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PREP FOOTBALL INSIDER: Sycamore hopes to have Hooker back for Kaneland game

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
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(Rob Winner – rwinner@shawmedia.com)
Winnebago tight end Zach Thoren (front) is tackled by Genoa-Kingston defensive back Matt Wojdyla during the second quarter Oct. 4 in Genoa. Wojdyla has taken over extra-point kicking duties for the Cogs.

The Sycamore offense has been a little less dynamic over the past few weeks without speedy running back Dion Hooker, who is recovering from a stress fracture in his ankle.

But the Spartans hope the junior is able to return Friday for Sycamore’s game against Kaneland.

“We’ll see if he has a clean bill of health. He’s been in the boot, so hopefully we can get him back,” coach Joe Ryan said after Sycamore’s win over Rochelle on Friday. “There’s no guarantees yet, but there’s a pretty good chance we’ll get him back for the end of the year, which will be nice.”

The Spartans have deferred to Riley Hurley to take most of the carries without Hooker in the lineup, and the senior ran for 145 yards against Rochelle.

Hurley is a powerful running back, and the difference when he’s in the lineup is stark.

“Losing Dion is losing a lot of speed, but with Riley Hurley going in, he’s a power back, he’ll get the tough yards, he’ll grind his feet, so we just go back to our power offense and our roots, just running the ball hard,” quarterback Devin Mottet said. “As soon as he goes in, we’re a power offense.”

Not forgotten: Kaneland senior running back Jesse Balluff has been out since tearing his ACL Week 3 at Sterling.

Balluff, one of the Knights’ elite players and popular with his teammates, has been around the team part-time since the injury, Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly said. Fedderly hopes Balluff’s presence is even more consistent as Kaneland nears the playoffs.

“We want him around here all the time,” Fedderly said. “He’s been doing so much rehab that he hasn’t been around a whole lot. But we’re hoping as we go along here that he’ll be here for practices more and that kind of stuff. He’s always like a coach on the field on the sidelines during the games.”

Big plays key for DeKalb: With explosive players all over the field, it’s no surprise that DeKalb has had its most success on big plays.

“That’s what’s led us so far,” said junior running back Dre Brown, who had touchdown runs of 97 and 94 yards in the Barbs’ 40-14 win over Morris. “In every game, we’ve probably had a play over at least 40 yards.”

Against the Redskins, it was much more than just one. Apart from Brown’s monstrous runs, senior quarterback Jack Sauter and junior running back Eriq Torrey each broke off touchdown runs longer than 40 yards. Sophomore Tony Tate would’ve added a rush of more than 50 yards had it not been called back on a penalty.

DeKalb coach Matt Weckler gave credit to downfield blocking for the big plays, but in end, he had a much simpler explanation.

“We took what they gave us,” he said.

G-K finds kicker: Genoa-Kingston now has someone it can depend on for extra points. 

After weeks of inconsistent extra-point attempts and being forced to go for two, Matt Wojdyla went 4 for 4 on extra-points in Friday’s 28-23 win at North Boone. 

Wojdyla sort of got the kicking job by accident. A few weeks ago in practice, G-K coach Travis Frederick wasn’t happy with how kickoffs were going, and as a joke, he had Wojdyla kick off.

Wojdyla had some nice kicks, and Frederick had him try extra points. Frederick liked what he saw from Wojdyla, and Friday he felt the senior had been consistent enough to try him in a game.

“It’s nice to know that if we need it, he can kick a field goal,” Frederick said.

Steve Nitz, Anthony Zilis, Jay Schwab and Luke Srodulski contributed to this report.

VIEWS: Genoa-Kingston, DeKalb closer to playoff berths

Three years is a long time.

Maybe not for everybody, but in the case of a football program it’s an eternity.

In 2010, Genoa-Kingston and DeKalb each made the playoffs. The current seniors were freshmen, but it’s unlikely any of them played during either team’s first-round loss.

Neither the Cogs or Barbs have been back to the postseason since. Their coaches in 2010 are no longer with the program and both teams struggled in 2011 and 2012, combing for only 10 wins over the two seasons, neither posting a winning record.

But oh, how things have changed.

Entering Week 8 both teams sit at 4-3, on the precipice of a playoff berth. While five wins doesn’t guarantee entry into the postseason, their tough schedules and large number of playoff points basically assure both of gaining qualification with a fifth win.

Although Sycamore and Kaneland play Friday in the best local matchup of the year, both are veteran teams with proven track records that have already clinched spots in the playoffs.

And that’s why the Genoa-Kingston vs. Harvard and DeKalb at Yorkville matchups this week are more important in the long run. It’s a chance for both to show they are back, a chance for both to officially wash away heart-breaking losses in Week 2 and 1-2 starts with late-season surges.

Although the focus may be on Sycamore-Kaneland, keep an eye on the results of G-K and DeKalb. The two most improved teams in the area may just be ready to take the next step.

Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via email at rjacobson@shawmedia.com and follow him on Twitter @RossJacobson.

UNDER THE RADAR

David Long

DeKalb, so.

Long recorded two sacks in DeKalb’s victory over Morris on Friday. Long is part of a young, improving Barb defense.

STATS OF THE WEEK

21.4 – Average yards a carry for DeKalb junior running back Dre Brown, who recorded 257 rushing yards on 12 carries against Morris.

25 – Combined wins for area teams through Week 7. Last year, area teams recorded a total of 25 wins between the regular season and playoffs.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Kaneland (7-0) – The Knights started slow against Yorkville, but the Knights proved dominant in second half.

2. Sycamore (7-0) – The Spartans pulled out a win on road against a very good Rochelle team.

3. DeKalb (4-3) – The Barbs earned a statement win over Morris, and DeKalb is one win from playoffs. 

4. Genoa-Kingston (4-3) – The Cogs did just enough against North Boone and are also one win from playoffs.

5. Hiawatha (3-4) – The Hawks couldn’t hold on to a late lead against Alden-Hebron.

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