Markee Prude didn't look like he was ever a third-string running back.
In his first varsity start for South Elgin, the 5-foot-8, 165-pound junior ran the football 20 times for 137 yards. He skirted and bounced off tacklers to help the Storm earn its first win of the season, 31-7 Saturday over visiting Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division foe Glenbard East.
"I was in the third string running back, had to work my way up the depth chart and then today coach finally decided to give me an opportunity. And I took advantage of the opportunity," said Prude, part of a 239-yard ground attack that included his older brother, Jaleel.
"I like to keep my feet running, and make sure I keep moving to get as many yards as I can," Markee said.
The trio of Prude and the quarterback tandem of Nathan Smith and do-it-all Nate Gomez drove 69 yards on a 14-play opening possession behind linemen Jeremy Jenkins, Dalton Doherty, Noah Hercl, Tyler Owens and Kyle Grogan. Prude took a pitch left 31 yards for a touchdown, and with Nick Farfan's kick South Elgin (1-2, 1-0) led 7-0 lead at 5:02 of the first quarter.
"Really," Storm coach Patrik Pistorio said, "the best defense is the one on the sideline, right, so trying to keep them off the field. Just really enjoyed the way we ran the ball today. Really impressive."
Glenbard East (0-3, 0-1) had a tough go early, a high shotgun snap backing up its first possession. Despite consecutive 10-yard penalties South Elgin still had a short field. Gomez made it 13-0 at 2:05 of the first quarter on a 20-yard run up the gut.
The Rams' 1-2 punch of quarterback Bret Bushka and running back Jack Oberli produced four first downs and moved the ball 64 yards. On fourth-and-4 from South Elgin's 6-yard line, a fade pass to Keonta Nixon misconnected, defended by C.J. Bradford.
"At times we moved the ball well and we've done that for the last three weeks," said Glenbard East coach John Walters. "We just haven't finished once we've gotten inside the 20 in the red zone. That's been our focus in practice, we've got to be able to execute in a game in those situations."
The score stood 13-0 entering the third quarter when, as Walters said, South Elgin "kind of took the air out of the game for us."
Cornerback Dominique "Nico" Woods broke on a pass to the right flat. He picked it off in stride, nothing ahead but green for a 45-yard touchdown return, his first.
"It meant a lot because earlier in the game I gave up a long pass, I had pass interference, so I came back with that," Woods said.
South Elgin eventually led 31-0 on a Smith pass to Gomez plus a 25-yard Farfan field goal.
Glenbard East broke the shutout on Bushka's 8-yard scramble with 4:52 to play. Jared Rech added the extra point.
"This game was a must-win," Pistorio said. "Moving forward we're going to handle it week by week. We're excited to pursue the conference championship one more time and if we practice the way we practiced this week we've got a great shot at doing it."