The Waubonsie Valley football team's 63-29 romp at South Elgin Saturday afternoon was largely a matter of keeping up with next week's competition.
"A few of us went to see how Neuqua played against Metea," senior running back Jon Fizer said of rival Neuqua Valley's 65-28 win on Friday. "They came out on fire. That burned a fire within us. We knew we had to come out and do the same thing because if we didn't perform, next week wasn't going to mean anything."
The win by Waubonsie Valley sets the stage for a showdown next Friday against Neuqua Valley at North Central College in Naperville. Both teams own 5-1 overall records, 3-0 within the Upstate Eight Conference's Valley Division.
The Warriors scored touchdowns on their first 6 possessions, a string of dominance halted only by a fumble on their final possession of the first half. The offense rolled up 521 total yards, 369 via the ground game. Fizer carried 16 times for 183 yards, including touchdown runs of 11, 3 and 15 yards.
Waubonsie junior Tony Durns added 107 yards on just 4 carries, highlighted by option pitch-and-runs of 48 and 56 yards, plays that will give Neuqua and all other future opponents something else to worry about.
"We had a couple of wrinkles we put in because teams are starting to try to crash those ends to try to take away our option," Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy said. "So you saw a little quick pitch. Everybody in college is doing it so we figured we'd use it."
When South Elgin (1-5, 1-3) stacked eight defenders in the box to stop the option, the Warriors relied on the soft hands of wide receiver Christian Gibbs and the accurate deep passing of quarterback Jack Eddy. Gibbs hauled in 4 catches for 108 yards, including touchdown receptions of 32, 36 and 36 yards. The 32-yarder was a thing of beauty. Gibbs caught the ball over his shoulder just inside the pylon while dragging a foot to give his team a 21-8 lead.
"We've worked hard all summer and all fall to get our timing down," said Gibbs, who has 9 touchdown receptions. "Whenever we can throw the ball, we're practicing. I knew my left foot was going to be in. I'm pretty used to it."
South Elgin leading rusher, sophomore Shawn Griffin, was unable to continue after a few plays due to a nagging injury. Junior running back Kyle Ware was also banged up and unavailable. That left the Storm without a viable running game against the No. 7 team in Class 8A. Quarterback Robert Cuda gained 39 of South Elgin's 63 rushing yards and ran for 2 scores.
"Our O-line held their ground, but without a running game we become one-dimensional and they're going to pin their ears back," South Elgin coach Pat Pistorio said. "It was a rough day for us."
Cuda completed 23 of 39 attempts for 363 yards, highlighted by a 67-yard scoring strike to Nick Menken midway through the first quarter. He was intercepted 4 times, once for a 50-yard touchdown return by junior Kenny Woodruff.
The Storm barely missed connecting on several more long pass attempts.
"We have to do a better job of finishing in practice and in the games," Pistorio said. "We're missing big plays by a yard or so. We have to capitalize against big teams like this."