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Football Notes: For Downers Grove North QB Drew Cassens, football is family affair

Trojans, two-way starting junior benefit from having his dad on staff

Downers Grove North junior quarterback Drew Cassens doesn’t have to look very far for advice on any aspect of football.

His dad, Todd, is an offensive line coach for the Trojans. First-year Downers Grove North coach Joe Horeni, a former collegiate center, calls it a luxury to have Drew Cassens around.

“Drew understands football and has been around it a long time,” he said. “His family has been around football a long time. Drew has done a lot of great things, but having his dad on the staff certainly helps a lot. Things are starting to click for him. He’s a player, one of those kids who wants the ball in his hands and to be in charge. He does a good job running our offense.”

The Trojans (2-1, 1-0 West Suburban Silver) have won their last two games following a 49-19 loss to Buffalo Grove in Week 1. After playing cornerback last season, Cassens moved over to the offensive side this season. A running and passing threat, Cassens has rushed for almost 500 yards this season, according to Horeni.

Cassens also plays safety for the Trojans, which is causing some anxiety for Horeni. Jugging his two-way duty is a stress, Horeni said, especially against talented opponents. The Trojans host Hinsdale Central (2-1, 1-0) in Week 4.

“Drew has done a phenomenal job,” Horeni said. “He also plays safety. I was certainly apprehensive about that. I’m certainly worried every game. But he brings a lot of experience to the defensive secondary. We don’t want to waste that experience, but we also want to keep him fresh.”

Cassens and his teammates had a chance to play in front a special player in Friday’s 42-6 win over Proviso West. Former Downers Grove North Star Vontae Diggs was on the sidelines. Diggs played linebacker for Connecticut and is currently a free agent looking to sign with an NFL team.

“Vontae has been around practices since the final roster of the Washington Redskins was announced and he didn’t make the team,” Horeni said. “He’s a great guy and a great ambassador for our football program. A lot of guys on my staff got to coach him. It’s fun to have him on the sidelines. 

“Vontae actually knocked one of our kids down on the sidelines because he was so excited. He brings great energy. It’s neat for the kids to see a guy who still cares about the high school experience that he had considering he’s played at the highest level."

Westmont takes on unique foe

Westmont football coach Daniel Woulfe scoured the Internet for research. The Sentinels (2-1) had an opening in their schedule that led to a unique Week 4 opponent.

Wallaceburg, Ontario, which hails from Canada, responded to Westmont’s request. The Sentinels will host Wallaceburg on Sept. 14.

“We had an open date that we posted on the IHSA website, and they contacted us,” he said. “I think they make this a yearly trip.”

Woulfe said he and Wallaceburg diddn't exchange film, nor does he know much about his upcoming opponent other than its double wing offense. 

“We’ve only exchanged information,” he said. “They are not on Hudl. This is kind of similar to when I was [younger], when you would get a VHS tape but players were not privy to that tape. That’s probably the worst feeling not having any film whatsoever. I did find a game of theirs online.”

Besides running a double wing offense similar to Wilmington, Woulfe said Wallaceburg run a 3-4 defense. Woulfe said his team will slightly alter their practice habits this week due to the lack of information on their opponent.

“We have to concentrate on slowing down on defense,” he said.

Woulfe noted that wide receiver Michael Thompson “has been playing lights-out” for the Sentinels this season. But the defense also deserves plenty of credit for the fast start. Westmont has allowed six points in its last two games since losing 40-0 to Seneca in Week 1. Woulfe noted that cornerback Gavin Carr and free safety Mason Pardy are playing at a high level.

“Gavin and Mason have really stepped it up,” he said.

Schwartz playing big for Hinsdale Central

Hinsdale Central coach Dan Hartman noted that junior defensive end Lucas Schwartz is a player to watch. Schwartz was a late-season call-up last season, and gained valuable experience playing in the Class 8A playoffs against Stevenson and Loyola.

“[Lucas] is quick, fast and strong,” Hartman said. “He can really get to the quarterback and causes a lot of problems in the running and passing games. He keeps getting better and better and had a great offseason. He’s exceeded our expectations.”

Downers South gets win

Downers Grove South (1-2, 1-0) picked up its first win Sept. 7, beating Proviso East 31-13.

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