Naperville North hopes to cut down on penalties; mixed emotions for St. Francis

Naperville North coach Sean Drendel was impressed with his team's 40-21 Week 1 win over Homewood-Flossmoor.

"That was the great. We beat a very good team," he said.

Drendel also liked the fact his squad created 2 turnovers, but was not overly thrilled with his team's lack of a quick start. Also of cautionary note was the Huskies committing 12 infractions in the game.

"We had 21 points taken off the board because of it," Drendel said.

On the defensive side, lineman Lawson Grier had 8 tackles, a pair of tackles for loss, a sack and 2 hurries, while Cole Clemens had 7 tackles and forced a fumble.

Naperville Central update: Naperville Central allowed only 9 points in its opening-week win over a Hinsdale Central, a team that won the West Suburban Conference Silver Division a year ago.

"We protected the football, played with good pad level and tackled well. Those things really matter, especially in the first game," Redhawks coach Mike Ulreich said.

Ulreich said execution on a 2-minute drill to end the half did not work in Central's favor, plus a second scoring drive in the third quarter stalled after the Redhawks got the ball on the Hinsdale Central 40.

A pair of defensive stalwarts for the Redhawks included Gavin Bohan and Gavin Wade. "Gavin Bohan at corner played with great body control and confidence as a senior," Ulreich said. "Gavin Wade laid some big hits on defense and was a tone setter with his speed and effort."

Glenbard East update: The Rams pitched a shutout in Week 1 against Larkin (28-0).

"Week 1 was certainly a challenge," Rams coach John Walters said. "You learn a lot about your team. The defense getting a shutout was huge. Offensively, we have to get into a better rhythm. We had flashes, but we need to be more consistent."

Dimitri Hritz had 6 tackles on defense and ran 10 times for a 135 yards and a touchdown, while Eric McClain had 7 catches, one being a touchdown.

West Chicago update: Wildcats coach Adam Chavez summed up the squad's 51-0 setback to South Elgin in Week 1 this way: "Week 1 taught us a lot of where we are and where we want to be," he said.

That being said, Chavez saw positives and things that need work going forward. "We fought hard until the end," he said. "We need to work on cutting down penalties and protecting the football."

Johnny Montana and Jaden Bates Preston were cited for strong play. "I thought Johnny Montana had a heck of a game," Chavez said. "He was explosive running, catching and in the return game. Jaden did some good things on both sides of the ball."

Westmont update: Sentinels coach Taj Jackson said the great thing about the team's 18-13 win over Walther Christian was "we played as a team," he noted.

"We never let adversity stop one of our core values - determination."

Westmont dressed only 20 players for the game.

"Being young with only 20 players, we came out healthy," Jackson pointed out. "That's a very tall order to have done that."

Westmont ran for 195 yards and a pair of scored.

"We were able to play keep away with our run game and time of possession was a key factor," Jackson said. "Our young line paved the way for our running backs."

That offensive line included freshmen guards Jaime Murphy and Yannis Tutianu.

"Jaime saw his first varsity game and handled himself like a veteran," Jackson said. "Yannis was also working like a true veteran with many pancakes."

Tackling was a defensive highlight.

"I was very impressed with how we swarmed the ball and made tackles. For a group of kids who are 14 years of age tackling 17- and 18-yer-olds, mad props to these boys."

St. Francis update: A mixed bag of emotions for St. Francis coach Bob McMillen after the Spartans went into Lake Forest and scored a 17-6 nonconference win.

"We did some good things in the second half," he said. "I feel we were able to run the ball more effectively and we have our quarterback good pass-pro (protection)."

On the things to work on side, McMillen felt the Spartans made a tad too many early mistakes.

"Blown protections, missed assignments, missed tackles and wrong alignments," he said. "Things you shouldn't see coming into Week 1 knowing your opponent and practicing for them the past three weeks."

St. Francis also committed 9 penalties for 100 yards and had 4 unsportsmanlike penalties, three of which resulted in first downs.

"We have to be smarter and not make those kinds of mistakes at critical times," McMillen said.

A couple of quick-hitter individual superlatives for the Spartans: Armari Head ran 18 times for 89 yards and a score and then turned around on defense and had 4 tackles and a pick. TJ McMillen had 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 tackles for loss and a pass deflection on defense and was credited with 5 pancakes on the offensive line.

Wheaton Academy update: Wheaton Academy coach Jim Johanik saw his team explode out of the gates against Marian Central to the tune of 35 unanswered points.

"It was one of the best team efforts in a half of football I have seen at the Academy, well, since the COVID spring season when we scored 49 unanswered in just over one quarter against Bishop McNamara that was up 23-0," he said.

"The culture of the program shifted from that game a year-and-a-half ago and last Friday is evidence that it has grown since. Our 2s and 3s were on the field against Marian's 1s late in the game and while these kids fought, they need reps, which we hope they will get more of in the coming weeks."

Quarterback Belay Brummel has played 48 quarters or 12 games without throwing an interception.

"This kid has had a lot of production both in the air and on the ground," Johanik said. "Belay helps his passing game with strong fakes in zone read, play-action and RPO. We're operating at a higher level because of attention to the details."

Johanik was pumped about the Warriors' defense allowing 30-some passing yards to Marian Central's talented wide receiver, with 15 of those coming late in the fourth quarter.

"That is mind-bending," he said. "I can't say enough about how disciplined we are. We clearly benefit from having experience at the coaching level on both sides of the ball."

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