Opening eyes over the course of the season’s first two weeks by combining for three wins over the two Naperville schools, both Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley entered Upstate Eight Conference play with a bang.
Neuqua Valley broke the 40-point mark for a third straight week in its 42-20 victory at South Elgin, while Waubonsie Valley has topped the 50-point mark in consecutive weeks after posting a 56-0 shutout at Streamwood.
With the two program’s Oct. 5 meeting at North Central College looming three weeks from Friday, neither program is looking ahead toward a matchup that could involve a pair of 6-0 teams.
“If that comes to fruition here, No. 1, both teams would have qualified for the playoffs,” Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy said. “Worrying about making the playoffs wouldn’t be an issue; it’d be (the fact) you’re playing for a conference championship and you’re playing for, obviously, bragging rights and it’s a big game at the time. But obviously both teams would have a lot of big (moments), more to go of their season down the road, so, you know, it’s like our whole approach and I’m sure their approach is, ‘it’s one week at a time’. We’ll worry about Week 7 when Week 7’s here.”
Holding a 9-4 all-time edge in the series, Neuqua Valley is just focused on keeping the momentum by starting 3-0 for the first time going. The Wildcats broke into the Class 8A state rankings Tuesday at No. 10.
“Yeah, that would be very exciting if that happened. I’d be thrilled to death if we (were both 6-0),” Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus said. “Really (thrilled) for 204. I’d be thrilled for 204. I’d be thrilled for the Upstate Eight. But in having two teams that ended up with a record like that would be an incredible feeling for 204. I’d be very excited.”
For the coach that had to deal with both programs to start the year, Naperville Central’s Mike Stine, count him in as a believer in regard to the staying power of both programs.
Since opening the season against both District 204 programs back in 2009, the Redhawks lost to both Waubonsie Valley and Neuqua Valley for the first time ever in the same season.
“Two even teams. People have asked me. Whoever’s healthiest come Week 7 has got the leg up because I think they’re very, very even teams,” Stine said last week after dropping both games by a combined score of 75-42. “So, in five weeks, whoever’s healthiest is gonna have the early advantage in that game and then emotion will play. But, on paper, they’re very even. Both their offenses are extremely potent and they’ve got more than one weapon that can hurt you. So they’re very good teams. It’s gonna take a good football team to beat either one of them.”
Different ends of recruiting spectrum
Armed with a boat of offensive weapons, Waubonsie Valley has burst out to its first 3-0 start since 1994.
Senior tight end Troy Fumagalli and senior running back Austin Guido are two of the weapons that senior quarterback Dylan Warden has at his disposal as the Warriors continue to try and put their disappointing 2011 finish behind them.
However, Fumagalli and Guido are going through different experiences on the recruiting front.
“Troy went and did an unofficial visit at Wisconsin (on Sept. 1) and they keep telling him they want him there at Wisconsin, that he’s still (a target). (Wisconsin) coach (Bret) Bielema just hasn’t pulled the trigger yet on an offer,” Murphy said last week.
Fumagalli, who has 10 receptions for 154 yards and one TD through three games, has received offers from nearly every Mid-American Conference school and also is receiving interest from both Illinois and Minnesota, according to Murphy.
Meanwhile, Guido has had to settle for preferred walk-on offers from Northern Illinois, Toledo and Western Michigan.
“Why Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois, ISU and Southern (Illinois) aren’t talking to me about (Guido) is beyond me,” Murphy said.
Guido has opened his senior campaign by running for 621 yards and 11 touchdowns through three weeks.
Naperville North’s offense struggles to get going
Knowing full well how rugged and tough the DuPage Valley Conference is, Naperville North probably knew its offense was in for a stiffer test against Wheaton North last Friday.
Six days after running all 69 of its plays on the ground for 395 yards and five touchdowns against Thornton, the Huskies’ offense put up 259 total yards while only finding the end zone once in their 21-7 loss to Wheaton North.
Allowing just a Clayton Thorson touchdown pass to John Peltz in the first half, Naperville North went into halftime trailing just 7-0 but was outscored 14-7 in the second half — including 14-0 in the third quarter.
The Falcons opened the second half by going 92 yards and eventually scoring on a connection from Peltz to Thorson.
“I thought we could recover (from Wheaton North taking opening kickoff in the second half all the way down for a TD). We just put ourselves in bad positions and we’re not built for a third-and-15 (situation),” Naperville North coach Sean Drendel said after the game. “We’re a third-and-three-type of team. We like that situation. In the first half, we were moving the ball and we would get stopped a yard short or we’d drop a pass.
“Just little things that if you do those things right, maybe we’re in the game. Maybe it’s closer. Maybe we’re winning the game at half. I just thought both teams were … I don’t know if on edge is the right (term). Neither team played their best offensive game. I think both defenses had a lot to do with that, though.”
Six penalties for 30 yards didn’t help the Huskies’ cause, who dropped their fourth straight game to Wheaton North and travel to Wheaton on Friday to tangle with Wheaton Warrenville South, looking to avoid a 1-3 start.
Andreas’ return a welcome sight for Kolbe
Maybe all Naperville Central junior quarterback Jake Kolbe needed to finally get going was the return of a familiar target.
Spearheaded by junior wide receiver Ben Andreas’ return from a two-game suspension for violating team rules, Kolbe led the way a week ago in leading Naperville Central to its first victory of the season, a 41-7 road rout of Glenbard East.
Aided by a 87-yard, three-touchdown night from senior running back Nick Thomas, Kolbe was efficient against the Rams in completing nine of his 15 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns.
Kolbe and Andreas hooked up with one another five times for 193 yards and three touchdowns as the Redhawks scored 34 unanswered points to break a 7-7 tie.
“Ben made some plays. We knew he’s got some speed. He’s our fastest kid and we were able to get him the ball in space and he was able to make some plays,” Stine said after practice Tuesday. “That was big.”