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With the first day of practice under their belts Wednesday, The Heat Index sees no better time to start placing your bets (so to speak) on a couple of season openers:

Naperville North vs. Neuqua Valley and Naperville Central at Waubonsie Valley on Aug. 29.

In case you didn't read the blog title, we're talking football here.

Let's get right to it. Who will win and why? Ready, type...

Neuqua Valley wide receiver Josh Schaffer will be playing his college football at Western Michigan, and he told the Kalazmoo Gazette that the family atmosphere at WMU is what convinced him to commit to the Bronocos instead of his other suitors.

Both ESPN.com and Scout.com reported Schaffer's commitment over the weekend.

"I thought about playing my senior year and signing after," said Schaffer, who had interest from Central Michigan and Northern Illinois, among others, but no other offers yet. "But I went up Friday and watched practice. After that, I pretty much knew where I wanted to be.

"Coach Cubit, coach (Mike) Sabock, coach (Mike) Grant, the coaching staff, they made me feel like family. They made me feel at home, and the players are great to be around. It made me want to come to Western Michigan."

Who's Jake Baratz you ask? Good question...

Baratz is a 6-foot-4, 275-pound senior offensive lineman for Naperville North, the defending Class 8A state champs. He was a part-time starter last year and missed four and a half games because of injury.

Even so, he must have assembled enough game tape to lure not only Arizona into a scholarship offer but also Northern Illinois and Miami of Ohio. He finally verbally committed to Arizona on Tuesday night and reported it to edgytim.com on Wednesday, a week before the first day of practice.

In an email to The Sun on Thursday, North coach Larry McKeon said, "He has great potential as an offensive lineman."

Sunshine state

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Naperville North and Nebraska graduate Corey McKeon will attend the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' rookie mini-camp on Thursday as an unsigned free agent.

McKeon is trying to become the sixth Naperville native to currently play in the NFL, three of whom in Chris Brown, Justin McCareins and Glenn Earl already hail from his father's North program . The others are Central grad Owen Daniels and Neuqua grad O.J. Oshinowo.

What makes the North program so good at producing NFL-caliber players, or is it just a coincidence?


most1320 posted these videos on Thursday night, showing Naperville North's 42-41 loss in triple overtime at Wheaton Warrenville South. The only loss of North's state championship season gave the DVC title to the eventual 7A state runner-up.

I'm curious about the timing, but more curious about the poster, "most1320."

The videos were posted with the tags "Conroy WWSHS Football MSU." The Conroy part could be outgoing senior Dan Conroy, the kicker who booted the 41-yard field goal to put the Tigers up 20-13 with 5:43 to play. Note the score. 20-13...most1320.

Maybe it's nothing. Maybe a graduating kicker is talking smack on the internets.

Given the recent decision of Waubonsie Valley linebacker Spencer Merritt to attend New Mexico, the Division-I alma matter of Chicago Bears star Brian Urlacher, it got us thinking about the future of football in Naperville.Who are the future D-I talents who will make as much noise on the gridiron as Merritt did this season?

August 2008: Monthly Archives

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Brad Engel

Brad Engel is the longest-tenured member of The Sun sports staff and has won several national and state awards in his coverage of preps as well as the Chicago Bears, Chicago Fire and general sports.

Patrick Mooney

Patrick Mooney covered politics, prep sports and professional baseball for several print and online media outlets before joining The Sun in August 2007. He concentrates on prep sports, writing features, profiles and breaking recruiting news.

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