NAPERVILLE - The annual battle between Indian Prairie School District rivals Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley is already so big that the game gets played at North Central College in Naperville to accommodate the large crowds.
But this year, as has been the case the past couple of years, both teams are really strong and come in to the game with matching 5-1 overall records and 3-0 marks in the Upstate Eight Valley. Both team's only loss was to Naperville Central.
With three weeks left in the regular season, the winner could very well win the conference and the automatic playoff berth that comes with it. The game will be broadcast by CN100, The Comcast Network, at Noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, and 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 14. You can also find the game throughout Chicagoland with Xfinity On Demand.
It has been an emotional start to the season for Waubonsie Valley. Quarterback Jack Eddy lost his mother to cancer in September and the team has rallied around him. He has had a steady season despite all that is going on in his family life, passing for 851 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. He's added 158 yards and five touchdowns rushing.
"Our players have really rallied around Jack Eddy and Brock Westwood (a defensive back who is Eddy's cousin)," Waubonsie coach Paul Murphy said. "It seems that everyone on our team has had a family member or more who has been affected by this terrible disease. Our motto this year has been family. We are a family and we will play for each other each and every game."
The Warriors have done the job defensively, but it's on offense where they have taken command of games by scoring 272 points -- 252 of which have come in the past five games. The duo of Tony Durns (28 carries, 425 yards, 8 total touchdowns) and Jon Fizer (76 carries, 584 yards, 10 touchdowns) lead the running game. Christian Gibbs is the top target in the passing game for the Warriors with 25 catches for 481 yards and seven touchdowns.
"Offensively, our skill players are very fast, so we want to play fast," Murphy said. "Our quarterback has done a good job of taking what the defense is giving us and our defense is very aggressive and pursues to the ball well."
Hugh Griffin leads the team with 49 tackles, with Demario Webb making 36 stops. Ramon Johnson and Westwood have added 32 tackles apiece.
They figure to be busy with the high-flying offense of Neuqua Valley, which is led by acrobatic Illinois recruit Mikey Dudek at wide receiver.
He has been one of the state's best thus far, and he has a flair for the dramatic and highlight-reel plays, as well. He has 34 catches for 759 yards and 11 touchdowns, with another 172 yards and two touchdowns rushing. Dudek has even taken a kickoff back for a score.
"Dudek is special," Naperville Central coach Mike Stine said after Dudek lit up the Redhawks to the tune of 12 catches for 244 yards in a losing effort.
Broc Rutter leads the show at quarterback for Neuqua, passing for 1,140 yards, 17 touchdowns and two interceptions. Nolan Dean (583 yards, nine touchdowns) and T.J. Scruggs (573 yards, nine touchdowns) split the backfield duties.
Godfrey Collins has 40 tackles and five sacks for Neuqua. Eli Tappin has 38 tackles.
- Paul Johnson, CN100 Correspondent
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