CN100 Sports Football Preview: IHSA Playoffs First Round - Maine South vs. West Aurora

Michael Waller
CN100 Game of the Week: Maine South vs. West Aurora

IHSA Football Playoffs: First Round – Maine South vs. West Aurora

– West Aurora has turned back the clock seven decades in what has been a historic season thus far.

The reward for their 9-0 regular season is a date with one of the state’s powerhouse programs, Maine South, in the first round Friday, a game which can be seen on CN100, The Comcast Network, at Noon and 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29, and 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 31. You can also watch it anytime in HD with Xfinity On Demand by clicking Get Local and CN100. X1 users, look for Get Local under the Xfinity Services tab.

For West, its first unbeaten and untied season since 1948 will be tested by a postseason perennial Hawks squad.

"Maine South is really good," West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said. "They don’t have any weaknesses that we can find and they have some big-time players. We have our work cut out for us."

Maine South (6-3, 4-1 Central Suburban South) will have its work cut out for it trying to slow the running game of West Aurora (9-0, 5-0 Upstate Eight Valley).

The Blackhawks rushed for 3,275 yards in the regular season at a clip of 9.6 yards per carry. The Cross twins lead the way in all phases. DaVion Cross racked up 1,013 yards and 14 touchdowns on only 64 carries, an average of 15.8 yards per carry. He also has two punt return touchdowns and an interception return for a score.

His brother DaQuan has rushed for 775 yards and 14 touchdowns on 76 carries. He also caught four passes for 155 yards and a touchdown, while also returning an interception for a touchdown. As a part of the Blackhawks’ stellar linebacker corps he has 63 tackles, 53 solo, with four sacks, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries.

"The Cross twins remind me of the Mendenhall brothers from Niles West in the early 2000s," Maine South coach David Inserra said. "We have to know where they are on every play."

Senior Cionte Carter (45 carries, 487 yards, seven touchdowns), sophomore JaQuan Buchanan (37 carries, 413 yards, three touchdowns) and senior fullback Nick Catalano (45 carries, 292 yards, seven touchdowns) also contribute in the run game.

Joining DaQuan Cross at linebacker is a quartet of seniors. Taylor Zimmerman (74 tackles, 10 sacks), Chandler Behrens (72 tackles), Fabian Guerrero (58 tackles, three sacks) and JaeShawn Robinson (56 tackles, five sacks) form a fearsome unit.

Maine South’s three losses include a 44-43 loss to the state’s No. 1 team, Loyola, and a 27-21 loss to New Trier that ended a lengthy conference winning streak. The Hawks are still plenty dangerous.

Senior quarterback Nick Leongas leads the team with 1,902 yards, 18 touchdowns and only two interceptions in the air. He’s also rushed 79 times for 642 yards and eight touchdowns.

Junior running back Fotis Kokosioulis does it all: rushing for 838 yards and 14 touchdowns, pulling in 20 catches for 334 yards and three touchdowns, and posting 211 return yards.

Junior Cam Stacy (28 catches, 524 yards, four touchdowns) and senior Matt Holbrook (26 catches, 500 yards, four touchdowns) are playing both ways to maximize their contributions. Senior Luke Hinkamp, who is 6-foot-6, has 14 catches for 381 yards and six touchdowns.

"Our offense is tough to defend and keeps you really balanced both inside and out, ground and air," Inserra said. "When our wide receivers block well, anything can happen."

Senior kicker Sean McNulty is a weapon, going 10-for-11 in field goals and 43-for-43 in PATs while also starting at offensive tackle. Senior guard Kevin Jarvis has 29 pancake blocks and hasn’t allowed a sack.

- Paul Johnson, CN100 Sports Correspondent


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