Football Friday 2021 // Week 1

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Now this is more like it, High School Football on Friday night in front of their fans. Sure it’s 90 degrees at kickoff but this just feels right! We are back for another season of Football Friday and there is an action packed schedule in the weeks ahead. You’ve waited long enough for the return of football in the fall. Let’s get into the highlights from opening week!

Naperville North vs. Benet Academy

The Huskies of Naperville North are looking to build on a strong finish to the spring season against Benet Academy. The Redwings only played three games in the spring due to COVID, but they did go 2-1 and defeated Naperville North 28-21 back in 2019.

Talk about getting off to a great start as Huskie quarterback Aidan Gray finds Luke Williams breaking free down the middle of the field. 78 yards later it’s 7-0 North.

Later in the half it’s Ethan Robert who shakes loose for a 50 yard touchdown scamper. The Huskies offense clicking en route to a 21-6 halftime lead.

New Benet signal caller Anthony Picciolini takes it himself from a yard out and suddenly the Redwings are right back in the game, down 21-13 after three.

But too much Huskie offense. Gray and Luke Williams connect for another touchdown pass the Naperville North starts the season 1-0 after a commanding road win over Benet.

Naperville Central vs. Hinsdale Central

Naperville Central and Hinsdale Central have had some epic week one battles in recent seasons, but the Red Devils have always come out on top. The Redhawks hope to start the Mike Ulreich era with a victory on the road.

It’s a defensive battle in this one as we jump into the second half. Owen Prucha uses the play fake to find James Jopes for the 9 yard touchdown for the first Central touchdown of the season.

The Red Devils look to answer with a score of their own, but Ethan Pytlak steps in and picks off the pass attempt. The linebacker takes it 30 yards to the house and that is all the Redhawks would need. For the first time since 2006, Naperville Central knocks off Hinsdale Central as Coach Ulreich starts his head coaching career with a win.

Oswego East vs. Waubonsie Valley

A great matchup between two teams close in proximity but who rarely meet on the gridiron. Oswego East visits Waubonsie Valley. The Warriors celebrate senior night as they enter the second season of the Tom Baumgardner era.

Late in the first half, Wolves quarterback Tyre Jones takes it himself 43 yards through the Waubonise D to the house. Oswego East takes a 10-0 halftime lead.

In the second half the running combination of Jabron Lee and Antonio Torres leads to a touchdown drive. Torres takes it in from 25 yards out to put WV down 17-7.

Waubonsie looking to make a comeback, but an incredibly athletic play from Oswego East linebacker Jared Badie forces the turnover. Badie swipes the ball away and the Wolves snag a road victory on senior night over the Warriors

Geneva vs. Metea Valley

Despite a winless spring season, Metea Valley has high hopes entering the fall with five returning All Conference selections. The Vikings of Geneva come in to Aurora looking to spoil the opener.

Mustangs trailing 7-3 late in the first half, Logan Frederick drops back and delivers a strike right into the waiting arms of Jalen Johnson, who beats his defender and strolls into the end zone. MV up 9-7 at the break.

After a Geneva punt return for a touchdown, Metea trails 14-9 in the 4th quarter. 4th down and goal from the 12 yard line, Coach Parpet elects to go for it. Frederick under pressure but gets a pass to the middle of the field and John Flynn somehow comes flying in to make a diving catch for the touchdown! The two point conversion fails but MV leads 15-14.

Geneva driving late in the game, 2nd and goal from the 8. Quarterback Alex Porter finds Aldo Senese in the end zone. That ends up being the game winning score as the Vikings edge out the Mustangs 20-15.

Oswego vs. Neuqua Valley

We wrap up with one of the most exciting matchups of the week. 7A powerhouse Oswego travels to Neuqua Valley to challenge the back to back DVC conference champion Wildcats.

Near the end of the first quarter, Wildcat quarterback Mark Mennecke does a great job eluding defenders to buy time before finding Carter Sessa open in the end zone. NV leads 9-0.

Into the second half and right after Mark Mennecke left the game briefly due to injury, senior RJ Cluxton steps up in a big way with a bomb to Sessa for the touchdown. Wildcats lead 22-7 after three.

Oswego scores 15 unanswered points in the 4th quarter to get within two points, but Andre Cobb makes a clutch interception on the two point conversion to keep his team ip 28-26.

With under four minutes to play, Grant Larkin takes the handoff and finds the end zone for the second time. Neuqua Valley hangs on for an impressive week 1 win over Oswego.

Standings and Schedules

It’s obviously very early and it’s still the non conference portion of the season, but let’s take a look at the standings from week one of Football Friday. Neuqua, Central and North start with W’s while Metea Valley and Waubonsie Valley look to bounce back next week.

Benet Academy is now in the ESCC-CCL Green division with St. Rita, Notre Dame and Nazareth and it was not a banner week for any of the four teams, who went a combined 0-4.

Looking ahead to the Week 2 schedule, some more big time non-con matchups ahead. Naperville Central hosts powerhouse Lincoln-Way East. Neuqua Valley travels to Wheaton Warrenville South and Waubonsie Valley heads to St. Charles East. Naperville North hosts former DVC rival Glenbard North and Metea Valley welcomes Lockport.

Benet Academy will make a long trek to the Quad cities next Friday to take on Moline.

That will do it for the opening week of the 2021 fall season. We hope you’re just as excited as we are to be back. For Football Friday, I’m Justin Cornwell.

For more football highlights, visit the Naperville Sports Weekly page!