Illinois High School Football News

McHenry County football notes: Week 5 surprises further tighten Fox Valley Conference race

Prairie Ridge raises $2,000 for Veterans’ Pathway to Hope

Huntley prepares to take the field against Jacobs on Friday, Sept. 23,2022 in Huntley.

Four games generally provides a sufficient sample to have some idea about a conference race in football.

In the Fox Valley Conference, Jacobs grabbed the upper hand with its Week 4 win over Prairie Ridge and held a one-game lead. Crystal Lake South looked strong after knocking off Cary-Grove in Week 2. Dundee-Crown, with a productive offense and two comeback victories, was on its way up.

Then, Week 5 hit and provided a bit of chaos.

Huntley played its best game of the season and beat Jacobs 37-20. Burlington Central ended a three-game skid with a 24-20 win over South. And Crystal Lake Central, which struggled offensively after losing quarterback Jason Penza in the season opener, put up a season-high total in a 37-24 win over Dundee-Crown.

That leaves Huntley, Jacobs and Prairie Ridge all at 4-1 and all done playing each other. C-G and South are a game back at 3-2.

Huntley played its usual strong defensive game and came up with a huge blocked punt returned for a touchdown against Jacobs. But the Red Raiders also put up about 400 yards of offense and tied their season-high in points.

Burlington Central came through with a defensive stop on South’s drive as time expired and a pass fell incomplete in the end zone. The Gators were averaging 35 points a game before they faced the Rockets.

Central quarterback George Dimopoulos, the Tigers’ No. 1 receiver to start the season, had his best game with 13 of 21 passing for 235 yards and a touchdown.

Week 5 was a reminder that the FVC’s balance this season may keep things a little unpredictable.

Anniversary celebration: Woodstock celebrated the 25th anniversary of its 1997 Class 5A state championship team Friday with the Blue Streaks’ 27-20 win over crosstown rival Woodstock North.

Several members of the Streaks’ 1997 championship team were in town for the weekend, and former coach Ed Brucker, who led that team, was at the game Friday. Streaks current coach Mike Brasile was a junior two-way lineman on that team, which finished 14-0 with a 35-28 win over Rock Island in the title game.

“It was nice to be able to celebrate the 1997 team and play against Woodstock North on the same night,” said Brasile, whose team is 2-3. “We have teammates from the ‘97 team that live on the North side. It was great seeing those guys and catching up ... we don’t see each other enough.

“I think we are going to do something for the 1983 (Class 4A state championship) team next year during the crosstown game. Those championships included both sides of Woodstock not just the south side or the north side.”

North coach Matt Polnow was a sophomore quarterback-defensive back on Woodstock’s 1987 team. North assistant John Fredericks was an assistant on Brucker’s staff.

“It was great seeing coach Brucker, I have so much respect for him and think he is one of the greatest coaches in the history of the IHSA,” Brasile said. “At halftime he said, ‘You need to be under center more, this shotgun stuff doesn’t hit fast enough.’ He and my dad play golf together every Friday morning, so I hear it from my dad all the time as well.

“Seeing all the coaches and people that had an impact on my love for the game and providing such a great experience makes it all worth it. That’s just what I hope to provide to all the Streaks players, the same love for WHS and the game of football, giving them positive experiences that will last a lifetime.”

Thanking vets: Prairie Ridge had its annual Military Appreciation Night on Friday when the Wolves defeated Cary-Grove 27-16. Wolves coach Chris Schremp and his team always put an emphasis on honoring former and current military members for their service.

There were current members of the Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard at the game, with those who past served honored as well.

“We played for those who are serving and who have served,” Wolves quarterback Tyler Vasey said. “We really appreciate those people. Not enough people compliment them on what they have done. We would not be here now if they weren’t doing their jobs.”

T-shirts for the event were sold during the week, with about $2,000 donated to Veterans’ Pathway to Hope, a McHenry County group that helps homeless vets.

“It’s been a big part of our program where we have had a lot of former players who are now in the military send in messages and explain what they’re doing and how football influenced them,” Schremp said.

One for the big man: Johnsburg coach Sam Lesniak appreciates what senior Jacob Welch (6-foot-6, 310 pounds) has done in his four seasons on varsity. So he let Welch carry the ball for a touchdown in Friday’s 42-6 win over Kingdom Prep Lutheran (Wis.).

Welch had three carries for 6 yards and his first career touchdown.

Welch was an Illinois High School Football Coaches Association Class 4A All-Stater and a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection last season. He committed to Northern Illinois University this summer.

Huntley loses Walker: Huntley senior Bryce Walker suffered a season-ending injury in Friday’s 37-20 win over Jacobs when his left tibia and fibula were fractured.

Walker was blocking downfield midway through the fourth quarter when a Jacobs player attempting to make a tackle was spun around and whipped into Walker’s left leg. Red Raiders coach Mike Naymola said the play was purely just bad luck and accidental.

Walker needed surgery over the weekend to relieve the pain and swelling. Naymola said the plan was on Monday or Tuesday for Walker to have the bones set with the aid of screws and a rod.

C-G’s Anderson out: Cary-Grove linebacker Connor Anderson had to leave Friday’s game in the third quarter with a leg injury. Anderson, one of the Trojans’ top defenders and a returning starter from last season’s Class 6A state champs, was on crutches the rest of the night.

Prairie Ridge took Anderson from the field on a cart after the game was over.

Hurting Wolves: Schremp said two of Prairie Ridge’s top players should be back this season at some point. Defensive back Dom Creatore (left wrist) has a cast and will have to play with padding over the cast. Two-way lineman John Fallow missed Friday’s game against C-G, but Schremp expects him back before the end of the regular season.

Key matchup: One of the best games in the state this weekend will be Morris, No. 1 in The Associated Press Class 5A poll, at Richmond-Burton, No. 3 in Class 4A, in a battle of unbeaten teams.

It happened this season that the two teams meet as one of their Kishwaukee River/Interstate 8 Conference crossover games.