Wheaton North, as quarterback Johnny Peltz said, just did what it does. Control the line of scrimmage. Get skilled athletes into space. Rack up big points.
In Friday's Class 7A football playoff game the fifth-seeded Falcons beat No. 12 St. Charles East 41-13 at Rexilius Field in Wheaton to advance to the second round for a fourth straight year. Wheaton North (9-1) will visit No. 13 Prospect, a 35-14 upset winner over No. 4 Glenbrook North.
"I had a lot of time back there, which gives me the patience to throw and throw to open receivers," said Peltz, who stood tall behind linemen Connor Grace, Bobby Leahy, Jesse Dean, Kendall Anderson and Jeremy Mitchell.
"We won it up front today," said Peltz, who completed 16 of 21 passes for 222 yards and 3 touchdowns and supplied the first score on a 22-yard run. It came all in a first half Wheaton North led 41-0 to engage a running clock and empty its bench.
The Falcons scored on each of their six first-half possessions, accounting for 303 yards to St. Charles East's minus-4 due to a couple big sacks by Jon Chapman on Saints quarterback Jimmy Mitchell.
"Our defensive line, we work hard every week," the 6-foot-2 Chapman said. "We have good offensive linemen for scout. They help us, they push us."
St. Charles East (6-4) didn't gain a first down until the fourth quarter. The Saints scored twice in the last six minutes on Brad Kearbey's 40-yard fumble return and Trevor Zajicek's 38-yard reception.
"They're a great opponent," said St. Charles East linebacker-fullback Joe Hoscheit. "They'll probably go downstate and win it all, they're that caliber of team and we respected them that much, and they came out and got us pretty good in the first half."
Wheaton North running back Patrick Sharp set the tone with a 48-yard return of David Knudsen's opening kickoff. Three plays later Peltz scored after a fake handoff to Sharp.
The hits kept on coming. Peltz found receiver Matt Biegalski wide open for a 30-yard touchdown pass and later on a 13-yarder over a leaping defender. Sharp scored on runs of 1 and 12 yards.
"We had a big win last week against Wheaton South," said Falcons coach Joe Wardynski. "The coaches were a little nervous about some hangover from that, maybe not getting refocused. And they did, they focused again right away on Monday and we had a good week of preparation."
Completing a 27-point second quarter, Clayton Thorson juggled a Peltz pass at the Saints' sideline, collected it, spun 180 degrees and sprinted down the middle for a 47-yard touchdown.
"It just shows us what the next level is like," said St. Charles East coach Mike Fields. "I just thought this year we took a great step in the right direction to get back to credibility, where we wanted to be based on senior leadership and getting us back to that. I give all of our seniors a lot of credit for that. And this game will not define their season."