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Inside Prep Football: Sycamore's Jake Winters snags 2 touchdowns

Monica Maschak -
Wide receiver Jake Winters keeps out of reach from the other team in the first quarter against North Lawndale on Friday, September 6, 2013.
Monica Maschak - Wide receiver Jake Winters keeps out of reach from the other team in the first quarter against North Lawndale on Friday, September 6, 2013.


Jake Winters
Sycamore, sr., wide receiver
Winters, part of Sycamore's deep receiving corps, caught two touchdowns in the Spartans' 54-20 win over North Lawndale at home.


193: Total yards allowed by Hiawatha's defense to North Shore Country Day, including only 17 yards on the ground, in a 20-8 win.

44: Consecutive points scored by Sycamore in the first half against North Lawndale in a 54-20 victory at home.


1. Sycamore (2-0): Spartans cruised to an easy win in their home opener.

2. Kaneland (2-0): Knights had no trouble with Immaculate Conception in Week 2.

3. Hiawatha (1-1): Huge win for Hiawatha at home over North Shore Country Day.

4. DeKalb (1-1): Barbs couldn't overcome another slow start in tight loss to Hampshire.

5. Genoa-Kingston (0-2): Late rally wasn't good enough for Cogs against Rockford Lutheran.

NOTES: Barbs offense not one-dimensional

As Hampshire focused on stopping him, DeKalb running back Dre Brown was bottled up for most of Friday's 35-34 loss to Hampshire.

But Brown was able to show off the breakaway speed and agility that have made him a high-level Division I recruit when he broke open a 59-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of DeKalb's 35-34 loss.

“We changed things up just to get him the ball and he broke one,” coach Matt Weckler said. “A lot of times, the yards he gets, he gets on his own. He breaks a tackle, or he makes a move and makes them miss.”

Brown only mustered 83 yards, but the opposing defense's focus on the junior helped the rest of the Barbs offense. The Barbs gained 155 passing yards, and the attention Hampshire paid to Brown may have had something to do with it.

“Dre is such a good kid that he knows they're going to take him away,” Weckler said. “Basically, we played some good team football. They took him away and we threw the ball well. It shows that we're really not one-dimensional, which is good.”

McNeal progressing: Griffin McNeal gave Genoa-Kingston a chance to win Friday night. With the Cogs trailing in the fourth quarter, the eventual 29-27 loss at Rockford Lutheran became a passing affair. McNeal was able to complete 14 of his 25 passing attempts for 159 yards, and he threw for two big fourth-quarter touchdowns and had a number of key third down conversions.

Often, McNeal kept plays alive with his feet, including his two-point conversion pass to Sal Lopez in the second quarter when McNeal danced around before finding Lopez in the end zone.

"He's smart, he's a football player," G-K coach Travis Frederick said. "He gets down on himself at times. He's just got to learn to stay within himself, take what they're giving you, and just keep battling, and he did. He also made some mistakes, some mental errors. That's just fatigue, getting banged up, stuff like that. Tight game pressure. He's going to get better and better every week, I know it."

• Steve Nitz and Anthony Zilis contributed to this report.

VIEWS: Close losses hurt DeKalb, Genoa-Kingston

The feeling couldn't have been more familiar for Genoa-Kingston and DeKalb in Week 2.

Both teams fought to rally in the fourth quarter on the road, but the end result didn't come up in their favor as the the two teams lost by a combined three points. One play here, one play there and both postgame bus rides carry an entirely different mood.

Close, early-season losses have been all too common for the Cogs and Barbs over the past two seasons. G-K lost to St. Edward, 15-14, in the 2012 season opener while DeKalb lost each of its first two games in 2012 by single digits.

For any high school team, close losses sting. For two programs looking to end short playoff droughts – both last qualifying in 2010 – they hurt five times more.

It's only Week 3, way too early to start eliminating any teams from playoff contention. But taking a look at the challenging schedules DeKalb and G-K face, those Week 2 losses may loom large as the difference between playing a 10th game or not.

G-K still has five games against teams that posted winning records in 2012. The one positive for the Cogs is they have four remaining home games.

DeKalb starts to navigate the always-tough Northern Illinois Big 12 East with a matchup against Sycamore on Friday. Included in the Barbs' schedule are two teams ranked in the top five of the Associated Press Class 5A poll and a 2012 5A state finalist.

Sometimes teams have to learn to win close games before they can actually win them. The Barbs and Cogs are hoping class is finished.

Week 3 provides a great chance for each team to put last Friday behind them.

Ross Jacobson is sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at

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