Scouting Week 9 DuPage County football games

Glenbard East (7-1, 7-1) at Bartlett (4-4, 4-4)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Glenbard East 20, Bartlett 7 (2021 at Glenbard East)

About the Rams: "Bartlett needs to win to get into the playoffs," Glenbard East coach John Walters said. "They are at home and they will give us all we can handle." Matt Larson ran for 100 yards on 15 carries on a wet, cold and windy Friday night in Week 8. "Matt has really emerged as our No. 1 back," Walters said. Gus Winkler continues to play well, Walters noted. "Gus Winkler is really starting to be a force in the middle," he said. "Our defensive line continues to produce numbers weekly." A win would guarantee East a home playoff game and higher seed. An 8-win regular season would be the fourth such occurrence in school history. The Rams have won six games in a row. "I think the shoring up needs to happen with just some consistency on offense," said Walters, of the team's focus on improvements. "The big thing for us is penalties. We can't continue to play behind the chains." Two more recent stalwarts for East include Kameron Mabins and Yassin Nabil. "Kameron has quietly done a great job locking down receivers all season," Walters said. "Yassin is having an awesome second-half of the season and is really hitting his stride."

About the Hawks: As Walters mentioned, a Bartlett win is a must here in order for it to become playoff eligible. "Glenbard East has a solid team all around," Bartlett coach Milan Vuckovich said. "They ae big and strong up front and have playmakers at the skill positions. They are a complete team. They also just had a huge rivalry gam victory last week against Glenbard South, so you know those kids are pumped up and ready to get back after it. (Our) seniors really want to leave their mark on this program by qualifying for the playoffs with a win." Vuckovich played college football with Glenbard East defensive coordinator Jeff Cherry's son, Travis, at Western Illinois back in 2003. "I was a redshirt senior and he was a true freshman," Vuckovich pointed out. "This is a pretty cool small word, full-circle kind of game for me." Bartlett continues to get production from the three-player running back attack of Dontain Williams, Koleman Salyers and Malcolm Babers. Vuckovich added Jalen Davis and Jacob Caradine at wide receiver along with tight end Ravi Banipal "are all dangerous deep threats who run good routes, block very well and are selfless players," Vuckovich said. Missed tackles on defense and ill-advised penalties on offense have been points of emphasis this week. Senior defensive end-tight end Morrison McCloud has been a model of consistency for the Hawks on offense, defense and special teams. Vuckovich said senior running back-linebacker Joe Palermo continues to grind it out every day. Backup offensive lineman Alex Burburija, a junior, stepped up last week in a starter's role "and played really well," Vuckovich noted. "He has earned more playing time this week and his future is looking even brighter than it already had." The coach also praised the work junior team managers Carson Kingsmill and Charlie Weithofer do.

West Chicago (1-7, 1-7) at Larkin (5-3, 5-3)

When: Friday, 7 p.m. (Memorial Field, Elgin)

Previous matchup: Larkin 48, West Chicago 0 (2021 at West Chicago)

About the Wildcats: "Larkin is a very well-coached, fast and physical team," West Chicago coach Adam Chavez said. "They will be looking to lock up a postseason berth. We will have to cut down on the turnovers on offense and get some takeaways on defense to have a chance to be in a position to win." Vincent Muci ran 20 times for 120 yards and 2 touchdowns and also scored a touchdown on a blocked punt in last week's game. He continues to close in on a 1,000-yard rushing season. Adrian Munoz has passed for 710 yards and 6 touchdowns. "Adrian has turned in a good season passing for a team that uses a rush-oriented offense," Chavez said.

About the Royals: Simple for Larkin here. Win and the Royals earn a guaranteed playoff spot. Larkin already has 35 playoff points and should be in good position regardless of the outcome. The Royals have won four games in a row since starting 1-3. "West Chicago has improved over the season and will be a tough challenge," Larkin coach Grant Dietz said. "We will have to make sure we execute our offense, play hard, fast and together on defense, and play great special teams. We are at 5-3 and playoff eligible for the second straight season. A win will get us in and who knows what else? We want to take care of our business and finish strong." Robert Grant continues to be a bright spot for the Royals. "Robert is improving every week," Dietz said. "He had an interception last week and played very well on the defensive line." Jalen Miller and Chevelle Clements are leading the Royals in touchdowns and rushing yards. Reducing turnovers and minimizing mental mistakes have been points of emphasis, Dietz said. Larkin's program also has been bolstered by the play of younger players such as freshman quarterback Julius Yandel, sophomore defensive end Sincere Robinson, sophomore defensive back Adrian Gasca and sophomore defensive back Gabriel Gavin. "Julius, Sincere, Adrian and Gabriel are all guys we have brought up to the varsity for their outstanding play and development on the lower level. Our coaches are doing a great job preparing them."

St. Francis (8-0) at IC Catholic Prep (7-1)

When: Friday, 7:15 p.m. (Plunkett Athletic Complex, Elmhurst)

Previous matchup: St. Francis 19, IC Catholic Prep 7 (2021 at St. Francis)

About the Spartans: How about this for a Week 9 nonconference matchup? This is a battle of the two Metro Suburban Conference divisional champions with St. Francis winning the Red title this year and the Knights once again winning the Blue title. "IC Catholic Prep is one of the best teams in the state who year in and year out is competing for a championship," St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said. McMillen likes how wide receiver-defensive back Corin Greenwell has played. "Corin is coming back from an injury and has given us a boost on both sides of the ball," he said. Offensive lineman Antonio Gutierrez also has made big strides this season. "Antonio is probably playing the best I have seen him play in three years," McMillen noted. Linebacker Dom Beres "is all over the field making plays," McMillen added. "He should be in consideration for defensive player of the year in the conference." McMillen noted defensive end Antonio Suriano is an unsung player "who does a lot of dirty work," he said. "He plays extremely hard and doesn't get the recognition he deserves."

About the Knights: Since losing by a point to 6-2 Joliet Catholic in Week 2, the Knights have put up point totals of 53, 55, 75, 42, 48 and 47. Quarterback Dennis Mandala threw for 172 yards and 4 touchdowns last week against Bishop McNamara, and the Knights' rushing attack ran for 107 yards on just 10 carries with Denzell Gibson and Malik Gray each running for a score. KJ Parker caught 2 touchdown passes, while JP Schmidt and Dominik Hulak each had 1 touchdown. Nathan Schmidt and Gerald Harris each had a sack on defense, while Eric Karner recovered a fumble. Mandala has thrown for 1,562 yards and 21 touchdowns. Gibson has run for 449 yards and 7 touchdowns, while Gray is at 354 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. The Knights are averaging 10.6 yards per carry through 8 games, an impressive body of work. Parker has 725 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns.

Aurora Christian (5-3) at Wheaton Academy (7-1)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Previous matchup: Wheaton Academy 28, Aurora Christian 14 (2021 at Aurora Christian)

About the Eagles: Aurora Christian needs to win here on the road to secure a guaranteed playoff berth. The Eagles have 34 playoff points (sum of opponents' wins) heading into the week and will get more after the conclusion of Week 9 (34 was the cut last year). "We have a tough opponent this week in Wheaton Academy," Aurora Christian coach David Beebe said. "They are very good at the run and pass and play great team defense. We definitely have our work cut out for us. We have to try to eliminate the big plays since they can score at any time." Beebe has been thrilled with the play of offensive linemen Grant Henderson, Eddie Henley, Aidan Malone, Grant Maddox and Braden Hunter. "Our offensive line continues to play consistently," Beebe said.

About the Warriors: "I believe there is more to Aurora Christian than its 5-3 record tells," Wheaton Academy coach Jim Johanik said. "Here's a team that hung with St. Francis for a half and played them tough. They have all the pieces to be a really good football team and I know for certain they would love to see these pieces come together against us." Johanik said senior quarterback Belay Brummel "needs to consistently get the ball into the hands of our many playmakers, such as running backs Gavin Pedone and Steven Fellowes and wide receivers Breck Peacock, Jalen Whitaker and Zach Moravec," he said. Wheaton Academy has 5 shutouts to its credit this season. "Defensively, we have been very strong," Johanik said. "We'll need to prevent the big plays that took place during our game against IC because of some key injuries."

St. Charles East (2-6, 0-6) at Wheaton North (7-1, 5-1)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wheaton North 43, St. Charles East 21 (2021)

About the Saints: After a 2-0 start to their season under first-year head coach Nolan Possley, the Saints have had tough sledding since entering conference play with six straight losses, shut out in three of them. St. Charles East actually hung with Batavia for a half last week, and only trailed 14-7 at halftime, before the Bulldogs blew open the game in an eventual 41-14 win. Brandon Swartz ran for 96 yards and a 23-yard TD against Batavia. Austin Barrett, a 6-foot-7, 275-pound tackle committed to Indiana, is the man to watch for the Saints.

About the Falcons: Wheaton North will be doing some scoreboard watching Friday. With a win here, coupled with a Batavia win over St. Charles North, the three teams would finish in a three-way tie for the DuKane Conference title. The Falcons, like they have throughout the course of much of the conference season, made just enough plays last Friday to beat Geneva 20-13. Max Howser found Matt Kuczaj for a 64-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter for the game-winning score, after Geneva had taken the lead on a pick-six. Of the Falcons' six league games, five have been decided by seven points or fewer. Tyler O'Connor, who ran for 100 yards and two TDs last week, continues to be a playmaker on both sides of the ball.

Wheaton Warrenville South (3-5, 2-4) at Glenbard North (3-5, 2-4)

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Wheaton Warrenville South 10, Glenbard North 7 (2021)

About the Tigers: WW South, like Glenbard North, is in a precarious position heading into Week 9. Both teams must first win Friday's game, then hope that the breaks elsewhere fall their way and they slip in to the postseason with enough playoff points at 4-5. The Tigers kept their playoff hopes alive with a 32-17 win over Lake Park last week. It was the Tigers' highest point total of the season. WW South has had plenty of close calls over the years with former DVC rival Glenbard North - with the stakes, it wouldn't surprise if this one similarly goes to the wire. Sophomore QB Luca Carbonaro will want to find a connection with senior WRs Braylen Meredith and Colin Moore for the Tigers.

About the Panthers: Glenbard North joined WW South in win or else mode after its 14-7 Week 8 loss to DuKane leader St. Charles North. The Panthers, like the Tigers, have played a bruising schedule with six of their first eight opponents ticketed for the playoffs. Senior RB Damarion Elliston and senior QB Justin Bland, who ran for a 15-yard TD last week, are players to watch for Glenbard North. Elliston ran for 134 yards two weeks ago against Lake Park.

Geneva (5-3, 3-3) at Lake Park (1-7, 1-5)

When: Friday, 7 p.m.

Previous matchup: Geneva 14, Lake Park 6 (2021 at Geneva)

About the Vikings: Geneva already is playoff eligible and would appear to be in good shape with 35 playoff points heading into this game. A win puts the Vikings in the playoffs with an automatic bid. "We will need another strong effort on defense to stop some of Geneva's playmakers," Lake Park coach Chris Kirkpatrick said. "Their staff does a great job getting their players the ball in space."

About the Lancers: Kirkpatrick saw plenty of positives from last week's game. "We took a major step as a team, playing hard for four quarters against a quality team in Wheaton South," he said. Kirkpatrick said this week's game has added meaning on multiple levels. "We are excited to honor our seniors and their families on senior night," he said. "This is a group that has had three head coaches in three years and has bought into our mission for the season of changing the culture of Lake Park football. I am proud of the effort by these young men and we hope to send them out on a high note."

Glenbard West (7-1, 4-1) at Hinsdale Central (4-4, 2-3)

When: Noon Saturday

Last matchup: Hinsdale Central 6, Glenbard West 0 (2021)

About the Hilltoppers: Glenbard West comes in off a 28-20 win over Lyons, a game in which the Hilltoppers overcame an early turnover that led to a touchdown and 13 penalties. Julius Ellens ran for 115 yards and a TD. Jack Oberhofer ran for three TDs and recovered a fumble that led to a fourth score. A high-powered Glenbard West with multiple backs running behind a huge offensive line has averaged just under 38 points per game in its seven wins. The Hilltoppers, though, have managed just a combined seven points in their last two meetings with Hinsdale Central, both Red Devils' wins. Glenbard West could grab a share of the West Suburban Silver title with a win, should York trip up against Oak Park-River Forest.

About the Red Devils: Hinsdale Central kept its faint playoff hopes alive with a 46-6 win over Proviso West. Now the hard part. The Red Devils must either beat Glenbard West, or hope that the breaks bounce their way and they can sneak in to the postseason with a 4-5 record and sufficient playoff points. Hinsdale Central's offensive explosion against Proviso was atypical. In part due to injuries the Red Devils have averaged just 6.5 points per game in their four losses. Kellen Tran ran for 162 yards and two TDs in the Proviso win. Hinsdale Central will likely need to put up the points to keep up with Glenbard West, or get a yeoman effort from its defense.

Downers Grove North (6-2, 3-2) at Lyons Township (6-2, 3-2)

When: Noon Saturday

Last matchup: Lyons 21, Downers Grove North 14 (2021)

About the Trojans: Downers Grove North comes in off a 20-6 win over Oak Park-River Forest that clinched a playoff bid. Josh Lambert ran for two second-half TDs and Sam Reichert threw a 27-yard TD as the Trojans erased a 6-0 halftime deficit. Downers Grove North with its next win would reach seven wins for the first time in the regular season since 2005. Ben Bielawski and the Trojans' defense has been consistently strong this season. In its six wins Downers Grove North has given up a total of 29 points.

About the Lions: Lyons comes in off a 28-20 loss to Glenbard West. Danny Pasko ran for two TDs and Ryan Jackson was 19-for-30 for 173 yards. Starting running back Jack Cheney left the game with an apparent leg injury in the first half and did not return. The Lions have been within a score in the fourth quarter of both its losses, to unbeaten York and Glenbard West. Like Downers Grove North, Lyons could likely use a win here to lock in a first-round home playoff game. The Lions with a win can reach seven wins in the regular season for the first time since 2016. Lyons has won the last three meetings with Downers Grove North.

York (8-0, 5-0) at Oak Park-River Forest (4-4, 1-4)

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Last matchup: York 36, Oak Park-River Forest 33 (2021)

About the Dukes: York, which has already clinched at least a share of the West Suburban Silver title, can win it outright for the first time since 2006 with a win. The Dukes can also complete the first perfect regular season in the history of a program that's been around since 1920. York is ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press Class 8A poll. The Dukes come in off a 50-0 win over Willowbrook, a game in which York amassed 430 yards of total offense and gave up just 26. Matt Vezza threw for 135 yards and two TDs and rushed for 71 yards and a third score. Kelly Watson ran for 137 yards and a score, and Charlie Specht caught two TDs. Joe Reiff, Evan Grazzini and Cole Ostendorf each had two sacks.

About the Huskies: The Huskies are in an identical situation as last season - they enter Week 9 with a 4-4 record, needing a win over York to become playoff eligible. Last season, York scored in the final minute to deny the Huskies. There is an outside chance Oak Park-River Forest could qualify for the playoffs with a 4-5 record, a scenario they surely would prefer not to entertain. The Huskies come in off a 20-6 loss to Downers Grove North, a game in which they led 6-0 at halftime. Eric Evans ran for 81 yards and a TD. Senior QB Jack Gooch was 16-for-24 passing for 137 yards and two interceptions.

Morton (3-5, 3-2) at Willowbrook (4-4, 4-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Last matchup: Willowbrook 58, Morton 18 (2021)

About the Mustangs: Morton comes in off a 37-14 loss to Downers Grove South which ended any hopes for a longshot playoff bid, but the Mustangs can still play spoiler in this one. QB Julian Hernandez threw for 130 yards and a TD to Tyler Nichols and Leon Kelsick caught five passes for 52 yards against Downers Grove South. Morton can surpass last season's win total with a victory here.

About the Warriors: Willowbrook, a playoff mainstay the last decade and a quarterfinalist in every postseason since 2016, is in an unfamiliar position. A young Warriors' team needs to win its Week 9 game to keep its playoff streak alive. The Warriors are coming off a rough 50-0 loss to York, a game in which they managed just 26 yards of offense. Fortunately, Willowbrook this week returns to the comfortable surroundings of the West Suburban Gold, a league it has dominated for the last half-decade.

Leyden (2-6, 2-3) at Downers Grove South (5-3, 5-0)

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Last matchup: Downers Grove South 28, Leyden 15 (2021)

About the Eagles: After an 0-5 start to its season, Leyden has won two of its last three games, following a 35-28 win over Addison Trail last week. QB Ethan Corral completed 15 of 24 passes for 243 yards and two TDs, and took in the game-winning score from a yard out with 26 seconds left in a game Leyden led 20-0 at one point. Corral on the season has thrown for 1,510 yards, a Leyden single-season record which he set last week. RB Diego Mendoza ran for 135 yards last week and has rushed for 769 yards on the season.

About the Mustangs: Downers Grove South clinched a share of its first West Suburban Gold title since 2013 by virtue of its 37-14 win at Morton last week that clinched a playoff bid. The Mustangs, after an 0-3 start, can win the league outright this week by finishing the regular season with their sixth straight win. Deon Davis rushed for 153 yards and a high school career-high four TDs against Morton. Quarterback Ryan Dawson threw a 51-yard TD to Joey Portell. Mack O'Halloran continues to be a stellar two-way threat for the Mustangs.

Hinsdale South (3-5, 3-2) at Addison Trail (2-6, 1-4)

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Last matchup: Hinsdale South 49, Addison Trail 6 (2021)

About the Hornets: Hinsdale South comes in off a 49-8 win over Proviso East. Mikey Jefferson ran for two TDs and Anthony Montez had a TD run and caught a TD pass from Robbie Spang. The Hornets can match their win total from last season with a win.

About the Blazers: Addison Trail started the season in encouraging fashion for a program coming off an 0-9 season, 2-2 through four weeks. But the Blazers have hit a rough stretch since then, losers of four straight games and coming off a 35-28 loss to Leyden. Even in that game, though, the Blazers showed some fight, overcoming a 20-0 hole to tie it late. Junior QB Gio Long threw for 198 yards and three interceptions in the loss.

Nazareth (4-4, 0-2) at Benet (4-4, 1-1)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Nazareth 34, Benet 8 (2021)

About the Roadrunners: Nazareth is following a familiar path back to the playoffs, even if it is a winding road. Last season the Roadrunners overcame an 0-3 start to reach the Class 5A quarterfinals. This Nazareth edition started 2-4, but has kept its playoff hopes alive with back-to-back blowout wins over Leo and Montini. It sets up a matchup of win-and-in teams with Benet. Do-all Wisconsin recruit Justin Taylor scored three TDs in the win over Montini. Sophomore QB Logan Malachuk threw for 176 yards and ran for a score, and Zach Hayes had one of three Nazareth interceptions.

About the Redwings: Benet had its three-game winning streak end in rough fashion last week, a 41-0 loss at Joliet Catholic. It puts the Redwings into a game with Nazareth where the winner can play itself into the playoffs and the loser will be left hoping it can get in with a 4-5 record and sufficient playoff points. Benet was apparently decimated by injuries last Friday at Joliet Catholic, and will need all available hands on deck in this week's must win. The Redwings were in the exact same position last season, and dropped their last two games to Joliet Catholic and Nazareth to miss the playoffs. Benet hopes to return the favor this Friday.

Montini (3-5, 0-2) at Joliet Catholic (6-2, 2-0)

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

Last matchup: Joliet Catholic 44, Montini 28 (2021)

About the Broncos: Montini, which last season missed the playoffs for the first time since 1992, will be on the outside looking in once again after a 42-7 loss to Nazareth last week. A late-season gauntlet has been a bit too much to overcome. The Broncos have dropped three straight games to Providence, Marist and Nazareth, all at home, by a combined margin of 112-14. Senior QB Cole Teschner has thrown for 1,433 yards and 11 TDs on the season. His top target, Mingo Nixon, has 33 catches for 470 yards and six TDs. Jonathan Goff leads the Montini defense with 77 tackles.

About the Hilltoppers: Joliet Catholic once again responded to a loss with a dominant victory, as it absolutely took apart Benet in Week 8. The Redwings couldn't do much of anything against an inspired effort from a Hilltoppers defensive line led by Jeremy Johnson, while the offense got a boost with the return of running back H.G. Grigsby, who had been hampered by injury. A win here isn't a must, but finishing with a 7-2 record would give the Hilltoppers a pretty solid chance of hosting an opening-round playoff game.

Other Friday DuPage Games

Lisle (4-4, 3-4) at Peotone (5-3, 3-3), 7 p.m.

Westmont (2-3) at Aurora Central Catholic (1-7), 7 p.m.

Fenton (2-6, 2-6) at East Aurora (3-5, 3-5), 7 p.m.

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