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Naperville Central's Jimmy Nashert (17) and Lawrence Jones (5) celebrate in the end zone after a touchdown reception from Ben Andreas (83) against West Aurora in Naperville on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012. | Mike Mantucca~For Sun-Times Media
Naperville Central rebounding from 0-2 start and settling into a flow
Starting the season by giving up a combined 75 points in losses to Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley, which both enter Week 5 with 4-0 records, there’s little doubt the season got off to a rough start for Naperville Central.?Perhaps it was a break in the schedule or perhaps it was an influx of three starters who missed out on Naperville Central’s first two games because of suspensions. But after four weeks, Naperville Central finds itself sitting at 2-2 and feeling better about itself after lopsided victories over both Glenbard East and West Aurora.
Without a doubt, the return of junior wide receiver Ben Andreas has energized the Redhawks’ offense.
Eleven receptions for 294 yards and five touchdowns over the course of the last two weeks will do that.
“Well, we’ve been doing this since like freshman year. I mean, I’ve played with him since sixth grade, so he’s been my receiver since then,” Naperville Central junior quarterback Jake Kolbe said after Andreas caught six passes for 101 yards and two touchdowns on Friday against West Aurora. “So I don’t know. It just seems like we have that connection.”
The fact the Redhawks’ offense has put up two consecutive 40-point efforts after averaging 21 points in the losses to Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley bodes well as the tougher portion of their DVC schedule still looms.
But Naperville Central coach Mike Stine thinks the improvement the offense has made goes beyond Andreas’ return from a two-game suspension.
“It’s (that we’re back at full strength). We’ve got Ben, we’ve got Lesoda (Thompson) back [from suspension] and (Jim) Nashert is playing full-time offense now,” Stine said after the game on Friday. “And with Blake (Butler) and Nick Thomas, those are five [weapons]. And with Jake throwing it, that’s six pretty good skill players and Collin Park at tight end is a threat. He had a big catch (a 16-yard touchdown Friday against West Aurora).
“So right (now), offensively, we feel pretty good. But, you know, next week’s a new week. You grow from this one, but you gotta get back to the drawing board, get ready for next week.”
Naperville Central (2-2, 2-0 DuPage Valley) welcomes Wheaton Warrenville South to town on Friday.
Naperville North dealing with 0-2 start in DuPage Valley Conference play
Given the undaunting task of beginning DuPage Valley Conference play against both Wheaton schools in each of the last two years, the DVC schedule certainly has been frontloaded for Naperville North.
Splitting against the two Wheaton programs last year, which included a 17-14 home victory over Wheaton Warrenville South, the Huskies took advantage by winning four straight, starting with the victory over the Tigers, to get to 5-2 before losing their final three games to finish at 5-5.
Fast forward to 2012 and the Huskies have been handed losses by both Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South the last two weeks to start 0-2 in the DVC.
“I mean, you got to play them all. So I don't know if it works in our favor at all," Naperville North coach Sean Drendel said last week. "Every team in the DVC is a quality opponent, so you better be ready to play. Having played both Wheatons after two weeks, it's a dangerous situation because you definitely could be 0-2 — which doesn't bode well for the conference race.”
Heading into its Week 8 meeting with crosstown rival Naperville Central on Oct. 12 at North Central College, Naperville North should have time to get on track with very winnable games coming up in the next three weeks, starting with going to West Chicago this Friday.?
But the fact remains that, provided it beats West Chicago this week and follows suit with home victories over Glenbard East and West Aurora, respectively, Naperville North (1-3, 0-2 DuPage Valley) will need to get a victory over either Naperville Central in Week 8 or close out the regular season at home against Glenbard North with a victory to avoid missing out on the postseason for the first time since 1996.
?“But (we) have to beat West Chicago to even be put in that situation (at 4-3),” Drendel said on Tuesday.
Waubonsie Valley gets off to good start in Upstate Eight Valley race
Beginning its Upstate Eight slate with a 56-0 shutout at Streamwood in Week 3, while Neuqua Valley, Lake Park and Bartlett all earned Upstate Eight Valley victories in Week 3,
Waubonsie Valley knew a victory over Lake Park was imperative.
Behind a third straight four-touchdown game on the ground from senior running back Austin Guido, the Warriors beat Lake Park, 49-28, at home last Friday — pinning the first loss on the Lancers in the division.
“They’re 1-0 in the conference. That’s what I’ve told the players — they’re 1-0 in the conference. We’re 0-0, so we’re technically chasing three other teams that are now ahead at 1-0,” Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy said last week. “We’ve played our nonconference game first and they’re all gonna get theirs later in the year, so this is a chance for us to knock them out of their ranks undefeated in the conference and move ourselves into a position where we now we only got two teams to worry about and go from there.”
After a 223-yard effort against Lake Park, marking his third 200-yard game of the season, Guido has accumulated 844 yards and 15 touchdowns in the season’s first four weeks.
Off to its first 4-0 start since 1992, Waubonsie Valley (4-0, 1-0 Upstate Eight Valley), which made its debut this week in the Associated Press’ Class 8A poll at No. 9, travels to play Bartlett on Friday, looking to avenge its only regular-season loss from last year.
Pounding the ball a way of life at Neuqua Valley
Immersed in the program’s first-ever 4-0 start after last week’s 34-0 road shutout of St. Charles East, Neuqua Valley continues to roll along.
Allowing senior quarterback Dylan Andrew to throw just 18 passes over the last two weeks, the Wildcats’ running game has carried the load in being directly responsible for 506 of their 600 combined total yards that they’ve racked up in consecutive road victories over South Elgin and St. Charles East, respectively.
“I really feel like with our offensive line playing well and with the running backs playing as well as they are, I feel like there’s gonna be some point of the defense where we’re going to be able to start to establish the run game,” Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus said last week. “And if there’s not, we’re gonna keep running the ball until we establish the run game.”
Against the Saints, senior running back Joey Rhattigan ran 14 times for 129 yards and scored two TDs. Through the Wildcats’ first four games, Rhattigan has run for 712 yards and 10 touchdowns.
With winless East Aurora up next on the schedule, a 5-0 start is well within reach for Neuqua Valley (4-0, 1-0 Upstate Eight Valley), which rose to 7th in this week’s AP Class 8A poll, with its annual meetings with its two District 204 rivals — Metea Valley and Waubonsie Valley — awaiting in the following two weeks.