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TAKE 2: Season kicks off with 4 teams on road

Published: Friday, Aug. 30, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
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Daily Chronicle sports editor Ross Jacobson and sports reporter Steve Nitz spend their days covering the area’s sports scene. Occasionally, they give their viewpoints on those local sports. In this installment of their Take 2 column, they discuss the first night of the prep football regular season.

Jacobson: Steve, can you believe we’re just about set to kick off the 2013 season? It seems like just yesterday when we were watching DeKalb softball and Sycamore baseball play in the final weekend of our spring sports season. 

But the first thing that stands out to me about our set of Week 1 matchups is four of our five local teams are on the road. The only home team is Kaneland, who plays host to Chicago Brooks. Winning on the road never is easy in high school football, so a win for any of our four visiting teams would be a great start to the season.

My question to you: Which team would gain the most from a win tonight?

Nitz: That’s a tough question; a win would be big for any of our teams this week. However, if I had to pick one program, I would have to go with Sycamore. The Spartans have the toughest Week 1 opponent, Lincoln-Way West, who upset Kaneland in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs last season and nearly beat Joliet Catholic in the quarterfinals. A win here would be a nice season-opening boost for Sycamore.

Jacobson: The Week 1 slate is very tough as Kaneland and Hiawatha also face playoff teams from last year. 

But I’ll go a different route and look at the state of our local teams rather than their opponents in determining who could most use a win. And for that reason, I’m going with DeKalb. With a new coach, a victory in Week 1 would provide automatic belief from the players that the Barbs have the right people in place. Last year’s season could have looked a lot different had the Barbs pulled out those two close losses in the first two weeks.

What are fair expectations for coach Matt Weckler and the Barbs heading into 2013?

Nitz: I certainly don’t think it’s unfair to say the Barbs have a good shot at making the playoffs for the first time since 2010. There’s a new coach, an experienced quarterback in Jack Sauter, and junior tailback Dre Brown should be in for a big year provided he stays healthy. 

The schedule also plays into DeKalb’s favor. Vernon Hills was just 2-7 last year, and Hampshire isn’t a strong program. The Barbs’ other two nonconference opponents, Ottawa and Streator, are beatable as well. All four of DeKalb’s nonconference games are very winnable. 

Do you think DeKalb will get over the hump and earn a playoff berth this year?

Jacobson: Well, in our season preview tab (definitely read through it if you haven’t already) two days ago I picked DeKalb to make the playoffs and nothing in the past 48 hours has changed my mind about the Barbs.

Weckler took Belvidere to the playoffs four times in his six years, including the last two. That’s instant credibility with players and, as we’ve seen many times with high school sports, great things can happen when a coach gets a team’s players to “buy in.”

Mark it down: DeKalb will be playing in November.

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