It is a sure sign of a football team's capability when that squad dominates but there can still be room for improvement.
No. 6 Neuqua Valley scored on all four of its possessions of the first half en route to a 35-7 victory over visiting Metea Valley on opening night Friday for both the season and DuPage Valley Conference play.
"I thought the first half was pretty clean. I thought we played well. During the second half we didn't get into the flow like I thought we would," said Neuqua coach Bill Ellinghaus. "I thought we had too many penalties (over 100 yards). But it's always good to come out with a win and we're hungry to get better."
All five Neuqua touchdowns came on the ground with the team spreading the carries among 10 runners for 240 yards. Senior quarterback Jack Bastable put the Wildcats on the scoreboard first on a 12-yard keeper just 1:55 into the game. A run of 24 yards and a 14-yard pass from Bastable to Isaiah Robertson helped set up the score.
The Wildcats' second touchdown was also scored in the Metea red zone thanks to Bastable's 37-yard completion to Donald Navarro III that put their team on the Mustangs 30. Seven plays later, Anthony Ippolito ran it in from the 1.
"We felt we had something to prove and I think we did that. There are things we can fix. But we know how great we can be when we put it together," Bastable said.
Neuqua quarterback Jake Eskoff also saw time. His 37-yard pass to Navarro put his team deep into Metea territory and led to Greg McClellan's 12-yard scoring run with 9:45 left until halftime.
Eskoff struck again later as his 35-yard toss to Robertson, on the Wildcats' next drive, put his team on the Mustang 6. Four plays later, Griffen Philgren hit the end zone from 7 yards away with 5:23 before halftime.
Metea was beginning to show signs of life offensively. The Mustangs earned their first first down of the game after McClellan's touchdown. And Metea drove to the Neuqua 10 with just less than two minutes left until halftime but turned the ball over on downs after not converting a fourth-down situation.
Neuqua led in total offensive yards at halftime 267-90.
It was the Mustangs, though, who responded first in the second half. The team put together a 7-play drive that was capped by Ryan Kriceri's 20-yard pass to Ben Loutsis. A completion earlier from Kriceri to Loutsis with a Neuqua personal foul tagged on and a 15-yard run by Alonzo Taylor-Jones were big plays of the drive. Taylor-Jones finished with 100 yards on the night.
Neuqua, which plays host to Naperville Central next week, responded on the next drive with a 4:31 effort that ended with Philgren's second score of the night.
"They would get the ball and impose their will until we showed we could stop them," said Metea coach Ben Kleinhans. "Offensively, there was not a lot going on. We were kind of out of rhythm, but we had some good drives. We'll learn from today and get back at it."
Metea stays on the road for Week 2 with a contest at Naperville North.