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Boys Volleyball: Glenbard East Blows Past Oswego, Into Regional Final

The two teams meet at midcourt before Tuesday’s regional semifinal.

Glenbard East was just too much to handle for Oswego on Tuesday night.

The Rams never trailed as they defeated the Panthers 25-13, 25-16 in a semifinal game of the West Aurora regional.

Glenbard East (31-6), the No. 2 seed in the Wheaton Warrenville South sectional, moves on to face seventh-seeded Downers Grove South on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the regional title game.

“We were outmatched,” Oswego coach Amie West said. “They run a really fast offense and we haven’t seen anything like that. Glenbard East is a great school, they run a great program.”

In Game 1, the Rams used a 7-0 run to take a commanding 13-3 lead, and never looked back, winning the game 25-13. Glenbard East outside hitter Joey Farrell helped set the tone early, tallying eight kills in Game 1.

“I thought they came out well. We had good energy, as we should in a regional game. Joe was on top of his game,” Glenbard East coach Marci Maier said.

The second game didn’t go much better for the Panthers. Glenbard East shot out to 5-0 lead, as outside hitter Ben Haimann and middle hitter Tim Shenkin each provided two kills and two blocks. The Rams stretched their lead to 12 as they won Game 2 25-16.

Middle hitter Freddy Miller led the Panthers with seven kills and three blocks in their final game of the season.

“We are a really good team. They had a ton of potential and they had heart,” West said. “They knew it was going to be difficult, but they had heart, they played with pride, and that’s all I can ask from these boys.”

Maier is hoping her Rams can get some revenge in Wednesday night’s regional final.

“Downers Grove South beat us in our home tournament, so we’re hoping the outcome is different this time,” Maier said.

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Boys Volleyball: Oswego Knocks Off East, Advances To Regional Semifinals

Oswego East lines up for the National Anthem on Monday.

Winning a playoff game is always exciting, but it’s even sweeter when you get to knock out your biggest rival.

That’s exactly what Oswego did on Monday night, defeating crosstown foe Oswego East 25-14, 25-20 in an opening round game of the West Aurora regional. It was the Panthers’ third victory against the Wolves this season.

“The crosstown rivalry definitely added a lot more to this game,” Oswego outside hitter Trevor Hamman said. “We play them every year and for the seniors, it was the last time they’ll ever play them. We wanted it more because it that.”

Oswego shot out to an early 11-3 in the first game and never looked back. Middle hitter Freddy Miller had five kills and a block and outside hitter Quentin Kovac had four kills and a block as the Panthers took the first game 25-14.

In the second game, the Wolves capitalized on seven early errors by the Panthers to take an 9-5 lead. However, the Panthers captured the lead with a 6-0 run that featured two kills and a block from middle hitter Brandon Garcia, and never relinquished the lead.

Oswego coach Amie West said that Hamman – who had four kills in the second game – was the key to the Panthers’ 25-20 victory in game two.

“Trevor did a fantastic job in the second game. He really stepped it up, and got some really good kills,” West said. “Our passing struggled a little so we couldn’t go to our middles as much as we’d like, so we turned to him.”

Miller led the Panthers with eight kills, while Kovac had seven and middle hitter Kevin Oppe had five. Garcia had three kills and two blocks.

Setter Blake Izzo had four kills to lead the Wolves, while middle hitter Ryan Passini added three kills and a block.

The No. 15 seeded Panthers will face No. 2 seed Glenbard East on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. in a regional semifinal.

“We have not seen them at all this year. I know that they’re ranked No. 2, so they’re a very good team. You beat good teams by having a lot of heart,” West said.

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Girls Softball: Keegan Hayes Does It All As Naperville Central Knocks Off No. 1 Glenbard North

Behind The Fence: Glenbard North’s Lilly Fecho winds up on Wednesday.

A team needs a special performance if it is going to beat the No. 1 ranked team in the state.

That’s exactly what Naperville Central got from pitcher Keegan Hayes on Wednesday as the visiting Redhawks defeated No. 1 Glenbard North 2-1 in a DuPage Valley Conference duel.

The right-handed sophomore gave up one run and four hits in seven innings of work and provided all of the Redhawks offense on a two-run home run in the fourth inning. Naperville Central improved to 21-5, 10-1.

Hayes’ home run, the first of her career, came against Panthers ace Lilly Fecho. Hayes had struck out in her four previous at bats against the Purdue-bound Fecho this season and was in an 0-2 hole before launching the home run over the left-center field fence.

“I was shocked, it didn’t feel like a home run,” said Hayes. “I hadn’t hit so well off of Lilly, so I was really surprised. It didn’t feel like one.”

Fecho had a chance to return the favor with the Panthers trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning. With runners on first and second and two outs, Fecho hit a rocket to Redhawks shortstop Kelsey Gonzalez.

Gonzalez made a great stop and tossed the ball over to second baseman Nicole Kappelman for the force out to end the game.

Naperville Central coach Andy Nussbaum praised Gonzalez’s defense after the game.

“I am glad she is on my team. She did what she had to do,” said Nussbaum. “I’m glad she’s on my team and I think I’ve said that about 100 times this year.”

Glenbard North (25-2, 9-2) took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI double by Kelsey Muller. However, after the first inning the Panthers managed just two more hits.

Fecho had another strong outing, striking out nine batters while giving up seven hits and two runs over seven innings.

After starting the season 20-0, Glenbard North has lost two games in the last ten days. Panthers coach Josh Sanew said his team needs to get things going offensively again.

“We’re sort of heading the wrong way as we’re getting towards the state playoffs,” said Sanew. “I feel like our bats have gone a little bit down here the last five games. We’re just not coming up with that big hit, we’re leaving a ton of people on base. We’ve got six games to turn this thing around and headed in the right direction.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Naperville Sun and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Girls Softball: Oswego Claims City Pride With Comeback Victory Over East

Oswego’s Kristy Tracy faces Oswego East’s Alex Wagner on Thursday.

More than just a win was on the line Thursday when crosstown rivals Oswego and Oswego East squared off for the second time this season.

“It was just about pride. Pride over who owns Oswego softball,” said Panthers pitcher Stephanie Prentice.

Prentice had three hits, including a home run, as host Oswego overcame an early five-run deficit to defeat Oswego East 7-6 in a Southwest Prairie Conference matchup.

The Panthers completed a season sweep of the Wolves and earned the right to call themselves the queens of Oswego softball.

“That’s a big deal for the girls. I know they’re excited about it,” said Panthers coach John Carlson. “That will definitely be a high point of this year for sure.”

The Wolves got things going early, scoring five runs in the first inning. Brittany Warnecke, Molly Talaska and Alex Wagner each contributed run-scoring hits as East pulled out to a quick 5-0 lead.

But Prentice held down the Wolves from that point forward, allowing just one run and one hit in her final six innings of work.

The sophomore was also a big part of the Panthers’ comeback at the plate, collecting three hits – including a third-inning home run – and scoring three runs.

“I just wanted to come back and try to throw strikes again because I was a little all over in the first inning. I wanted to come back and fight for it,” said Prentice.

Oswego (9-13, 2-8) chipped away at the Wolves’ lead, scoring one run in the first and two each in the third, fifth and sixth.

Jessica Clark’s sixth inning single brought home Brooke Riess and gave the Panthers their first lead of the game, 7-6. Earlier in the inning, Riess hit a double to score Prentice and tie the game at 6-6.

Riess went 4-for-4 with three singles and a double, scored three runs and stole two bases.

Oswego East (8-14, 2-8) committed four errors and had two runners caught stealing. Wolves coach Patrick Molinari said the mistakes were just too costly.

“We didn’t make the right adjustments at the plate and made a lot of mistakes today that really came back to bite us in the butt,” said Molinari. “Our girls competed and did the best that they could. We’ve just got to learn how to hold on to a lead and finish a game.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

Oswego gathers in left field after their victory over Oswego East.

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Boys Track: West Aurora Captures First Place At Oswego Outdoor Invite

West Aurora’s Royce Golembeck prepares to launch in the pole vault.

Paced by a dominant performance in the field events, West Aurora’s boys track and field team took first place at the Oswego Outdoor Invite on Friday.

The Blackhawks tallied 161 points while Aurora Central Catholic finished in second place with 129. Host Oswego followed close behind in third place with 110 points while East Aurora ended up in fifth with 45.

“The field events got us off on the right foot and the track followed up with some really good performances,” said West Aurora coach Cortney Lamb. “Overall, it was a real good night for us.”

The Blackhawks won seven individuals events, including five of the six field events.

Aaron Kennebrew finished on top in both the high jump (6 foot, 1 inch) and triple jump (40-09.5). The junior jumper set a personal record in the high jump.

“I want to get better every single meet. I listen to my coaches, I trust them completely,” said Kennebrew. “My philosophy is to get better every single practice, every single meet so I’m ready for the big meets coming up.”

The Blackhawks swept the top three spots in both the shot put and the discus with Lijah Spears finishing on top in both events. Spears was followed by David Aleman and Shaq Redmond in the discus. Jorgeluis Ramirez and Aleman finished second and third in the shot put.

With a final jump of 12-06, pole vaulter Royce Golembeck finished first in his event for the second straight meet. Golembeck also took first in the pole vault at the Peterson Prep at Kaneland last weekend.

“I didn’t do well the three weeks before Kaneland, so I went in to practice and worked hard,” said Golembeck. “I’m trying to break in a new pole, and it’s turned out nicely for me these last couple meets.”

On the track for the Blackhawks, Vontrel Hawkins took first in the 400 meter dash (50.78) and while Greg Roache won the 110 meter hurdles (16.01). Roache also finished third in the triple jump.

Lamb hopes the Blackhawks’ success on Friday carries over into next week’s Kane Country meet, which will be hosted by West Aurora.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with what happened tonight. They came out and made a good showing,” said Lamb. “We accomplished what we needed to. That’s going to give us confidence going into next week and the following weeks.”

Despite being the smallest school at the six-team event, second-place Aurora Central had a strong showing, winning three individual events and two relays (4×400 and 4×800).

Matt Meyers took home first place in both the 800 meters (2:00.40) and 1600 meters (4:31) while sprinter Joseph Fese won the 100 meter dash (10.84). Chargers athlete Patrick Lefevre finished second in the triple jump and 110 meter hurdles and third in the 300 meter hurdles.

“We have a lot of courage on our team,” said Meyers. “Even though there were 3A teams here, we weren’t intimidated. We really wanted to go after it.”

Third-place Oswego was paced by long-distance runner Caleb Beck, who finished first in the 3200 meters (9:31.10) and jumper Alain Dixon, the champion on the long jump (21-00). The host Panthers also won the 4×100 and 4×200 relays.

Beck blew past his competition in the 3200, finishing 45 seconds ahead of second place Ricky Barajas of East Aurora (10:16).

East Aurora rounded out area teams in fifth place. Blazing sophomore Desmond Gant once again led the Tomcats, finishing first in the 200 meter dash (22.58) and third in the 100 meter dash (11.11).

“I wanted to run under 22.5 in the 200, obviously I didn’t do that, but I still felt I ran good tonight,” said Gant. “I can do better though, so I’ve still got work to do.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Girls Softball: Oswego Outfoxes Yorkville, Takes First At Fox Valley Tournament

Oswego catcher Jessa Garcia picked the perfect time to hit her first home run of the season.

The junior’s three-run homer in the fifth-inning broke a 4-4 tie and the Panthers held on to defeat Yorkville 7-6 to take home first place at the Fox Valley Third Annual Softball Tournament.

“That was a huge home run and it came exactly when we needed it,” said Oswego coach John Carlson. “We knew she had the power and she hit it in a time when we really needed something big. It was a huge motivator for the girls.”

Oswego took advantage of some early miscues by Yorkville and jumped out to 4-0 lead. The Foxes gave up three unearned runs as they committed four errors in the first four innings.

Yorkville evened the score with a four-run fifth inning that included RBI base hits by Corrine Rowe, Lauren Rhodes and Madeline Avery.

The Panthers quickly recaptured the lead in the bottom of the inning when Garcia’s three-run homer soared over the center field fence.

“I got a pitch down the middle and a little outside. That’s where I like it, so I just hit it,” said Garcia. “It just made me happy, because I’ve been waiting for so long to finally hit a home run.”

Rowe narrowed the Foxes’ deficit to one when she hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning.

The Foxes had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh inning, but Oswego (7-7) pitcher Jessica Clark was able to retire the next two Yorkville batters to seal the Panthers’ victory.

Clark pitched a complete game for the Panthers while also registering three hits at the plate.

Carlson said the Panthers played their best softball of the season in wins over West Aurora, Metea Valley and Yorkville in the Fox Valley Tournament.

“This team has played great these last three games. We hit better in this tournament than we have been all season,” said Carlson. “The girls are just playing together, they’re playing for each other.”

Yorkville (11-5) coach Kathi Dockstader said the Foxes were hindered by a lack of motivation.

“We just started things offensively a little late,” said Dockstader. “We were very motivated to play last night against Batavia, but we didn’t have that same intensity today. Oswego wanted it more than us.”

Yorkville and Oswego will play again in a doubleheader later this month and Dockstader is already looking forward to the rematch.

“The good thing about this loss is we get to play Oswego in a couple weeks in a regularly scheduled game,” said Dockstader. “We’ll definitely be up to the challenge.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Aurora Beacon and yourseason.com. It appears here.

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Girls Soccer: Carly Franzese Scores First High School Goal As Naperville Central Tops Oswego

Naperville Central midfielder Carly Franzese didn’t know what to do after she scored a goal early in the Redhawks’ 2-0 victory over Oswego Monday afternoon.

It was the first time the senior had scored a goal in a high school game.

“I saw an opening and I wasn’t marked, so I just ran through and someone made the perfect pass,” said Franzese. “I didn’t even know how to react once it went in since it was my first goal in high school. It was so exciting.”

It was forward Abby Joyce who made the pass to Franzese, setting up a goal that gave the Redhawks an 1-0 lead just five and half minutes into the game.

Forward Kristen Krebs came off the bench to give Naperville Central a 2-0 lead 20 minutes into the first half. Defenseman Amanda Albert’s entry pass was deflected by midfielder Paige Silver right to Krebs, who then scored her first goal of the season from five yards out.

“She [Krebs] needed to get that first one to get her going,” said Naperville Central head coach Ed Watson. “Early in the season, it’s nice for girls who haven’t scored yet to get on the score sheet. So it was really good to see Kristen and Carly score today.”

Naperville Central (4-0) was able to dominate possession all game, and the Redhawks out-shot the Panthers 17-2. Oswego (0-2) had very little success getting the ball past midfield.

“We kept the pressure on them. When the ball really came out of their end, it was tough for them to gain possession and link too many things together,” said Watson. “We bottled them up pretty well, our back four kept things under control. We kept the ball in front of us.”

Oswego has yet to score a goal this season.

The Redhawks have won their first four games, but Watson said the beginning of the season is about more than just wins and losses.

“These first five games before spring break are like our spring training,” said Watson. “It’s always nice to win these games, but more importantly, it’s all about giving the coaches a sense of what we have and what we need to tweak, and giving the girls an opportunity to know one another as teammates.”

The Redhawks will finish off their opening five-game stretch on Wednesday night against Waubonsie Valley at North Central College.

“Game one was a little shaky, game two was a little shaky, but three and four have been better,” said Watson. “That’s a good sign and we look forward to keeping things going against Waubonsie on Wednesday.”

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times, Naperville Sun and Aurora Beacon. It appears here.

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College Hoops Outlook: Which Teams Will Fade and Which Teams Will Soar Into March?

Now that the Super Bowl has come and gone, its time to turn our eyes to the beautiful game of college basketball. I’m doing my part to get familiar with this season of college hoops by writing a series of blog posts. I started yesterday with my piece on a few under the radar stars.

My second installment is on some teams that started off the conference season slowly, but are poised to finish strong. I’ll also touch on some teams who might fade in the second half of conference play.

On The Upswing?:

Indiana (18-6, 6-6)

Remaining Schedule:

vs Illinois

vs Northwestern

at Iowa

vs North Carolina Central

at Minnesota

vs Michigan State

vs Purdue

First off, congrats to Tom Crean, who won his first Big Ten road game against a team other than Penn State this weekend by defeating in-state rival Purdue. It only took three and half years.

Kidding aside, Indiana has a pretty favorable schedule down the stretch. They’re done with Ohio State, Michigan and Wisconsin, and five of their final seven games are at home, where they have knocked off two top five teams (Kentucky and Ohio State) this season.

The Hoosiers did lose to Minnesota at home earlier this season, so their trip up to the Twin Cities will not be a cake walk. The Hoosiers are 2-5 in Big Ten road games this season, so their game against the Hawkeyes in Iowa City won’t be a gimme either. As a Badger fan who happened to be at the Kohl Center this past New Year’s Eve, I can tell you that the Hawkeyes do have some talent.

Indiana should be able to win at least five of their seven remaining games, and they have a decent chance of winning six.

Alabama (15-7, 4-4)

Remaining Schedule:

at Auburn

at LSU

vs Florida

vs Tennessee

at Arkansas

vs Mississippi State

vs Auburn

at Mississippi

After just missing out on the NCAA Tournament last season, Alabama came into this season ranked and poised for a break-out year. However, the Crimson Tide got off a slow start in conference, dropping four of their first six SEC games.

Bama has won their last two conference games to get back to .500 in SEC play, and their schedule the rest of the way is very manageable. Ken Pomeroy has the Tide (24th in his rankings) favored to win in each of their remaining eight games. They’re done with Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and only play Florida and Mississippi State at home. Their toughest road tests will be at Arkansas and Ole Miss.

Michigan (17-7, 7-4)

Remaining Schedule:

at Nebraska

vs Illinois

vs Ohio State

at Northwestern

vs Purdue

at Illinois

at Penn State

Michigan dropped four of their first five Big Ten road games, with their only win coming against Purdue (who also dropped home games to Wisconsin and Indiana). While the Wolverines still have four Big Ten road games left on their schedule, they’re all definitely winnable. Illinois will be the toughest road test, as the Illini have beaten Ohio State and Michigan State in Champaign this season. However, the Illini are a mess right now, and I’m not sure they’ll figure things out anytime soon (More on that later on). I think the Wolverines should win at least three of their final four Big Ten road games.

Michigan is undefeated at home this season, but their toughest test will come in two weeks when the rival Buckeyes come to Ann Arbor. Michigan played Ohio State tough in Columbus, and I think they’ll pull off the upset at the Crisler Center. Michigan has a good chance of entering the Big Ten Tournament having won six of their final seven games.

Pittsburgh (15-9, 4-7)

Remaining Schedule:

at South Florida

at Seton Hall

vs West Virginia

vs South Florida

at Louisville

vs St. John’s

at UConn

If there’s one thing we should have learned over the last decade, it’s that you should never count out a team coached by Bo Ryan or Jamie Dixon.

After suffering through an eight game losing streak, Pitt has started to recover and may now have a chance of making the NCAA Tournament. The Panthers are on a four game win streak (including wins over Georgetown and West Virginia), and their remaining schedule is not too rough.

They’re done with Syracuse, Georgetown, Marquette, Notre Dame and Cincinnati. I could see the Panthers entering their game in Louisville on an eight game winning streak, and it’s not unreasonable to think Pitt could end the regular season by winning 11 of their final 12 games. If they do, the Panthers should be dancing once again in March.

Teams That Could Fade Down The Stretch:

Wisconsin (18-6, 7-4)

Remaining Schedule:

at Minnesota

at Michigan State

vs Penn State

at Iowa

at Ohio State

vs Minnesota

vs Illinois

The Badgers recovered nicely from their 1-3 start in Big Ten play by winning six straight games. If they had beaten Ohio State this weekend, they would have moved into first place in the Big Ten. Alas, they lost to the Buckeyes at the Kohl Center for the first time in the Bo Ryan era.

Things won’t get any easier for the Badgers. Four of their next five games are on the road, including tough trips to Michigan State and Ohio State. The road games against Minnesota and Iowa will not be easy either. Tubby Smith has done pretty well against the Badgers, and Iowa beat Wisconsin in Madison earlier this season.

The Badgers have already lost four times at the Kohl Center this season, so the home games against Illinois and Minnesota (two possible bubble teams) will not be gimmes.

The Badgers could easily go 2-5 or 3-4 down the stretch. But, Bo Ryan is still the head coach of Wisconsin, so he’ll probably work his magic to avoid that.

Florida (19-4, 7-1)

Remaining Schedule:

at Kentucky

vs Tennessee

at Alabama

at Arkansas

vs Auburn

at Georgia

at Vanderbilt

vs Kentucky

After losing to Tennessee in their conference opener, the Gators have racked up seven straight SEC wins. However, their seven game win streak is pretty hollow. Five of those seven wins have come in Gainesville, and just three have come against teams ranked in the top 100 of the KenPom ratings.

Florida will be tested in the coming weeks. The Gators will travel to Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas and Vanderbilt. They also host Kentucky on the final weekend of the regular season. Five of their final eight games will be on the road. The Gators are 2-4 on the road this season, including losses to two sub-100 teams, Rutgers and Tennessee.

Illinois (16-7, 5-5)

Remaining Schedule:

at Indiana

at Michigan

vs Purdue

at Nebraska

at Ohio State

vs Iowa

vs Michigan

at Wisconsin

Once again, Illinois has turned a promising season into a mess. The Illini moved into first place in the Big Ten after they upset Ohio State at home on Jan. 10. Since then, Bruce Weber’s crew has lost four of five games, including losses to Penn State on the road and Northwestern at home.

The Illini will play four of their next five and five of their final eight games on the road. Illinois has currently defeated just one Big Ten team (Northwestern) on the road. Illinois still has to play four nationally ranked teams on the road (Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State and Wisconsin).

One has to believe Weber is coaching for his job right now. If Illinois misses the tournament, Weber will be squarely on the hot seat. Yes, Weber led Illinois to the National Championship game. But it was seven years ago, and it was with Bill Self’s players.

Weber has not shown an ability to recruit elite talent (in a state full of it), and he also has not shown the ability to develop talent. Many of his players (Demetri McCamey, Mike Davis, Shaun Pruitt included) have regressed over their time in Champaign.

When Weber took over the program, Illinois was one of the top teams in the country year after year. Now, the Illini are muddled in mediocrity.

Minnesota (17-7, 5-6)

vs Wisconsin

vs Ohio State

at Northwestern

vs Michigan State

vs Michigan

at Wisconsin

vs Nebraska

First, the good news: Five of Minnesota’s final seven games will be at home. The bad news: Four of those five games will be played against nationally ranked teams (Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan), and Trever Mbakwe is still out for the year due to injury.

If the Gophers are to make the NCAA Tournament, they’ll probably need to beat Nebraska at home, Northwestern on the road and win two of their four tough home games (most likely against Wisconsin and Michigan). If they do that, they’ll finish the regular season 21-10 overall and 9-9 in conference. They might be able to sneak in at 20-11 and 8-10.

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Checking In With The Best Teams I’ve Seen This Season

Glenbard North (5-1, 3-1), tied for second in the Dupage Valley Conference

Glenbard North QB Brian Murphy escapes a tackler against OPRF

WHAT HAVE THEY DONE SINCE WE LAST MET?

Week Five: 31-21 win versus Aurora West

Week Six: 6-10 loss at Naperville Central

REMAINING SCHEDULE:

Week Seven: vs Wheaton-Warrenville South (3-3, 1-3)

Week Eight: at Wheaton North (5-1, 4-0)

Week Nine: vs Naperville North (4-2, 3-1)

RANDOM STATS:

Have outscored opponents 216 to 51

Opponents have tallied 25 wins

Star running back Phil Jackson has rushed for 605 yards and 12 touchdowns

OUTLOOK:

The Panthers offense struggled last week as Glenbard North lost their first game, 10-6 to Naperville Central. Phil Jackson went over 100 yards rushing again, but he was only able to reach the end zone once. Most troubling for the Panthers, starting QB Brian Murphy was knocked out of the game with an injury. Murphy runs well and he had a break out game through the air three weeks ago against Glenbard East when he threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns.

The Panthers end the season with a tough stretch of games against three of the best teams in the Dupage Valley Conference. That stretch could get even more challenging if the Panthers are missing their starting signal caller.

Wheaton North (5-1, 4-0), first place in the Dupage Valley Conference

Wheaton North QB John Peltz winds up to throw

WHAT HAVE THEY DONE SINCE WE LAST MET?

Week Six: 38-7 win versus Aurora West

REMAINING SCHEDULE:

Week Seven: vs Naperville Central (4-2, 3-1)

Week Eight: vs Glenbard North (5-1, 3-1)

Week Nine: at Wheaton-Warrenville South (3-3, 3-1)

RANDOM STATS:

Have outscored opponents 196 to 95

Opponents have won 28 games

QB John Peltz has thrown for 970 yards and 9 TDs, he also has 6 rushing TDs

OUTLOOK:

The Falcons have won four straight games, but the competition is about to get a lot tougher. Their previous three opponents have combined to win three games this season. However, their next three opponents have combined to win 12 games, and are all part of the four-way tie for second place in the DVC.

The Falcons are led by quarterback John Peltz who has thrown for 970 yards and nine touchdowns this season. Peltz is the best quarterback I have seen this season, and the Falcons will need him to keep performing at the level he has been playing at if they are to hold on first place in the DVC.

Montini (4-2, 2-1), tied for second in the Suburban Christian (Blue) Conference

Montini star WR Jordan Westerkamp

LAST GAME: 33-14 win versus St. Francis

REMAINING SCHEDULE:

Week Seven: at St. Edward (4-2, 1-2)

Week Eight: at Walther Lutheran (1-5, 0-3)

Week Nine: vs Wheaton Academy (1-5, 0-3)

RANDOM STATS:

Have outscored opponents 171 to 117

Opponents have won 33 games

WR Jordan Westerkamp has 28 receptions for 514 yards and 9 TDs

OUTLOOK:

After starting the season off 2-2, things are looking up for the defending 5A State Champions. The Broncos have won their last two games against solid conference opponents, Aurora Christian and St. Francis, and have done so in impressive fashion. Montini has outscored their last two opponents 88-28.

Montini’s schedule was front loaded. They lost two early games, but both defeats came at the hands of 6-0 teams, Loyola and Marian Central.

Montini got a boost last week from the debut of quarterback John Rhode. Rhode, a transfer from Marian Central, missed the first five games of the season while recovering from a thumb injury. Rhode took over the quarterbacking duties at halftime, and looked great, tossing three touchdowns in the second half. Two of those touchdowns were caught by star wide receiver Jordan Westerkamp.

The Rhode-Westerkamp connection may take the Broncos to another state championship this season.

Addison Trail (6-0, 4-0), first place in the West Suburban Gold Conference

Addison Trail RB Anthony Messina runs back a kick

LAST GAME: 35-0 win at Proviso East

REMAINING SCHEDULE:

Week Seven: vs Glenbard West (6-0, 4-0)

Week Eight: at Willowbrook (0-6, 0-3)

Week Nine: vs Downers Grove South (6-0, 3-0)

RANDOM STATS:

Have outscored opponents 172 to 13

Opponents have won 22 games

Have posted 4 shutouts this season

OUTLOOK:

Addison Trail is off to the best start in school history thanks to its stifling defense. Led by linebackers Kevin Kent and Mike Imperiale, the Blazers have shut out four of their opponents, and have only given up 13 points through six games.

The Blazers have two tests against undefeated teams left on their schedule, and both games are at home. In between they face a hapless Willowbrook squad that recently lost 48-7 at home to Proviso East on homecoming. First up is a meeting with Glenbard West this Friday night. The Hilltoppers may be without starting QB Justice Odom, who was injured Saturday in a win over Proviso West. AT ends the season with a de-facto West Suburban Conference Championship game against Downers Grove South.

Is the Blazers defense as dominant as the stats suggest? We will find out over the next three weeks.

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Glenbard North Scores Five Second Quarter Touchdowns In 49-0 Rout of Glenbard East

Glenbard North QB Brian Murphy Photo By: Stacia Timonere for the Sun-Times

Glenbard North 49 Glenbard East 0

Glenbard North exploded for 35 second quarter points en route to a 49-0 victory over Glenbard East Friday night in Lombard.

The Panthers pride themselves on being a run-oriented team, but it was the passing game that sparked the Panthers’ five touchdown outburst in the second quarter.

“I think we got a little stubborn in the first quarter, we tried to run, tried to run, tried to run, and we were attacking walled cities,” said Glenbard North head coach Ryan Wilkens. “We just decided that we would try to loosen up a little bit and go to the air. Brian had a good night, he threw 10 times in the first half, that’s a lot for us.”

Quarterback Brian Murphy completed 8 of his 10 first half pass attempts for 229 yards and two touchdowns. His second touchdown of the night was a 79-yard bomb to wide receiver Trevor Hackett that put the Panthers up 3-0.

Murphy also connected with wide receiver Solomon Oquendo for a 12-yard touchdown.

“I thought his timing was very good, he sat back there in the pocket, he had pretty decent time, but his accuracy and his timing was pretty good,” said Wilkens about his junior quarterback. “Overall for a team that is more of a run-oriented team, I thought he did a very, very good job tonight.”

The Panthers (4-0, 2-0) recovered a Glenbard East muffed punt at the Rams’ 15 yard line on the first play of the second quarter. The Panthers capitalized on the subsequent play when running back Phil Jackson ran 15 yards for his second touchdown on the game, putting Glenbard North ahead 14-0.

The senior running back finished the game with 75 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries.

Back-up running back Justin Jackson scored the second Panthers touchdown of the quarter on a 34-yard run down the right sideline. Jackson, who also starts at safety on defense, blocked a punt on the Panthers’ next defensive possession.

The Panthers fifth and final touchdown of the second quarter was scored by running back Tremel Smith on a one yard run. Glenbard North led 42-0 at halftime.

Quarterback Joe Kotch and the Glenbard East (1-3, 0-2) offense was unable to get anything going the entire game. The Rams only managed to gain 79 yards and four first downs, and turned the ball over five times. Kotch completed 3 of his 18 pass attempts for 23 yards and threw three interceptions.

“We didn’t do a whole lot right in every phase,” said Glenbard East head coach John Walters. “We need to make sure that we’re transferring our practice skill out here to the football field on Friday night, and that’s exactly what’s not happened for us.”

The Rams have lost three straight games since winning their home opener.

I wrote this story for the Chicago Sun-Times. It appears online at yourseason.com.

SCORING PLAYS

FIRST QUARTER

[5:30] GN Phil Jackson 1 yard run (PAT good) – 7-0 GN

SECOND QUARTER

[11:14] GN Phil Jackson 15 yard run (PAT good) – 14-0 GN

[6:59] GN Justin Jackson 34 yard run (PAT good) – 21-0 GN

[5:15] GN Brian Murphy 12 yard pass to Solomon Oquendo (PAT good) – 28-0 GN

[2:30] GN Brian Murphy 79 yard pass to Trevor Hackett (PAT good) – 35-0 GN

[0:11] GN Tremel Smith 1 yard run (PAT good) – 42-0 GN

FOURTH QUARTER

[8:35] GN Vincent Sherrod 37 yard run (PAT good) – 49-0 GN

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