In the midst of a marathon football season, Lake Park and Naperville North are gearing up for a Friday night sprint in the DuPage Valley Conference.
After both teams missed the playoffs last year, they changed their offensive systems to a fast-paced, no-huddle spread that never allows opposing defenses a moment’s rest.
The philosophy shift has paid off so far. Naperville North is 3-0 for the first time since 2008 while the Lancers are 2-1 following last week’s 28-21 nonconference win over DeKalb when they rallied from a 21-0 deficit.
Lake Park will host Naperville North in their Week 4 matchup.
“Lake Park is an excellent football team,” said Huskies coach Sean Drendel. “We’re going to have to play awfully well to beat them.”
The Lancers (1-1 DVC) ran 86 plays in last week’s win. It’s not unusual for Naperville North (2-0 DVC) to run more than 70. A main reason has been their strong quarterback play.
Naperville North senior Luke Cegles has thrown for 554 yards and 10 touchdowns against only 2 interceptions. Junior counterpart Jackson Behles, in his first varsity season, has thrown for 723 yards and 7 touchdowns with 2 interceptions.
“We’ve been very pleased with how Jackson’s come along in the offense,” said Lancers coach Chris Roll. “He’s made a huge impact for us.”
Both teams also have talent to watch on defense, specifically on the line. Lake Park boasts one of the state’s premier players in 6-foot-4, 270-pound lineman Jacub Panasiuk, a Michigan State recruit who had 4 sacks last week, and he’s joined by an experienced linemate in 6-3, 255-pound Matt Paulauskas.
Huskies interior defensive linemen Malik Wells and Isaac Velasco have been disruptive all season. They’ve combined for 7 tackles for loss, with Wells notching a pair of sacks in last week’s 33-7 win over Wheaton Warrenville South.
They’ll be tasked with slowing down the lightning-quick offenses.
“It’s a big game for both of us,” Roll said. “It should be a great one.”