In a matter of seconds last Friday night, Wheaton Warrensville South established itself as a Chicago power.
The Tigers blocked an extra-point attempt with 2:10 left in their season-opening game against Hinsdale Central, preserving a one-point lead, then ended it on a 49-yard touchdown run by Julian Banuelos.
Those happenings marked a reversal from the end of the 2008 season, when the Tigers lost the DuPage Valley Conference by one point to Naperville North on a fourth quarter touchdown and then lost by one point to Downers Grove North in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs.
All they did Friday was knock off the Class 8A finalist from 2008, and send Hinsdale Central quarterback John Whitelaw (three passing TDs, one rushing TD) to his first loss since last October.
Next up: defending Class 8A champion Maine South.
WW South head coach Ron Muhitch has pointed to these first two non-conference games as huge tests for his team, and few loom bigger than Friday night‘s game before an expected packed house at Maine South.
The Hawks lost the majority of their starters to graduation last June, including quarterback Charlie Goro (now a freshman at Vanderbilt University). But South cruised easily in a 64-35 win last Friday over Schaumburg. Tyler Benz, Goro‘s replacement, threw for 232 yards and two touchdowns. Indiana recruit Matt Perez rushed for 117 yards and four touchdowns, as the Hawks scored on seven consecutive possessions.
Meanwhile, over at WW South, quarterback Ryan O’Toole threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns. As big as Friday’s game is for WW South, it’s just as important for Maine South, which has slipped out of the city’s No. 1 ranking despite not losing a game since 2007 and reloading its team with a group of Hawks who haven’t lost at the varsity, JV or freshman levels.
“We need to get better quick,” Maine South head coach David Inserra told the Sun-Times News Group.
Combined, Maine South and WW South are 24-1 since 2007. After Friday’s game, WW South moves on to the highly competitive DuPage Valley for the rest of its schedule, including a showdown with Naperville North on Oct. 2.
More Football: Five to watch
* Downers Grove South (0-1) at Glenbard West (1-0), Saturday: A non-league showdown between West Suburban Silver and West Suburban Gold teams. West has won 13 of its last 14 games. Downers Grove South began its season with a tough two-point loss to defending Southwest Suburban Blue champ Bolingbrook last week.
* Proviso East (0-1) at Hinsdale Central (0-1): The Red Devils, who begin their West Suburban Silver season next week, will try to get back on track with a nonconference game against Proviso East. QB John Whitelaw was impressive in Central‘s opener against WW South, completing 19-of-32 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns. He completed his first four passes in a first-quarter scoring drive.
* Lake Forest (0-1) at Mount Carmel (1-0): The Caravan showed off its offense last week with a 53-27 win over Simeon in the Prep Bowl at Soldier Field. Friday’s game will be the final tuneup for the Chicago Catholic Blue season, which opens next week for the Caravan against Fenwick.
* Morgan Park (1-0) at Geneva (1-0): Here‘s a real test for Morgan Park, one of Chicago‘s best Public League teams. Geneva, a Class 7A finalist last year, has lost just twice since 2006 and is the defending champ in the Western Sun Conference. The Vikings do face a challenge in stopping speedy Morgan Park QB DeRon Brown, who led the Mustangs to a season-opening 32-10 win over Brother Rice in the Preseason Prep Bowl at Soldier Field
* Joliet Catholic (1-0) at Providence Catholic (0-1): Providence, a Class 6A semifinalist and a contender in Chicago Catholic Blue, takes on Joliet Catholic, which edged Carmel 19-16 last week. Both are 6A title contenders.
Week 1 football stars
* St. Rita RB Jahwon Akui rushed for 295 yards and five touchdowns on 31 carries in a 35-20 win over Portage, Ind.
* Morgan Park QB DeRon Brown rushed for three touchdowns in the first half, leading the Mustangs to a 32-10 win over Brother Rice in the Prep Bowl at Soldier Field.
* De La Salle QB Juwan Martin completed 11-of-15 passes for 165 yards, and scored on a 63-yard run in a 28-7 win over Lane Tech.
* Naperville North’s Idris Hanidu ran for 78 yards and scored the game-winning touchdown, leading the Huskies to a 28-21 double-overtime win over Neuqua Valley.
* Bolingbrook’s Mat Sapone returned a blocked field-goal attempt 56 yards, setting up Bolingbrook’s game-winning score in a 16-14 win over Downers Grove South. Rodney Stephen had the block.
Recruiting: Southern California lands Prater
Kyle Prater of Proviso West, one of the nation’s most highly recruited receivers, committed to USC on Wednesday. He is the No. 3-ranked receiver in the nation by MaxPreps.
Prater chose the Trojans over Illinois, Oklahoma, Michigan and Notre Dame, among at least six other BCS schools.
Prater, 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, caught 60 passes for 948 yards and nine touchdowns last season.
“USC stood out, looking at their season the past year and I feel … I have a strong chance to play there,” Prater told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Paul Bowker, a sports journalist for 25 years who has worked at newspapers nationwide, covers the Chicago area for MaxPreps. He may be reached at email@example.com