Fall Football Preview 2022

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It’s time to the gridiron for the 2022 High School Football season. All six of our area teams are ready for new opportunities including Naperville North who capture the DVC for the first time since 2008. This preview is sponsored by BMO Harris Bank.

Naperville North

We begin with last year’s DVC champs Naperville North who took home the conference crown for the first time since 2008 after a walk off win over Neuqua Valley and returned to the postseason for the first time since 2017. Despite a first-round playoff loss to their crosstown rivals Naperville Central the Huskies have a lot of talent returning in 2022 including quarterback and Northwestern commit Aiden Gray, along with Swiss army knife Luke Williams who will play a major role on both sides of the ball after the graduation of his brother Zeke. Nate Jacobs will also get some time in the backfield who will be taking over for former DVC Offensive Player of the Year Ethan Robert. If the Huskies can get an improved performance from the defensive side of the ball, another DVC title and the first playoff win since 2010 could be within reach. The challenge will be difficult right off the bat with a week one matchup at home against Homewood Flossmoor.

Neuqua Valley Football

Up next is the area team who made its deepest playoff run since 2013, Neuqua Valley. After a 10-2 season, the Wildcats are looking to put behind last season’s heartbreaking 14-13 quarterfinal loss to Maine South and keep their foot on the gas pedal heading into this fall. Even though the Blue and Gold lose many pieces on offense and defense, they return the key commander in quarterback Mark Menneke, who enters his third season as the signal caller. The left-handed thrower will also have one of his top targets back in wideout Grant Larkin along with tailback Jaden McGee, that’s just three of the seventeen returners who hope to take the Cats to another deep postseason push.
“We were young last year and we had a lot of success going 10-2 but they were really hungry last year. This year I hope we can stay with that same hunger and have great leadership out there.
Another promising season of success for Neuqua Valley begins week 1 at Oswego.

Naperville Central Football

Now we go to Naperville Central who is looking for another strong performance under second year head coach Mike Ulreich. The Redhawks made it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2018 and advanced to the second round after a win over Naperville North. But following the departure of quarterback Owen Prucha and Northwestern bound receiver Reggie Fleurima, the Red and White will look towards a different crop of playmakers. A pair of key returners are running back Tyler Dodd who became the starter in the back field in week 2 of last year along with powerful junior defensive end Maverick Ohle. This year’s passing attack is a battle between baseball pitcher Chris McCormack and Jack Cook as one of those throwers will be making their first varsity start on August 26th when the Redhawks host Hinsdale Central to kickoff the 2022 season.

Waubonsie Valley Football

Let’s go to Warrior country with Waubonise Valley who is looking to bounce back after an up and down 3-6 campaign. One of the biggest bright spots for the Green and Gold is the return of quarterback Luke Elsea who started six games last season for WV. Despite losing his go-to target Tyler Helbing and talented running back Antonio Torres, the Warriors will have an exciting new pass catcher in Julian Johnson, the brother of former Metea Valley star Jalen Johnson. Julian transferred to Waubonsie after the District 204 boundary adjustment. Luke Elsea and his fellow captains Michael Popov, Brij Fowler, Tommy Moriarty, Mason Ringenbach and Dominic Guzman hope to bring WV back to the postseason for the first time since 2018. The Warriors will have a tough schedule ahead of them as they get set to begin their 2022 season at Oswego East in Week 1.

Metea Valley Football

We go up Eola Road now to Metea Valley who are coming off a season where they had their most wins since 2016, including their first home and DVC wins since 2016.However, many key pieces will be missing for the Mustangs after the departures of three year starting quarterback Logan Frederick, Pass catchers John Flynn and Jalen Johnson, linebacker Vince Wronski and standout offensive and defensive lineman Jake Paulline. Although this year’s squad is excited to hit the gridiron as senior Noah Larson will be taking the snaps for the Black and Gold. If the Mustangs want to continue to rack up more wins, it all starts on the road at Geneva in Week 1 where MV looks to bounce back after a tough 20-15 loss to the Vikings to begin last season.

Benet Academy Football

Finally, our last team is the Benet Academy Redwings as they want to put last season behind them after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011. BA came into Week 8 with a 4-3 record but two straight losses to Joliet Catholic and Nazareth Academy ended their season one win shy of the postseason at 4-5. With 2021 in the rear view mirror the Wings can now look ahead for new opportunities in 2022. Longtime head coach Pat New will return quarterback Anthony Picciolini, receiver Michael Lawler and two-way standout Pierce Walsh, who committed to Minnesota over the summer, to play key roles on the offense. John Weidenbach is back at linebacker to help Walsh anchor the defense. If the Wings want to return to the postseason, they will have to play through the daunting Chicago Catholic League/ESCC. Benet will start things off with four straight home games, with two of the contests at the College of DuPage. That first game will be against an out-state opponent, Noblesville from the Hoosiers Crossroad Conference in Indiana.

For Naperville Sports Weekly I’m Patrick Codo.

Check out the other previews here!