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The West Aurora Blackhawks celebrate after a touchdown from Cole Child (14) against East Aurora in Aurora on Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. | Mike Mantucca ~ For Sun-Times Media
Naperville Central coach Mike Stine is wary of giving up big plays as his team tries to get back to .500 on the season in the second week of DuPage Valley Conference play.
West Aurora’s Nate Eimer, after hanging close but coming up short against Wheaton Warrenville South for the second year in a row, is looking for improved production from his ground game.
The two schools will clash on Friday in the Season Pass Spotlight Game of the Week on highschoolcube.com.
The Redhawks (1-2, 1-0) opened the season with losses to Upstate Eight Valley powers from District 204, Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley, but got a lift last week vs. Glenbard East with the return of 5-foot-9 speedster Ben Andreas from suspension. He had 198 receiving yards.
“He can move. He’s fast,” Eimer said. “He’s a game changer. He caught two bubble screens and went 50 to 60 yards with them. We have to keep him in front of us and contain him.”
Stine has similar concerns about the Blackhawks’ combination of junior QB Quintez Jones (31-for-65, 406 yards) and his favorite receiver, 6-foot-3 Cole Childs (16 receptions for 280 yards, 6 TDs).
“They’re very athletic, especially on offense,” Stine said. “Their quarterback and their one receiver are very good. They’re both guys that could easily score from anywhere on the field, so we’ve got to contain them.”
Wideout Tony Oros had seven receptions for 58 yards in his most productive day of the season and Aaron Kennebrew added a pair of catches for 14 more last week.
Booker Ross (42-294, 5 TDs) is West’s leading rusher but he was held to just 26 yards on 12 carries last week. Jones had 50 yards rushing.
Naperville Central is one of three DVC powers — Wheaton South and Naperville North are the others — the Blackhawks are winless against since joining the league in 1997.
“To end this streak, someone’s gotta make a big play, whether it’s on offense, defense or special teams, that’s what it will take,” said Eimer, whose team is 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the DVC. “We need something to swing momentum our way.”
The West coach is pleased with the way his team has practiced this week.
“They’ve responded well, worked hard and concentrated on their job,” he said. “Last year we may have been happy being there (close to Wheaton South). This year, we expected to win. It’s the only way to take a step forward.
“This week, we’ve gotta run the football. It’s hard to string together plays when you throw 33 times like we did last week.”
Linebackers Matt Williams and Spencer Thomas lead the West defense with 26 and 20 tackles, respectively.
“Defensively, their line is very quick,” said Stine. “Their linebackers are gonna attack the line of scrimmage. They’re gonna put pressure on. They’re gonna come after us, so we’re gonna have to be able to protect the ball up front and try to get the ball into space and try and let our athletes make some plays, too.
“They’re gonna play aggressive defense and I’m sure they’re gonna play a little bit more man coverage and play a little bit tighter than Glenbard East did. They played Wheaton South very close. Their athletes, as long as they stay healthy, are frontline athletes who can compete with just about anybody in the conference.”
Blake Baumgartner contributed to this report.