Wheaton Academy's victory Friday night was as dominant as could be asked for, but it came with a grain of salt for both the players and the coaching staff.
The Warriors dominated the Chicago Bulls Academy, winning 40-8, but coach Brad Thornton said the team still has plenty to work on.
"We are not going to fool ourselves and pretend that that was a complete victory," Thornton, who won his first game as a head coach, said. "We are still really sloppy and we have a lot to improve on, but I'm happy for them. They deserve it, that was a good one for the team."
Despite Thornton's reservations, his team dominated every stat column. The Warriors more than doubled their opponent's total yards, rushed for more than 200 yards and even scored a special-teams touchdown. They did all this while all but running out the clock in the second half.
Wheaton Academy's offense was led by a three-headed running attack. Quarterback Nathan Lopez scored a touchdown both on the ground and through the air. Lopez opened up the scoring with a 6-yard run on the team's first drive. The defense responded with points of their own, pushing Chicago Bulls Academy backward before eventually blocking a punt in the end zone and recovering it for another touchdown. After the Warriors' second drive finished in a John Gemmel 3-yard bruising touchdown run, Wheaton Academy was up 18-0 and the route was on.
"Last week after the loss we challenged them to take a step forward and get better and I think they did that tonight," Thornton said.
The Warriors were blown out last week 44-0 by Westminster (Mo.).
Lopez could see the improvement in his team, especially the offensive line.
"After the Week 1 loss we worked on our line game and making sure our O-line stayed on their blocks," Lopez said. "I think they did really well this week."
It will be a quick turnaround for Lopez and his teammates. Next week they host a Montini team that's one of the best in the state. Thornton said he's not going to pull any punches with his team. They will invite the challenge and keep working to improve. The blowout provided ample time for the Warriors to turn their focus on Montini.
"After film tomorrow we will completely turn the page and look towards next week," Lopez said.