Right place, right time. Time and time again.
Naperville North senior defensive back Grant Ericksen has a knack for being in the right place at the right time, and he came up with the game-saving interception at the 5-yard line in the waning seconds of Friday night's 17-14 defeat of Waubonsie Valley.
The game-sealing pick was Ericksen's second of the night and it gave him three games this season with multiple interceptions.
"It looked like it was little overthrown and I just wanted to get my hands on it and get down," he said of his second interception that stopped the Warriors' chances of setting up for at least a game-tying field-goal attempt. "I think it's big for our defense to make plays like that and to know that we can stop them. That's a great football team. They'll make the playoffs."
The Warriors led 14-7 in the second quarter before the Huskies defense managed to blank them over the final two and a half quarters. At 4-4 now they'll need to knock off Wheaton North next week to make the playoffs.
"I'm proud of our kids. It's a shame anybody lost," said Warriors coach Paul Murphy, whose team put up a goal-line stand to keep the score tied at 14-14 in the third quarter. "We can't hang our head. We're 4-4 and we know if we win next we'll still be in the playoffs because we're going to have plenty of points. It's a playoff game next week. Two 4-4 teams playing to get into the playoffs. The good news is we're playing it here."
Friday's game started as if it might become a shootout when the Huskies' Cam Hardy returned the opening kickoff 75 yards to set the stage for a 25-yard touchdown run by Eric Wright for a quick 7-0 lead. Waubonsie Valley responded quickly when Nate Ashford broke off a 35-yard run and then scored on a 19-yard dash.
The Warriors took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter on an 18-yard pass from Tanner Westwood to Charles Robinson. But the Huskies defense forced a punt with three minutes left in the half and the visitors tied the game just before halftime.
The tying score came on a 7-yard Luke Cegles pass to Nick Calcagno, who fought his way into the end with 12.9 seconds left in the half.
"It was great. There were a couple seconds left and we knew we had to punch it in at least one more time," the Naperville North wideout said. "We had to tie the game before half. It was a huge series for us. We practice the two-minute drill every day in practice.
"It was screen to me and I had all my linemen getting out to block for me plus Ryan Laurenzo got a great block on the corner. Chuck Robinson met me at the goal line and I was able to reach over. He's a great player. I was lucky to get it over."
With the score tied at the half, the game was decided in the second half by special teams. The Huskies' Matt Malan nailed a 38-yard field goal in the third goal, while the Warriors' Cross Holmes had his 25-yard field goal attempt blocked in the fourth quarter by Julian Collins.
"Our defense played a great game, especially in the second half," said Calcagno after his team improved to 7-1. "Julian Collins, blocking that field goal, was by far the play of the game. I'm very happy our defense could do that for us. And with one more win hopefully it will get us a home game for the first round of the playoffs."