Gene Chamberlain’s football notes: South Elgin’s Jake Amrhein on rise

SHARE Gene Chamberlain’s football notes: South Elgin’s Jake Amrhein on rise

South Elgin this week will become the latest area team to contemplate a quarterback change, or at least a change in the amount of playing time for both starter and backup.

Coach Pat Pistorio has used backup Jake Amrhein at times after senior Hayden Nelson won a close duel in preseason practices. However, in a 44-27 loss Saturday to Metea Valley, Pistorio went to Amrhein in the second half after Nelson threw a couple of first-half interceptions, and the 6-3, 200-pound junior didn’t disappoint.

“I made my decision on my gut from what I was told up top (in the coaches’ box) in terms of some of the decisions (Nelson) made,” Pistorio said.

Nelson didn’t have an incomplete pass in the first half. He went 6-for-8 for 122 yards with a couple of touchdowns, but the two interceptions proved critical in a game in which the Storm defense couldn’t stop Metea Valley’s offense.

Amrhein went 11-for-14 for 164 yards with a TD pass and a TD run. While he didn’t throw an interception, Amrhein did lose a fumble on a close play when officials ruled his knee wasn’t down.

It would be a difficult decision to sit Nelson on Friday at East Aurora when he has been so impressive statistically. Nelson is 58-for-91 for 1,101 yards with 11 TDs and six interceptions. Amrhein is 19-for-30 for 359 yards with four TDs and no picks. He’s run for 90 yards.

Amrhein probably delivers more ball control with the zone-read situations because he’s a stronger runner, but Nelson is faster. A more likely scenario might be Amrhein getting more time without starting.

“We’re going to see how the week of practice goes,” Pistorio said. “I know they both can contribute. I believe we can win with both of them.”

Defense is the biggest Storm problem after the team allowed 94 points in two weeks.

Another problem has been short yardage. The Storm got stuffed on a key fourth-and-1, just as they had in a similar situation against Crystal Lake South earlier this season.

“The fourth-and-1, short yardage is something we have to work out,” Pistorio said.

Rocket depth a strength

Burlington Central coach Rich Crabel likes to point out his team plays platoon football, and in Friday’s Homecoming win it may have had an impact.

A 12-6 game late in the third quarter quickly became a 33-12 victory over Genoa-Kingston, and the Rockets (3-2, 3-0) remain tied with Johnsburg for first in the Big Northern East.

It’s difficult to gauge how much having fresher players late in games helps, but it couldn’t have hurt in this late push.

“It’s something we believe in and try to do as much as possible,” Crabel said.

Central hosts resurgent Marengo (4-1, 2-1) in a key Big Northern game Friday. The Rockets don’t face Johnsburg until the next-to-last week of the season. They also still must face Richmond-Burton.

Playoff eligible

St. Edward (5-0) became the area’s first playoff-eligible team after its first Metro Suburban East game, a 37-21 comeback road win over Guerin. Jacobs and Huntley face one another on Friday at Jacobs, with the winner becoming playoff-eligible.

Hampshire (3-2) greatly improved its playoff chances by scoring a huge nonconference road victory Friday. Playing downstate, the Whip-Purs prevailed 22-20 over Urbana (1-4) by coming back in the second half with a safety and Xavier Bennett’s 23-yard TD run before stopping a potential game-tying 2-point conversion try with three minutes left.

However, the Whips lost quarterback Nick Mohlman for the second time this year to a leg injury, and his status for this week is uncertain.

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