Wes Sanders, center, of Glenbard South moves his way through Benet defense as Jim O'Malley moves in to tackle during football Friday in Lisle at Benedictine University.
BEV HORNE | Staff Photographer ¬
Glenbard South's football team isn't just hoping for a different result this time.
The Raiders are planning on it.
The first time they played Prairie Ridge, the Wolves pounded the Raiders 55-12 in Week 1. They meet again at 7 p.m. Saturday in Glen Ellyn in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs.
"We aren't even close to being the same team we were in the opening week of the season," said Glenbard South coach Jeremy Cordell. "Whether it's personnel changes or with fundamentals and technique, we're a much better team."
Since that season-opening loss the 10th-seeded Raiders (7-3) have overcome a 1-3 start to win six straight games, including last week's 30-7 first-round win over Foreman. Second-seeded Prairie Ridge (9-1), whose lone loss came in a Week 9 overtime defeat to Cary-Grove, pounded Marmion 49-0 last week.
Even though Glenbard South struggled to compete with the Wolves nine weeks ago, the Raiders are excited about getting a second chance in the playoffs.
"Our kids are very excited to play this team," Cordell said. "All teams try to get better each week, and that's what we've done."
Two years ago Wheaton North needed a double-overtime Week 9 win over Glenbard East just to make the playoffs. The following week the Falcons hit the road as a 15th seed and upset second-seeded Boylan in Rockford in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.
This weekend Wheaton North makes a return trip to Rockford to play the Titans, who last season claimed the 6A state title. The No. 7 Falcons (8-2) hope to pull off another upset against Boylan (10-0), which again is seeded second in 7A.
"We had some success there last time, so we'll see what happens," said Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski.
The Falcons played their first 10 games on Fridays, but this week they'll face Boylan at 1 p.m. Saturday. After a team breakfast the Falcons will hit the road at about 10 a.m.
Wardynski doesn't believe the switch in schedule will adversely affect his team.
"By Friday they'll be ready to play," Wardynski said. "But I think they'll be just fine playing Saturday."
Anyone playing Naperville Central (7-3) knows they need to slow down running back Matt Randolph, who has rushed for 1,433 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Last week, however, the No. 9 Redhawks gave No. 16 Belleville East (6-4) something to think about as they head into the second round of the Class 8A playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday in Naperville.
Naperville Central quarterback Ian Lewandowski threw the ball on 10 of the Redhawks' first 20 plays from scrimmage, including touchdowns to John Dicianni and Randolph. Lewandowski completed 9 of 16 passes for 218 yards and Randolph added 151 rushing yards.
Now that the Redhawks have shown they're willing to throw it early something that's very important when exchanging game tapes opponents need to respect the pass.
"If I was playing us I'd put eight or nine guys in the box to stop the run," said Naperville Central coach Mike Stine. "If you watch last week's game, though, I think it shows we can also hurt teams with Ian throwing it."
The man in the middle:
It's pretty clear that Glenbard West's defensive strength starts up front with Penn State-bound lineman Tommy Schutt and fellow end Ruben Dunbar. In the Hilltoppers' 3-5 scheme, senior nose tackle Kendell Kimble also is contributing his fair share of disruption on the line.
"Our nose tackle is tough," said Hilltoppers coach Chad Hetlet. "Right away he took to the position."
Kimble, 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds, played linebacker his freshman and sophomore seasons before a knee injury sidelined him as a junior. Despite consistently giving up a lot of size to opposing offensive linemen, Kimble's quickness makes up for it.
"He's a strong kid, but he's a sprinter in track," Hetlet said. "He can handle a block, and he's also quick enough to get past it."
Top-seeded Glenbard West (10-0) plays host to No. 8 Lake Zurich (8-2) in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs at 1 p.m. Saturday in Glen Ellyn.
Through the years Wheaton Warrenville South (7-3) has been led defensively by a strong group of linebackers. This season is no different.
Senior linebackers Adam Dansdill and Brandon Peterson, two of the lone defensive players with experience entering the season, have been leaders of the unit all season. Tigers coach Ron Muhitch even compares the tandem to what he considers the best pair of linebackers he's ever had: Pat Crosby and Nick Duffy from the 1998 Class 6A state title team.
Muhitch isn't saying Dansdill or Peterson are more talented than Crosby and Duffy, especially considering Crosby played at Western Illinois and Duffy at Northern Illinois. In terms of their contributions to the team, though, Dansdill and Peterson are right up there.
Dansdill leads the team with 105 tackles, while Peterson is close behind with 92. Both players were named to the all-DuPage Valley Conference team in addition to fellow linebacker Dan Roadman.
"In terms of production and playmaking, those guys are up there with the best we've had," Muhitch said. "They're two of the most efficient linebackers we've ever had."
The No. 8 Tigers face a stiff challenge this weekend when they travel to Frankfort to take on top-seeded Lincoln-Way East (10-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
After St. Francis (8-2) shut out Immaculate Conception in Week 8, IC quarterback Demetrius Carr said the Spartans always seemed to get 11 defenders to the football.
That conflicts with St. Francis coach Greg Purnell's assessment of the Spartans' overall team speed being only average, at best.
On the other hand Purnell said the key to St. Francis' four straight victories, including its first-round Class 5A effort over Burlington Central, has been "the defensive charge that we've been playing with."
He credits defensive coordinator Jesse Pierce.
"(He) has really done a great job of getting us in the right position," Purnell said. "It started with Marmion, I thought we played a real good half defensively (in a 20-14 win), and it's continued throughout the last four games."
The head coach noted the difficulty of developing enough linebackers to fill out the 3-5 defense, geared to stop passing teams such as Kaneland, which the Spartans visit Saturday. Pierce has been able to groom players like Hunter Bolin, who Purnell called an "unsung hero," a former defensive back who's adapted to outside linebacker.
Pierce came in from Texas to be defensive coordinator and teach English, on Purnell's recommendation.
"Of course, everybody was scared to bring in an English teacher out of Texas," Purnell quipped. "He's done a tremendous job of starting our wrestling program, of being an assistant athletic director, and he's doing a bang-up job of teaching freshman English."
As far as that supposed lack of speed Pierce has to work with, heart and positioning have seemed to overcome that.
"They never have a stopwatch on the field," Purnell said.
About 1,500 fans witnessed the first playoff game on Montini's new turf surface at John Duffy Field. The Broncos were dressed in new uniforms of fresh maroon jerseys and gold pants.
Montini coach Chris Andriano said he brought up "a good number" of freshmen and sophomores to round out scout teams and gain postseason experience.
"It looked like we had an army out there," Andriano said. "We had almost 90 guys dressed for the game. And the field looked great. Sunshine, a playoff game, good weather, everybody was pumped up."
Montini (8-2) proceeded to deflate Class 5A foe Woodstock North with a 28-point second-half flurry in a 49-14 victory.
It was the Broncos' 11th straight playoff win for the two-time defending 5A champion.
"Numbers-wise," Andriano said, "we'd love to get to 15."