Glenbard East's linemen step up; new players key at Wheaton Academy

Glenbard East coach John Walters likes how both his offensive and defensive lines have performed thus far, helping the team jump out to a 3-1 mark and remaining in the thick of the Upstate Eight race heading into this week's contest against Streamwood.

“I think our offensive line is quietly really taking over games with our run and pass blocking,” he said. “Our defensive line continues to be really tough. It's hard for offenses to get a rhythm with those big fellas applying so much pressure.”

And Glenbard East has benefitted from strong running back play.

“On offense our running back group of Matt Larson, John Seybold and Anthony Heikamp gives us a three-headed running game,” Walters said.

Walters pointed out Glenbard East held another opponent to under 100 yards total yards again last week against East Aurora.

Lake Park update:

Lancers coach Chris Kirkpatrick got right to the point about his team's Week 4 loss to Batavia in DuKane action.

“Big plays hurt us on defense and our offense was never able to get on the same page,” he said. “Credit to Batavia as a well-coached team that really came to play.”

St. Francis update:

Sophomore Liam Kolinski had a heck of a Week 4 game against Chicago Christian, catching his first varsity touchdown and adding 5 tackles on defense.

“This is a kid who is starting on defense for us and doing a great job,” Spartans coach Bob McMillen said. “He filled in for one of our injured guys on offense and did a nice job.”

Offensive lineman Dan Theiss also continued to open some eyes. “Dan has been playing great for us all year,” McMillen said. “Due to a couple injuries on the offensive line, we moved Dan from right tackle to left guard. Our offensive line still did an unbelievable job of protecting our quarterbacks and running the ball.”

In his first two games, Dom Beres registered 34 tackles, 19 solos, 9 assists, 3 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and had 1 interception.

West Chicago update:

Vincent Muci had a breakout game for the Wildcats last week, rushing for 190 yards and scoring 3 touchdowns.

Wheaton Academy update:

Junior Mitch Carik has made quite the transition on offense this season for the Warriors. He played running back and linebacker last year and was moved to left guard this year.

“We moved Mitch to the offensive line to fill a need,” Wheaton Academy coach Jim Johanik said. “He did so selflessly and has explosiveness of the ball and intelligence makes him the ideal lineman, despite giving up a few pounds. Mitch reminds me of the perennially undersized but explosive linemen Glenbard West seems to produce year-in and year-out.”

Senior Evan Eckert has also provided a boost. He's a Division I-level soccer player from the Wheaton Academy state-championship boys soccer team who chose to play football his senior year before returning to club soccer in the winter. He's playing tight end and defensive line.

“Evan is an unbelievable athlete and is beginning to make an impact both offensively and defensively despite putting on the pads for the first time this year,” Johanik said. “He's a bit of an indicator of the positive culture this football program is setting here at the Academy.”

The Warriors are now 4-0 with 3 shutout wins. “For us, this is great, but our sights are set higher,” Johanik said.

More Warriors updates:

Wheaton Academy senior Gavin Pedone is an unlikely star on an unlikely undefeated team.

And it's not in lacrosse, his main sport.

Pedone, who committed to play lacrosse at Robert Morris University, decided to return to his roots and play football this fall.

“I've played football since I was five years old, and it was always my favorite sport,” Pedone said. “I decided to stop playing football after eighth grade because I wanted to focus on lacrosse but once I committed to Robert Morris University, I decided I wanted to have some fun and take a break from lacrosse for a little bit.”

Fun is a good way to describe Pedone's first four games playing varsity football — and it's also been fun for the Warriors.

The Warriors (4-0, 2-0 Metro Suburban Blue) have recorded three straight shutouts and outscored their four opponents 207-14 heading into Thursday's 7:30 p.m. home game against Ridgewood.

Pedone, a running back, is gashing opponents for big gains and he's become a vocal leader. Senior quarterback Belay Brummel, who has received interest from several Division I schools, is the tone-setter for the offense, but Pedone's running adds another dimension to the attack.

Pedone said he made his decision to return to football last spring. He was happy to go back to his roots and playing running back. He carried the ball 10 times for 53 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-14 win over Marian Central Catholic in Week 1.

“I've had so much fun in such a short amount of time,” Pedone said. “I wish I never took a break.”

Pedone admitted lacrosse and football are vastly different sports, though he's happy success has followed him to the gridiron. The Warriors have a long tradition of success in lacrosse, finishing in third place in lacrosse last season.

“Lacrosse is a much faster paced game,” Pedone said. “For defense, lacrosse is very beneficial for footwork and it taught me how to take better angles when tackling. Offensively, lacrosse has taught me how to put my shoulder down and run into contact.”

Waubonsie Valley update:

Coach Tom Baumgartner has been thrilled with the progress of linemen Tommy Moriarty, Dominic Guzman and Jay Keeley.

“Their play up front gives us a chance to be competitive,” Baumgartner said.

Naperville Central update:

Redhawks coach Mike Ulreich noted the importance of John Penny being on the offensive line. “Most of the time he plays right guard, but last week we needed him to play center on short notice,” he said. “He really had one day of practice at center before last week's game.”

Oliver Robak also has taken a step forward, Ulreich said. “Oliver has turned into a two-way player for us as a defensive end and tight end,” he pointed out.

Nose guard John Stout is another unsung hero that has played a part in Central starting 3-1 and 1-0 in DuPage Valley play.

“John at nose guard does the tough work of taking on double teams so our linebackers are free to make tackles,” Ulreich explained. “He did a great job with that Friday against Waubonsie Valley.

Ulreich continues to stress the importance of takeaways. “The biggest stat that jumps out is takeaways,” he said. “The turnover battle is such a big component of winning and losing football games.”

— Bob Narang of Shaw Local contributed

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