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Nearly all football games are decided at the line of scrimmage. That's where Immaculate Conception held sway over Wheaton Academy on Saturday in Elmhurst.
Owning the ground game 347 yards to 81, IC won the Suburban Christian Conference Gold Division contest 39-6 in Lewis Stadium at Plunkett Field.
"I think this was a game that is going to really be good for us in the long run," said Wheaton Academy coach T.J. Ragan, who lacked four injured starters including top returning tackler Peter Ferrill, gone for the season. "I think it was one that we needed to learn and grow (from), as they brought a street fight to us and we didn't respond like we need to."
IC (2-0, 1-0) got 2 rushing touchdowns from back Randy Leslie, 2 by quarterback Demetrius Carr, another from back Danny D'Angelo and their first, 4:21 into the game, when tight end Riley Ricobene pounced on a fumble into the end zone by D'Angelo, whose 117 yards led all rushers.
An offensive line anchored by three-year starters Adalberto Suarez, Sean Fenton and Diego Herrera and offering Michael Mesnard, Kyle Perrone, Daniel Michel and Connor Daly paved the way.
"We have such schemes that we're always working together. We're not individually blocking, we're always combo-ing and helping each other out," said Fenton, who like Herrera, Perrone and Mesnard often turned right around to front the defense. "And it's such a complicated offense the whole line has to be so smart in the decisions that we make when we get up to the line."
Inventive alignments by new head coach Bill Krefft's staff and athletic improvisation helps. On Leslie's first touchdown for a 14-0 lead after the first quarter, Herrera and Ricobene lined up outside right tackle Perrone. Later, Carr had the same unbalanced line but bootlegged left, untouched, for a 21-0 lead.
"That's the benefit of having Demetrius Carr at quarterback," Suarez said. "He's such a smart quarterback who learned the system all in just the few months we had."
Despite 7 fumbles on a wet day, IC led 39-0 with 2:56 left in the third quarter. Wheaton Academy (0-2, 0-1) scored about a minute later. Following Nate Martinez's 18-yard pass to Matt Lindsay, tough John Gemmel broke three tackles on a 30-yard run.
A little too late, thought Martinez, who left with a knee injury but afterward said he was all right.
"We didn't come ready," he said. "The intensity wasn't there."
IC has outscored its foes 116-12, and aims to keep it going.
"We're going to go in, work as hard as we did this week, and hopefully come out with the same outcome," Herrera said.