Huskie football playoff preview and in-depth season analysis

Game info, season recap, IHSA 8A playoff preview, DVC teams, coach interviews, photos, and the Huskies’ path through the playoffs

PLAYOFF GAME INFO:

Game Time: 6:30pm
Ticket Price: $5
School Info: Oswego High School 4250 Route 71, Oswego, IL 60543 (13.5 miles from NNHS)
Weather Forecast: Partly cloudy, low of 29
Fan Theme: Holidays (Christmas, Halloween, etc.)
How to Watch If Not At Oswego: Tune into The Cube broadcast

Season Recap

Maddie Krebs

Naperville North Football holds the 24th seed in the 8A playoffs and will play at Oswego this Saturday. If the Huskies win they will play the winner of (8-1) Glenbard West and (6-3) Bloom.

Coming off a substantial amount of momentum from last season, the Huskies looked to carry it over into the 2017 season. The team started their year in the most exciting way possible with a historic 53-49 comeback win against the Edwardsville Tigers. Playing over four hours from home, the Huskies entered halftime losing 42-14 and pulled off the biggest comeback in NNHS football history by scoring 53 of the game’s final 60 points and sealed the deal with a 1-yard rush TD by QB Drake Davis with 21.5 seconds left.

The hype continued at the team’s next two games as they put up almost 60 points at Metea and pummeled another DVC team in Wheaton North at the first of only three home games the Huskies had. After one more win against Lake Park, the Huskies dropped their next two games against Glenbard North and Neuqua but their confidence was far from lost.

Huskies entered the highly anticipated Crosstown Classic matchup against fierce rival Naperville Central with high hopes and an underdog label. After a riveting back and forth game, the Huskies defeated the Redhawks 44-41 officially clinching their second straight playoff berth. The team ended their regular season with a loss and a win as they enter the playoffs 6-3.

After two straight 2-7 seasons in 2014 and 2015 followed by a drastic improvement in 2016, Huskies hoped to do just as well as the year before, if not better. The addition of senior QB Drake Davis from Bureau Valley filled an important vacancy left by last year’s QB Luke Cegles. Davis was unanimously named to the DVC’s All-Conference team, notably as the Offensive Team Captain. Senior WRs Ryan Laurenzo and Nick Calcagno carried their success from last season into this season and were frequent, not to mention successful, targets of Davis’.

The defense, headed by seniors LB Ryan Marrano and DE Ryan Robinson, has been tested often this season by explosive offenses but have held their own punishing these offenses with frequent interceptions and fumble recoveries. Many of these forced turnovers have been key plays in games like Crosstown with a fumble recovery in the 4th quarter resulting in a score which gave the Huskies a lead that lasted the rest of the night.

IHSA 8A Playoff Preview

Martin Herz

8A Favorites:

#1 Lincoln Way East (9-0)- Lincoln Way East, the number-one team in state, is the expected favorite for the playoff gauntlet. Their defense, anchored by Northwestern commit DE Devin O’Rourke, has given up only 89 points on the season. As the arguably the most complete team in 8A, the offense has been just as dominant scoring 25 points every game but one. The team is the #1 seed in the 8A bracket and deservingly so as they beat top 10 teams Maine South and Homewood-Flossmoor. They will be playing #32 seeded Joliet West this Friday.

#2 Maine South (8-1)- With their only loss by 2 points to Lincoln Way East, Maine South is one of two one-loss teams in 8A. With such a close loss, Maine South is ranked 2nd in the state but the 5th seed in the bracket. Since losing to Lincoln Way East on Labor Day weekend, Maine South hasn’t allowed any score above 14 points and the offense is on fire with the last 4 games putting up over 45 points. Though Maine South doesn’t have the flashy recruits, the team is very strong and is the most likely to shock #1 Lincoln Way East. As the #5 seed in 8A, their road games won’t be easy as they could rematch with #4 seed Homewood in the quarterfinals. #5 Maine South will host #27 Evanston on Friday.

#4 Loyola (8-1)- After dropping their first game of the season to #5 Phillips 20-14, the Loyola Academy Ramblers have ripped 8 straight wins and look to rebound after last year’s state championship loss to Glenbard West. In their 8 game winning streak, the Ramblers have won every game against an Illinois team by more than 20 points. As the second one-loss team, theirs is a case similar to Maine South where they lost to a great team in a close game but have dominated ever since. #6 seed Loyola plays #27 seed New Trier in a regular season finale rematch (Loyola coming out on top) 28-7 on Saturday at 2 p.m.

#7 Marist (9-0)- One of three undefeated teams in 8A, the Marist RedHawks make a return to the playoffs as the #3 seed in their region. All these teams have had a trend of great defense mixed with great offense; Marist averaged 43.6 points per game while the defense gave up 20 points or more only once this season. Although in a easier conference, the RedHawks have made their name known in the playoffs as they have finished 2nd in state twice in the last 8 years, but did go one-and-done last year. As the #3 seed, Marist first plays #30 Oak Park River Forest Friday night but after that, their path becomes the toughest in all of Illinois. After their first round game, Marist could plays against Lyons and then potentially against #6 Loyola in the quarterfinals.

#10 Barrington (9-0)- As the other undefeated team, Barrington is the 2nd overall seed in 8A and is once again poised to make a deep run in the playoffs. The Broncos look to their defense as a main strength as their offense isn’t as high scoring as the other teams on here. Just like the NFL’s Denver Broncos, Barrington is led by the strength in the secondary which has been dominated by CB Alec Andrea this year. Although their offense hasn’t been as dominant as years past, QB Raymond Niro is expected to shoulder the load as they play #31 seed Glenbrook South tonight. These teams did play earlier in the year, where the Broncos won 45-24 at home. The 2nd round hasn’t been kind to the Broncos as they have been knocked out 2 years in a row. This year’s squad is different as they are the 2nd overall seed and won’t have to play such strong teams early on.

DVC Teams

Kirubel Mesfin

Naperville Central (7-2, 7-1)– The Naperville Central Redhawks enter the playoffs with the 13th seed after clinching the DVC with a win over Lake Park, and could have finished undefeated in conference if it weren’t for the loss to our Huskies at Crosstown. Look for Central to not only put up some points, but to see their defense put the clamps on, as the Redhawks were one of only 4 teams to score over 270 points and allow under 160. The other 3 teams were Marist (undefeated), Edwardsville (6 game win streak) and Huntley (7 game win streak). All 3 are seeded in the top 10, so the Redhawks have a solid chance of pulling off an upset. Central’s first game is against #20 West Aurora.

Lake Park (5-4, 5-3)- The Lake Park Lancers prepare for their playoff run as the 29th seed, after finishing 5-3 in conference. All you need to know is that when this team is on, they are a really tough cover for any defense, as showcased by their back-to-back wins of 20+ over Metea Valley and Glenbard North. The main key for Lake Park to perform well is to keep possession of the ball as long as they can, as they go up against 4th ranked Homewood-Flossmoor and their offense that has scored 363 points this season (4th best in the 8A bracket).

Naperville North (6-3, 5-3)- Huskies will begin their playoff run seeded 24th and are slated to play 4th seed Oswego tomorrow. Led by QB Drake Davis (31 TD’s, 2,491 passing yards) and WR’s Nick Calcagno and Ryan Laurenzo (combined 17 TD’s, 1,608 passing yards), the Huskies offense is definitely capable of exploding for a score at any point in a game, and have proven that no deficit is insurmountable with their epic comeback win against Edwardsville. With RB Ameir Wilbourn out for the season (broken leg), look for Senior RB Brett Zdrubecky (7 TD’s, 578 rushing yards) to be a useful weapon this postseason.

Huskies’ Path Through the Playoffs

Brant Bednarz

The Huskies scored 53 points in their Week 1 victory over the Edwardsville Tigers. In the first week of the postseason, the Huskies face off against the Panthers of Oswego, who gave up a total of 54 points all season. The matchup pits an unbelievable defensive team against the highest-scoring offense in the DVC, making for what looks to be a heavyweight showdown. The Panthers, who lost just a single game this season, are led by dynamic WR’s Raymond Chmielinski and Brett Hull. The high-flying Huskies offense boasts a trio of All-Conference selections in QB Drake Davis and WR’s Nick Calcagno and Ryan Laurenzo. They will need to conquer Panthers DE’s Bobby Brown and Daymion Alvarez, who weigh a combined 478 pounds, and the stingy Panther defense in order to win their first playoff game in seven years. In this battle of firepower, the Panthers reign supreme on defense while the Huskies enter the postseason with 315 total points scored on the season. This certainly has the potential to be a game for the ages.

If the Huskies defeat Oswego, they will most likely be playing the defending state champs #8 seeded Glenbard West Hilltoppers (8-1, 6-0). After giving up 62 points in the opening week of the season, they proceeded to give up only 67 points during their string of eight straight victories to end the season. Led by QB Alex Hollensbe and a plethora of RB’s including Tyquan Cox and Dre Thomas, the Hilltoppers went undefeated in conference play. Their only loss was suffered against #5 seeded Maine South in their first game of the season. The Huskies can win by utilizing their numerous offensive weapons that have been on display throughout the entire season. The key to success for the Huskies is whether the offense shows up. On any given night, Naperville North certainly has the ability to outscore any opponent, even the stingiest of defenses. Overall, the beginning of the postseason will provide intriguing matchups all across the board, especially for the Naperville North Huskies.

Naperville North Regular Season Stats (courtesy of NN athletics)

Passing
Davis: 175-275, 2491 yds, 22 TD’s 6 INT’s

Rushing
Davis: 112 car, 614 yards, 9 TD’s
Zdrubecky: 122 car, 578 yards, 7 TD’s
Wilbourn: 55 car, 245 yards, 3 TD’s

Recieving
Laurenzo: 61 rec, 893 yards, 6 TD’s
Calcagno: 54 rec, 715 yards, 11 TD’s

Defense
Sacks: Kopperud/Patton 2.00, Marrano/Kaminky 1.5
Tackles: Marrano 72, Reinhard 52, Maschmeier 48
Interceptions: Saad 4, Maschmeier 2

Special Teams
Maschmeier: 1-1 FG’s, 26-29 XP’s
Wilbourn: 7 rets, 156 yards, 22.3 yard average
Maschmeier: 18 rets, 359 yards, 1 TD, 19.9 yard average

 

 

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