“They’re still the big brother,” said second-year Metea Valley coach Ben Kleinhans, whose players continue to work to emerge from the shadow of District 204 rival Neuqua Valley.
They’re making progress. The Mustangs enter Week 6 at 3-2 overall and 3-0 atop the Upstate Eight Valley. A half game back at 2-0 are both district rivals, Neuqua and Waubonsie.
“I feel like the last two weeks (with wins over Bartlett and South Elgin) we’re taking steps with our program,” Kleinhans said. “This is just another chance to see where we’re at. I feel like if we play well we’ll be with them at the end of the game. At the same time, we know how confident they are.”
With good reason, coming off a playoff run that took the Wildcats to the semifinals of Class 8A before they lost 26-21 to eventual state champion Mount Carmel. Neuqua Valley lost running back Joey Rhattigan (2,000-plus yards rushing) to graduation but are headlined by Illinois-bound wideout/return man Mikey Dudek.
“I think he’s one of the best players in the state, if not the best,” said Kleinhans, who was an assistant at Neuqua Valley before coming north to the new District 204 school. “I remember him as a sophomore and he’s at a different level now. He’s just gotten better and better.
“You can’t stop him but you can’t let him go crazy, either. He’s capable of that.”
Metea Valley needs two more wins to finish above .500 and become playoff eligible for the first time in its young history. After Neuqua, the Mustangs play at East Aurora then have two home dates, a crossover with Geneva and Waubonsie Valley.
Player of the Week
Waubonsie Valley senior QB Jack Eddy capped an emotional week where he lost his mother Laura Ann to cancer, by leading the Warriors to a 47-6 win over Bartlett, passing for 76 yards and a score and running for 90 yards and a TD.
Isn’t that grand?
Four area quarterbacks moved past the 1,000-yard passing mark for season in last weekend’s games.
Geneva junior Daniel Santacaterina tops the list with 1,212 yards and he’s followed by Kaneland senior Drew David (1,075), Oswego sophomore Steven Frank (1,032) and Aurora Christian junior Austin Bray (1,013).
Batavia senior Micah Coffey, currently at 941 passing yards, should be the next to surpass 1,000. Bray leads the area with 17 touchdown passes while Frank and Santacaterina each have 13.
Returning to action
Oswego East was missing both leading rusher Khalil Driver, a junior, and senior RB/WR Branden Lowe for last week’s crosstown showdown loss at Oswego. Both were suffering from concussions and both have been cleared to return to action this week against Plainfield Central.