Four downs: News and notes from Week 9

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Wheaton-Warrenville South’s Jack Olsen (82) kick a punt. Worsom Robinson/For the Sun-Times.

Football pregame warmups are not very exciting. There’s a lot of stretching and some drills. But that’s not the case with Wheaton-Warrenville South.

Kicker Jack Olsen puts the ball on a tee just short of the 50 yard line and all the way over next to the sideline. Then he starts blasting loud, powerful field goal attempts.

Olsen is a weapon. It’s not a stretch to say he is one of the most valuable players in the area. The junior made eight field goals in Week 1 against Metea Valley to break the state record for field goals in a game. Olsen missed a 52-yarder that would have tied the national record of nine.

Olsen recently made visits to Michigan State, Northwestern and Wisconsin. He regularly makes field goals of 40 yards or more and made a 41-yard field goal to beat St. Charles North in Week 9.

“I told him just strike the heck out of the ball,” Tigers coach Ron Muhitch sais. “It’s in the wind, just go for it. Those kickers and quarterbacks carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. We scream at them way too much and we expect a lot out of them.”

Wheaton-Warrenville South (8-1) received a favorable draw in the Class 7A playoff bracket. The Tigers are a No. 14 seed. They will face Belleville East in the first round, the winner of Hononegah-Buffalo Grove in the second round and a possible rematch with the North Stars looms in the quarterfinals.

Redhawks’ road

Naperville Central quarterback Payton Thorne is another player capable of dominating a game and leading a charge through a playoff bracket. Thorne has a strong, accurate arm and an excellent feel for the game.

The Redhawks (6-3) have played a brutal schedule. Their 38-19 loss to Lincoln-Way East was actually the closest game the Griffins played all season. That’s an impressive resume entry heading into the Class 8A playoffs. The other losses were to Cary-Grove and Hinsdale Central.

Naperville Central’s Payton Thorne (1) calls a play. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

Naperville Central’s Payton Thorne (1) calls a play. Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

Things don’t get any easier for Naperville Central in the playoffs though. The No. 21 seeded Redhawks will have to play at No. 12 Plainfield South in the first round. The Cougars proved their mettle in a 22-15 loss to highly-regarded Oswego in Week 9. The winner of that matchup likely face Marist.

More Suburban Prairie

Minooka began the season ranked No. 16 in the Super 25. The Indians advanced to the Class 8A quarterfinals last season, but lost most of its team to graduation so that opened some eyes.

The preseason ranking is looking pretty good now. Minooka lost to Plainfield South and Oswego to start the season but has now ripped off seven consecutive wins, including a very impressive 24-7 victory against Oswego East in Week 9.

The Indians host Loyola in the first round of the Class 8A playoffs.

Public League qualifiers

It was quite a Saturday night all around the city, with 23 Public League teams earning state playoff bids. Phoenix and Von Steuben, two rather new programs, are in the playoffs for the first time. Amundsen and Clemente both broke long playoff droughts.

Contributing: Beth Long

More Sun-Times high school sports stories

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