The St. Charles East football team played with an attitude from the opening kickoff until the final 1.8 seconds of a 39-9 nonconference victory over South Elgin at Norris Stadium in St. Charles Friday.
With consecutive losses to South Elgin in the last two season openers stuck in their minds, the Saints used a speedier 3-3-5 defense and a more polished version of the triple-option offense to outgain the Storm 271 yards to 161.
Sophomore Justin Jett rushed 20 times for 130 yards and 3 touchdowns and senior quarterback Zach Mitchell ran for 42 yards and a score to pace the offense.
"Our O-line came out and destroyed today," Jett said, crediting blockers Justin Hull, Logan Waxman, Nicolas Kane, Max Schumann and Brent Hull. "We were ready and we played our hearts out and it came out on the scoreboard."
"In order to win these games, you've got to be physical," Schumann said.
Meanwhile, the Storm offense had problems getting out of first gear due to penalties. South Elgin was flagged 11 times for 83 yards and the offense turned the ball over twice as the Saints won the turnover battle 2-0.
"All the pre-snap mistakes really put us in a bind," South Elgin coach Pat Pistorio said. "Throughout the week we were pretty clean and felt that wouldn't be an issue. We've got a lot of young guys that have never played before so in that type of stress and that type of environment their defense just did a really good job of putting our backs against the wall and we didn't know how to respond to that. They did an awesome job defensively. Their intensity, we couldn't match that."
The Saints held the Storm to 45 yards rushing in 22 attempts. Pierre Toussaint led South Elgin with 6 carries for 17 yards. Junior quarterback Nate Smith completed 13 of 26 passes for 116 yards.
"We're not the biggest defense but the speed we showed was great," Saints coach Bryce Farquhar said. "They were intense. They got (the offense) back on the field and got themselves off the field."
St. Charles East led 17-3 at the half and never let up. Senior cornerback Matt Bertke intercepted a pass and returned it 35 yards to put the Saints ahead 33-9 with 7:38 left in the game.
"I just looked up and the ball just went right in my hands," Bertke said. "It was kind of surreal for a second. I just started running. I didn't know if I was out of bounds or if the play was called dead. I just started running."
Later, with the ball at the South Elgin 1-yard line with 1.8 seconds left, the Saints elected to run the ball via Jett for another touchdown rather than kneel.
"I like how you played with attitude all the way to the end," Farquhar told his team in his postgame address.