Bolingbrook has held on to the number one spot in Illinois after five weeks this season, but this week is by far their toughest test as they hit the road to challenge the #7 team in the state in Lincoln-Way East. Both teams had great regular seasons last year and are known for producing division one talent.
For Bolingbrook, the usual characters are sure to figure into the equation, led by Quarterback Aaron Bailey. On defense, the key player for the Raiders is cornerback Parrker Westphal. Aside from those two, Bolingbrook’s Omar Stover (RB) and Chandler Piekarski (TE) are sure to figure in strongly to the offensive gameplan, especially Stover, who is having a great year so far.
But don’t count out Lincoln-Way East. Last year, East had one of the most prolific offenses in the state, but they no longer have WR J.J. Robertson and have to rely much more on senior receiver Justin Corbett. Aside from Corbett, the offense is piloted by Northern Illinois-bound quarterback Tommy Fuessel, who is protected on the line by junior Nick Allegretti.
This is sure to be an electric game. Let’s take a look at the key guys for each of these teams.
Key Players for Bolingbrook:
Everyone knows what he can do, everyone knows who he is, and everyone knows he’s a threat every time he touches the ball. But that doesn’t mean they can stop him. Bailey has been successful running the ball again this year, even without as much experience on the offensive line as he’s had in the past. Depending on how Lincoln-Way East decides to defend Bailey, he may get to showcase some passing skills in this one too.
The last time we saw Westphal, nobody wanted to throw in his direction. He’s a playmaker, so it’s easy to see why teams hesitate to go his way. But I have a feeling Lincoln-Way East will have to throw at him at some point in this one, so the big question is, will Westphal continue to shut opponents down, or will he even get the chance?
Stover is the darkhorse on this team, which really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense because he’s really underrated as a running back. He has great vision and showed a lot of patience coming out of the backfield already this year before turning on the afterburners and bursting through his holes. If East gets tunnel vision on Bailey, Stover could be in for another big game.
Key Players for Lincoln-Way East:
It all starts with Fuessel for Lincoln-Way East. In the time you read that last sentence, he probably ran a solid 20 yards down field. Fuessel is playing quarterback for East, but he is probably one of the fastest guys on the field. He’s consistently in the 4.4 range, sometimes even cracking into the 4.3 range. Bolingbrook will have to keep him between the hashmarks on defense or else they could be chasing down big plays all night.
After JJ Robertson moved on, the receiving load on Corbett got even bigger. He’s slightly taller in the 6’-1” or 6’-2” range, which causes matchup problems for a lot of defenders, but he’ll be going against an elite corner in Westphal. If he can beat Westphal consistently, he’ll have my attention.
Sometimes a quarterback’s best friend is his top offensive lineman. Nick Allegretti is already getting a lot of looks from Big Ten programs, including Illinois. If he can own his spot on the line of scrimmage and give Fuessel both time to throw and space to run, he’ll be an unsung hero for LWE. And of course, he’s only a junior, so his best days on the line are likely ahead of him.
Already mentioned the Lincoln-Way East defense against the Bolingbrook offense led by Bailey, and I mentioned the duel between Justin Corbett and Parrker Westphal, but what will be the big matchup for me is the Bolingbrook defense against the Lincoln-Way East offense as a whole. East plays a fast brand of football, so if Bolingbrook can get set and contain big plays, they should come out on top, but if they can’t control the ball and the line of scrimmage, it could be a game that gets too close for comfort.
So will Bolingbrook hold on to the number one ranking? Or will Lincoln-Way East prove that they belong in the discussion with the rest of the state’s elite. Stay tuned to find out.
Location: Lincoln-Way East High School