High School Sports Weekly

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Final Super 25 football rankings; Wheaton North topples Batavia

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High School Sports Weekly
Thank you for subscribing to the High School Sports Weekly newsletter! Here’s the latest from our staff after the end of the spring football season.

Good morning,
Most readers probably know that I prefer basketball to football, that isn’t a big secret. But it wasn’t the case this year. Basketball was a bit dreadful to watch this season. The teams were noticeably out of sync and sloppy for the first few weeks of the season and the lack of a crowd made the games dull, even for the players. 
The Public League and several other conferences didn’t allow fans at all, which made things feel even stranger than expected. I don’t think I covered a single fan-less game that I’ll remember or in which something especially notable happened, it was that bad. 
So football was a breath of fresh air this season. A few games actually had student sections and almost all of them had at least some parents cheering in the stands. 
It’s great that the teams were able to play truncated seasons the past few months, but I’m so glad that I don’t have to cover another game without a crowd. Here’s hoping it never happens again.
— Michael O'Brien, high school sports editor (@michaelsobrien)
Top story
Wheaton North’s Rex Kroger (34) jumps into the arms of a teammate after the Falcons beat Batavia. | Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
Wheaton North’s Rex Kroger (34) jumps into the arms of a teammate after the Falcons beat Batavia. | Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times
There was a state-playoff vibe at Huskie Stadium, even in a year without a postseason.
‘‘We had the fans there, a lot of energy, a lot of emotion,’’ Wheaton North senior Riley Dravet said. ‘‘Just a great way to end the season.’’
Dravet provided an energy boost of his own, grabbing a Batavia fumble and racing 80 yards for the clinching touchdown in No. 19 Wheaton North’s 16-7 victory Saturday.
Dravet’s scoop and score with 3:46 left was just the last in a string of big defensive plays for the Falcons (5-1). Hugh Werner recovered a Batavia fumble at the Wheaton North 4-yard line, and Kaiden Libby intercepted a pass in the first half.
No. 16 Batavia’s four possessions in the second half ended with three turnovers on downs inside the Falcons’ 30 and Dravet’s touchdown.
‘‘Our defense, they played phenomenal,’’ Wheaton North quarterback Mark Forcucci said. ‘‘You really can’t ask for anything better. . . . We let them be out there a little bit more than we should have.
‘‘But I think in the second half we figured things out a little bit more. And we stayed on the field and put some drives together and gave them a little rest, so they could recuperate and get back out there and dominate for us.’’
Final Super 25 rankings
Loyola finishes the season right where they started, in the top spot of the Super 25 rankings.
The Ramblers weren’t dethroned at any point this season. All six teams they defeated were ranked at some point this season and five of their opponents finish the season in the Super 25.
Lincoln-Way East was the other contender for the final top spot. The Griffins are a perfect 6-0 but their strength of schedule falls short of Loyola’s. They beat two teams that were ranked at some point this season (Bolingbrook and Homewood-Flossmoor), but no teams in the final rankings.
St. Rita, meanwhile, earns the No. 3 spot after Kaleb Brown dazzled in an impressive win over Notre Dame.
Check out the full Super 25 below:
Week 6 news and notes
The pandemic spring football season is all wrapped up. How about we never do that again?
It’s great that the kids were able to play some games, especially for the seniors, but nothing about the season felt right or was satisfying. Fan interest is at an all-time low, which is understandable after a season — with no playoffs — that most people couldn’t watch.
Scrambling to find games was a challenge for athletic directors and coaches all over the area, but an incredibly high percentage of the final Super 25 teams were able to play six games.
Football scheduling always has been a major issue for schools, with everyone jockeying to find the perfect path to five wins and a playoff berth. I’d prefer if that ended in the future. High school sports are about improving throughout the season. It would be great if we could find a way to expand the state playoffs and let everyone in.
That thought was on my mind Friday in Niles as I watched Notre Dame give St. Rita a stern challenge. The Dons had some issues on offense early in the season but figured them out and now look like a ranked team.
“We got off to a slow start this spring and couldn’t put the ball in the end zone,” Notre Dame coach Mike Hennessey said. “But defensively, we’ve hit the mark in every game except maybe the Marist game. We’re a young team, but we play hard.”
The Dons would have had trouble making the playoffs in a normal year because improving throughout the season isn’t really rewarded in our current system.
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What to watch this week
There are no more games on the spring schedule but there’s still All-Area and Player of the Year honors, plus the fall football season is right around the corner.
Practices can begin Aug. 9, and the first games are Aug. 27. I’m sure no one wants to wish the summer away, but it’s great to imagine full stadiums and playoff brackets.
Team of the week
Young Dolphins
From left to right in the back row: Davion Harris (16), Jalen Carr (15), Tyson Leitao (89), Noel Raehl (52), Paxton Ferencak (14), Chris Vazquez (64), Nate Monocchio (40), Jesse Keith, Jr. (81), Richie Raclaw (7). In the front row, from left to right: (David Wortham (67), Head Coach Dan Finger, Senior Manager Liliana Puente, Jalen Aguilar (57), and Jahari Walker (3). | Provided
From left to right in the back row: Davion Harris (16), Jalen Carr (15), Tyson Leitao (89), Noel Raehl (52), Paxton Ferencak (14), Chris Vazquez (64), Nate Monocchio (40), Jesse Keith, Jr. (81), Richie Raclaw (7). In the front row, from left to right: (David Wortham (67), Head Coach Dan Finger, Senior Manager Liliana Puente, Jalen Aguilar (57), and Jahari Walker (3). | Provided
Young (3-0) finished its season with a 14-8 victory against Clark. Senior Jahari Walker caught two touchdown passes from junior Patrick McHale. Seniors Jalen Aguilar and Chris Vazquez anchored a physical offensive line while seniors Tyson Leitao, Noel Raehl and David Wortham led a defensive line that limited Clark’s rushing.
Senior Paxton Ferencak produced as a receiver and blocker despite changing positions mid game because of injuries. LB/TE Richie Raclaw impacted the game in all phases and displayed exceptional leadership. 
— Young head coach Dan Finger
Want your school featured in Team of the Week? Send us an update on your team’s season, your name and hometown, and (if possible) a photo to newsletters@suntimes.com.
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