Experienced as Addison Trail's football team is this season, even the Blazers grew up last Friday.
On the opening drive of the game against Proviso West in Hillside, Anthony Catanese -- Addison Trail's top playmaker and last season's offensive player of the year in the West Suburban Gold -- was lost for the game after a hard hit caused a stinger.
With Catanese out the Blazers (2-0) still won the WSC crossover 25-6. They begin Gold play Friday against Leyden, and Blazers coach Paul Parpet said the 5-foot-10, 180-pound senior wing back is questionable to play.
"I honestly thought he was knocked out on the play, but thankfully he wasn't," Parpet said. "We were playing left-handed the whole game once Anthony went out. It's hard to imagine playing without him."
The Blazers overcame the adversity. Anthony Messina, a third-year starter like Catanese, became the feature back and finished with 112 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on 19 carries.
The possibility of playing without Catanese against Leyden certainly isn't something Parpet looks forward to, but the coach knows his team is ready to respond accordingly if it happens.
"It changed things offensively for us, but our guys played well," Parpet said. "It was a big game for us because it showed that we could play without him."
Win No. 1:
First-year Lake Park coach Chris Roll's first victory didn't come easy. He wouldn't have had it any other way.
"For my first win it was about what I think we should have gone through to get it," Roll said of the knockdown, drag-out, 37-35 victory over Glenbard East in Roselle.
"I think we're building a lot more character by doing it this way," he said.
That way was by the senior trio of LaCurt Evans following left tackle Chris Burns and left guard Matt Shannon 21 yards for Evans' fourth rushing touchdown with about three minutes to play.
Glenbard East still threatening, in the last minute senior linebacker Matt Mysliwiec secured the Lake Park victory with an interception, following defensive coordinator J.P. Moore's instruction: "You've got to win it."
One of the new traditions Roll's started, his players went to the stands "to meet their fans." The students started a chant for the head coach, and the players joined in.
"It was slightly awkward but appreciated," Roll said.
"I'm just really happy for the seniors," he said. "They're the ones that endured the tough (2-7) season last year. I've got a lot of games left, they don't."
Bringing it closer to home, on the field Roll received hugs from his children, Pete and Kate, then another from his wife, Kara.
"They deserve that," said the hardworking coach. "I've been gone a lot."
Where to now?:
Even with an 0-2 record for the first time since 1997, all eyes seem to be on Wheaton Warrenville South.
The Tigers face West Aurora (2-0) in Friday's DuPage Valley Conference opener and, only two games into the season, WW South's back is already against the wall. The Tigers need to win five of seven DVC games to reach the playoffs.
"As a coach I'm happy with the way we've played for the most part," said Tigers coach Ron Muhitch. "But as a competitive person expecting to win, I'm not happy. We've got to get a win."
Muhitch has been pleased with his team's play on defense and special teams, especially against two of the state's top teams in Glenbard West and Maine South. Offensively, however, the Tigers have struggled.
After sophomore quarterback Ryan Graham saw second-half snaps in last week's 13-9 loss at Maine South, expect to see him share time behind center with senior Thaddeus Armstrong.
"I'll be honest with you, we're still trying to sort that out," Muhitch said. "I'm not ready to make that choice between one or the other. I'm going to play with whoever's doing the job."
Muhitch's main goal against West Aurora is for his inexperienced offense to complete 10 perfect plays where all 11 players properly do their job. In comparison Muhitch said last season's Class 7A state championship team averaged about 30 perfect plays a game.
120 miles for six minutes:
On Saturday Immaculate Conception improved to 2-0 after six minutes of a scoreless tie.
One of many teams in several sports affected by lightning delays, the Illinois High School Association awarded the Knights a forfeit victory after they drove 120 miles to Michigan to face nonconference foe Edwardsburg.
IC left Elmhurst at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, toured Notre Dame on the way and then hoped to play some football.
The junior varsity game was canceled due to lightning after a quarter of play. The varsity game, scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m., was halted by lightning after IC had completed two offensive series and the Eddies one.
The teams waited until 10 p.m. until, finally, the game was called. An attempt was made to continue it on Monday and move back Edwardsburg's next game, but the Eddies' upcoming opponent would not comply.
The negative was that IC would have gained experience against a power-running team that went 11-2 last year.
"It sets us back, on the fact that we would have been able to gauge where we're at against a quality opponent," said Knights coach Chris VanDyke.
"We're still fresh, no injuries."
Glenbard North (2-0) keeps on winning with its ground game, but the Panthers are utilizing the run in a little different way this season.
The Panthers boast a talented feature running back in third-year varsity player Phil Jackson, although he hasn't had to carry the bulk of the load as much as past feature backs at Glenbard North.
In the Panthers' opening win over Oak Park, Jackson, sophomore brother Justin Jackson, Mario Rodriguez, Kudret Kamberi and quarterback Brian Murphy combined for more than 300 rushing yards. In Saturday's win over Fenger, six of seven touchdowns were scored on the ground.
The biggest boost to this year's ground attack has been the addition of junior quarterback Brian Murphy. A tremendous athlete, Murphy has the ability to break off big runs.
It's a dimension Glenbard North hasn't enjoyed in a while.
"We'll use a number of guys back there to run the ball," said Panthers coach Ryan Wilkens. "But I haven't really run the quarterback in a few years. Murphy can run it a little bit."
Out of nowhere:
Neuqua Valley senior Austin Schlosser has successfully filled the void created by the graduation of middle linebacker T.J. Rhattigan.
Wildcats coach Bryan Wells said the 6-foot, 200-pound senior rarely saw the field as a junior. Through Neuqua's first two games Schlosser leads the club with 25 tackles with a team-high 4 for loss plus a sack and a fumble recovery.
Though Wells said Schlosser does explode to the ball, he doesn't get it done all with brute strength or sprinter's speed. Wells said he uses intelligence and instinct. His greatest strength, the coach said, is simply being "a good football player."
Part of Schlosser becoming Neuqua's top tackler is the system, a 3-5 defensive scheme. On the other hand, with Neuqua returning only linebacker Sam Norgaard and defensive end Michael Ippolito, Wells said Schlosser has "fought through a lot of trash from offensive linemen that T.J. never had to fight through."
The senior "owned" the middle linebacker spot in summer camp and preseason, said Wells, who is not surprised with his success under Friday night lights.
"He's just quietly played very well," Wells said.