7 biggest takeaways from Week 3 of Rockford high school football

Jay Taft Matt Trowbridge
Rockford Register Star

The Illinois high school football season continued on Friday and here are some key takeaways from the third week of games:

1. Size doesn’t matter for Belvidere North

Belvidere North improved to 3-0 by rushing for 345 yards in a 45-12 win over Jefferson. No one on the Blue Thunder had 100 yards rushing, but whoever carried the ball had success running behind Drake Fielding, Nolan Brannan, Reid Stille, Gage Hasty and Beck Krenzelok. Three of those linemen are 190 pounds or smaller and a fourth only weighs 217.

“That’s a good group,” North coach Jeff Beck said. “We have gotten solid performances from them. We like the group we have on the offensive line up front and the offense as a whole. They aren’t big, strong and fast, but they are smart. With what we do, being in the right place in the most importing thing.”

Week 3 scoreboard:Scores from around the Rockford area

2. Hononegah is the NIC-10’s most complete team

After winning mostly with defense the first two weeks, Hononegah (3-0) trampled Freeport (2-1) on the ground, through the air and with special teams, leading 42-0 at halftime.

“They outplayed us and beat us on every level,” Freeport safety/running back Ryan Coon said.

And they did it with a sophomore backup quarterback, Cole Warren, who is scheduled to return to the bench next week when Isaac Whisenand returns.

“We have so much depth at quarterback,” Hononegah linebacker Dylan Sayles said.

“We all thought we could do better,” running back Bryce Goodwine said. “With a new offensive coordinator (former East and RVC coach Jeremy Warren) and a new offense, it took awhile to click, but it’s clicking now.”

Best of the best:Top performances from Week 3 high school football in the Rockford area

3. East may have its best defense in 20 years

The E-Rabs (2-1) held Belvidere North to seven points until the final minute in a 14-12 loss, then rolled over Belvidere 64-17 and beat Auburn 26-8 Friday by holding the Knights to 171 yards on 51 plays. The E-Rabs needed to be that good on defense as they gained only 214 yards themselves, with nearly a third of those yards coming on one play, a 66-yard TD run by Innocent Ntawiymara.

East's Javius Catlin, right, celebrates a touchdown against Belvidere North in the second quarter of their NIC-10 game on Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, at Belvidere North High School in Belvidere.

4. Byron turns tables on Lutheran

Lutheran closed out the spring season with a 6-0 shutout victory over the Big Northern Conference's powerhouse the past decade, Byron, ending the Tigers' season on a sour note and with a 3-2 record.

Meanwhile, the Crusaders closed out the campaign at 2-1, and with momentum.

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But on Friday night the Tigers turned it around on the Crusaders — in a big way. In the Week 3 showdown, Byron made a statement with a 47-19 win, rushing for 431 yards and 6 TDs, and building a 40-0 lead with 3:18 left in the second quarter.

"This is a new team, and they're going out there and doing their jobs," Byron head coach Jeff Boyer said. Byron won at least a share of the past four BNC titles before last season. "We've got a lot of options in the backfield, and we can methodically work it down the field on you... I'd say this is Byron football."

The Tigers placed second in the state in 2018 and 2019, but had a rough spring. Now led by Chandler Binkley — who averaged 16.3 yards per carry while gaining 163 yards and scoring twice Friday — they are churning it out in the ground game.

Byron, which didn't punt until late in the third quarter, had 16 first downs on offense while surrendering just three to Lutheran on Friday. And now the Tigers are off to a 3-0 start, with a matchup against undefeated Genoa-Kingston next week on the horizon.

5. Dakota wins battle with Stockton

Both Dakota and Stockton were in need of wins headed into Friday's rivalry matchup, but led by the power rushing attack of Adrian Arellano and Camden Foesch, it was Dakota that came out on top, 14-6.

Arellano (27 carries for 165 yards) got the scoring going with a 59-yard TD burst in the first quarter, and Foesch (5-97) scored on a 93-yard run in the third quarter that proved to be the clincher.

Stockton's Jace Phillips scored on a 4-yard run with 5:25 left for his team's only score.

Hononegah's Joe Roos looks for a throw against Freeport in the third quarter of their game on Friday, Sept. 10, 2021, at Hononegah High School in Rockton. Hononegah beat Freeport, 49-24.

6. Le-Win, Du/Pec stay the course

Both Lena-Winslow and Durand/Pecatonica remained on course with solid victories on Friday night as the NUIC's top two contenders race toward a Week 7 matchup still unscathed.

Le-Win used a 217-yard, 3-touchdown performance from Ethan Fye to shutout Galena 20-0, and Du/Pec outrushed Fulton 353-80 to pull off a 38-24 victory. Fulton was the only other NUIC team that was undefeated headed into Week 3.

The only two remaining unscathed NUIC teams will meet up in Lena on Oct. 8.

7. Winnebago on the board

Winnebago got 213 yards rushing and 3 TDs from Michael Cunningham to haul in its first win of the season, beating up on Rock Falls 45-8. Cunningham helped Winnebago outgain Rock Falls 455-104 in total yards. He also went 6-for-6 on extra-point kicks, and nailed his lone field goal, a 27-yarder.