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Prep Zone

Schwab: Football season rumbles in, just not literally, we hope

If you're reading this column, there's an excellent chance you already know the high school football season is a mere two days away.

The Kane County Chronicle's 2014 football preview special section publishes Thursday, and we'll drill deeper into the opening matchups in our Week 1 preview package Friday.

Here are a few football thoughts to tide you over until Friday.

• If you're just a high school football fan not emotionally invested in a certain team, you have plenty to choose from in the Tri-Cities area for attending a Week 1 game.

Batavia, St. Charles East, St. Charles North and Kaneland open up with home games, while Geneva has a modest trek down Randall Road to West Aurora.

Batavia-Oswego probably is the marquee local opener. Not only is it the first time the Bulldogs will suit up since winning the 6A state championship, but Oswego is a perennial playoff team with a Division-I prospect quarterback in junior Steven Frank. Whether Batavia goes with Evan Acosta or Kyle Niemiec, the Bulldogs will send a newcomer under center, so the advantage at that crucial spot seemingly swings in the Panthers' favor.

It'll be up to Batavia's vaunted pass rush – highlighted by beastly seniors Noah Frazier and Josh Leonhard – to help nullify that edge in front of what surely will be an electric opening night crowd at Bulldog Stadium.

• Speaking of the quarterback spot, this is one of those seasons in which proven commodities are few and far between for area programs.

Geneva's Daniel Santacaterina and Aurora Christian's Austin Bray are decorated returnees, but otherwise, it's mostly going to be new faces around the area, and some coaches have been hesitant to name their starter before the season begins.

The best way to ease in new quarterbacks is a reliable running game, and the good news for teams such as Batavia, Kaneland, Marmion, St. Charles East and St. Charles North is they appear well equipped to help their QBs via the ground game.

Just the same, there's no doubt the new QBs will have to develop quickly for those teams to become as productive offensively as they'd like.

• For those searching for some pomp and circumstance, Friday's home game against Walther Christian will mark Wheaton Academy's first home game on campus since the program was discontinued in 1989. The Warriors have played home games off campus since the program was reinstated in 2007 but are prepared to break in new Performance Trust Field, the latest area school to roll out a turf field.

Friday will also mark the head coaching debuts for St. Charles East's Bryce Farquhar, Aurora Christian's Dave Beebe and St. Francis' Mike Fitzgerald.

• Regardless of which team you support, we can all pull for a more enjoyable opening night than what we saw in 2013, when lightning postponed games throughout the area until the following day (and, in St. Francis' case, until Sunday).

Ominously enough, we've seen plenty of stormy, rumbling skies this week. Hopefully Mother Nature gets that out of her system before Friday. calls for a 40 percent chance of rain and scattered thunderstorms on Friday. Gulp.

Even if the lightning steers clear, conditioning – always crucial early in the season – looms even larger than usual, with temperatures likely to be in the 80s Friday. 

Keep those water bottles handy, and beware the dreaded opening night cramps. Hopefully the athletic trainers are in midseason form.

• Jay Schwab is sports editor of the Kane County Chronicle. He can be reached at 630-845-5382 or

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