After a gut-wrenching last-second loss to Wheaton Warrenville South in Week 4, a 1-3 Naperville North team was not thinking about or talking about the playoffs.
And while the Huskies are not yet there, Friday's 38-2 win over a banged-up West Aurora squad (1-6, 0-5) has lifted the Huskies to 4-3 on the season and one win shy of yet another playoff berth.
Naperville North, which has outscored its opponents 121-15 the last three weeks, grabbed a 21-0 lead on Friday night less than 5½ minutes into the contest.
"It feels pretty good to get these three wins out of the way that we had to have," said Huskies quarterback Johnny Brown, who opened the night's scoring with a 3-yard run and moments later fired a 28-yard TD pass to Chris Junior following a Blackhawks fumble. "We needed this to start building up our momentum going against these next two good teams in our conference, Naperville Central and Glenbard North."
Brown guided Naperville North down the field on an 82-yard drive to start the game, and his short TD run made it 7-0 with 7:44 left in the quarter. When West Aurora coughed up the ball on its first play from scrimmage, Brown then hit Junior in stride for a 28-yard score, and it was 14-0, with two scores just 22 seconds apart.
The Blackhawks' next drive started with a sack of Quintez Jones by RJ Tomain and then two incompletions. And things got worse for the visitors from there as Pat Mollo blocked the ensuing punt and Eric Montgomery grabbed the loose ball at the 3-yard line and waltzed in for a third Huskies TD in less than a 75-second span.
"We were down 21-0 before the blink of an eye and you just can't do that against these types of teams," West Aurora coach Nate Eimer said. "Obviously, that's a team playing for a playoff berth, and they sure looked like it."
West Aurora did get on the board late in the opening quarter when Naperville North mishandled a punt snap in its own end zone and the ball rolled out the back of the end zone for a safety.
But the Huskies defense blanked West Aurora from there, and the hosts pulled away after Sharad Crosby had a 46-yard TD run in the second quarter and Justin Williams added a 19-yard TD as the Huskies led 35-2 at the half.
"The defense has been getting better and better every week," Naperville North senior lineman Ryan Wilson said. "We didn't start the season out too well, but we've been progressing and progressing each week."
Huskies coach Sean Drendel seconded that remark.
"We're dramatically improved defensively," said Drendel, whose team will face rival Naperville Central at North Central College next week. "From Game 1 until now we're a lot better on defense. And offensively we can control the ball a little."
Tickets for the Naperville Central-Naperville North game next week will be on sale at the Naperville North in the main office and at Naperville Central in the athletic office 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to noon Friday at Naperville Central. Tickets will not be sold at North Central College until 4 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students.