KCChronicle.com/preps Game of the Week: Neuqua Valley (3-0) at St. Charles East (2-1), 7:30 p.m. today
What the crowd will be buzzing about
One of the better Upstate Eight Conference crossovers in the league this season. "Both teams have it going on," East coach Mike Fields said. Neuqua counterpart Bill Ellinghaus agrees, adding, "It's a tale of two teams who like to run and can."
Neuqua Valley will have it rolling if...
Burly offensive tackles Andrew Geers (6-foot-7, 275 pounds) and J.P. Quinn (6-4, 245) control Mike Eyre, Andrew Szyman and the Saints' defensive line. Geers and Quinn – a Central Michigan recruit – have had big hands in helping clear paths for top tailback Joey Rhattigan and an offense that has outscored formidable competition (Naperville North, Naperville Central and South Elgin) by a combined count of 126-68 this season.
"They're big boys," Fields said. "They're tough to bring down. They like to pound the ball and they're a big offensive line. We're looking forward to a good game. They're a good 8A program and it's going to be a good test for us."
What the fly on the wall in Neuqua Valley’s locker room might hear:
"We play about half our games on the road, guys, and the excitement is different everywhere you go. The place we're in tonight is one of the better ones, and I've seen it a few times since I came here to Neuqua.
"They're very similar to us, I think. It's a dominant run game that tries to keep you off balance running the ball. They should be real excited about their start, but so should we. But let's stop the similarities there. Somebody's got to win this game, and that somebody is us."
St. Charles East will have it rolling if...
Its two-way talent stays hungry and healthy. With tailback Erik Anderson (shoulder) sidelined for at least another week, the Saints will use a complement of backs that includes Justin Cameron, Anthony Sciarrino and fullback Joe Hoscheit.
All three players start on defense, as well, but devoting themselves to what Fields calls "old-time football" hasn't been a problem, especially with the team back over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2009 season.
"It's a really good atmosphere," Hoscheit said, " and I think we've all bought in to the system and are really loving the game of football again."
What the fly on the wall in St. Charles East’s locker room might hear:
"They're a power-running team, guys, and we have to be ready for that tonight. If you're them, why would you change? They're sitting at 3-0 and scoring a lot of points.
"You just never know what's going to happen, but it's certainly going to be a challenge for us and we're going to have to play one of our better games to stay with them. From what I've seen since Cary-Grove in Week 1, I like our chances. I really do."
Kevin Druley’s prediction: Neuqua Valley 31, St. Charles East 20
The Saints will stay competitive with the Wildcats for much of the night, and maybe even get the visitors fearing what would be an upset. Neuqua's size puts the Saints in a hole and keeps them there, but East still comes out of the game feeling good about the strides it is making.