In one of its best starts since the 2008-2009 Season, the Southwest Prairie Conference opens the season with 6 Wins out of 8. And the last time that happened the George Dergo coached Morris Redskins were still in the conference and as strange as it sounds, was one of two teams to lose their opener that year. Morris, though, would go on the furthest that season before bowing out to Kankakee in the IHSA State Quarterfinals. Yes sir since then the Southwest Prairie Conference (SPC) went 3, 3, 3 & 4 in week one action.
So to say that I am ecstatic that my fears of of 5 or more teams beginning this season with an possible 0-2 mark was unfounded would be an understatement. And to the warriors on the field - thanks for making me a liar - and I don't mind one bit! It isn't often when the SPC, as a collective unit, can pull off six wins in their non-conference match-ups let alone against a tough of a schedule as they faced this past week.
So thank you - thank you - thank you and I hope that the victories continue to pile up in week two. While that may seem like asking for an awful lot against Bolingbrook, Lombard Glenbard East, Pekin, Providence Catholic, St. Charles North, Waubonsie Valley, West Aurora and Wheaton St. Francis - if the SPC can duplicate its week one successes, well then I think that that would send a very strong message that this was a conference to be reckoned with later in the year.
The six week two invaders, though, sport a 6-2 combined record and one of those two losses was the wild shootout between Providence Catholic and Joliet Catholic Academy. JCA would eventually win 42-35 after Game MVP Michael Ivlow, who rushed for 310 yards while adding TD runs of 32, 60, 67 & 80 yards, showed fans there would be no lack of firepower on the ground after Ty Issac's departure to USC.
Speaking of wild shootouts, Oswego could have given the SPC a 7-1 mark as well after overcoming a 20-0 deficit to lose a 29-27 heart breaker at home versus Geneva. Hopefully that loss, which resulted on an 80 yard TD Sideline Pass immediately after taking their first lead of the game with about 3 minutes remaining to play. All in all, though, I don't think any of the SPC Teams will be over-matched given the intensity displayed on the field in week one. But just to be sure to be sure, I hope SPC fans will be out in force to cheer their favorite team on!
SPC Week One Recap:
Plainfield South 28 Lemont 13
The Plainfield South Cougars (1-0, 0-0) showed the conference that they weren't going to be intimidated by anyone this season and made a statement against the Lemont Indians (0-1, 0-0). And it didn't matter that the Indians were one of the most consistent winning team's in the area or that they were the IHSA Class 6A State Semi-Finalists the past two seasons (losing to eventual Champion Crete-Monee 28-27 last season and State Finalist Peoria Richwoods 34-31 (2OT) the year before. This season's Cougars are not only a confident bunch but maybe even a little unfazed by who their opponent is - reputation or not.
I had spoken with LB Mason Matesevic earlier in the week and he said "we are ready to make a statement on defense this week." Well I have to tell you - he wasn't kidding either as the Cougar defense was swarming and forced the issue the entire game, especially when its offense stalled a little. And every time the Indian offense looked as if they would gather momentum the Cougar defensive unit forced them into uncharacteristic errors. They say Lemont is a younger team this year, but don't kid yourselves - this is a school that has built program with a winning tradition and in the past 6 years alone have amassed a 68-10 record (11-2, 12-1, 11-1, 10-2, 13-1 & 11-3). The Plainfield Cougars didn't just beat a good team they beat a winning team!
But even winning teams can make mistakes and Lemont did do that in this game (5 Turnovers & 115 Penalty Yards) but it wasn't because they were young or that it was early in the season as Lemont hasn't lost an opener since 2006. The Cougar Defense was going to make a statement and did so with hard-hitting and sometimes acrobatic type moves. In short they just took it to Lemont!
And when the Cougars weren't forcing turnovers Josh Harris was busy showing us why he is the heir apparent as he scored 4TD's with the first coming from 4 yards out just a minute and one-half into the contest after the defense had forced a fumble on Lemont's first play from scrimmage. That is how you start a game! Josh Harris would finish with 124 Yards Rushing on 22 attempts and caught 2 passes for 76 yards. A nice all-around game offensively in addition to playing on defense as well. Cougar QB, Kody Voda (8/20 - 134 Yds, 1TD) played a good game overall and was very effective running out of the backfield when he had to and picked-up a couple crucial first downs.
The Offensive Line of OG Eric Aguirre and Joe Miggins, OT Nathan Karras, Richie Kelly and Thomas "TJ" Grady and C Robert Szudarski played a solid game despite a momentary lapse in the 2nd half when they were hit with multiple procedural penalties in a row. But other than that - they played a good tough game and I will now eat that crow after saying their strength may be a weakness against bigger linemen. They are definitely strong enough and hopefully they will get even stronger yet. As for the defense as a whole - they are a tight unit. Roberto Carrillo recovered two fumbles while the Linebacking crew of Clifton Garrett, Mason Matesevic, Danny Sarroco and Drew Kaup kept forcing the issue
all night long as Lemont QB Chris Thompson was held under 50 yards passing and limiting his scrambles to 30 yards. Lemont's Matt Monaco was limited to 4 catches for 35 yards but did snare a TD.
As good as the Cougars defense played, though, Lemont tried hard to kickstart their game plan and weren't totally out of the game until Josh Harris pulled in a 33 yard TD Pass just before the first half ended to give them the lead for good. It was if that TD deflated them a little but became totally so after a 3rd Quarter defensive stop turned into yet another score.
This was an all-around team victory for the Cougars and hopefully they can use this as momentum going into the next game versus the Wheaton St. Francis Spartans (1-0, 0-0) which defeated the Riverside-Brookfield Bulldogs (0-1, 0-0) 35-9. If the Cougars can forge an 2-0 start going into conference play against their district rivals Plainfield North, they could be in the drivers seat as I see a tough game for the Tigers against the Pekin Dragons (1-0, 0-0) especially after their impressive 36-14 win versus another tough 7A Alton Redbirds.
Minooka 21 Morris 14
Remember when I said a huge line means a lot in the SPC? Well that was certainly true in this game as the Minooka Indians (1-0, 0-0) defeated the Morris Redskins (0-1, 0-0) in Morris. And that's a big deal folks because Minooka doesn't beat Morris in Morris, yet with the help of a huge Offensive Line; Guards Paul Stawarz (6-5, 290) and Gabriel Parker (6-3, 270), Tackles Alec Shannon (5-11, 205) and Brock Whalen (6-foot, 250) and Center James Lang (6-3, 260) this is about as big as it usually gets in the SPC. Of course RB Nathan Gunn (6' 205) wouldn't be mistaken for being tiny either but I think I am going to nickname him "Bam-Bam" after the way he ran over longtime rival Morris.
I just wonder what Gunn would have done had he carried the ball more (16 / 154 Yds, 2TD). But Minooka was out to show the world that they had a little more in mind for this season than the usual run it up your face style so prevalent over the years. Especially between these two squads. The Indians have a real QB with a live arm in Shane Briscoe and his backup Jake Czerniakowski isn't so much a threat with his arm as he has that former QB Joe Carnagio speed out of the backfield. Now I am not in favor of rotating quarterbacks as it often messes with O-Line minds, but somehow it worked in this game as the Redskins looked sluggish most of the night.
The Redskins, while I don't think they will repeat last year's success, due to heavy graduation losses, they will be competitive before everything is said and done this season. Junior QB Griffin Sobol (19-33/250, 1 INT) is a kid who can get the offense moving when Morris' bread and butter running game isn't working. So they too will be able to show opponent defenses a few different looks. As for this game, well, it was a typical Minooka - Morris matchup and I think the 21-14 final score reflected that.
Nathan Gunn gave Minooka a 1st Quarter lead on a two-yard plunge after setting-it up on a 65 yard run from scrimmage. Jacob Stytz added the PAT kick to make it 7-0. Minooka added another TD about 4 minutes later after QB Shane Briscoe found Anthony Mack from six yards out to extend the lead. And after another PAT by Stytz the Indians were up 14-0. And that is where it stayed until the 4th Quarter when Morris finally found the endzone on a 9 yard scamper by Jacob Walker after Minooka was called on a pass-interference on the previous play. Jake Reed added the PAT and the score was cut in half, 14-7.
Minooka, though, answered almost immediately after a quick scoring drive led to another Nathan Gunn TD run from eight yards out. After Jacob Stytz converted his third PAT Minooka had what would be the winning points with a 21-7 lead. Morris, however, was not going to go down without a fight and with about 7 minutes to play, Jacob Walker would find the endzone for his second TD. After Reed converted the PAT the Redskins were back in the game at 21-14. And after Morris got the ball back it looked as if they had a chance to either tie the score or go for the win until the Indian's defense came up big on a QB Griffin Sobol sack by Anthony Phillips to preserve the victory.
Minooka must now face Providence Catholic Celtics (0-1, 0-0) at home for their next big test of the young season and even though their opponents lost to JCA 42-35 in an wide-open game, I expect a grind em out affair between the two with a touchdown being the difference. There is no doubt the Celtics can score quick and often and the Indians will have to be pressure QB Justin Hunniford to prevent him from airing it out for another 340 yards as he did in the JCA game. He has solid receivers in Miles Boyton and Luc Quaranta while RB Dominic Lagone not only grinds out yards on the ground but has soft hands. So Hunniford can do some major damage if not careful.
Plainfield East 37 Metea Valley 17
The Plainfield East Bengals (1-0, 0-0) used three interceptions to finally get the Metea Valley Mustangs (0-1, 0-0) monkey off their back. The Bengals, who had lost two previous games to the Mustangs due to late game turnovers, finally beat the team they could have easily been 3-0 against. Is it a portent of a good season? Well it is definitely not a negative thing that's for sure.
Metea Valley opened the scoring when QB Blaze Bell handed off to RB Jay Parker for a 7-0 lead. But Plainfield East QB Kole Kotopka threw an 80 Yard TD to Brandon Rivera to tie the game at 7 before taking the lead for good after an Omar Salazar interception put the Begals deep into Metea Valley territory and RB Jake Mayon ran it in form 14 yards out for a 14-7 lead. The lead was extended to 21-7 when Kole Kotopka connected on a 35 yard TD Pass with Mayon. After Metea Valley made it 21-10 with a FG the game was put out of reach after QB Kole Kopka engineered an 85 yard sustained drive to start the 3rd Quarter that culminated in a 4 Yard TD Run by Cedric Majors. After Metea QB tripped in the endzone for a safety and an 30-10 lead, Bell found Nick Dodson for a 16 Yard TD Pass and cut the lead to 30-17. Bengals Dante Hartsfield, though, would close the evening's scoring with a 70 Yard TD Interception and an impressive 38-17 win.
The Plainfield East Bengals will go on the road to meet the West Aurora Blackhawks (1-0, 0-0) who defeated the Aurora East Tomcats (0-1, 0-0) 46-18.
Other SPC Scores:
Geneva 29 Oswego 27
Daily Herald News Story
Oswego will be on the road versus the Waubonsie Valley Warriors (0-1, 0-0) who lost to the Naperville Central Redhawks (1-0, 0-0) 23-10.
Marmion Academy 25 Plainfield Central 7
Kane County Chronicle Game Story
Plainfield Central will be on the road versus the St. Charles North North Stars (0-1, 0-0) who lost to the Elk Grove Village Grenadiers (1-0, 0-0) 23-22 (OT).
Oswego East 43 Woodstock 35
McHenry Sports Game Story
Oswego East will be at Home versus Lombard Glenbard East (1-0, 0-0) who defeated the Villa Park Willowbrook Warriors 28-21
Plainfield North 56 Chicago Westinghouse 0
No Press Account Of This Game
Plainfield North will be on the road versus the Pekin Dragons (1-0, 0-0) who defeated the Alton Redbirds (0-1, 0-0) 36-14.
Romeoville 32 Hinsdale South 29
Herald News Game Story
Romeoville will be on the road versus the Bolingbrook Raiders (1-0, 0-0) who defeated the Hinsdale Central Red Devils (0-1, 0-0) 17-6.
Tags: 2013-14 High School Football Season, Alec Shannon, Anthony Mack, Anthony Phillips, Aurora Marmion Academy Cadets, Blaze Bell, Bolingbrook Raiders, Brandon Rivera, Brock Whalen, Cedric Majors, Chicago Westinghouse Warriors, Chris Thompson, Clifton Garrett, Danny Sarroco, Dante Hartsfield, Darien Hinsdale South Hornets, Dominic Lagone, Drew Kaup, Eric Aguirre, Football, Gabriel Parker, Geneva Defeats Oswego 29-27, Geneva Vikings, Griffin Sobol, High School Football, High School Sports, IHSA Football, Jacob Stytz, Jacob Walker, Jake Czerniakowski, Jake Mayon, Jake Reed, James Lang, Jay Parker, JCA Defeats Providence 42-35, Joe Carnagio, Joe Miggins, Josh Harris, Justin Hunniford, Kody Voda, Kole Kotopka, Lemont Indians, Lombard Glenbard East Rams, Luc Quaranta, Marmion Academy Defeats Plainfield Central 25-7, Mason Matesevic, Matt Monaco, Metea Valley Mustangs, Michael Ivlow, Michael Ivlow Scores 4 TDs, Miles Boyton, Minooka, Minooka Defeats Morris 21-14, Minooka Indians, Minooka QB Shane Briscoe, Minooka RB Nathan Gunn, Morris Redskins, Nathan Gunn, Nathan Karras, Nick Dodson, Omar Salazar, Oswego East, Oswego East Defeats Woodstock 43-35, Oswego East Wolves, Oswego H.S., Oswego H.S. Panthers, Paul Stawarz, Pekin Dragons, Plainfield Central, Plainfield Central Wildcats, Plainfield East, Plainfield East Bengals, Plainfield East Defeats Metea Valley 37-17, Plainfield North, Plainfield North Defeats Chicago Westinghouse 56-0, Plainfield North Tigers, Plainfield South, Plainfield South C Robert Szudarski, Plainfield South Cougars, Plainfield South Defeats Lemont 28-13, Plainfield South LB Clifton Garrett, Plainfield South LB Danny Sarroco, Plainfield South LB Drew Kaup, Plainfield South LB Mason Matesevic, Plainfield South OG Eric Aguirre, Plainfield South OG Joe Miggins, Plainfield South OT Nathan Karras, Plainfield South OT Richie Kelly, Plainfield South OT Thomas "TJ" Grady, Plainfield South QB Kody Voda, Plainfield South RB Josh Harris, Prep Football, Providence Catholic Celtics, Richie Kelly, Robert Szudarski, Roberto Carrillo, Romeoville, Romeoville Defeats Hinsdale South 31-29, Romeoville Spartans, Shane Briscoe, Southwest Prairie Conference, Suburban Christian Blue, Thomas "TJ" Grady, Waubonsie Valley Warriors, West Aurora Blackhawks, Wheaton St. Francis Spartans, Woodstock Blue Streaks