St. Charles North’s defense wants to rebound from two weeks that most other high school defenses would love to have.
The Stars defense set a high standard by holding opposing offenses the first three weeks to six total points. Nine of the 15 scored against them were against their own offense.
Then St. Charles North gave up 45 the last two games: Geneva’s offense had 24 against them in a 31-13 North loss and Batavia 21. Then again, the shame level in giving up points to unbeaten Geneva and 21 to defending Class 6A state champion Batavia is not exactly high.
“We were proud of the first few weeks when we barely let up any points, but the last few weeks we kind of faltered,” senior defensive end Jordan Bergren said. “We still feel we’re one of the best defenses in the state.”
St. Charles North (3-2), which hosts Larkin Friday, might struggle on offense but no one is complaining about a defense led by Bergren, inside linebacker Brendan McCarthy and linebacker Carson Schmitt.
Coach Rob Pomazak knew he had defensive talent before the season, but had to get it properly positioned. One key change was moving Bergren from linebacker to defensive end or five-technique spot on the 3-4 defensive front.
“Our goal was to get a little faster across the board defensively,” Pomazak said. “I think we’ve achieved that. We can get to the edge, but we’re also firm in the middle with guys like Carson Schmitt and Brendan McCarthy there.
“Last year I felt we were a little slow at the perimeter. So we took guys and moved them down to the line and made our defensive line stronger and took some guys from the secondary and moved them down to outside backer.”
McCarthy has 48 tackles, second high on the team, and has three for loss. Schmitt has 36 tackles, including four for loss. Ben Thiele (25 tackles) and Jack Callaghan (3 sacks, 4 for loss) have been big contributors, as well.
But Bergren has been the stat monster with enough video highlights to make any offensive coordinator lose sleep. Playing on the line now, he leads the team with 50 tackles, 13 for loss and five sacks.
“The other thing he does well for us, which people don’t see, is pressure the quarterback without getting to him,” Pomazak said. “He gets his hands up and gets batted balls — at least once a game. He’s kind of been the anchor on the defensive line.
“Playing five-technique, they can run away from (Bergren) but the other kids on the line have done a great job, like (Quinn) Calcagno and Dalton Young (40 tackles, 3 for loss) on the weak side. Both of those guys do a really nice job of kind of knowing their role and staying home and being able to play their gap.”
Bergren is being looked at by Butler, Purdue and several Ivy League schools as an end or lineman.
“It’s a constant battle playing on the line,” Bergren said. “At linebacker, sometimes you’d read and drop back. On the line you’re constantly fighting to win your gap and beat the guy across from you.”
Pomazak called it an unselfish move, but said the defense is full of unselfish players.
“We’ve got a lot of leaders on the defense, starting with Jordan and Brendan,” Pomazak said.
What the Stars haven’t had is a lot of offense. They’ve switched quarterbacks from junior Kyle Novotney to senior Nathan Didier, with Novotney moving to slot back. They also brought up sophomore kicker Adam Durocher.
“We’ve done a nice job of getting the ball across the 50, but as the field reduces we’ve struggled to score points,” Pomazak said.
As long as the defense continues to shrink the field for opposing offenses like they have, the Stars will have time to get the offense going.