KIRLKLAND – There has been a lot more excitement for Hiawatha over the past week or so.
It started with a 14-13 win against Chicago Hope Academy in Week 2, the Hawks’ first victory since 2010. Friday night, Hiawatha got its second consecutive win, a 34-20 victory over Chicago CICS/Longwood.
“The attitude, you can see a major shift, and it started last week,” Donnelly said. “You saw it when they came into practice Saturday morning (Sept. 1). And you saw it all week, in school their attitude, in practice their attitude, it’s just full-blown different. And the way they came out and started the game. Getting that W on the board last week, and I think in the fashion that we did it, just spurred these guys to another level.”
Saturday, the Hawks will travel to Rockford to take on a 1-2 Christian Life team. It’s certainly a winnable game for Hiawatha, whose confidence has soared during the past two weeks.
“Definitely from the start of the season, there is a huge burst in the locker room with the coaches and the players,” said Hiawatha RB/LB Dakotah Quimby, who scored four touchdowns Friday. “Everyone’s positive.”
Early scores boost Cogs: Genoa-Kingston was fully aware of its poor history against Richmond-Burton. The Cogs hadn’t beaten the Rockets on the road in 20 years, a streak that was longer than any team member who is alive.
But G-K gained some early confidence from a 15-play drive that resulted in an opening field goal and a 3-0 lead. After the Rockets responded with a quick touchdown, Eli Thurlby returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown, putting G-K back up, 10-7.
“Confidence is huge,” G-K coach Travis Frederick said. “If you don’t believe you’re going to do it, you’ll just go through the motions and history will repeat itself.”
G-K rallied in the second half for a 24-20 victory, its first of the season and snapped a seven-game losing streak that dated back to the 2011 season. It was a refreshing turnaround that immediately followed a 56-10 loss to Rockford Lutheran in Week 2.
“Our practice last week was pretty bad,” Frederick said. “It got a little better each day and it was nice to see it come together on Friday. We talked a lot about mental toughness last year.”
Mottet hurt: Sycamore junior QB Devin Mottet put on a show against DeKalb at Huskie Stadium, going 13-for-13 passing for 214 yards and three touchdowns.
And he did it in less than three quarters.
According to Sycamore coach Joe Ryan, Mottet tweaked his ankle against the Barbs.
“We wanted to make sure that we got him some rest and got some ice on it,” Ryan said. “It gave [junior QB Nick Feuerbach] a chance. I thought he did outstanding.”
Feuerbach did not attempt a pass against DeKalb, but had four carries for 44 yards, including a five-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to seal the Spartans’ 49-30 victory.
Ryan said Mottet’s status for Friday’s game at Geneseo is not set in stone.
“I’m assuming [Mottet] will be good to go. We’re not going to make him play if he’s not sound to play,” Ryan said. “That’s why you have backups and kids who work to be ready to go. We’re not fearful when we put [Feuerbach] in.”
Late to the show: The Sycamore football team was finishing its warm-ups before Friday’s 49-30 win over DeKalb when the Barbs’ bus rolled up to Huskie Stadium.
After a quick sophomore game and an on-schedule “Parade of Athletes,” the game started earlier than the Barbs anticipated. It didn’t help as the Barbs fell behind, 28-0, in the second quarter before outscoring the Spartans in the second half.
“I just felt like we were more prepared in the second half,” coach Todd Hallaron said. “Ultimately, we just regrouped and started over.”
The Barbs found their way late, but they were never within one possession to even the score.
Hallaron said his team simply wasn’t ready for the big-time atmosphere.
“They had a really good game plan,” he said. “The whole atmosphere, it was a big rivalry game … and it was a short turnaround from when we got to the field and started playing. I just think it was kind of an atmosphere that they’re not used to.”
1. Kaneland (3-0) The Knights' defense had its best outing of the season, shutting out Sterling in a 42-0 victory.
2. Sycamore (3-0) The Spartans were in complete control against DeKalb and junior QB Devin Mottet seems to be getting better each game.
3. Hiawatha (2-1) The Hawks won their second consecutive game, and their confidence can only be growing after a Week 1 blowout loss.
4. Genoa-Kingston (1-2) G-K shocked Richmond-Burton, the defending Class 4A runner-ups, with a 24-20 win for its first victory at Richmond in 20 years.
5. DeKalb (0-3) The Barbs' second-half rally came up short against Sycamore, but will try to get back on track at Ottawa this week.
Eli Thurlby Genoa-Kingston, jr., running back
Thurlby returned a kickoff 81 yards for a touchdown in the first half against Richmond-Burton as the Cogs got their first victory of the season.
What to watch for
DeKalb at Ottawa, 7:30 p.m., Friday The Barbs could really use a win, but will have a tall task on the road against a strong Ottawa team.
Hiawatha at Rockford Christian Life, 6 p.m., Saturday The Hawks are on a two-game winning streak and will try to continue it on the road. A win could put Hiawatha in good playoff position early on.
VIEWS: Coaches’ views on nonconference games vary
Week 3 saw the start of conference play for three of our local high school football teams.
DeKalb, Sycamore and Genoa-Kingston all played their first conference games Friday, leaving Kaneland as the only team with a 0-0 mark in conference. As part of the 10-team Northeast Athletic Conference, Hiawatha only plays conference games.
Traditionally, teams play their three of four nonconference or crossover games before starting conference games in Week 4 or 5. However, the recent shift to larger conferences shifted the schedules.
A number of coaches prefer the more traditional schedule, wanting their team to get into game situations and experiences before facing conference opponents.
“I’d prefer to get the nonconference over first,” G-K coach Travis Frederick said. “You get lined up for the games that truly do matter. We want conference championships, not just playoff appearances.
Sycamore coach Joe Ryan doesn’t mind the early conference games. The Spartans’ annual rivalry game with DeKalb has been played in Week 3 since DeKalb and Sycamore became conference opponents as part of the now-defunct Western Sun in 2006.
The availability of Northern Illinois University’s Huskie Stadium along with late-season weather concerns also play a role in having the rivalry game early on in the season.
“It doesn’t really matter to be honest,” Ryan said. “The conference is a big deal, but in football every game is big.”
DeKalb coach Todd Hallaron has a different opinion, saying there shouldn’t be any non-conference games, not unlike Hiawatha’s current situation. As conferences change and grow in size, Hallaron said it has been more difficult to find teams for its first nonconference games.
“If it were up to me, I would rather have conference start right away and not even have nonconference games,” Hallaron said. “I’m not certain there’s a need to have a nonconference [game].”
• Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. Contact him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.