April 19, 2024
Schools | Friday Night Drive

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Schools | Friday Night Drive

Suburban Life area preview capsules for Week 8

Wheaton North's Rich Schilling (4) reaches for a pass against Geneva during a football game at Wheaton North High School on Friday, Oct. 6, 2023.

West Suburban Silver

York (6-1, 3-1) at Lyons Township (5-2, 4-1)

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: York 27, Lyons 14 (2022)

About the Dukes: York is no doubt still smarting from its 28-7 loss to Glenbard West last week that snapped the Dukes’ 17-game regular-season winning streak. It also put the Silver title up for grabs with York, Lyons and Glenbard West all with one league loss and Downers Grove North with two. Senior linebacker Cole Ostendorf had 19 tackles in the loss last week. Jake Melion rushed for 97 yards and a TD and QB Sean Winton threw for 81 and rushed for 38. York will look to get an offense back on track that had averaged over 42 points in its first six games.

About the Lions: Lyons has strung together three straight wins since a loss to Glenbard West, the biggest a 17-7 win over Downers Grove North last week. Danny Carroll had a busy night with 137 yards on 34 carries, 79 of the yards coming in the second half. Ryan Jackson threw for 72 yards and a TD to his favorite target Travis Stamm. York’s loss last week opens the door for Lyons to potentially grab a share of its first Silver title since 2010 – provided the Lions can win this one. Some heavy-hitting matchups could present itself up front with Lyons’ senior lineman Eddie Tuerk, an Illinois recruit, and York defensive lineman Joe Reiff, committed to Notre Dame.

FND Pick: York

Proviso West (0-7, 0-4) at Glenbard West (5-2, 3-1)

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: Glenbard West 51, Proviso West 12 (2022)

About the Panthers: Proviso West’s rough season continued last week with a 62-0 loss to Hinsdale Central. The Panthers have been outscored by a combined margin of 293-42.

About the Hilltoppers: Glenbard West has put its 1-2 start and early-season offensive struggles well in the rearview mirror during a four-game winning streak. The Hilltoppers’ 28-7 win at York was eye-opening and a reminder that they remain a force to be reckoned with in the Silver and statewide. Teyion Oriental has emerged as Glenbard West’s big-play threat at running back and QB in the absence of injured star Julius Ellens. Oriental rushed for 100 yards on 21 carries and was 3-for-3 passing for 38 yards with two TDs last week. Eli Limouris and Joey Campanella each had interceptions and Ben Starmann and Peter Fanter registered sacks for a Glenbard West defense that’s been stout more often than not this season.

FND Pick: Glenbard West

Oak Park-River Forest (1-6, 1-3) at Hinsdale Central (2-5, 1-3)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Hinsdale Central 22, Oak Park-River Forest 19 (2022)

About the Huskies: The Huskies are coming off a 35-14 loss to Willowbrook, OPRF’s fourth straight loss. OPRF’s defense has struggled to stop anybody this year, giving up just under 35 points per game. Khalil Nichols and Johnny Nelson each scored on 1-yard TDs for OPRF’s scores against Willowbrook.

About the Red Devils: Hinsdale Central has had rare nights to celebrate in a rough season against a tough schedule, but last Friday’s 62-0 win over Proviso West was one of those occasions. Games with a struggling OPRF team and a rivalry game with Downers Grove North present the Red Devils with an opportunity to end the season on a high note.

FND Pick: Hinsdale Central

West Suburban Gold

Downers Grove South (4-3, 4-0) at Proviso East (1-6, 0-5)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Downers Grove South 46, Proviso East 28 (2022)

About the Mustangs: Downers Grove South has won four consecutive games since an 0-3 start and can clinch at least a share of its second consecutive Gold title, and become playoff eligible for its fourth straight postseason appearance, with a win here. Deon Davis ran for 159 yards and three TDs in a 33-14 win over Morton last week. The Mustangs have scored 124 points during their four-game winning streak after managing just 27 in their three losses.

About the Pirates Proviso East is coming off a 52-0 loss to Hinsdale South, its fifth straight defeat. The Pirates’ lone win came against district rival Proviso West in Week 2. The Pirates have given up an average of over 40 points per game since.

FND Pick: Downers Grove South

Willowbrook (5-2, 3-1) at Morton (1-6, 1-3)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Willowbrook 45, Morton 33 (2022)

About the Warriors: Willowbrook became playoff eligible with its 35-14 win over Oak Park-River Forest that in all likelihood locked up the program’s seventh straight playoff appearance. Senior QB AJ Palicki has been stellar all year piloting the Willowbrook offense, and had a monster game last Friday. Palicki was 19-for-25 passing for 348 yards and two TDs, and ran for 178 yards and three more TDs.

About the Mustangs: Morton is coming off a 32-20 loss to Addison Trail. It was Morton’s fourth straight loss since its only win, over Proviso East, but the competitive result against a winning team was a positive to take out of it.

FND Pick: Willowbrook

DuKane Conference

Wheaton North (4-3, 3-2) at Glenbard North (0-7, 0-5)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wheaton North 21, Glenbard North 14 (2022)

About the Falcons: Wheaton North emerged from a back-and-forth game against Geneva last week with a 25-24 win, snapping a two-game losing streak. Walker Owens ran for three TDs, including the game-winner in the final minutes, and caught a TD. Matt Kuczaj is a dynamic threat for the Falcons. He caught six passes for 157 yards, including three receptions of at least 32 yards. His final catch went for 14 yards and sealed the outcome. Wheaton North looks to become playoff eligible here with a win against struggling Glenbard North.

About the Panthers: Glenbard North is coming off a 42-0 loss to St. Charles North. It’s been quite a struggle this season for a Panthers’ program with a proud history. In particular, Glenbard North has scored just 53 points over seven games and been shutout three times.

FND Pick: Wheaton North

Batavia (6-1, 5-0) at Wheaton Warrenville South (4-3, 3-2)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Batavia 35, Wheaton Warrenville South 0 (2022)

About the Bulldogs: Batavia, ranked No. 3 in Class 7A, can clinch the outright DuKane Conference title with a win. The Bulldogs’ lone loss came to Lincoln-Way East, 14-13 in Week 2 in a game that came down to a two-point conversion at the end. Batavia is coming off a 54-0 win over St. Charles East. Senior QB Ryan Boe, a third-year starter and North Dakota State recruit, has thrown for 1,431 yards with 11 TDs and one interception. Versatile Charlie Whelpley has rushed for a team-high 466 yards and caught 30 passes for 304 yards. Chase Osborne has a team-high 49 tackles, SIU recruit Ben Fiegel 39.

About the Tigers: WW South is making a strong late-season surge to a playoff appearance, following up its big win over Wheaton North by beating Lake Park 31-8 last week. Matt Crider rushed for 146 yards and a 46-yard TD on 18 carries. Crider has been quite a difference-maker for the Tigers’ offense after returning from an ankle injury in Week 4. The Tigers have averaged just under 32 points per game with Crider, 6 points without. Maison Haas and the WW South defense has been steady most of the season, but will get tested by a versatile, experienced Batavia offense.

FND Pick: Batavia

Nazareth Academy’s Gabe Kaminski (5) tries to tackle York’s QB Sean Winton before getting a pass off during the second quarter on Friday Sep. 1, 2023, in Elmhurst.

CCL/ESCC crossover

Nazareth (3-4) at Marian Catholic (3-4)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

About the Roadrunners: Nazareth, once 0-4, is now squarely in a playoff chase after its dramatic 31-30 come-from-behind win over Brother Rice last Friday. The Roadrunners would seem to be a strong candidate for a playoff bid if any four-win teams qualify, but better to take care of business by beating Marian Catholic and St. Francis the next two weeks. Junior QB Logan Malachuk threw for 292 yards and four TDs against Brother Rice. Sophomore Jake Cestone had seven catches for 137 yards and four TDs, including the game-winning 53-yarder, and James Penley eight catches for 141 yards.

About the Spartans: While Nazareth has more notoriety as a defending state champion, Marian likewise is in a position to grab a playoff bid if it can beat the Roadrunners and Leo the next two weeks. It would be just Marian’s second playoff appearance since 2010. The Spartans are coming off a 50-28 loss to St. Ignatius. Junior RB Tyler Lofton, the ESCC Purple Player of the Year as a sophomore, has rushed for 1,034 yards and 14 TDs. Senior Carter Magerski and junior Joseph Baranski have both received time at QB.

FND Pick: Nazareth

Montini (5-2) at Brother Rice (3-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

About the Broncos: After a 5-0 start, Montini has hit a bit of a speed bump with back-to-back losses. St. Viator scored in the final minute to beat the Broncos last week 21-14. Gaetano Carbonara has thrown for 1,279 yards and 13 TDs with six interceptions this season. Alex Marre has rushed for 695 yards and six TDs and Santino Florio has a team-high 23 catches for 439 yards and seven TDs. Defensive end Nicky Castaldo had 10 tackles and three sacks in the loss to St. Viator.

About the Crusaders: Brother Rice, like Montini, fell victim to a late loss last Friday, 31-30 to Nazareth. It’s put the Crusaders, a Class 7A quarterfinalist the last two seasons, in danger of missing the playoffs for only the second time in the last decade unless they beat Montini and then St. Rita in Week 9. Junior LB Christian Pierce has 12 offers including Michigan, Ohio State and Texas. Navy recruit Randall Nauden rushed for 233 yards on 25 carries with two TDs in the loss to Nazareth.

FND Pick: Brother Rice

Benet (4-3) at Loyola (7-0)

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: Loyola 46, Benet 14 (2019)

About the Redwings: Benet kept its playoff hopes alive last week with a 23-13 win over St. Patrick – but it remains an uphill climb with games against Loyola and what will likely be an equally desperate Providence team remaining. Rocky Rosanova keyed the win over St. Patrick last Saturday with two long TD catches from QB Ryan Kubacki Jr. in the first half and number of big defensive plays. Rosanova’s significance to Benet’s offense has risen with the loss to leading receiver Pat Pitello to a broken collarbone three weeks ago. Kubacki threw for 258 yards and three TDs against St. Patrick.

About the Ramblers: Loyola, the No. 1-ranked team in Class 8A, is coming off a 47-0 win over IC Catholic Prep. Loyola, the defending Class 8A champs, have outscored opponents by a combined margin of 253-49. Beau Desherow is in his first season as Loyola head coach after John Holecek stepped down. The Ramblers have won three state titles since 2015 and made seven championship-game appearances since 2011. A huge showdown with Class 7A No. 1 Mount Carmel looms in Week 9.

FND Pick: Loyola

Fenwick (4-3) at DePaul Prep (3-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

About the Friars: Fenwick is coming off a 21-9 loss to Class 7A No. 1-ranked Mount Carmel. The Friars got behind three touchdowns, but couldn’t quite complete the comeback. Marek Hill threw for 201 yards and a TD pass to Nate Marshall. The Friars, who have dropped two straight games, need a win this week or in Week 9 at IC Catholic Prep to become playoff eligible.

About the Rams: The Rams are coming off a 35-7 win over Notre Dame, and will need to beat Fenwick and De La Salle to become playoff eligible. The DePaul Prep program has made one playoff appearance, in 2015. None of the teams in the CCL/ESCC Red, DePaul Prep included, currently have winning records.

FND Pick: Fenwick

St. Francis (5-2) at Leo (2-5)

When: 5 p.m. Friday.

Last matchup: First meeting.

About the Spartans: St. Francis has found a way to win of late, capturing its last three victories by a total of nine points – 33-28 over Joliet Catholic, 35-34 over IC Catholic Prep, and 31-28 over St. Rita. “Very proud to come away with a victory (last week),” Spartans coach Bob McMillen said. “I love the way our kids continue to fight in close games. We do have a ton of room for improvement, though. We must stop playing inconsistently and shooting ourselves in the foot. We have had opportunities to pull away from teams, but we do something to allow them to stay in the game. Eventually, these types of games will catch up to us.” Against St. Rita, Cooper Winslow’s 18-yard field goal in the final minute provided the winning margin. “It was a huge game for Cooper,” McMillen said. “He has had his ups and downs this season, but he came up clutch (last Friday). A lot of people don’t understand how hard it is for him as he is also playing soccer. He had played a game the night before. The kid goes to soccer practice and then to football practice, so we are being careful that we don’t wear him out.”

About the Lions: Since winning their first two games, the Lions have been outscored by a 227-50 margin during their 5-game losing streak. “Leo is a team that is a lot like us,” McMillen said. “They have had their ups and downs. They’re very well-coached by Coach Stevenson and his staff, but they also have tremendous athletes that can play the game. We need to make sure we are playing well because you don’t know what team will show up.”

FND Pick: St. Francis

-- Craig Brueske, Daily Herald Media Group

IC Catholic Prep (5-2) at De La Salle (3-4)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Last matchup: First meeting.

About the Knights: Will the Knights be able to suit up some of their better players, who were sidelined by injury and illness during last weekend’s 47-0 loss to Loyola Academy. “Sometimes, when you have a roster of 32 and you’re down nine guys, and a lot of them play both ways, there’s not much you can do,” Knights coach Bill Krefft told Shaw Local News Network’s Michel Dwojak following the game. Krefft also said he was unsure whether the injuries would keep the playmakers from the remaining two games of the regular season. Since the Class 3A defending state champion Knights are already playoff eligible, they may want to focus on getting healthy for the postseason. However, for 4A seeding purposes, two more wins would clearly help their chances.

About the Meteors: Despite their 3-4 record, the Meteors feature several game-breaking ability type players, including sophomore quarterback Kenyonte Louis (14 passing touchdowns, 6 rushing touchdowns), senior wide receiver David Coffey (8 total touchdowns, 3 receiving touchdowns), and junior wideout Myles Green (97.1 yards receiving per game, 9 total touchdowns, 7 receiving touchdowns).

FND Pick: IC Catholic Prep

-- Craig Brueske, Daily Herald Media Group

Upstate Eight Conference

Glenbard South (7-0, 7-0) at Glenbard East (6-1, 6-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last matchup: Glenbard East 7, Glenbard South 6 (2022)

About the Raiders: Loaded with talent and experience, the Raiders are off to a 7-0 start but figure to be tested by the Rams Friday night. The teams combined for 13 total points a year ago, and another defensive tussle could be in store. Then again, the Raiders feature quarterback Michael Champagne (18 passing touchdowns, 8 rushing touchdowns), Notre Dame-bound wide receiver Cam Williams (96 yards per game, 8 touchdowns, including 5 receiving), junior tailback Vontae Clark, senior running back Carter London, and senior receiver Anthony Colby. “(Glenbard) South is good – no doubt,” Rams coach John Walters said. “Saying they’re explosive is an understatement. They seem to reel off explosion plays every week. Trying to limit those opportunities will be the key in this game.” Defensively, the Raiders are led by linemen Saif Kokoszka, Jack Everett Anderson, and defensive backs Justin Jones and Williams. Two weeks ago, the Raiders snapped South Elgin’s 29-game conference winning streak in a physical, 14-13 clash. With a win, the Raiders would clinch their first Upstate Eight title.

About the Rams: The Rams showed some explosiveness of their own during last weekend’s 49-7 win over Fenton. Offensive highlights included Matt Larson’s 69-yard and 21-yard touchdown runs, Donte Hudson’s 40-yard touchdown run, Val Heredia’s 11-yard touchdown run, Blake Salvino’s 46-yard TD pass to Chikodi Nze, and Salvino’s 49-yard TD pass to Chris Renford. Salvino, who also plays defense, added an interception. “From an offensive standpoint, the QB position will play a factor Friday night,” Walters said. “Their guy (Champagne) has been at it for 3 years. Blake (Salvino) is, for the most part, in his first year as a starter. Both guys are impressive in different ways. We’ve been really impressed with Blake and the job he has done considering he’s also a starter at linebacker.” The Rams’ defense has been a constant all season – holding 6 of 7 foes to 7 points or less (South Elgin scored 17 points vs Glenbard East). “I think the consistency on defense comes from the buy-in to what we are doing, and the pride our guys take in playing defensive football,” added Walters. It may be Week 8, but a playoff-like feel is expected.

FND Pick: Glenbard South

-- Craig Brueske, Daily Herald Media Group

South Suburban crossover

Lemont (4-3) at Richards (5-2)

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Lemont 68, Richards 30 (2022)

About Lemont: Lemont rebounded nicely from a surprising loss to Hillcrest in Week 6 by drubbing Bremen in Week 7. Anchoring things around the running game, Lemont rushed for over 300 yards — over 9 yards a carry — in a game it controlled from the outset. This is an important game for Lemont to capture for a multitude of reasons. First, it would ensure Lemont wouldn’t be facing a win-and-get game in for it in Week 9 against T.F. North; and secondly, it would help keep it away from traveling to one of the high seeds in the opening round of the Class 6A playoffs.

About the Bulldogs: Richards is surging right now with a five-game winning streak after testing out a young roster with some daunting nonconference games (Morgan Park and Libertyville) before getting into the South Suburban Conference run. The Bulldogs have consistently progressed and have a variety of offensive weapons to try to get involved in the attack, making them a difficult team to establish defensive keys against.

FND Pick: Lemont

-- Steve Soucie

Chicagoland Christian Conference

Wheaton Academy (6-1, 4-1) at Aurora Christian (6-1, 5-0)

When: 7 p.m. Friday.

Last matchup: Wheaton Academy 24, Aurora Christian 3 (2022)

About the Warriors: After outscoring their last three opponents by a 147-6 margin, the Warriors figure to receive a challenge from the Chicagoland Christian Conference leaders Friday night. The teams have split four matchups since 2018. “Both teams are at 6-1, but you can pretty much throw record away when these two programs come together,” Warriors coach Jim Johanik said. “Both teams are well-coached. We see what they’re doing year-in and year-out, and they are football sound. It’s a fun game to coach and an equally fun game for our guys to prepare for and play in. I expect nothing but a great game as two spread offenses and sound defenses go against each other.” Quarterback Brett Kasper threw a pair of touchdown passes, as the starters only played a half during the Warriors’ 48-6 win over Christ the King. “Brett was just offered (scholarship) at Illinois State, where his older brother, Eddie (Wheaton Academy 2022 grad) is a starting wide receiver as a redshirt freshman,” Johanik said. Defensively, junior Jeremy Johanik led the team in tackles. Two weeks ago, he moved from defensive end to middle linebacker. “He has transitioned to his new position quite naturally,” said the coach. “A few years back, we moved his older brother, Peter, an all-stater, from end to linebacker, and he shined. With both Brett (Kasper) and Jeremy, we are witnessing younger brothers outpacing their older brothers’ footsteps.” Two weeks ago, Peter Johanik started at defensive end for Wheaton College and secured a win over Augustana with a critical 4th-and-4 sack late in the game. Johanik figures both teams will benefit from this Week 8 showdown. “Both programs need games like this, as we march toward the postseason,” he said. “Iron sharpens iron.”

About the Eagles: Last week, Aurora Christian jumped out to a 21-0 halftime lead on Marian Central Catholic and fell behind 22-21 early in the fourth quarter before rallying for a 40-28 victory. Quarterback Jalen Carter accounted for 302 total yards with 4 touchdown passes and a touchdown run. “Jalen has been playing week-in and week-out at a high level,” Eagles coach David Beebe said. “He is making great decisions and spreading the ball around. I can’t put into words the impact that he has had on this season.” Three of Carter’s TD passes were to wide receiver Owen Hampton (89 yards). “We talked about it at halftime, knowing they (Marian) would make a change since they’re such a great team,” Beebe said. “To our kids’ credit, they weather the storm and showed some great mental toughness. It was a central message during the film session Saturday morning. While mistakes were made, deep in their minds, they are building belief. They know they can withstand adversity, and that is a good thing because more is coming in the weeks to come.” Beebe knows the Warriors are dangerous. “Wheaton is a great team,” he said. “We are looking forward to the challenge. We have great respect for them on the field, and how they use football to build Christ-like character in their players.”

FND Pick: Aurora Christian

-- Craig Brueske, Daily Herald Media Group

Chicagoland Prairie Conference

Westmont (1-6, 0-5) at Walther Christian (0-7, 0-5)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday.

Last matchup: Westmont 18, Walther Christian 13 (2022)

About the Sentinels: The Sentinels have an opportunity snap a 5-game losing streak Saturday against Walther Christian. Last weekend, Westmont dropped a 42-6 decision to Elmwood Park. Freshman defensive back Konor Rogers provided a highlight with an interception.

About the Broncos: Walther Christian, which finished winless last season, has forfeited its last 3 games, so this weekend’s matchup is questionable. “As far as I know, they want to play,” Westmont coach Lee Maciejewski said. “However, that is subject to change.”

FND Pick: Westmont

-- Craig Brueske, Daily Herald Media Group


Downers Grove North (5-2) at Hinsdale South (3-4)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Hinsdale South 6, Downers Grove North 0 (2014)

About the Trojans: Downers Grove North has dropped back-to-back games following a 5-0 start to the season after last week’s 17-7 loss to Lyons. The Trojans have been without standout running back Noah Battle, who has missed the last two games with an unspecified injury, but Downers Grove North coach Joe Horeni is hopeful he’ll be back soon. Sophomore QB Owen Lansu was 15-for-28 passing for 139 yards with a TD to Owen Thulin against Lyons. The Trojans are already playoff eligible, but a couple wins the next two weeks would certainly benefit them for playoff position.

About the Hornets: Hinsdale South is coming off a 52-0 win over Proviso East and need to win out against Downers Grove North and Morton to become playoff eligible. The Hornets will need a yeoman effort against the Trojans.

FND Pick: Downers Grove North

Riverside-Brookfield (5-2) at Thornwood (0-7)

When: 6 p.m. Friday

About the Bulldogs: The Hornets are coming off a 40-14 win over Thornridge to become playoff eligible. They can clinch a third straight playoff appearance with one more win. David Valencia ran for two TDs and threw for another and Luke Kumskis scored twice for R-B last week. Valencia came on in relief of R-B starting QB Diego Gutierrez, who injured his right ankle on a sack in the first quarter and didn’t return after throwing a TD pass to James Espino.

About the Thunderbirds: Thornwood is coming off a 20-18 loss to Thornton. The Thunderbirds, while winless, have had their share of close calls. Losses to Rich Township, Bloom Township and Thornton have come by a combined five points. A defense giving up nearly 40 points per game has been a struggle.

FND Pick: Riverside-Brookfield

Joshua  Welge

Joshua Welge

I am the Sports Editor for Kendall County Newspapers, the Kane County Chronicle and Suburban Life Media, covering primarily sports in Kendall, Kane, DuPage and western Cook counties. I've been covering high school sports for 24 years. I also assist with our news coverage.