Tigers embracing move to DuKane Conference

Key to inexperienced WW South will be improving run defense
By JOSHUA WELGE   

Isiah Brown-Dietzman is well-versed with a change of scenery.

So this year is nothing new.

Brown-Dietzman, Wheaton Warrenville South’s senior defensive lineman, was born in Aurora, but moved to Naples, Fla., a month later. He moved back to Illinois when he was 7 years old, living mostly in Yorkville, but moved back to Florida a couple of years later.

He’s been back in Illinois for five years now, and settled in the Wheaton area his sophomore year. So while moving from the DuPage Valley Conference to the new DuKane Conference is big news in Wheaton, Brown-Dietzman takes it in stride.

“For me, it’s exciting,” Brown-Dietzman said. “It’s nice to have new competition. Going against the state champs [Batavia], we’re going to get the best competition we can get.”

Brown-Dietzman, one of three returning starters on WW South’s defensive line – the team has only five total – will be a big reason if the Tigers have success.

The Tigers have struggled mightily against the run recently, one reason why the program uncharacteristically has posted three straight 2-7 seasons. WW South gave up 35 points per game two years ago, 23 last season.

“We should be experienced on the D-line,” Tigers coach Ron Muhitch said. “That is the part of the game we need to improve on is we need to get better at stopping the run.”

Brown-Dietzman can be an elite edge rusher, but didn’t have quite the strength he needed last year, being somewhat of a tweener.

Lifting, and especially diet, changed that. His mom spent three hours every Sunday prepping for the week. Brown-Dietzman had sausages, eggs and cheese for breakfast, a mass protein shake and chewy chocolate chip bars in addition to the school lunch, another lunch after that with rice and beef, more snacks after school, and at times ate up to three dinners.

He initially dropped weight, but eventually went from 210 pounds at the end of last season to 240 now.

“With the extra weight I’m bigger,” Brown-Dietzman said, “and just as fast. There’s more body behind my speed.”

That’s bad news for opposing quarterbacks and running backs.

“His strength has improved, and so has his power and ability to hold his position,” Muhitch said. “If I can get him to use his speed, which I know he has, he will be a tremendous pass rusher.”

Brown-Dietzman should be effective paired as an edge rusher with Chase Keating, a returning starter and three-sport athlete. Jack Kelly also returns on the defensive line, as does Joe Ives in the secondary. Ives is joined on the back line by matchup cornerback Cedric Rowzee, a 100-meter dash state medalist in track.

At quarterback, senior Noah Henkel impressed in WW South’s 7-on-7s this summer as a first-year starter.

“What I like about Noah is he takes care of the ball,” Muhitch said. “He can run and hurt you with his legs, and he’s a fairly strong-armed quarterback.”

At running back, juniors Jake Arthurs and Prince Lankah will rotate in replacing 1,000-yard rusher Ryan Young. Receiver Tiwan Smith is a blossoming athlete and a big playmaker who can go get the ball. Jeremy Lockett is an impressive pass catcher and WW South’s leading receiver this summer.

Billy Winfrey is WW South’s lone returner on the offensive line at left tackle. Muhitch raves about Jack Olsen, who set WW South’s punting record last year.

With four home games to start the season and tough matchups with defending Class 7A champion Batavia, Wheaton North and St. Charles North down the stretch, Muhitch noted the importance of a fast start.

“I think getting off to a great start will improve our confidence with inexperience,” Muhitch said. “If we can get off to a good start we can maybe play better down the stretch.”

WHEATON WARRENVILLE SOUTH TIGERS

Coach: Ron Muhitch

2017 record: 2-7

Top players

Jake Arthurs jr. RB

Isiah Brown-Dietzman sr. DL

Noah Henkel sr. QB

Joe Ives sr. DB

Chase Keating sr. DL

Jack Kelly sr. DL

Prince Lankah jr. RB

Jeremy Lockett sr. WR

Jack Olsen jr. K/P

Cedric Rowzee sr. DB

Billy Winfrey sr. OL

2018 schedule

Aug. 24 Metea Valley 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 31 Lockport 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 7 Geneva 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 14 St. Charles East, 7 p.m.

Sept. 21 at Batavia 7:30 p.m.

Sept. 28 at Wheaton North, 7:30 p.m

Oct. 5 Lake Park, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 12 at Glenbard North, 7:30 p.m.

Oct. 19 at St. Charles North, 7:30 p.m.