Goss: Week 1 will kick off wild and woolly high school football season
August 15, 2012 6:02PM
Members of the JCA football team celebrate a win over Providence. | Michael R. Schmidt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 17, 2012 12:54PM
Providence is gearing up for its opener at home against rival Joliet Catholic, a game that will be nationally televised on ESPNU.
Plainfield South is eager to grow in a hurry as it opens at defending Class 8A state champion Bolingbrook.
Morris will be at Minooka in match-up between Grundy County rivals that may be flying a bit under the radar.
And, the ultimate war to rival Army-Navy. Yes, Coal City will visit Wilmington.
Opening night for the high school football season is Aug. 24. As noted, several match-ups involving area schools are the type that should pack the stadiums and then some.
To help you get an idea what to expect from your favorite area teams, The Herald-News will provide outlook stories and information charts on 20 area teams beginning now with Providence, Lockport and Lemont and continuing through Aug. 23.
“We have a lot going on,” Joliet Catholic senior wingback Tyler Reitz said as the Hilltoppers prepared for the trip to Providence. “The game’s on ESPN, there’s ‘Mammo’ and we’re playing our big rival. But all of that is pushing us that much harder.”
“Mammo,” of course, is the late Matt Mammosser, who passed away May 27 from primary nervous system metastatic melanoma. He was a starting defensive tackle last year as a junior, helping the Hilltoppers to a second-place finish in the state in Class 5A. His teammates have dedicated the season in his memory.
From the Providence perspective, the Celtics will feature a strong, experienced defense in their inaugural game on the new turf at Matt Senffner Field. The Providence defensive unit would like nothing better than scale the tallest mountain and stifle Joliet Catholic wingback Ty Isaac, who has committed to Southern California and will be a focal point of the TV cameras. Of course, Joliet Catholic has other weapons in what probably will be one of the state’s most potent offenses.
When I was talking with Plainfield South coach Ken Bublitz about the Cougars’ opener at Bolingbrook, he discussed the challenge of opening against an opponent the caliber of Bolingbrook.
“Well, first off, we will be tested in every phase of the game, every play,” he said. “The margin for error is minimal.
“But it also provides us with a sense of urgency. If you want to start with a tough team, you need to go no further than this one. They are as good as there is in Illinois. Our challenge is to be up to it.”
It is fair to assume the South defense, led by Clifton Garrett, will have its hands full with quarterback Aaron Bailey, running back Omar Stover and the rest of the Raiders offense. It will be interesting to see how well the Cougars offense, under senior quarterback Ricky Luna, fares against a Bolingbrook defense that must replace nine starters.
When Morris beat Minooka 27-21 to open the 2011 season, that was considered a mild surprise. But coach Alan Thorson’s Redskins went on to perform well all season, perhaps better than many expected, finishing 9-2.
Minooka also was a playoff team last season and now, under first-year coach Paul Forsythe, the word is the Indians will rely heavily on the passing game led by senior quarterback Joe Carnagio. Minooka is considered one of many that will be in the running for the Southwest Prairie title.
“We start with two good programs in Minooka and Richards,” Thorson said. “But I saw that coach Dergo (Thorson’s predecessor and Morris’ athletic director) did that, and it does nothing but get you tested early, which will help you in the long run.”
As for Coal City at Wilmington, it’s the talk of the towns.
“Jeff (Reents, the Wilmington coach) says wherever he goes, people around town always want to know how they will do against Coal City,” Coalers coach Lenny Onsen said. “Well, I told Jeff, this year he won’t have to answer that same question for seven weeks. At least he’ll know in Week 1.”