season

Downers Grove North players take the field against Downers Grove South during player introductions at Downers Grove North High School on Friday, Sep 9, 2022.

DuKane Conference

Wheaton North (3-0, 1-0) at St. Charles North (2-1, 1-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wheaton North 35, St. Charles North 3 (2021)

About the Falcons: Wheaton North confirmed that it is indeed still a team to be reckoned by virtue of its 27-24 win over Batavia last week. Karsten Libby’s 58-yard TD catch capped off the Falcons’ stunning rally from 11 points down in the fourth quarter. Wheaton North’s defense, expected to be a strong suit, was stout in the second half, holding Batavia to just one field goal. The Falcons appear to be showing teams multiple looks offensively. Luke Beedle, sharing carries in the backfield with Walker Owens, ran for 88 yards last week. Junior QB Max Howser has looked capable in the early going, with Wheaton North also featuring Tyler O’Connor on occasion out of the Wildcat formation.

About the North Stars: The offense appears clicking with Will Vaske installed at quarterback. Jake Mettetal continues to ascend after his seven-catch, 75-yard effort in a win over Wheaton Warrenville South last week. Defensively, the North Stars did an excellent job neutralizing the running game, allowing 64 yards on 30 carries. Drew Surges (450 all-purpose yards and 32 tackles through three weeks) should be busy once again at both his safety/linebacker hybrid and running back.

Friday Night Drive Pick: Wheaton North

Geneva (3-0, 1-0) at Wheaton Warrenville South (1-2, 0-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Geneva 13, Wheaton Warrenville South 12 (2021)

About the Vikings: Geneva has demonstrated the ability to win in a variety of ways through three weeks. Whether relying on a high-powered offense with a ton of talent or takeaways, the Vikings are in a great spot entering Week 4. Troy Velez is a weapon at running back and showcased that with 142 yards on 22 carries. Nate Stempowski appears to have the quarterback position under control.

About the Tigers: It’s been an up-and-down first three weeks for the Tigers, two losses sandwiched around its lone win. The first order of business to get back on track, it would seem, is to tighten things up defensively. WW South has given up an average of 38 points in its two losses, but was tremendous in its overtime win over Neuqua Valley. Sophomore Luca Carbonaro, at least for now, seems to have won the QB competition. He was 16-for-23 passing for 123 yards with a TD to Braylen Meredith, who had seven catches, last week and led two other second-half scoring drives. But the Tigers averaged just a little over 2 yards per carry, a concern in trying to keep the heat off of a young QB. With games remaining against Batavia and Wheaton North, among others, this is one the Tigers could use.

FND Pick: Geneva

West Suburban Silver

Downers Grove North (3-0, 0-0) at York (3-0, 1-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: York 28, Downers Grove North 10 (2021)

About the Trojans: Downers Grove North, which beat Downers Grove South 27-7 last week, did some impressive work in the nonconference, three wins by an average margin of 24.3 points. The Trojans’ strength starts with their defense, which has allowed a total of 20 points in three games. The ringleader of that unit is defensive lineman Ben Bielawski, who already has eight sacks and 12 tackles for loss. Noah Battle ran for 126 yards and two TDs and big-play receiver Ethan Thulin caught a 41-yard TD from Sam Reichert last week. The Trojans also started last season 3-0 before dropping five of their last six games, starting with a loss to York, history a team with seven third-year starters is surely aware of and hopes to avoid.

About the Dukes: York, a team with high hopes this season, took care of business in the soft first third of its season, beating its first three opponents by an average 49-point margin. Matt Vezza threw for 192 yards and four TDs, Charlie Specht caught two TDs and Adam Fennell ran for 111 yards and two TDs in last week’s 54-0 win over Proviso West. Defensively, the Dukes had 12 tackles and close to 20 tackles for loss, led by Evan Grazzini’s three tackles for loss and one sack. York’s next three opponents come against the other three West Suburban Silver unbeatens – Downers North, Lyons and Glenbard West, followed by a game with two-time conference champ Hinsdale Central – so the Dukes are about to find out a whole lot more about themselves.

FND Pick: York

Lyons (3-0, 1-0) at Oak Park-River Forest (2-1, 0-1)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lyons 35, Oak Park-River Forest 13 (2021)

About the Lions: The Lions are riding high after the program’s biggest win in quite some time, 10-7 over Hinsdale Central – Lyons’ first win over its close rival since 2013. Lyons is off to its best start since 2017. Impressively, Lyons has shown the ability to win a high-scoring affair like Week 1 at Buffalo Grove and a smashmouth game like last week. Danny Pasko ran for 40 yards on nine carries in the Hinsdale win after an injury to starting running back Jack Cheney. Pasko also had one of four Lyons’ sacks. Lyons QB Ryan Jackson threw for just 91 yards last week after going over 200 yards the first two weeks, but did have the game-winning 4-yard TD run.

About the Huskies: The Huskies hung with Glenbard West into the second half last Saturday, but ultimately ran out of gas in a 35-14 loss. No rest for the weary, a short week and another tough opponent but the Huskies should be fired up for their home opener. Third-year starting QB Jack Gooch and WR Ryan Martin have quite a connection going. The two combined for their seventh TD pass last week. RB/LB Eric Evans, one of seven Huskies who play both ways, is a man to watch.

FND Pick: Lyons

Glenbard West (3-0, 1-0) at Proviso West (2-1, 0-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Glenbard West 63, Proviso West 0 (2021)

About the Hilltoppers: Glenbard West’s offense keeps chugging along, even with standout running back Joey Pope again sidelined. Junior Julius Ellens ran for 206 yards and four TDs in last week’s 35-14 win over Oak Park-River Forest. Pope, who sprained his ankle in Week 2, might be back this week or next, but the Hilltoppers could very well opt to hold him out until a Week 6 game with York. The OPRF win was by no means flawless with a number of penalties, and the Hilltoppers have a few things to clean up still, but back-to-back games with Proviso West and Addison Trail should provide that opportunity.

About the Panthers: Proviso West’s feel-good 2-0 start met a reality check last week, a 54-0 loss to Proviso West in which the Panthers gave up 373 total yards. The two wins could be a sign of progress for a program that’s had little success over the last decade, but the Panthers figure to again have tough sledding this week against Glenbard West.

FND Pick: Glenbard West

West Suburban Gold

Willowbrook (1-2, 1-0) at Downers Grove South (0-3, 0-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Willowbrook 34, Downers Grove South 7 (2021)

About the Warriors: Willowbrook, which started 0-2 for the second straight season, got the ship righted with its 42-6 win over Proviso East last week. Jimmy Degnan and Joey Tumilty each scored three TDs, and AJ Pawlicki threw three TD passes. Willowbrook has won five consecutive West Suburban Gold titles – could this be the Warriors’ toughest test on their way to a sixth championship in a row?

About the Mustangs: A tough start to the season, against a gauntlet of a stretch, continued last week with Downers Grove South’s 27-7 loss to Downers Grove North. The Mustangs, who have scored just seven points in each of their three games, need to generate more consistent offense to get back on track. Even in defeat, Mack O’Halloran continued to do a little bit of everything for the Mustangs. O’Halloran caught five passes for 73 yards and threw a 39-yard pass to Ryan Horn-Salerno last week. Ryan Dawson. was 15-for-17 passing for 177 yards and a TD.

FND Pick: Willowbrook

Morton (1-2, 1-0) at Leyden (0-3, 0-1)

When: 6 p.m. Thursday, at Triton College

Last matchup: Morton 38, Leyden 0 (2021)

About the Mustangs: Morton, similar to last season, found success when stepping into West Suburban Gold play, bouncing back from an 0-2 start to beat Addison Trail 37-7 last week. It’s a short week playing on a Thursday but things line up well for the Mustangs to even up their record at 2-2.

About the Eagles: Leyden dropped to 0-3 with its 42-14 loss to Hinsdale South last week. The Eagles are hoping to avoid losing their fourth consecutive game to start the season since 2014, when they started 0-6.

FND Pick: Morton

CCL/ESCC Green

Notre Dame (2-1, 0-0) at Nazareth (1-2, 0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Nazareth 24, Notre Dame 21 (2021)

About the Dons: Notre Dame notched quality wins over Willowbrook and St. Patrick the first two weeks before running into the juggernaut that is Mount Carmel last week in a 42-0 loss. Still, Notre Dame, which last year missed the playoffs for the first time since 2014, appears to be back. Twin brothers Vincenzo and Francesco Ricciardi make the Notre Dame offense go. Vincenzo, the Dons’ quarterback, threw for 158 yards and a TD and ran for two TDs in the 35-14 win over St. Patrick. Francesco Ricciardi ran for 76 yards and a TD.

About the Roadrunners: Nazareth’s first third of the schedule was quite a ringer – Kankakee, Lemont and Marist – and the going really doesn’t lighten up with Notre Dame, unbeaten Carmel and then St. Rita the next three weeks. Nazareth’s improvement should start with addressing its offensive inconsistencies. The Roadrunners haven’t scored a touchdown in two of their three games. Sophomore QB Logan Malachuk was 18-for-33 passing for 192 yards, completing passes to 10 different receivers, last week, with freshman Jake Cestone catching five passes for 67 yards. Still, it only resulted in one field goal on the scoreboard. Nazareth is dealing with a bit of a controversy this week, as a coach has been suspended for attacking a Marist player on the sideline during last Friday’s game.

FND Pick: Nazareth

St. Rita (1-2, 0-0) at Benet (1-2, 0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, at Benedictine

Last matchup: St. Rita 21, Benet 0 (2021)

About the Broncos: St. Rita’s first third of the schedule has been a grind, with losses to Mount Carmel and Loyola sandwiched around a win over rival Brother Rice. So don’t be fooled by the 1-2 record, as the Mustangs also started 1-2 last year with losses to the same opponents before ripping off nine straight wins and reaching the Class 7A quarterfinals. Junior Ethan Middleton, a top 10 recruit in Illinois’ Class of 2024 who holds an offer from Penn State, had rushing and receiving TDs in the win over Brother Rice. Defensively, players to watch include Pat Farrell, a defensive end committed to Illinois, and Matt Kingsbury, a linebacker with 21 offers including several MAC schools. St. Rita kicker Conor Talty, committed to Alabama, kicked a 51-yard field goal against Mount Carmel.

About the Redwings: Benet comes in off a 13-10 loss to Brother Rice, which lost to St. Rita by five points the week before. The Redwings hung in there with Rice, as the game was tied 7-7 going into the fourth quarter, and that level of competitiveness should bode well for Benet as it continues to navigate the teeth of its CCL/ESCC schedule. In a schedule quirk, this is Benet’s fourth straight home game to start the season, which will be followed by four consecutive road games. Minnesota recruit Pierce Walsh is the player to watch for the Redwings.

FND Pick: St. Rita

CCL/ESCC Orange

Montini (2-1, 0-0) at St. Laurence (1-2, 0-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: St. Laurence 21, Montini 13 (2021)

About the Broncos: Montini comes off an impressive 26-3 win at Marmion, with a strong performance on both sides of the ball. Cole Teschner threw two TDs to Mingo Nixon and ran for a third score, and George Asay had a 24-yard TD run and set up Teschner’s TD run with a 50-yard run. The Broncos’ defense, which struggled in Week 1, has given up a combined nine points in back-to-back wins. Teschner has thrown for 539 yards and four TDs on the season. Nixon, with 16 catches for 233 yards and three TDs, is his top target. Montini’s defense is led by Jonathan Goff, who has 30 tackles on the season and made a key third-down stop against Marmion, and Caden Phengkeokaisone, who has 20 tackles on the year and had an interception last week.

About the Vikings: The Vikings come off a 19-14 loss to St. Ignatius. St. Laurence’s two losses are by a combined 11 points to Moline and St. Ignatius. Junior WR/S Corey Taubr is a returning two-way starter who was a team captain as a sophomore. Senior QB Danny Fitzpatrick, a transfer from Stagg, is another player to watch.

FND Pick: Montini

CCL/ESCC White

De La Salle (1-2, 0-0) at Fenwick (1-2, 0-0) , at Triton College

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Fenwick 49, DeLaSalle 0 (2021)

About the Friars: Fenwick comes in off a tough 25-22 loss to Providence, as the rebuilding Friars continue to try to sort things out while navigating through the tough CCL/ESCC. This is Fenwick’s Homecoming game, with the next three on the road. With games ahead at Loyola, Marmion and St. Patrick, the Friars could really use a feel-good win to take momentum into the second half of the season.

About the Meteors: De La Salle comes in off a 47-0 loss to Joliet Catholic. The Meteors have scored a combined seven points in their two losses, 49 in their lone win over North Lawndale. De La Salle went 0-3 last season in its first time through the CCL/ESCC White. Head coach Marty Quinn is in his first season. Senior linemen James Taylor and Evan Smith bring experience to the Meteor’s line.

FND Pick: Fenwick

South Suburban Blue Conference

Lemont (3-0, 1-0) at Bremen (3-0, 1-0)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 61, Bremen 22 (2021)

About Lemont: Lemont did what it tends to do in South Suburban Conference play as it throttled Oak Forest 42-0 in Week 3. Bremen appears to be one of the teams that will try to make a legitimate run at Lemont’s throne, but until they actually do it, Lemont remains the mostly unchallenged kings of the conference. QB Payton Salomon is thriving again and tossed five touchdown passes in Week 3.

About the Braves: Bremen is off to a very strong start to the season, but hasn’t exactly squared off against elite opposition as of yet. It is going to be interesting to see how RB Breyahn Townsend will fare against a higher caliber of defense, because he’s been shredding the opposition thus far, rushing for 209 yards and three scores in Bremen’s comfortable Week 3 win over Tinley Park.

FND Pick: Lemont

-- Steve Soucie

Nonconference

Hinsdale South (1-2) at Hinsdale Central (1-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Hinsdale Central 49, Hinsdale South 0 (2021)

About the Hornets: Hinsdale South got in the win column by virtue of its 42-14 win over Leyden, now gets set for another tough West Suburban crossover against its district rival. Senior Anthony Montez ran for four TDs and Robbie Spang added a score against Leyden. The Hornets need to hope that kind of win gives their offense a boost going against a Red Devils’ defense that has proven tough even in defeat this season.

About the Red Devils: From one rivalry game to another, as the Red Devils have to lick their wounds from a 10-7 loss to Lyons and get ready for their district rivals. Hinsdale Central has won 19 consecutive games against Hinsdale South dating back to 2002. The Red Devils’ defense appears to be fine, but its offense has struggled to put points on the board in losses to Naperville Central and Lyons. Billy Cernugel threw a TD pass to Reece Kolke for the Red Devils’ only score last week. Health is an additional concern. Senior QB Ben Monahan, part of a rotation behind center, went down with an ankle injury against Lyons. Wide receiver Carter Contreras and running back Kellen Tran also left the game with injuries. While the Red Devils have dominated their district rivals for the last two decades, they really have little margin for error with two losses and the schedule ahead, so can’t overlook the Hornets.

FND Pick: Hinsdale Central

Metro Suburban Conference

Wheaton Academy (3-0, 1-0) at Kankakee Bishop McNamara (1-2, 1-0)

When: 7:15 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wheaton Academy 34, Bishop McNamara 14 (2021)

About the Warriors: A three-game post mortem has Wheaton Academy in a good place. “We are healthy and we are 3-0, which is something you never take for granted as a coach,” Warriors coach Jim Johanik said. “We are heading into the toughest part of our schedule in the next three weeks and would like to come out of it as strong as we came into it.” A little more here on Warriors standout quarterback Belay Brummel. “Speaking of Belay, the line judge in our last game came up to me and said he hasn’t seen a high school quarterback more comfortable in the pocket and a better thrower in more than 10 years,” Johanik said. “Wheaton Academy quarterbacks coach JR Rexilius has been a key to Belay’s success in taking his previous skill training, carrying it forward and applying it to our offensive scheme over the past two years. The process and Belay’s willingness to be coached sets him up well for working with his next quarterback coach in college.”

About the Fightin’ Irish: Wheaton Academy will head to Kankakee to face a perennial strong program in Bishop Mac. “We are heading down to Kankakee on Bishop Mac’s homecoming knowing we’ve defeated them the last two seasons at home,” Johanik said. “I’m telling our guys if I were them, I’d be circling this game on the calendar. To be successful, we are going to have to overcome a proud football program on a lot of emotion at their homecoming.”

FND Pick: Wheaton Academy

-- Mike Miazga, Daily Herald Media Group

Aurora Christian (2-1, 0-0) at Riverside-Brookfield (2-1, 1-0)

When: 7:15 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: R-B 26, Aurora Christian 14 (2021)

About the Eagles: A key Metro Suburban Red Division game here for Aurora Christian. Eagles coach David Beebe feels his team is in a strong spot after three games. “We are growing each week, which is key,” he said. “We are cleaning things up and knowing what our assignments are. The upside to this team is very high since we are very young and are using the season to grow.” Beebe likes what Drew Kegebein has brought to the table. “Drew continues to be consistent,” he said. Beebe is also high on the Aurora Christian offensive line. “Our offensive line has been doing a great job,” he said. As has the Eagles’ defense, the coach added. “Defensively, we are finding people who can really play,” he said. “Coach Perry (Aurora Christian defensive coordinator) is making some very good adjustments as the weeks go by as we continue to find out who is a gamer on Friday nights.”

About the Bulldogs: “We play a very tough opponent at Riverside-Brookfield at their place,” Beebe said. “They are always good and this year in no exception. We have to protect the ball. We also need to stop their running attack, which is very good. We definitely have our work cut out for us.”

FND Pick: Riverside-Brookfield

-- Mike Miazga, Daily Herald Media Group

St. Francis (3-0, 1-0) at Chicago Christian (1-2, 0-1)

When: 7:15 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: St. Francis won the 2021 meeting by forfeit.

About the Spartans: Staying in the Metro Suburban Red, Spartans coach Bob McMillen saw nice progress from his offensive line last week. “They are getting better and moving in the right direction,” he said. “We are still running past guys and not identifying fronts and blitzes. TJ (McMillen, University of Illinois commit) didn’t play and we played different guys in different spots, but we still have to block the guy in front of us.” Keep an eye on running back Amari Head and wide receiver-defensive back Dash Dorsey. “Amari is becoming more and more of a leader by not only his play, but his work ethic at practice and in the weight room,” McMillen said. “He will continue to have a monster season. Dash leads our team in receptions and receiving touchdowns. More importantly, he is really stepping up for us on the defensive side of the ball. He’s playing way more physical and being a lockdown corner for us.”

About the Knights: “Chicago Christian is a well-coached team that plays good fundamental football,” McMillen said. “We need to be able to execute on all three phases of the game. We still haven’t put together a game where I believe we won at all three.”

FND Pick: St. Francis

-- Mike Miazga, Daily Herald Media Group

IC CAtholic (2-1, 1-0) at Ridgewood (2-1, 0-1)

When: 7:15 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: IC Catholic 47, Ridgewood 0 (2021)

About the Knights: The Knights, as expected, bounced back from.a close Week 2 loss to Joliet Catholic with a 53-0 win over Elmwood Park. Malik Gray ran for two TDs and Dennis Mandala threw TD passes to KJ Parker and Denzell Gibson. IC Catholic remains the No. 1-ranked team in the Associated Press Class 3A poll. The Knights figure to roll again in the middle game of their softest stretch of the season.

About the Rebels: Ridgewood came out on the short end of a 35-33 shootout loss to Bishop McNamara last week. Longtime assistant Vincent Fanelli, also the Ridgewood baseball coach, is in his first season as football head coach. Junior QB Jaden Rodriguez, also the baseball team’s starting shortstop and ace pitcher, is a player to watch that had 19 starters back from last season.

FND Pick: IC Catholic

Upstate Eight Conference

Glenbard South (3-0, 3-0) at Streamwood (1-2, 1-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Glenbard South 48, Streamwood 16 (2021)

About the Raiders: South sits tied atop the Upstate Eight with Bartlett and South Elgin at 3-0. “Glenbard South is tough and a playoff team every year,” Streamwood coach Keith McMaster said. “We are going to need to stay disciplined, eliminate mistakes, take care of the ball and cause turnovers.” Raiders’ QB Michael Champagne threw a school record five TD passes, two to Notre Dame recruit Cam Williams, last week.

About the Sabres: Streamwood lost its first two games by a combined 10 points (notably by four to Bartlett in the opener). “Our team faced some adversity in the third quarter against Elgin last week, but we stepped up,” McMaster noted. “The close games we had in the first two weeks helped with that. Our record isn’t where we would like it to be. Our defense is much improved from last season and our offense is starting to get on track. We are a young team, so there is some growing that the team is doing in the heat of the battles.” Part of that defensive improvement stems from the play of free safety Kyle Thompson and linebacker Chris Marquez. “Kyle has been calling the shots defensively, defending passes and helping with run support,” McMaster noted. “He is also one of our team leaders in tackles. Chris plays on all aspects of the ball. He punts, blocks from the offensive line and tackles from the linebacker position. He’s a multi-talented athlete who can fit in almost anywhere.”

FND Pick: Glenbard South

-- Mike Miazga, Daily Herald Media Group

Glenbard East (2-1, 2-1) at East Aurora (1-2, 1-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Glenbard East 48, East Aurora 6 (2021)

About the Rams: A win here would keep the Rams right in the thick of the UEC race. Glenbard East coach John Walters saw his team take a nice step forward last week in a 42-6 win over West Chicago. “I really feel like we showed growth in Week 3,” he said, “especially on offense. I like the fact we had multiple contributors.” Key contributors of late have been Dimitri Hritz and Troy Cooper. “Dimitri is a two-way guy and is having a great season for us on both sides,” Walters said. “Troy has started all three games on defense and is leading our defense in points. These two guys have been rocks.”

About the Tomcats: East Aurora has played two of the loop’s top three teams already, losing 44-12 to Glenbard South in Week 1 and losing by a score to Bartlett last week (21-14), with a win against Elgin (20-14) sandwiched between. “East Aurora is playing good football right now,” Walters said. “They have some athletes we need to make sure to keep in check. East Aurora is always well-coached and athletic. We need to stay within our game plan and execute. We were able to do that in Week 3 and found some success. We were pretty solid in all three phases. I was pleased with our play.”

FND Pick: Glenbard East

-- Mike Miazga, Daily Herald Media Group