Sean Drendel spent 10 years as Naperville North's defensive coordinator before being hired as the Huskies' head coach in the off-season.
One of his first moves was to switch himself to the other side of the ball and become the offensive coordinator. Giving up the defense wasn't easy, but picking his replacement eased his mind.
"Anthony Silvestri and all the defensive coaches do such a great job," Drendel said. "I can't say enough about what they've done with the defense this year."
In Friday's 29-10 win over York in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs, Naperville North (8-3) held the Dukes -- who came into the game averaging 232 rushing yards -- to only 82. York running back Ryan Kent, who closed the season with nearly 1,600 rushing yards, finished the game with 60 rushing yards.
Silvestri was the Huskies' freshman team defensive coordinator before being promoted to varsity by Drendel this season. Silvestri, in his eighth year at Naperville North, started out as a volunteer on the varsity staff.
Knowing the big shoes of Drendel's that needed to be filled, Silvestri leaned on a veteran defensive coaching staff and a talented crew of players, headed by Boston College-bound linebacker Nick Lifka.
The Huskies have responded by advancing to the state quarterfinals for the first time since winning the Class 8A state title in 2007. They'll play Homewood-Flossmoor (9-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Naperville with a semifinal berth on the line.
"It's all about the kids, our kids did a great job," Silvestri said after the York win. "It wasn't anything special we did defensively, it was the kids who came out and made the most out of the opportunity they had."
Getting closer: Wheaton Warrenville South (11-0) is obviously rolling right now, but it hasn't been a completely smooth ride.
In consecutive weeks midway through the season, the Tigers lost defensive lineman Brian Welker and linebacker Jack Eshleman to significant injuries that have kept both players out of the lineup for more than a month.
After Friday's 44-0 second-round Class 7A win over Wheaton North, Tigers coach Ron Muhitch said his team may get back Welker for this week's quarterfinal game against Glenbard West. While Welker probably won't be able to return on defense this week, he might be able to resume his kicking duties.
Before breaking his leg in Week 5 against Naperville North, Welker averaged 34 yards on punts, hit 20 of 21 extra points and 2 of 3 field-goal attempts. He sent ten kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.
It's taken three players to replace Welker in the kicking game. Quarterback Reilly O'Toole has been punting, although he's only had to do it four times in six games, while Tyler Cook has made 38 of 39 extra-point attempts and freshman Baylor Holmes was brought up to varsity for kickoffs.
"We're getting some kids back," Muhitch said. "Our freshman's done a nice job and Tyler hasn't missed an extra point since his first one. With the combination of (O'Toole) punting, I'm pleased with our special teams."
Smashing: After a couple days of reflection on Mark Hiben's incredible receiving performance in Glenbard West's 42-28 win over Lincoln-Way East in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs, the feat looks even more incredible.
Hiben caught 12 passes for 319 yards and 4 touchdowns, a receiving record for yardage in a game that already is listed in the IHSA's online record book. The previous record of 317 yards stood for a remarkable 39 years.
Hiben, obviously, also broke they playoff record for receiving yardage and tied the Class 7A playoff record with 4 touchdown catches in a game. The 6-foot-5, 195-pound senior shattered the previous playoff record of 252 receiving yards set in a 4A game in 1989.
With 49 catches for 986 yards and 12 touchdowns on the season, Hiben's continuing the strong play he showed at the end of his junior season. After spending much of last year as a junior varsity contributor, Hiben shined in the playoffs and snared the game-winning catch with six seconds left in the Hilltoppers' 24-17 semifinal win over Lake Zurich.
About time: Sooner or later it had to come to this -- Montini against Marian Central in the Class 5A state playoffs.
This will be the seventh playoff game between the two Suburban Christian Conference Blue Division powers. Marian won consecutive 3A contests in 1994 and 1995 and the schools have gone 2-2 since 2004. Montini took last year's second-round 5A game 42-21.
"I don't know that you can ever know who's going to win," said Montini coach Chris Andriano, whose first three playoff foes have been the same this season and last season -- St. Francis, Sycamore and Marian.
"It's just such a battle," Andriano said of the Hurricanes. "They've knocked us out more than anybody."
In 2007, Montini went to Woodstock and shut out the Hurricanes 33-0. Marian visited Montini in the second round and won 29-15.
Last season the opposite happened: Marian 20-14 in the regular season, then the Broncos rolled on their way to the 5A title.
"The regular-season game, throw it out," Andriano said.
On Oct. 1 in Woodstock, Montini beat the Hurricanes 35-6. The Cousins Westerkamp led the way. Quarterback Matt Westerkamp ran for 3 touchdowns and threw for 2 others to cousin Jordan Westerkamp, who tied his father, former Montini all-stater Bob, with a program-record 12 receptions for 189 yards.
Marian Central coach Ed Brucker will know that combination is coming. These staffs have a history, so familiar with each other there should be few surprises.
Andriano and Montini defensive coordinator Mike Bukovsky, for example, game-planned against Dirk Stanger when he was Marian's quarterback, not its offensive coordinator. In Brucker's first year at Marian, 1995, the Hurricanes eliminated Montini with Chris Andriano's son, Matt, at quarterback.
"They're very similar to us in personalities," Chris Andriano said of the two teams' players. "I enjoy their coaching staff. They're friends, and they're good coaches."