Naperville Central's Nick Thomas ran for 3 touchdowns and caught a Jake Kolbe screen pass for a fourth touchdown to lead Naperville Central past West Chicago 42-0 at West Chicago in the Wildcats' final football game as a member of the DuPage Valley Conference.
In 2013 the Wildcats will join the Metro Suburban Conference.
"Everyone just played real hard," said Naperville Central quarterback Jake Kolbe, "Our team was led by seniors this year, and they led us tonight. We came out trying to run the ball and we just did everything. It was a good game all the way around."
It looked as if it was going to be a one-sided game early as Redhawks quarterback Jake Kolbe hit Ben Andreas for a 63-yard touchdown pass on Naperville Central's first play.
"We had talked about Andreas during the week, but it's a case in which you're in the right position but the other guy is quicker, stronger and faster," said West Chicago coach Bill Bicker.
"One thing about West Chicago," added Naperville Central coach Mike Stine, "is that they play you hard for a full 48 minutes. They're going to battle."
The Wildcats did just that and shut down the Redhawks (4-5, 4-3) the rest of the first quarter. But then Naperville Central's offense got rolling, led by running back Nick Thomas. The Redhawks scored 4 touchdowns in the second quarter, three of them by Thomas. His final touchdown of the game and of his Naperville Central career was a 35-yard touchdown run midway through the third period.
"We opened up the whole playbook tonight, didn't add anything new, just plays we had run all year," Thomas said. "The guys up front, they worked their butts off tonight, they did a great job."
"We were able to get some things going offensively in the second quarter," Stine said, "and get some points on the board. We were able to get our running game going and spread it around a little bit and get Nick going."
It was Thomas' reception of Kolbe's 21-yard screen pass that was the crushing blow with time running out at the end of the first half, making the score 35-0.
"That play was a new one, we hadn't run that yet this year, so that probably surprised them," Thomas said.
"We talked all week about how this game was for the seniors," Stine said. "We talk about a lifetime of memories and it's great to see these boys turn into men. I'm just happy for all our seniors."
Bicker was philosophical about the Wildcats' season (0-9, 0-7) this year.
"It's only tough if you define success by wins and losses," Bicker said. "We didn't lose this year because we didn't have kids who cared. Our kids cared as much as anybody. We don't judge success by wins and losses. We judge success by our kids and I wouldn't trade our kids for anybody. The fact that we're going to a brand new conference next year gives us a chance to start something new."