Times appear to be changing in FVC Valley
By Erik Jacobsen firstname.lastname@example.org September 17, 2012 10:34PM
Dundee-Crown coach Vito Andriola looks on during a game last season. Andriola has led the Chargers to a surprising 3-1 start this year. | Andrew A. Nelles ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 17, 2012 11:15PM
In recent years the Fox Valley Conference’s Valley Division built a reputation for being one of the most competitive leagues in the state, but all the while it remained a bit top heavy.
Those days might be coming to an end, though, if the first four weeks of the 2012 season are any indication.
After spending the past few seasons near the bottom of the FVC Valley standings, programs like Huntley, Dundee-Crown and McHenry appear to be on the rise.
Last week the Chargers ended a 28-game conference losing streak by upsetting defending Class 6A state champion Prairie Ridge. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders knocked off Crystal Lake South for the first time in seven tries since joining the FVC in 2003.
Don’t expect longtime conference powers Cary-Grove and Crystal Lake South to concede ground easily, but signs point to the conference’s new-found parity being more than just a passing trend.
“One thing about our league is it’s really well coached,” Dundee-Crown coach Vito Andriola said. “You’ve got a couple new people in the league who are trying to establish programs. When that happens, those programs usually go up.
“But it’s still a situation where Cary-Grove, Ridge and South are programs that you really have to battle to keep up with.”
Cary-Grove and Crystal Lake South did much to raise the conference’s profile by making frequent runs deep into the postseason in recent years, and those two teams remained entrenched at the top of the FVC Valley standings from the time the conference split into two divisions in 2006 through 2010.
In 2011 the division expanded to seven teams with the addition of Prairie Ridge, adding a new element as the Wolves won the league title before going on to win the Class 6A state championship.
Meanwhile, Jacobs saw immediate improvement following the arrival of coach Bill Mitz in 2010, reaching the playoffs in back-to-back years for only the second time in program history.
Dundee-Crown, Huntley and McHenry followed the blue print by hiring new coaches in the past two years, and all three programs have seen positive results.
John Hart arrived at Huntley this season with much fanfare thanks to the noteworthy success he enjoyed during previous coaching stops in Indiana and downstate Illinois. At 2-2 following victories against Prairie Ridge and Crystal Lake South, the Red Raiders have already matched their win total from last season.
Dave D’Angelo is in his first year coaching McHenry, and already that program is showing signs of a return to form. The Warriors made 20 straight playoff appearances from 1988-2007 but haven’t been back to the postseason since.
Andriola had the biggest rebuilding project of all at Dundee-Crown, which entered the season on a 26-game losing streak that dated to 2009. Andriola was at the helm for nine of those losses during last year’s winless season, but the team’s hot start this fall is a sign the program might be turning the corner.
“When you beat a quality program like Prairie Ridge, it says a lot about what we’re doing,” Andriola said. “The kids are feeling good about themselves, but to be honest we could play a whole lot better in a whole bunch of ways.”
Bartlett’s Everson off the charts
Bartlett senior Aaron Everson continued his amazing run of offensive production during his team’s 47-27 victory at Metea Valley on Friday.
Everson racked up 241 rushing yards on 37 carries. Along the way he compiled five rushing touchdowns and also scored on an 89-yard kickoff return.
For most players the monster game would be a major accomplishment, but for Everson it is nothing new. He ran for 227 yards and six touchdowns in a Week 3 win against East Aurora and had 269 rushing yards and five touchdowns in Week 2 against Elgin.
For the season Everson already has 832 rushing yards on 89 carries, good for an average of 9.3 yards per attempt.
In addition to his running back duties, Everson is also the place kicker for the Hawks. He has successfully kicked 19 point-after attempts to go along with his 17 total touchdowns this year.
That all adds up to 121 points scored by Everson alone this season. To put that in perspective, nine of the area’s 13 teams have scored fewer points so far this year.