Football Friday 2023 // Week One

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High school football is back which means that Football Friday is back for the 2023 campaign! For our six area teams, the return to the gridiron brings a renewed sense of excitement and optimism for a successful season between the lines. The non-conference schedule features many big time matchups, so let’s kick off year seven with Naperville North hosting Homewood Flossmoor! Football Friday is sponsored by BMO.

Homewood-Flossmoor vs Naperville North

The Huskies are looking to make it three playoff seasons in a row against the Vikings of Homewood-Flossmoor. The boys in blue and orange dominated this matchup by the score of 40-21 a season ago before putting up a 7-3 record in 2022. New quarterback Jacob Bell looks to connect with his high powered receiving targets like Purdue commit Luke Williams and junior Bryce Pettaway and running back Cole Arl.

Naperville North trailing 7-0 in second quarter and facing fourth and five from the Vikings 24-yard line. Coach Drendel decides to go for it as Bell rolls right and finds Carson Marlar for the first down. A few plays later, it’s Bell keeping it himself for the game tying touchdown. All tied up at 7-7 heading into halftime.

Opening drive of the third quarter for the Huskies and Jacob Bell finds Luke Williams with a strike on the slant route just before the safety arrives. Williams takes it from there as North takes a 14-7 lead.

The Huskie defense forces back to back turnovers and running back Cole Arl takes advantage with a touchdown run down the sidelines, outrunning the defense and shaking off arm tackles. Naperville North starts the season 1-0 after a 35-21 win over Homewood-Flossmoor.

Oswego East vs Waubonsie Valley

Waubonsie Valley is a program clearly looking to turn the page on last season, where the Warriors went 0-9 in 2022. Oswego East, who has defeated Waubonsie in the past two season openers, makes the short trip to Aurora to begin the year.

After a scoreless opening half, the Warriors break through first as Tyler Threat takes the handoff from Luke Elsea and darts through the defense for the ten yard touchdown run. 7-0 Warriors.

Later in the third quarter, Chrisjan Simmons takes the handoff around the left side and makes it a 14-0 lead for the green and gold.

Following an Oswego East touchdown early in the fourth quarter, Tyler Threat shows off his playmaking ability once again, finding a seam and turning on the jets for a 75-yard touchdown run. Waubonsie Valley has the Wolves on the ropes.

Late in the fourth and Tyler Threat has become a triple threat with his third touchdown run of the night, delivering the knockout blow! The Warriors pick up their first victory since October of 2021 after an impressive 28-7 win over Oswego East.

Naperville Central vs Hinsdale Central

Naperville Central and Hinsdale Central have faced off in the season opener for several years in a row now. This time it’s the Red Devils playing host to the Redhawks with new starting quarterback, Jack Cook leading the visitors.

Following an interception from the Naperville Central defense, the Redhawks face fourth and goal at the one. Cook keeps the ball himself and plunges into the end zone to give his team the early lead 7-0.

Hinsdale Central has a response ready as Joe Morrissey takes the handoff and finds paydirt to even up the score 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.

Naperville Central trailing 10-7 in the third quarter when Jude Sutherland gets the ball inside the five. It looks like he’s stopped short but he keeps churning his legs and the Redhawk offensive line keeps moving the pile until Sutherland finds himself in the end zone with a newly minted 14-10 lead.

The two teams trade chances back and forth until Hinsdale Central has it fourth and five from the Redhawk 14. The defensive line applies pressure and the throw from Riley Contreras is off the mark. Naperville Central is able to run out the clock and hang on for the hard fought 14-10 win and a 1-0 start to the season.

Oswego vs Neuqua Valley

The defending DVC champions from Neuqua Valley celebrate senior night to start the year against an upset minded Oswego Panthers squad, eager to avenge last year’s loss to the Wildcats in the season opener.

Neuqua Valley with some key miscues especially on special teams in this contest including a muffed punt attempt and a botched field goal, which keeps the team off the scoreboard.

Oswego already leading 6-0 via a pair of field goals when Noah Vera gets the handoff and maneuvers through the blue and gold defense. He finds the end zone from 26 yards out to make it 13-0 Panthers.

Oswego looks to extend the lead when the Neuqua defense steps up as Andrew Hoffman makes a great leaping interception to give the Wildcats some life.

Unfortunately the hopes are dashed soon after following a Neuqua fumble, forced out by the Elijah Seaton hit. Oswego makes the recovery and goes on to shutout the Wildcats by a 13-0 score in a defensive battle.

Geneva vs Metea Valley

A strong Geneva Vikings team makes the trip to Aurora to challenge Metea Valley. The Mustangs look to protect the home turf and start the season on the right foot.

In the opening quarter, Geneva is on the move when Maurice Morrow gets a great jump on the snap and his teammates help force the ball out. Morrow then scoops up the fumble to give the ball to the Mustangs.

Metea was unable to capitalize and turn the possession into points. On the ensuing Geneva drive, Talyn Taylor takes the swing pass in the backfield, breaks a couple ankle tackles and runs away from the Mustangs defense for the opening score of the game.

The Metea defense keeps things close in the first half, but the Vikings pull away in the second half. Here it’s Michael Rumoro scoring from 43 yard out to cap off the 35-0 victory for Geneva over Metea Valley.

Oak Forest vs Benet Academy

We close things out at Benedictine University where Benet Academy welcomes Oak Forest to begin the non-conference slate. The Redwings are eager to get off to a good start after missing out on the post season the past two years.

New starting quarterback Ryan Kubacki Jr making a good first impression with a quick screen to Pat Pitello, who weaves through the defense and dives into the end zone to give Benet a 12-6 lead in the opening quarter.

In the second half, Kubacki shows off his own wheels as he takes the ball himself into the end zone from 37-yards out. Redwings flying away with this one up 26-6.

Into the fourth quarter where Kubacki throws a fade in the corner to Rocky Rosanova who taps his toes to remain inbounds for the touchdown. Nice touch on the pass from the sophomore.

The Redwings look sharp to begin the year on both sides of the ball as the defense holds Oak Forest to single digits after a dominating 40-6 victory for Benet Academy.

Standings and Schedules

Time to take a gander at the standings after the opening week of the year. It’s an even split in the DVC with Naperville North, Naperville Central and Waubonsie Valley all victorious to start. DeKalb fell to Sycamore by the score of 42-7 to begin the season. Meanwhile in the ESCC/CCL White Division which Benet Academy now shares with Providence Catholic, Montini Catholic and St. Laurence saw all four teams start the year with a win.

Some more exciting matchups on the horizon in week two. In the ESCC/CCL White, Benet Academy travels west to face Moline, looking for a 2-0 start. In the DVC, Metea Valley looks to right the ship on the road at Plainfield Central, Neuqua Valley hosts Minooka, Naperville Central welcomes Plainfield North and Waubonsie Valley heads to Plainfield East. Naperville North will have the biggest challenge of the early season as perennial power and defending 8A state champion Loyola Academy comes to town.

It’s great to be back for another year of high school action. Be sure to follow along with us all season for all the fun. Thanks so much for watching, for Football Friday 2023, I’m Justin Cornwell. See you next week.

For more prep sports highlights, visit the Naperville Sports Weekly page!