Tuesday, October 1, 2013

There are a number of good games...

...scheduled for this Friday night.

If you live up north you could see St. Francis (3-2) at Marian Central (4-1); Grayslake North (5-0) at Crystal Lake Central (4-1); or Stevenson (3-2) at Warren (4-1).

If you live down south you could watch Homewood-Flossmoor (5-0) at Sandburg (4-1); or St. Rita (4-1) at Providence (3-2).

And if you live in the western suburbs you could go to Glenbard West (4-1) at Oak Park River Forest (5-0); or if you live way out west there's Marmion (4-1) at Aurora Christian (5-0).

All of those should be good contests.

But for me, the Game of the Night this Friday will be undefeated Naperville Central (5-0) at Wheaton Warrenville South (4-1).

The Redhawks are my No. 1 team. I saw them play in Week Two against Neuqua Valley and thought they had it all: a great quarterback, Jake Kolbe (above), who can run as well as throw, a talented receiver corps led by Michael Kolzow, a solid running game led by Ben Andreas, and a strong defense (which hasn't allowed a touchdown in the last 14 quarters). I still maintain that Central could play with anyone I've seen so far this year. (Will they meet up with Loyola in the 8A final?)

Here are the Redhawks' results through Week Five (home team in CAPS):

NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 23, Waubonsie Valley 10
NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 58, Neuqua Valley 35
NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 55, Glenbard East 0
Naperville Central 42 AURORA WEST 0

Wheaton South, coming off a disappointing 4-5 year in which it missed the playoffs (for the first time in forever), seems to be back. After defeating three of the best teams in the state, the Tigers were upset last week by Naperville North. Was that a fluke, or is the DuPage Valley Conference really one of the very best in the state? (I'll have a few thoughts on the various conferences soon.)

The Wheaton South that I saw defeat Wheaton North in Week Three was a typical Ron Muhitch team: not a lot of flashy stars, just good workmanlike performances from the likes of quarterback Ryan Graham and running back Isaiah Campos. Combine that with the Tigers' intimidating defense* and you have a squad that could make it all the way to the 7A championship in DeKalb. (Against Mount Carmel?)

Here's how the Tigers have fared through Week Five:

Wheaton Warrenville South 28, MAINE SOUTH 13
NAPERVILLE NORTH 21, Wheaton Warrenville South 14

How have the two squads performed against each other in recent years? Like bookends; Central won last year and in 2004. Other than that it's been all Wheaton South (including 2011 when the Redhawks made it all the way to the 8A semifinals against eventual winner Bolingbrook). During this time, Wheaton South won the state title in 2006, 2009 and 2010 and was runner-up in 2007 and 2011. Wow!

2012: NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 24, Wheaton Warrenville South 13
2011: WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH 14, Naperville Central 7
2010: Wheaton Warrenville South 38, NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 13
2009: WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH 24, Naperville Central 8
2008: Wheaton Warrenville South 45, NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 7
2007: WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH 26, Naperville Central 7
2006: Wheaton Warrenville South 41, NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 7
2005: WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH 31, Naperville Central 17
2004: NAPERVILLE CENTRAL 20, Wheaton Warrenville Central 17

So who will win Friday's matchup? I'm going to stick with Naperville Central despite Wheaton South's history and home field advantage. If you're going, get there early.

* Not a lot of flashy stars, just good workmanlike performances combined with an intimidating defense. That could describe Loyola.

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