He was everywhere, or so it seemed.
Aurora Christian senior Brandon Walgren turned in a performance in Saturday’s 24-3 first-round playoff win at Immaculate Conception that left his coaches marveling two days later.
The 6-foot, 205-pound senior who is listed as a strong safety and wide receiver on the Eagles’ roster, also saw duty as a running back and quarterback in the Wildcat formation. It was his first action after missing three games with a slight (1st degree) shoulder separation.
His line from the game, which earned him Player of the Week honors, includes:
1-for-1 passing, 74-yard TD to Noah Hagerty.
6 runs, 38 yards.
2 receptions, 26 yards
10 tackles (5 solo), 4.5 for loss, 2 passes deflected.
1 interception, returned 98 yards for TD.
“Statistically, Brandon had the highest (defensive) grade of any game ever,” ACS defensive coordinator Dave Beebe said of his film review.
The coach grades his players’ performances giving them bonus points for big hits, deflections, TDs and the like and subtractions for missed assignments, penalties and loafs. Walgren had a 127.
“Best rating in Dave’s 10 years of doing this. It’s kind of like the quarterback rating,” said head coach Don Beebe. “(Walgren) had just a great all-around performance, running, catching, throwing and defensively, everything.”
The great eight?
An all-time high 12 area teams made the playoffs this year and eight — Aurora Christian, Plano, Kaneland, Marmion, Batavia, Oswego East, Oswego and Waubonsie Valley — have advanced to the second round. All will play on Saturday (see playoff schedule below). Only seven of the 64 second-round games across the state will be played on Friday.
How did the conferences our teams play in do in the first round? The Upstate Eight Valley was 2-0, DuPage Valley 4-1, Suburban Christian Blue 4-2, Northern Illinois Big 12 East 3-2, Interstate Eight Large and Southwest Prairie both 2-3, Upstate Eight River 1-2 and SCC Gold 0-2.
Making an impact
Christian Gibbs didn’t have a reception in Waubonsie Valley’s win over Naperville North until late in the third quarter, but the senior WR/DB, still made an impact on both sides of the ball.
He set up Jon Fizer with the game’s first TD, delivering a block downfield to allow Fizer to take it in for the 28-yard score.
“Gibbs is a really great blocker and nobody gives him credit for that,” said Warriors’ coach Paul Murphy. “He gets blocks like that and that’s how you get the long runs. Somebody downfield has to get that key block and once you get Jonny (Fizer) in the open, he can finish and take it to the house.”
Same teams, different venue
Oswego will hope to use its home field advantage Saturday to extend its season. The Panthers are quite familiar with Waubonsie Valley, having dropped a 40-21 decision to the Warriors in Week 2.
The final score is a bit misleading as the Warriors only led 27-21 after three quarters before pulling away with a pair of fourth-quarter TDs.
Oswego was also missing junior WR Zach West (ankle), who has come on to be QB Steven Frank’s favorite target — 36 receptions, 678 yards, 7 games.
Murphy won his 150th game in the previous meeting and looks for his 158th on Saturday.
— Chris Walker contributed to this report.