Blake Baumgartner’s football notebook

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Neuqua Valley relishes in program’s first-ever 2-0 start

With a first-year head coach leading it, it seems appropriate that Neuqua Valley would be approaching several firsts as a program, despite it being in its 15th year.

Friday night’s 41-28 victory at home over Naperville Central took care of three firsts, all in one fell swoop.

Consider all that was accomplished.

Not only did the victory over the Redhawks give Neuqua Valley its first-ever 2-0 start, it also marked the first time it had defeated both Naperville schools in the same season since it started playing both in 2009 and marked the first time it had surpassed the 40-point mark in its first two games.

“It’s great. I feel very relieved. It’s a relief to get that (first 2-0 start for the program),” Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus said. “The kids were talking more about it more than the coaches were talking about it, but when the kids really start to build on something, then you kind of just foster that as a coach and you kind of let them run with that a little bit. It was good. It was good to get it off our back and these kids aren’t satisfied, so we’re hoping for bigger and better.”

Bigger and better things could very well be possible ahead, thanks to an explosive offense led by senior quarterback Dylan Andrew and senior running back Joey Rhattigan.

Through the season’s first two weeks, Andrew has completed 77 percent of his passes for 302 yards and three TDs, while Rhattigan has run for 419 yards and five scores.

“I just have really talented receivers. I have great resources around me,” Andrew said. “My (offensive) line blocks really well, so it makes my job a lot easier when I have skill guys on the outside that can make plays.”

One of those resources on the outside is junior wide receiver Mike Dudek, who has been on the receiving end of two of Andrew’s three touchdown passes and eclipsed the 100-yard mark against Naperville North in Week 1 with six grabs for 103 yards and a TD.

“He’s been doing that for us. That’s something that Mikey gives us. The kid can jump like there’s nobody’s business and he goes up and makes catches,” Ellinghaus said of Dudek stretching the field. “The thing is, he’s our leading receiver right now and he’s gone up and made catches all over the field. Did it against (Naperville) North and did it against a very good (Naperville) Central team here (last Friday).”

The Wildcats (2-0) gun for more history, their first 3-0 start, at South Elgin on Saturday afternoon.

Waubonsie Valley rolling in midst of another 2-0 start

Already having gotten the bad taste out of its collective mouths, stemming from the disappointing way the 2011 season ended, with a 34-14 victory over Naperville Central in Week 1, Waubonsie Valley kept the momentum going.

Behind its explosive offense spearheaded by Dylan Warden and Austin Guido, Waubonsie Valley steamrolled Oswego, 54-28, on its way to getting off to a 2-0 start for a second straight year.

“To me, this is just as big a game coming up this Friday because it’s a chance to get to 2-0,” Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy said last week. “I sure as heck would rather be 2-0 than 1-1. If we don’t win Friday, then what did you really gain from the victory this past week, last Friday? So we gotta keep building. We just gotta hopefully snowball into something fantastic.”

What snowballed for the Warriors last Friday against the Panthers were points on the scoreboard as Guido ran for 213 yards and four touchdowns while catching three passes from Warden for 53 yards, one of which went for a 44-yard TD.

Warden threw for 191 yards on just seven completions, including a 52-yard touchdown strike to Christian Gibbs, and junior running back DeMario Webb ran for two scores to help Guido in the backfield.

Waubonsie Valley (2-0) looks to go 3-0 on Saturday afternoon at Streamwood.

Naperville Central looking to regroup after 0-2 start

Dealing with the program’s first 0-2 start since 2006 after giving up a combined 75 points in road losses at Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley, Naperville Central opens its DuPage Valley Conference slate Friday at Glenbard East.

After running only 44 plays and gaining just 211 total yards in a 34-14 loss at Waubonsie Valley in Week 1, Naperville Central ran 19 more plays than Neuqua Valley last Friday, gaining 282 total yards, only to see itself outgained by 134 yards in a 41-28 setback.

“Yeah, I mean, they’re a good defense,” Naperville Central coach Mike Stine said of Neuqua Valley defensive coordinator Rodney Jones’ charges. “You know, offensively, there were some things that we could have maybe taken advantage of and done a little bit better. We had some things that we didn’t execute as well as we would like and that’s something we have to get better at and we will get better at that.”

What needs to get better is the Redhawks’ running game, which has been limited to 72 and 70 yards, respectively, in the two losses.

Senior running back Nick Thomas did run for two fourth-quarter scores against the Wildcats, as part of an 82-yard night on 20 carries for him—a personal improvement over running for just 56 yards on 11 carries and a TD against Waubonsie Valley.

Benet putting 2011 in rearview mirror

After putting up a combined 43 points in nine games last season during a 1-8 campaign, Benet has combined to put up 97 points in victories over Washington and South Elgin, respectively, to start its 2012 season at 2-0.

“Yeah, it would be great for our program and our players. Our guys know that we feel like it’s a huge game for us,” Benet coach Pat New said last week. ”But nonetheless, it’s a nine-game season and we know that (there are seven more games to play). But it would do great things for our confidence to be able to come out with a W against South Elgin.”

The Redwings, 2-0 for the first time since 2010, earned a 35-21 win at South Elgin on Saturday behind Porter Ontko’s four total TDs and a defense that intercepted three passes.

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