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Four Downs: News and notes from Week 3 in high school football

Public League problems, big wins for Lockport and Crystal Lake Central and appreciating Kyle Franklin and Batavia’s Urwilers.

Phillips’ Jamel Britt (44) moves to evade Westinghouse’s Kejuan Pitts (2).
Phillips’ Jamel Britt (44) moves to evade Westinghouse’s Kejuan Pitts (2).
Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

The challenges facing Public League football are well-documented. Most stem from financial disparities between Chicago Public Schools and their suburban and private counterparts.

There aren’t enough coaches, equipment or practice fields for the average Public League school to field a competitive program.

The pandemic has dealt another significant blow to Public League football. The schools weren’t allowed all the contact days and practices that other schools had over the last year. And CPS high school kids still aren’t attending school in person, which has made gathering players for practice or anything at all a challenge.

To put it plainly, the Public League players are out of shape and months of practice behind everyone else.

That showed in Taft’s 37-0 loss to visiting Crystal Lake South on Saturday. The Eagles are one of the best-coached and most capable programs in the Public League and they couldn’t manage to score against a Fox Valley team that came in winless.

Phillips was clearly rusty in its season-opening win and many CPS schools have totally opted out of the football season. In many ways it is just a lost year for CPS sports, even the high-profile basketball teams averaged less than nine games during the season.

There is one positive on the horizon. It seems likely that CPS will start school in August instead of the traditional post-Labor Day start. That would be a major boon for Public League football programs, which usually have to begin the season before school starts, making it difficult to find players.

Streak breakers

There were two eye-opening scores this weekend. High school football is terribly predictable, so anything that goes against the long-established pecking order is welcome.

Lockport beat Bolingbrook 42-14. The result was as surprising as the margin. The Porters (2-1) haven’t beaten the Raiders (1-2) since 2015.

Lockport did it on the ground, led by Andrew LoPresti’s 152 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

There’s a name to watch for Bolingbrook. Freshman wide receiver Kyan Berry-Johnson was tremendous in the season opener at Lincoln-Way East with nine catches for 82 yards. He had nine catches for 163 yards on Saturday against the Porters.

The other major upset was up north. Crystal Lake Central beat perennial power Prairie Ridge 14-13 in overtime. It’s the Tigers first win against Prairie Ridge since 2012.

Quarterback Colton Madura had a massive game with 25 carries for 119 yards, 140 yards passing and two touchdowns.

Kyle Franklin update

IC Catholic running back Kyle Franklin has been one of the area’s dynamic stars for several seasons. He doesn’t get quite the attention that he deserves due to playing for a small school.

The Indiana State recruit was back at it this weekend. He gained 141 yards on just 11 carries in a lopsided win against St. Edward. Franklin scored four touchdowns.

Keep an eye on Franklin the next few weeks. There isn’t a runaway Player of the Year favorite this season and Franklin certainly has put together a career worthy of consideration.

Urwiler time

What a run it’s been for the Urwiler brothers at Batavia. Quinn Urwiler, now at North Dakota was a Player of the Year contender that did it all for the Bulldogs.

His brother Trey is continuing the tradition this season. Trey Urwiler, who already played receiver, running back and kick returner for the Bulldogs, stepped in at quarterback this week in the 42-0 win against rival Geneva.

Urwiler ran for two touchdowns and threw for one. He replaced Kyle Oroni, who went down with a season-ending injury in Week 2.