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Wisconsin is Fumagalli’s pick
By Dave Oberhelman and Kevin Schmit | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 9/12/2012 8:55 PM

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Waubonsie Valley football coach Paul Murphy said senior tight end Troy Fumagalli is normally reserved, doesn’t show much emotion.

On Wednesday, though, Fumagalli was all smiles after giving his verbal commitment to the University of Wisconsin on Tuesday night.

The two-year starter, who also plays defensive end for Waubonsie, entered the season with 12 scholarship offers from nearly all the Mid-American Conference schools and others such as Western Kentucky. Fumagalli follows two brothers into the college ranks — Drew and Ross Fumagalli, who attended Neuqua Valley, each played linebacker at Dayton.

Badgers coach Bret Bielema and assistant Chris Ash, the local recruiter, liked not only the build of the 6-foot-6, 225-pound tight end, but the prospect for continued growth.

“They could see him filling out to be 240-, 245-ish,” Murphy said. “They liked the upside. Here’s a young man who’s 6-6, 225 and doesn’t shave yet. He hasn’t matured.”

Illinois and Minnesota were on the bubble with offers, but after Wisconsin scholarships opened up and the offer came Monday, Fumagalli had to take it. He’ll fit in as a tight end or “H-back.”

“He was very happy with his decision to commit to Wisconsin,” Murphy said. “They’re very good academically and obviously they’ve been very successful in football as well.”

When it rains, it pours:

Wheaton Warrenville South’s football team has been deluged by nagging injuries.

Injuries are expected with any football team, but the timing for the Tigers couldn’t have been worse last week. Starting running back Brandon Adams hurt his shoulder the day before their game against West Aurora, adding to an injury to fellow running back Jesse Padalik that kept both starters out of a 14-7 win over the Blackhawks.

Backup junior running backs Isaiah Campos and Zach Moberg stepped up with a combined 100 rushing yards to give WW South an entire junior backfield with quarterback Ryan Graham, who rushed for 60 more yards.

“Thursday night we were scrambling and it went right up until game time,” said Tigers coach Ron Muhitch.

On defense, linemen Dan Chism and Patrick Buoniconti continue to sit due to injury along with defensive backs Adam Rogers and Ben Bach. What really hurt the Tigers’ defense last week, though, was the last-minute injury to outside linebacker Mitch Krafcheck.

Muhitch, after rattling off the list of injuries, said he plans to get some of his players back for this week’s key DuPage Valley Conference game against Naperville North.

“We’re just really struggling with injuries right now,” Muhitch said. “We’ll get these guys back, but it’ll be a while.”

Big men on campus:

There’s a reason Neuqua Valley averages 402 yards a game.

Five reasons, in fact — the starting offensive line of left tackle Andrew Geers, left guard Kyle Bryant, center Nick Bilgri, right guard Jason Vandermyde and right tackle J.P. Quinn. Tim Fields also gets kudos from Wildcats coach Bill Ellinghaus as the blocking tight end.

“I think our big advantage right now is we have a huge offensive line,” Ellinghaus said. “We’re big up front and they move, and that’s a nice combination. Then you throw an all-state back (T.J. Rhattigan) in behind them and we’re able to establish a run game.”

Geers, 6-foot-7 and 275 pounds; and Quinn, 6-5, 270, use their size to seal the edge of the line. Quinn has a Central Michigan offer and Geers interests multiple Big Ten and Mid-American colleges.

Neuqua’s linemen are graded after each game, and Ellinghaus said the lineman who has graded out the best so far is the 6-3, 230-pound Bryant. The coach said there’s room for improvement all around, but the numbers indicate all five linemen — six counting Fields — are having good years.

“Overall I will say the linemen have graded out much better than in years past because we’ve had the same offensive line coach (Clayton Figi) for five years,” Ellinghaus said.

Divided allegiance:

Like Democrats vs. Republicans, fans attending Friday’s Montini-St. Francis game at College of DuPage will be divided along sharp lines.

Except for Bill and Barb Dixon.

Between 1979-90 they sent five children to St. Francis from their home behind the Spartans’ baseball field. As the children grew, married and had kids of their own, the focus expanded. Friday the Dixons will have two grandchildren playing in the varsity game, one for each team.

Andrew Brundage is a senior receiver for St. Francis, son of Ann Dixon Brundage. His cousin is Patrick Strzempek, a senior Montini lineman who is the son of Sarah Dixon Strzempek. This will be the seventh time in eight years the boys have faced one another in football, dating to Andrew’s days at St. Michael’s in Wheaton and Patrick’s at Our Lady of Peace in Darien.

One of Ann’s younger sons, Thomas, plays for the Spartans’ sophomore squad. On Monday, Bill Dixon watched another of Sarah’s boys, Eric, play for Montini’s freshman squad in a 14-14 tie with the Spartans. More grandchildren are on the way.

For two decades Bill Dixon coached discus and shot put for St. Francis track, then did the same at Montini. He and his wife may have some measure of impartiality not shared by all their grown children.

“It’s pretty serious for the adults,” Ann Dixon Brundage said. “The kids are good about it.”

A speedy addition:

Naperville Central’s offense needed a boost, and the Redhawks got it with last week’s season debut of receiver Ben Andreas. The 5-foot-9 junior had 5 catches for 193 yards — much of it on bubble screens — and touchdowns of 51, 43 and 82 yards.

“With his speed he can score every time he touches the ball,” said Redhawks coach Mike Stine, who noted that Andreas is a track athlete. “He gets to that next gear. He can get to full speed in two strides.”

With fellow receiver Lasoda Thompson also making his season debut, Naperville Central’s entire offense is reaching another gear as first-year starting quarterback Jake Kolbe gains experience each week. Now that the Redhawks’ slot receivers are joining Blake Butler and Jimmy Nashert in the receiving corps, the offensive options have increased tremendously.

“With those guys back it just makes everyone a little better,” Stine said.

Secondary options:

Injuries are pressing area defensive backs into key action on offense.

With Addison Trail sophomore quarterback Matt Gontarek sidelined due to a hairline ankle fracture, senior cornerback John Taylor takes over behind center for at least the next three weeks, according to coach Paul Parpet. Taylor was the program’s quarterback at the sophomore level.

“Taylor’s a smart kid back there,” Parpet said. “We’re confident he can do the job.”

At Downers Grove South a lingering injury to running back Brian Spain is forcing junior defensive back DeAndre Washington into an offensive role in the backfield. Mustangs coach John Belskis believes Washington, a varsity starter as a sophomore, has the ability to step in.

“You need to have a feel for the position, and not everyone has it,” Belskis said.

Follow Kevin on Twitter@kevin_schmit