||More Sports||Sign up||School Finder|
St. Charles East's Erik Anderson looks for room to run earlier this season against West Aurora. The Saints are playoff eligible for the first time since 2009. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media
With the end of the regular season approaching, St. Charles East likes its current outlook much more than the one it faced the past two years.
The Saints were relegated to playing out the string in 2010 and 2011 after 0-5 starts ended any hope of reaching the playoffs halfway into the season. St. Charles East did manage to win three of its final four games each of those years, but that was little consolation.
Fast forward to the present and the Saints are in the midst of a three-game winning streak. They are also playoff eligible for the first time since 2009 after a 23-7 victory at Streamwood last Friday pushed their overall record to 5-2.
The success represents a return to form for a traditionally strong St. Charles East program that appears to have turned the page after its brief downturn.
“We don’t think about the past,” St. Charles East coach Mike Fields said. “The boys don’t think about what happened last year. This is their time.”
Next up for the Saints is a showdown against undefeated and state-ranked Batavia on Friday at Norris Stadium in St. Charles. The clash will likely decide the Upstate Eight River title as the teams enter tied atop the standings with 4-0 conference records.
Leading the way this season for St. Charles East is senior Joe Hoscheit, a three-year varsity standout who stars at linebacker and fullback. The 6-foot, 215-pounder is a handful for opponents on the gridiron, but his future lies in baseball as he has already committed to Northwestern.
“We’re excited about where we’re sitting, but we’re certainly not complacent about it,” Fields said. “I think the senior leadership we have has really helped out tremendously. Joe Hoscheit has done a great job, and some of the other seniors like Anthony Sciarrino, Justin Cameron and Nick Asquini have also done a great job.”
In addition to the senior leadership, the Saints have a group of talented younger players who should help continue the program’s upward trajectory the next few years.
Junior Brannon Barry is a 6-foot-4, 200-pound talent at receiver who has 32 catches for 353 yards this season. Junior quarterback Jimmy Mitchell and junior running back Erik Anderson are also key contributors on offense.
Last but not least, sophomore guard Brennan Bosch is already receiving attention from big-time colleges and received an offer from Illinois over the summer. The 6-1, 240-pound lineman is the younger brother of St. Francis lineman Kyle Bosch, who is a Michigan recruit.
Bartlett's Hrbacek kicking the pain
Bartlett quarterback Steve Hrbacek may have suffered a broken collarbone on his team’s first offensive possession of the season, but that isn’t stopping him from contributing to the cause down the stretch.
Hrbacek returned to action several weeks ago as a kicker for the Hawks. He is a perfect 6-for-6 on extra-point attempts the past two games, and last week he drilled a 30-yard field goal in a 24-7 win at Larkin.
“He just wants to be a part of it,” Bartlett coach Tom Meaney said of Hrbacek. “He’s out there every day working at it.”
Meaney said Hrbacek likely won’t be cleared for full contact for a few weeks, but for now he and his parents have decided to take the risk of further injury should he sustain a hit on a botched field goal or some such play.
Hrbacek’s desire to contribute comes as no surprise after he patiently waited to take over as Bartlett’s starting quarterback last season while backing up standout A.J. Bilyeu.
“Steve had been working awful hard all summer and the last couple years trying to improve his skills at quarterback, and his kicking has always been decent,” Meaney said. “So we’re going to go with him because he is a good kicker.”
Golden Eagles finally tame Wolves
Last Friday’s 34-16 win at Prairie Ridge was a long time coming for Jacobs.
The Golden Eagles had lost 11 straight against the Wolves entering the contest. The victory was their first against Prairie Ridge since 1999, but they still trail the all-time series between the teams 11-4.
Next up for Jacobs is a clash against a Crystal Lake South program it has beaten only twice in the past 11 years. The Eagles can become playoff eligible for the third straight year with a win, which would be their first against the Gators since 2007.