Burlington Central’s defense started the year led by third-year starting linebackers Craig Kein and Cole Roach, and the Rockets are now down to just Kein.
Heading into Friday night’s key Big Northern game at Marengo, the Rockets have lost Roach for the season to a leg fracture, and have also lost starting fullback Dan Le to an Achilles tear. The injuries occurred in Friday’s homecoming win over Genoa-Kingston.
“We’ll really count on Craig Kein’s leadership now,” Central coach Rich Crabel said. “Cole’s leadership will be missed.
“It’s never the same when you have to replace a starter of their caliber. But our preparation has been good this week, and we expect to go to Marengo and give an all-out effort.”
Anton Christensen, a 6-foot, 215-pound senior, will move from strong side linebacker to inside and take Roach’s spot.
“He played inside the majority of our summer program because Cole had a broken toe then, so he’s not inexperienced there,” Crabel said.
The Rockets had four linebackers who played at different times, with junior Bradley Sorensen the fourth. Now Sorensen, who plays running back and fullback, will become their second player who plays both ways as he’ll join Kein and Christensen in the linebacker corps.
“Sorensen is faster than some people think,” Crabel said. “He’s pretty fast.”
Tackling will be at a premium for all the linebackers and defensive backs for Central this week against a Marengo spread offense that has one of the fastest players in the state in Jarrell Jackson. The 5-8, 165-pound junior running back took third in the Class 2A 100-meter dash last spring.
“They like to spread you out with their offense and so we’re going to have to be really good with our open-field tackling,” Crabel said.
Central (3-2) is tied with Johnsburg for the Big Northern East lead at 3-0 and hasn’t won the BNE since 2006. That was the last time the Rockets beat Richmond-Burton, next week’s opponent. The Rockets play Johnsburg in two weeks.
“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves with that because Marengo is having an excellent year,” Crabel said. “It’s going to be difficult every week in this conference.”
Elgin in a rush
On Friday, Elgin (0-5, 0-3) hosts Streamwood (1-4, 1-2) at Memorial Field looking for its first win of the season, and coach Kyle Rohde hopes some moves made to benefit the running attack can go a long way against the Sabres.
Besides shuffling the offensive line to make better use of 5-10, 170-pound blocker Sam Mascote’s quickness, and having Jo Jo Span at wingback, the Maroons moved Dontrell Gaddy from wide receiver to quarterback last week. He started the year at that spot. Gaddy replaced Terrance Miller-Allen, and his quickness as a runner helped the Maroons establish some ball control.
“We got our option game going, so we’re going to stay with that this week,” Rohde said. “Defensively, we have to stop No. 8 (Streamwood receiver Noah Polich), and it will help if we control the ball on offense.”
No Wave respect
St. Edward might be unbeaten, but last week’s 38-21 comeback win over winless Guerin didn’t sit well with pollsters and the Green Wave dropped from the top 10 in the Associated Press/Maxpreps Class 4A poll. The Wave had been tied for 10th with Herrin, but fell to the 11th most votes with Herrin (4-1) staying in the 10th spot.
The Green Wave plays its third straight road game Saturday at 1 p.m. at Walther Christian (0-5, 0-1), the smallest school in the new Metro Suburban East.