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Four Downs: News, notes and observations from Week 4

Why was Notre Dame ignored in the preseason? Naperville Central breaks a losing streak and more.

Notre Dame’s Anthony Sayles (7) cuts to avoid a tackler.
Notre Dame’s Anthony Sayles (7) cuts to avoid a tackler.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times.

Notre Dame was completely ignored in the preseason. The Dons were not ranked in the preseason Super 25, and star quarterback Anthony Sayles didn’t make the list of the area’s 50 best players.

Four weeks into the season, that looks foolish. Notre Dame is undefeated and has been extremely impressive the last two weeks, beating Marist and Providence on the road.

Sayles has been excellent, with a flair for coming through in the clutch. The Dons were 7-for-12 on third down against Providence in Week 4.

Another key for Notre Dame has been running back Julian Schurr.

The Dons seemingly had a major hole to fill after all-around star Ty Gavin graduated, but Schurr is stepping up nicely. The 5-7 senior was a regular last season but has assumed a starring role.

Schurr had 57- and 21-yard touchdown runs against Providence and gained 136 yards.

The Dons host rival St. Patrick in Week 5 and No. 12 Montini in Week 6, so plenty of tests remain.

Naperville Central snaps skid

There was a ton of hype surrounding Naperville Central to start the season, then nothing went according to plan for the Redhawks.

They lost their first three games (Hinsdale Central, Lincoln-Way East, Pickerington Central-Ohio). Those are all high-quality teams, but 0-3 is especially bad in a system that requires at least five victories to qualify for the playoffs.

Naperville Central’s Sam Jackson runs the ball during a practice.
Naperville Central’s Sam Jackson runs the ball during a practice.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

So Naperville Central’s 42-13 win against Metea Valley in Week 4 was huge, especially considering the meat-grinder schedule ahead for the Redhawks.

Junior quarterback Sam Jackson was the catalyst with three touchdown runs and 101 yards on the ground. He was 11-for-13 passing for 174 yards.

Fox Valley confusion

No one is writing off the Fox Valley. It has been a tremendously successful conference in the postseason the last few years. But this is the first time in a while that there isn’t a conference representative in the Super 25.

Cary-Grove dropped out after losing to Huntley in Week 4. Put an asterisk next to it, though. Starting quarterback Luke Eleftheriou left with an injury after one quarter.

There’s a five-way tie at the top of the conference between Cary-Grove, Huntley, Jacobs, Prairie Ridge and McHenry.

South suburban showdown

There’s only one game in Week 5 between ranked teams, but it should be excellent.

No. 6 Homewood-Flossmoor will face No. 1 Lincoln-Way East in Frankfort on Friday. Both teams are undefeated. The Griffins beat No. 15 Bolingbrook 20-10 in Week 4 despite starting quarterback Kyle Quinn missing the second half with an injury.

Michigan recruit AJ Henning stepped up and carried the load, shifting from receiver to running back. He finished with 189 yards of offense and scored on a 29-yard run in the third quarter.

The Vikings haven’t been challenged this season, beating TF North, Mishawaka (Indiana), Andrew and Lockport by a combined score of 164-41.