2023 season preview: Scouting the DuKane Conference

Batavia quarterback Ryan Boe keeps the ball during their Class 7A second-round playoff game in Batavia against Hersey on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022.


2022 record: 10-4

Coach: Dennis Piron

Worth noting: Internal and external expectations are for the Bulldogs to play football well into November. Offensively, four starters are back on the offensive line along with three-year starting quarterback Ryan Boe, a North Dakota State recruit. Add in intriguing weapons in running backs Charlie Whelpley and Nathan Whitwell, senior wideouts Pat McNamara and Luke Alwin and junior wideout Isaiah Brown, a Yorkville transfer, and the Bulldogs are well-equipped for attacking opposing defenses. On defense, while the Bulldogs graduated three of the top four tacklers from last year’s Class 7A state runner-up, senior linebacker and SIU commit Ben Fiegel is back and ready to lead. Keep an eye on RJ Bohr as the next standout Batavia linebacker to emerge. Ball State commit Jordan Buckley, Cody Heeringa and Bryan, Texas, transfer Malachi Smith are expected to be a force on the defensive line. Josh Kahley and Kyle Porter lead the secondary.


2022 record: 6-4

Coach: Troy (Boone) Thorgesen

Worth noting: Geneva is a program that has been revived in recent seasons. Vying for their third consecutive trip to the postseason, the Vikings definitely are in the conversation for a conference title and to make noise in the playoffs. It starts with second-year quarterback Nate Stempowski and junior wideout Talyn Taylor. Taylor, the No. 3-ranked recruit in Illinois’ Class of 2025, had 45 catches for 660 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Troy Velez is an underrated tailback who had 632 rushing yards and averaged almost 80 yards a game last season. The Vikings return linebacker Tommy Diamond, linebacker Will Diamond and defensive lineman Rocco DiLeonardi as the centerpieces of the defense.

Glenbard North

2022 record: 4-5

Coach: Ryan Wilkens

Worth noting: The Panthers are relatively light on returning experience. Senior offensive lineman Joe Palermo anchors their line. Patryk Golinski should be busy as a tight end, wide receiver and linebacker. Senior Lorenzo Filice will play both sides of the ball as a defensive back and running back. Keep an eye on senior defensive lineman Bebo Senenat, senior defensive lineman Jeremiah Gwin and junior linebacker/tight end Dylan Hendee.

Lake Park

2022 record: 1-8

Coach: Chris Kirkpatrick

Worth noting: The Lancers are looking to bounce back after a difficult season. Michael McCormick is a dual-threat quarterback and will be fortified with a handful of major pieces in wideout Matt Rodriguez, who led the team in catches, and recently converted running back Declan Fortuna. Sophomore Niko Menos is another name to keep an eye on. Defensively, seniors Anthony Marchese and Nate De La Rosa anchor the line and will be supplemented by Jimmy Celli and Amontae Head. Seniors Jalen Joseph and Chaz Orrico will be key in the secondary.

St. Charles East

2022 record: 2-7

Coach: Nolan Possley

Worth noting: The Saints are looking to create momentum after a difficult seven-game losing streak to close last season. Mac Paul, who started four games at quarterback, is back and has a command on the offense. The Saints are led by team captains in senior left tackle Bodey McCaslin, senior linebacker Charlie McArdle, senior safety Gavin Connolly, Paul and senior wideout Charlie Bolsoni. Sophomores Gavin Matejko and Sheko Gjokaj are expected to supplement Bolsoni as top options in the passing game. McArdle and Connolly will lead the defense.

St. Charles North

2022 record: 10-2

Coach: Rob Pomazak

Worth noting: St. Charles North is looking to build upon a 2022 season highlighted by a DuKane Conference championship and run to the Class 7A state quarterfinals. While Drew Surges is a huge piece to replace production-wise, the North Stars return plenty of viable pieces. Ethan Plumb is back for a third year starting at quarterback, running back Joell Holloman is expected to get a large opportunity to shine and Jake Mettetal, Anthony Taormina and Jake Furtney headline the passing game. The North Stars have one of the best kickers in the state in Hunter Liszka. Defensively, back Jaden Harmon, nose tackle Angelo Bradley and end Jesse Moreno are the key contributors.

Wheaton North

2022 record: 9-2

Coach: Joe Wardynski

Worth noting: The Falcons are looking to reload after reaching the second round of the postseason last year. The Falcons return starting quarterback Max Howser, running back Walker Owens and wideout Matt Kuczaj as the major pieces of their offense. Joe Barna, an Illinois recruit, is one of the top defensive ends in the state.

Wheaton Warrenville South

2022 record: 3-6

Coach: Sean Norris

Worth noting: The Tigers return seven starters on offense – quarterback Luca Carbonaro (1,105 yards, 7 TDs, 4 INTs), running back Matt Crider (250 yards, 3 TDs), offensive linemen Russell Styrkowicz and Aaron Vivar, and wideouts Max Schlegal, Daijon Riley and Aidan Dalby. Defensively, corner Connor Sliwa, and linebackers John Jensen and Lucas Rossini (25 tackles, 4 TFLs, 3 Sacks, 2 forced fumbles) are the ringleaders. Top newcomers include junior tight end Brady Goken, a 6-foot-3 220-pounder whom the Tigers expect to be a consistent threat downfield, 6-foot-3 junior wideout Amari Williams and defensive end Josh Pratt.


Joe Barna, Wheaton North, senior, defensive line

A three-star prospect, Barna recently chose Illinois as his college destination. Barna is a talent that game plans are built around and he has established himself as a top pass-rusher in the conference.

Ryan Boe, Batavia, senior, quarterback

A three-year starter, Boe has established himself as one of the top overall talents in the conference. Boe passed for 1,664 yards and 16 touchdowns last season and those numbers project to climb. Boe has the ability to test defenses from either inside or outside the pocket, but has the type of arm talent that can swing momentum in a hurry.

Ethan Plumb, St. Charles North, junior, quarterback

Plumb has steadily improved in each season and the North Stars expect that to continue in his third season starting. The arm talent is obvious with his ability to rip the football down the field and attack any part of it.

Talyn Taylor, Geneva, junior, wide receiver

Taylor is the conference’s most elite talent. A four-star receiver with offers from major Big Ten and SEC programs, Taylor is a gamebreaker with top-level speed and quickness. Taylor can be whatever his offense needs him to be – possession receiver, take the top off defenses, jet sweeps and more.

Charlie Whelpley, Batavia, senior, running back

Whelpley’s athleticism and versatility allows him to be a fantastic chess piece for offensive coordinator Sean Anderson to use. Whelpley’s vision and pass-catching prowess allows him to be a three-down back. Whether it’s as a wide receiver, running back, spot quarterback or elsewhere, he’s going to be all over the field.


BataviaGenevaGlenbard NorthLake Park
Week 1vs. Phillips; 7 p.m., Aug. 25@ Metea Valley; 7:30 p.m., Aug. 25vs. Moline; 7:30 p.m., Aug. 25vs. Conant; 7:30 p.m., Aug. 25
Week 2vs. Lincoln-Way East; 7 p.m., Sept. 1@ Lemont; 7 p.m., Sept. 1@ WIllowbrook; 7:30 p.m., Sept. 1@ Oak Park-River Forest; 6 p.m., Sept. 1
Week 3@ Lake Park; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. Wheaton Warrenville South; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. St. Charles East; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. Batavia; 7 p.m., Sept. 8
Week 4@ St. Charles North; 7 p.m., Sept. 15vs. Lake Park; 7 p.m., Sept. 15@ Wheaton Warrenville South; 7 p.m., Sept. 15@ Geneva; 7 p.m., Sept. 15
Week 5vs. Wheaton North; 7 p.m., Sept. 22@ Glenbard North; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. Geneva; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. St. Charles East; 7 p.m., Sept. 22
Week 6@ Geneva; 7 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Batavia; 7 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Lake Park; 7 p.m., Sept. 29@ Glenbard North; 7 p.m., Sept. 29
Week 7vs. St. Charles East; 7 p.m., Oct. 6@ Wheaton North; 7 p.m., Oct. 6@ St. Charles North; 7 p.m., Oct. 6vs. Wheaton Warrenville South; 7 p.m., Oct. 6
Week 8@ Wheaton Warrenville South; 7 p.m, Oct. 13vs. St. Charles East; 7 p.m., Oct. 13vs. Wheaton North; 7 p.m., Oct. 13vs. St. Charles North; 7 p.m., Oct. 13
Week 9vs. Glenbard North; 7 p.m., Oct. 20@ St. Charles North; 7 p.m., Oct. 20@ Batavia; 7 p.m., Oct. 20@ Wheaton North; 7 p.m., Oct. 20
St. Charles EastSt. Charles NorthWheaton NorthWheaton Warrenville South
Week 1@ Lincoln-Way Central; 7:30 p.m., Aug. 25vs. Palatine; 7 p.m., Aug. 25@ Downers Grove South; 7:30 p.m., Aug. 25vs. Simeon; 1 p.m., Aug. 26
Week 2vs. Wheaton Academy; 7 p.m., Sept. 1@ Crete-Monee; 7:30 p.m., Sept. 1vs. Lockport; 7:15 p.m., Sept. 1@ Lyons; 7 p.m., Sept. 1
Week 3@ Glenbard North; 7 p.m., Sept. 8@ Wheaton North; 7 p.m., Sept. 8vs. St. Charles North; 7 p.m., Sept. 8@ Geneva; 7 p.m., Sept. 8
Week 4vs. Wheaton North; 7 p.m., Sept. 15vs. Batavia; 7 p.m., Sept. 15@ St. Charles East; 7 p.m., Sept. 15vs. Glenbard North; 7 p.m., Sept. 15
Week 5@ Lake Park; 7 p.m., Sept. 22@ Wheaton Warrenville South; 7 p.m., Sept. 22@ Batavia; 7 p.m., Sept. 22vs. St. Charles North; 7 p.m., Sept. 22
Week 6vs. St. Charles North; 7 p.m., Sept. 29@ St. Charles East; 7 p.m., Sept. 29@ Wheaton Warrenville South; 7 p.m., Sept. 29vs. Wheaton North; 7 p.m., Sept. 29
Week 7@ Batavia; 7 p.m., Oct. 6vs. Glenbard North; 7 p.m., Oct. 6vs. Geneva; 7 p.m., Oct. 6@ Lake Park; 7 p.m., Oct. 6
Week 8@ Geneva; 7 p.m., Oct. 13@ Lake Park; 7 p.m., Oct. 13@ Glenbard North; 7 p.m., Oct. 13vs. Batavia; 7 p.m., Oct. 13
Week 9vs. Wheaton Warrenville South; 7 p.m., Oct. 20vs. Geneva; 7 p.m., Oct. 20vs. Lake Park; 7 p.m., Oct. 20@ St. Charles East; 7 p.m., Oct. 20


Week 2: Lincoln-Way East at Batavia

This is a game that’s been discussed at 7-on-7 events since July. While Batavia was handily beaten in last season’s matchup, the Bulldogs, at least, expect a much different outcome. These are perennial top teams in the state with college-level talent all over the field. Get to Batavia for this one.

Week 4: Batavia at St. Charles North

This is a matchup that has decided the conference title at the end of the season in recent years, but this time, these two programs meet early in the conference slate. Batavia and St. Charles North had a double overtime finish last season in a classic. This is always a game to follow. This season is no different.

Week 5: Wheaton North at Batavia

The Falcons beat the Bulldogs in a close one down the stretch last year. This one is sandwiched between St. Charles North and Geneva in a difficult three-game stretch for the Bulldogs.

Week 6: Batavia at Geneva

The Vikings had not scored a point in five consecutive contests against the Bulldogs, until last year’s ultimate 33-7 loss. The Vikings have not beaten Batavia since 2010. This Geneva team could be the streak-busters. This is a rivalry that dates back over 100 years.

Week 9: Geneva at St. Charles North

This has become a difficult win-loss projection the last number of seasons. This time, depending how the records shake out, one of these teams could be in the running for a share of the conference title. Both teams have a viable chance for the postseason, so this is a great test entering that possibility.


Wheaton North7-2
St. Charles North6-3
Glenbard North5-4
St. Charles East3-6
Wheaton Warrenville South2-7
Lake Park0-9