Preps Talk

EDGY: New rivals for old friends

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EDGY: New rivals for old friends

There’s no question in my mind that one of the best games that will be featured on High School Lites this season includes Neuqua Valley (1-0) at Naperville Central (1-0), a battle of two Top 25 teams Friday night in DuPage Valley Conference action.

Wait ... both Neuqua Valley and Naperville Central in the DuPage Valley?

In case you haven't been paying attention to IHSA football early on this season, three Indian Prairie District 204 schools (Metea Valley, Neuqua Valley and Waubonsie Valley) are now in the juggernaut DVC. Think of it as, say, the likes of an Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin bolting the Big Ten to join the SEC.

While old Naperville (Naperville Central) and new Naperville (Neuqua Valley) have played against each other as non-conference regular season foes every year since 2009 (Central holds a 4-2 advantage), does this game take on a new feel?

[MORE PREPS: CSN Preps Power Rankings - Week 2]

If you’re looking for a potential rivalry game that could really take off, this could be your choice.

"We want to impose our will against them and give them a proper welcome into the DVC," Naperville Central senior wide receiver and Iowa verbal commit Emmanuel Rugamba said. "It's always been a great game but having them in our conference now definitely ramps things up. The intensity in the conference games is there from the get go. We beat a tough team last week (a 13-12 win over Glenbard North) and this week will be even more intense. I love games like last week because it showed us right away what we have and what we need to work on."

Neuqua Valley junior wide receiver Isaiah Robertson, who already has a handful of DI scholarship offers and interest from multiple schools, is taking a slightly different approach.

"It's an important game and we whenever you play [Naperville Central] you’re focused pretty hard," Robertson said. "We haven't beaten them in a while (2012, a 41-8 Neuqua Valley win) so just getting that win is key. It's definitely a hardcore test for us and a big challenge. If it's in conference or out of conference it's a big test."

Robertson has also heard the talk on the street about how the Indian Prairie schools could struggle in the DVC compared to its old conference home.

[MORE PREPS: High School Lites roundup]

"I've heard all of that talk and it really doesn't matter too much to me," Robertson said. "If anything that talk just puts a chip on our shoulder. Talk like that just makes us work even harder."

Like all good rivalry games, the kids on both sidelines know each other well.

"I've known kids like Manny (Emmanuel Rugamba), Connor (Joyce, senior QB) and bunch of the Central kids since middle school. We still talk and I was just texting Manny a few minutes ago. Once we play we will go hard and compete but after the game we will still be cool. Knowing all of those guys just makes it that much more fun."

67 Days to Kickoff: Hillcrest

67 Days to Kickoff: Hillcrest

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Hillcrest

Head coach: Morgan Weaver

Assistant coaches:  Mike Young, Kyran Weaver, Rob Hancock, Ryan Keen, Nicholas Schultz, Tramaine Weaver, Phillip Burkett and Langdon Mattox

How they fared in 2017: 9-3 (5-1 South Suburban Blue Conference). Hillcrest made the Class 5A state football playoff field. The Hawks defeated Peoria and Glenwood then lost to Dunlap in the quarterfinal round.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Rich Central

Sept. 1 @ Rich South

Sept 7 @ Shepard

Sept. 14 vs Oak Forest

Sept. 21 vs Lemont

Sept. 28 @ Tinley Park

Oct. 5 @ T.F. South

Oct. 12 @ T.F. North

Oct. 19 vs Bremen

[MORE: 79 Days to Kickoff - Crete-Monee]

Biggest storyline: Consistency. After two straight postseason berths, can the Hawks reload and get back into the IHSA playoff field once again this fall?

Names to watch this season: WR Corey Crooms (Western Michigan) and DE Cam Mattox (NIU)

Biggest holes to fill: The Hawks welcome back 11 returning starters (six offense, five defense); hoewever, they will need to reload on the offensive line and at linebacker. 

EDGY's Early Take: Head coach Morgan Weaver was able to get the Hawks into the state playoffs in his first season. What can they do as an encore? Hillcrest has the potential to be a real threat in 5A. Keep an eye on a strong and experienced group of receivers and backs led by senior Corey Crooms (Western Michigan). They also boast a defense that features an experienced secondary and a ton of speed. 

68 Days to Kickoff: Oswego East

68 Days to Kickoff: Oswego East

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: Oswego East

Head coach: Tyson LeBlanc

Assistant coaches: Dan Dunbar, Andy Brogan, Jeremy Main, Erik Aister, Dru Filkins, Connor Downs, Zac Sadek, Reggie Cribbs and Mike Harden

How they fared in 2017: 7-3 (7-2 Southwest Prairie Conference). Oswego East made the Class 8A state football playoff field. The Wolves lost to St. Charles East in opening round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 vs Plainfield East

Aug. 31 @ Joliet West

Sept. 7 vs Romeoville

Sept. 14 vs Joliet Central

Sept. 21 @ Plainfield South

Sept. 28 @ Plainfield North

Oct. 5 vs Oswego

Oct. 12 vs Plainfield Central

Oct. 19 vs Minooka

[MORE: 73 Days to Kickoff - Joliet Central]

Biggest storyline: Can the Wolves get out of the rugged Southwest Prairie conference and make a run in the IHSA state playoffs?

Names to watch this season: ATH Justin Clark and WR Kieon Battle

Biggest holes to fill: The Wolves will need to replace their entire starting defensive line from a season ago.

EDGY's Early Take: Oswego East head coach Tyson LeBlanc is shooting to make the IHSA playoff field and the fourth straight year in 2018. He has a 36-24 record since coming over from Curie High School back in 2012. Oswego East will rely on a strong group of returning offensive skills led by D-1 recruit Justin Clark, who can --and will-- play multiple positions this season for the Wolves.