Veteran St. Charles North coach Mark Gould finds his final season more than halfway complete, but he’s still just as excited about an important career first as he was on the opening day of practice.
Junior placekicker Kat Stutesman approached Gould about joining the team when she was a driver education student of Gould’s last school year, and has more than followed through with her commitment as the program’s first female varsity player.
Stutesman’s 23-yard field goal and 4-for-4 effort on extra points at Streamwood on Friday helped North to its third straight win.
“She’s kind of quiet, very serious, and one day last year, she’s like, ‘I think I’d like to go out for football. I’m a [soccer] goalie, and I think I can kick,’ ” Gould said. “Sure. We hadn’t had a real great kicker for a while, and she’s kept on it. She’s been a very valuable addition.”
Gould and special teams coach Tom Poulin have noticed steady improvement in Stutesman’s leg strength to complement a work ethic that’s always been steady. She runs alongside the North Stars in each conditioning drill and neither receives nor wants any reprieve at practice.
North’s only coach, Gould recalled a female player who played at the sophomore level years ago but was not certain if she finished the season.
Judging by a recent conversation with Gould, it’s doubtful Stutesman will follow that path.
“She goes, ‘I kind of want to hit people,’ ” Gould said. “So I said, ‘Yeah, absolutely. Wide receiver, defensive back. We’ll see if something can’t work out with getting you work at a position, too.’ ”
St. Charles East and Geneva traded kickoff-return touchdowns, big plays and turnovers during Friday’s seesaw homecoming game at Norris Stadium.
One thing the Saints couldn’t find an answer for: Vikings junior wide receiver Kyle Brown, whose four receptions for 139 yards and two touchdowns kept Geneva close in an eventual 34-27 defeat.
“He’s really a great athlete,” Saints defensive back Mitch Munroe said. “We had to be watching him all the time.”
The 6-foot-4 Brown has proven especially reliable with Geneva using freshman quarterback Nick Derr after sophomore starter Daniel Santacaterina broke his clavicle in Week 3. Brown’s own injury issues from a shoulder injury suffered during summer basketball kept him from full 7-on-7 participation, but his leaping ability and big hands helped make up for lost time – and the occasional wayward throw.
“He’s a rebounder by trade [in basketball], that’s what he does, so being a little bit shorthanded at quarterback, he’s a nice [big] target,” Vikings coach Rob Wicinski said. “They don’t have to be perfect. They can get it out there and he can go up and get it. That’s kind of been our thought in trying to get him more involved in the passing game.”
Two in a row
Wheaton Academy pounded Guerin on Saturday, 56-0, posting 56 points for the second straight week.
More importantly for the Warriors, their second straight win kept Wheaton Academy (2-4) mathematically alive for a postseason spot leading up to Saturday’s home game against St. Edward.
– Kevin Druley, firstname.lastname@example.org
COACH SLY SEZ
We’ve got a pretty good idea now of who’ll be in and who’ll be out once Week 9 passes at the end of the month, but there’s still a lot of drama surrounding some in-betweeners. To start, and with apologies to Norris Stadium’s man of the mic, a special shoutout to Aurora Central Catholic, which became playoff-eligible as it seeks its first postseason berth since 1997.
ACC was in the middle of the pack at midseason in recent years, not unlike 3-3 clubs St. Charles North and St. Francis are now.
Both of those teams must win at least two remaining games to be eligible, and the Spartans arguably have the less bumpy road with struggling Marmion, Guerin and St. Edward coming up.
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IN THE GROOVE
Drew David, Kaneland, Jr., QB
What he did: While his accuracy – 7 for 14 – wasn’t up to his own high standards, David still was plenty explosive in the Knights’ 66-23 rout of visiting DeKalb. David threw for four scores, two each to Dylan Nauert and Zack Martinelli, while adding a rushing touchdown. Kaneland improved to 6-0 and won its 12th Northern Illinois Big 12 East game in as many tries.
Nick McCullough, St. Charles North, Sr., DB
What he did: Continuing a strong senior season after he missed parts of last fall with a concussion, McCullough returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown in North’s 31-14 win at Streamwood. His interception return later in the game set up a Kat Stutesman field goal and helped North to its third straight victory.
WHAT WE LEARNED LAST WEEK
Neither Geneva nor Marmion, both 1-5, will continue their postseason streaks this fall. The Vikings needed to win out to become eligible for a ninth straight playoff berth, but special teams miscues cost them in a loss at St. Charles East.
Marmion, a qualifier in four of the past five seasons, stayed with Aurora Christian in the early going before the Eagles pulled away at Fichtel Field.
WHAT WE'LL LEARN IN THE WEEK AHEAD
Whether any of the Chronicle-area’s three unbeaten teams are knocked off the mark. Batavia hosts St Charles North while Kaneland visits Yorkville, pitting those teams against clubs hovering at or around .500.
Suburban Christian Blue co-leader Aurora Christian faces arguably the toughest test, hosting SCC Gold front-runner Immaculate Conception.