Wheaton Warrenville South was down to no healthy tailbacks for its regular-season finale at Glenbard East Friday night.
This led to coach Ron Muhitch using fullback Michael Horton exclusively at tailback against the Rams, and the senior was up for the challenge.
Horton finished with 202 yards on 26 carries and 3 touchdowns during the Tigers' 55-7 victory, giving them a 7-2 regular-season record heading into next week's playoffs.
Senior wide receiver Austin Royer also switched to running back and picked up the bulk of the carries in the fourth quarter, rushing for 49 yards on 10 carries and 2 touchdowns.
"We kept the five guys we've been missing to injury out of the game tonight and it worked out well for us," Muhitch said. "I'm very proud of our group of seniors and the effort they showed.
"Mike Horton lived life large. He's a no-nonsense kid and we were very happy to give him the touches tonight. Horton and Austin Royer both did a tremendous job."
Senior quarterback Ryan Graham got the Tigers on the scoreboard first on a 5-yard touchdown run up the middle, followed by Horton's 9-yard run with 1:29 left in the first quarter that put the Tigers up 14-0.
The Rams (2-7, 1-6) got on the scoreboard with five minutes left in the first half on a 16-yard run by Dominic Wilberton. The score was set up two plays earlier when Drake Pusateri found Alex Ciszewski down the visitors' sideline for a 62-yard pass play that moved the chains to the Tigers' 21-yard line.
Horton took over on the ensuing drive, carrying the ball six straight times for 49 yards, finishing with a 2-yard scoring run and a 21-7 lead.
"I have a new respect for running backs because they take a beating," Horton said. "I've been playing fullback all year, so this was a big change, but it was fun."
Glenbard East's next offensive series ended with a punt that went for only 10 yards to the Rams' 13-yard line.
Graham then proceeded to throw his first of two touchdown passes to Keishawn Watson from 8 yards out with 40 seconds left in the half.
Watson and Glenbard East defensive back Mike Mastrodonato appeared to be in a tussle for the ball in the end zone before the official signaled a Tigers touchdown.
Graham's longest pass of the night came on a 56-yard scoring toss to Watson that put the Tigers up 42-7 with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
Glenbard East played its final football game as a member of the DuPage Valley Conference. The Rams will join the Upstate Eight in 2014.
"John (Walters) has done a great job with this program," Muhitch said. "To their credit they've always played hard and I wish them well in their new conference."