DeKalb proved they can handle Class 2A opponents with a dominant Barb Cup performance.
In wins over McHenry and Geneva last week, they showed they’re just fine against Class 3A teams, too. Coach Brent McIntosh said the 1-0 win over Geneva, in which Skyler Weissar scored a second-half goal, was especially big for the Barbs.
“Geneva poses some problems for us in terms of their skill level, and things like that,” McIntosh said. “After halftime, we came out with a much better mentality, a much better work rate, a much better effort and we got the one goal we needed for a real important win for us just in terms of our confidence and how we look at ourselves and how we’re going to fit in 3A this year, so I was really pleased with those results for a lot of reasons.”
For some of his younger players, McIntosh said the adjustment to the speed, depth and size of Class 3A was steep. But newcomers Dylan Hottsmith, a senior who played football for three years, and Akim Suraji, an exchange student from Ghana, fit right in with the bigger schools.
“In terms of Hottsmith and Suraji, they’re good players whether they’re playing 2A or 3A,” McIntosh said. “Their speed on the ball is tremendous, and they’re tremendous athletes and assets for us. I thought they’ve adjusted real well to that.”
Hansen offers versatility: Tommy Hansen is only a sophomore, but Genoa-Kingston coach Randy Tate has confidence in one of his biggest players wherever he puts him on the field.
Against Indian Creek last week, Hansen played forward, midfield and defender throughout the game, moving back and forth periodically.
“Wherever we need him, he’s the most versatile player we have,” Tate said. “I can put him back on defense or I can put him at forward, put him at midfield. Whenever we need some scoring, we put him at forward, if we have someone in there that we need to defend, we’ll move him back.”
While he played forward and defender most of the match, Hansen said his natural position is in the midfield, where he likes to distribute.
“I’m more of a facilitator,” Hansen said. “I like to assist rather than score goals.”
VIEWS: Losses early in the season aren’t always so bad
Kaneland won’t enter next Tuesday’s conference opener against DeKalb undefeated like the Barbs, but that doesn’t really matter.
The two teams that the Knights lost to – Streamwood and Harvard – were both quality opponents. Streamwood lost in the Class 3A sectional semifinals last year, and Harvard made it all the way to the Class 2A sectional finals, where it lost to eventual third-place finisher St. Viator, 1-0.
Playing teams of that stature, even in losing efforts, has plenty of benefits down the road.
The Barbs, meanwhile, have looked strong. At 5-0, they’re the best team in the area, and with newcomers Dylan Hottsmith and Akim Suraji scoring goals and providing pace, the Barbs will be tough to beat during conference season.
It remains to be seen who is the more prepared squad, and the Barbs played a tough team of their own when they beat Geneva, 1-0, last week.
But coach Brent McIntosh said there is plenty of difference between teams from bigger and smaller schools.
“There’s a lot more depth in 3A teams than there is in 2A teams,” McIntosh said. “The speed of the game is much different, the physical play is much different, the talent level, in terms of the technical ability, is much higher. You don’t have as much time on the ball, you need to make quicker decisions. The game just speeds up, the players get bigger, the players get faster, and the teams get deeper.”
So before Tuesday’s match, throw records out the window. Both teams are talented, and they’ve taken different roads to their respective records. While DeKalb looks like the stronger team on paper, Tuesday will tell which team is ready to take pole position in the conference standings.
• Anthony Zilis a contributor for the Daily Chronicle.com He can be reached at email@example.com.
Hinckley-Big Rock, junior, forward
The Royals are looking for a goalscorer this season after losing several of their top offensive players last year. Perales stepped up to fill that role against Sandwich, when he score four goals in the win.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR...
Hinckley-Big Rock at Indian Creek, 4:30 p.m. today
The Royals and T’wolves continue their rivalry with revamped teams. H-BR has had the better of the two teams over the last few years.
Kaneland at DeKalb, 6 p.m. Tuesday
One of the biggest Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference matchups happens right off the bat when the top two teams in our power rankings play at DeKalb.
1. DeKalb (5-1) – Wins against McHenry and Geneva showed this team has strong standing amongst Class 3A teams.
2. Kaneland (2-2-1) – Kaneland’s two losses were close matches against quality opponents, so the Knights are challenging themselves.
3. Hinckley-Big Rock (5-2-1, 0-1 Little Ten Conference) – The Royals are still adjusting to a new group, but they’ve had a strong start despite a few bumps in the road.
4. Genoa-Kingston (4-4, 1-1 Big Northern Conference) – The Cogs lost a close match to defending conference champ Harvard, 2-1, before beating Indian Creek, 6-0.
5. Sycamore (1-3) – The Spartans won their first match of the season last Wednesday over Dixon.
6. Hiawatha (0-1, 0-1 LTC) – The Hawks are still adjusting to several newcomers.
7. Indian Creek (1-4, 0-1 LTC) – The Timberwolves played a tight match against Newark-Seneca last week and returned less than half of their lineup this season.