When Patch launched in Naperville at the start of September, I knew I was in for an entertaining fall of high school football.
Never having covered the Naperville schools closely for an entire season, I was looking forward to the chance to see the quality of football in this town up close and personal. After 12 weeks of exciting action, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at some of my favorite memories from the games I covered.
Of course, I could only be at one place at a time every Friday night, so I'm sure some things that may have stood out to others won't make the cut. But here is a memory from each school in my first fall covering sports in Naperville for Patch.
LaCosse's gutsy performance: It happened just last week, in the final high school football game in Naperville in 2010, North's 35-28 loss to Homewood-Flossmoor in the Class 8A quarterfinals. It may have been the most entertaining game I saw all season, but the performance by North quarterback Matt LaCosse stands out. After a wicked knee injury in the second quarter, LaCosse remained in the game, hobbled noticeably, and led the Huskies to within an inch of the semifinals. He said after the game he would have had to be shot to leave that game. I believe him.
Rhattigan's star turn: Neuqua Valley senior T. J. Rhattigan set the all-time tackles record at the school as the Wildcats returned to the playoffs and took Mount Carmel to overtime in the second round. But it was his performance against Waubonsie Valley on the offensive side of the ball with Trent Snyder sidelined that keyed Neuqua's 43-6 win. Rhattigan ran for four touchdowns that night and was greeted by Snyder as he ran off the field every time. Snyder returned the next week and carried the load. But for one night, Rhattigan was the man on both sides of the ball.
The strength of the DVC: Not having covered the DVC on a regular basis, I only viewed the league from afar for much of the past decade. My proof that the DVC is one of the elite football conferences in the state comes in the form of Naperville Central. The Redhawks missed the playoffs with a 4-5 record, but after seeing them a handful of times, there is no doubt in my mind that they were a playoff team and could have probably done some damage in the postseason. But the strength of the league prevented them from getting to five wins. In any other league, that's a playoff team. But Central had to play six playoff teams in its nine games, losing four of its games by a combined 14 points. That's life in the DVC.
Metea's rise: The Mustangs only beat East Aurora in their inaugural season, but that doesn't tell the tale of where coach Ted Monken has that team headed. I was at the opener against Plainfield East, a heart-wrenching 27-26 loss. Maybe a win there would have helped produce a couple more wins, who knows? But Metea gave Waubonsie all it could handle in a 21-20 loss later in the year; the Mustangs were within a touchdown of Lake Park and lost by only 10 after a lengthy road trip to Quincy in Week 2. After having covered Monken at St. Charles East when he turned that program around before moving on to Metea, it won't be long before Metea winds up in the playoffs.
Scheduling woes: Like I said earlier, I could only be one place at a time on Fridays, and that came into play when covering Waubonsie Valley. With the way the schedule shook out, I was only able to see the Warriors once, and it happened to be their worst loss of the season, 43-6 to Neuqua. But the Warriors had a heck of a year, taking Homewood-Flossmoor to double-overtime in the second round of the playoffs. I just wish I had been able to see more of them this year.