WHEATON – Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South will bring more than high rankings and matching 2-0 records into Friday’s DuPage Valley Conference opener at Red Grange Field.
They also will come with great respect and admiration for each other.
“It’s really cool to have such an awesome crosstown rivalry, and to have so many people be out there for this game,” Wheaton Warrenville South senior Jake Schultz said. “It’s always a big rivalry and we’ve always respected each other. It’s two great programs.”
Wheaton North senior Matt Biegalski, who played with Schultz and other Tigers players in the Wheaton Rams youth program, agrees.
“After this week, we will be cheering for them in every game and hoping they get wins,” Biegalski said, “We will be friends after the game, but during the week and during the game, we won’t be the closest friends.”
One change happening is that after playing in the regular season finale the past two seasons, this matchup occurs in early September. Last year, the Falcons beat Wheaton Warrenville South, 23-13, to keep the Tigers out of the postseason.
“We are used to playing them at the end to wrap the season up,” Schultz said. “This year it is right at the beginning but it should be fun. And it’s on our field this time, on our new turf. It’s going to be rowdy.”
Wheaton Warrenville South will have to gear up for a Wheaton North offense that has produced 82 points thus far behind quarterback Clayton Thorson and wide receivers Biegalski and J.P. Forcucci.
“Wheaton North is a passing team,” Tigers offensive lineman Jon Callaway said. “Clayton is a beast, and we are going to need our defense to step up. Offensively, we need to run hard and play all four quarters. We’ve got to step it up. They are obviously going to score some points, and we have to match that. We are pumped up.”
On the other side, the Falcons are running into an upstart Tigers’ team that is riding the wave of momentum after wins over Glenbard West and Maine South.
“They are playing excellent football,” Biegalski said. “They are coming off two great wins, which is good for them. It’s fun to play them with both of us being 2-0.
“We can’t get off our gameplan. They will get stops and make some big plays but we have to keep up with our script. We don’t want to let their defense dictate what we do. It’s going to be a battle for four quarters.”