The first third of the high school football season didn’t go as planned for Elgin and St. Charles North, but both teams hope better days are ahead.
One side will take a big step forward Friday when the Maroons and North Stars collide at Memorial Field in an Upstate Eight River matchup of winless teams.
Elgin (0-3, 0-1) enters its homecoming contest having allowed 143 points through three games, which ranks last among area teams. Meanwhile, St. Charles North (0-3, 0-1) has only scored 20 points this season, the lowest output among local teams.
“Defensively, I know Elgin has given up a lot of points, but I’m sure they’re working hard on trying to shore that up a little bit,” St. Charles North coach Mark Gould said. “Of course we haven’t scored a lot of points, so it’s going to be interesting to see which one gives.”
Defense has been a strong suit for the North Stars, but Gould said he is concerned about containing what he calls a dangerous Maroons offense.
Junior running back Jaylen Clemons has 238 rushing yards and three touchdowns this season. Junior quarterback Ryan Sitter is another capable playmaker for Elgin, which hopes to end an 11-game losing streak that dates to last season.
“The scores don’t reflect it, but if you look at certain stats through the last three weeks, you can see the team is really improving,” Elgin coach Dave Bierman said. “Last week we got 200 yards rushing and 100 yards through the air.
“When you break it down on defense, the linebackers are making more tackles. When we get beat, a lot of times it’s only one person being out of position instead of two or three like two weeks ago.”
Like the Maroons, the North Stars haven’t held a lead this season and are coming off a loss against their crosstown rival. St. Charles North pulled within three points in the fourth quarter last week against St. Charles East before losing 23-13.
Senior quarterback Ryan Fischbach made his first start of the season and threw for 189 yards and a touchdown in the defeat. Fischbach could split time this week with junior Erik Miller, who started the first two games but was sidelined with a sore shoulder against the Saints.
Running the ball has been tough for the North Stars as they have only 121 yards on 74 carries through three games. Senior running back George Edlund had more than twice that amount last year against Elgin when he set a single-game program rushing record with 268 yards, so a breakout could be coming.
“We’ve played some good teams and lost some close games,” said Gould, who is retiring after the season.
“When you lose to your rival you almost feel like the season is over, but we’ve been telling the kids it’s not over and you can’t have that feeling because there’s a lot of time left.
“I think we’re getting close. We’ve just got to keep chipping away.”