As expected in Week 1 it took Neuqua Valley time to get the cylinders firing. Then the Wildcats took control.
Neuqua improved to 8-0 over District 204 foe Metea Valley with a 35-7 DuPage Valley Conference victory on Mustangs turf in Aurora.
"A good team win today," said Neuqua defensive end Matt Quinn, who recovered 2 fumbles to go along with Josh Krajacic's 2 quarterback sacks.
"We all pitched in and did our 1/11th, which made the win happen, and we just never gave up until the last whistle," said Quinn, praising the Wildcats' scout team for their preparation.
Leading 7-0 late in the second quarter, Neuqua Valley scored twice in 31 seconds to enter halftime up 21-0. The Wildcats operated behind an all-new offensive line of Alex Waldinger, Austin Mesnard, Jake Bruner, Chas LaPoint and Ken Schultz.
"I feel we got better as the game went along," said Cameron Raupach, who ran for 46 yards and a 6-yard touchdown. "I think we kind of started out slow, but once we got some confidence I felt like we were rolling."
Metea Valley often looked good defensively, with ends Conor Murphy and Thomas Butler and linebackers Ryan Malone and Jack Belskis. Offensively, the Mustangs lost 3 fumbles and added an interception to Neuqua's Zach Wenz.
"I'm happy with the way that (the defense) played, but they were fighting an uphill battle with the field position we gave them and the turnovers. You're just going to wear down, eventually," said Metea Valley coach Ben Kleinhans.
Leading 7-0 on Will Chevalier's 2-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter and Stephen Ruiz's kick, Neuqua Valley made it 14-0 on Raupach's 6-yard run at 1:09 of the second quarter. Quarterback Jake Eskoff set it up with five straight pass completions and finished 17 of 23 for 165 yards.
Two plays later Quinn added his second fumble recovery, and Eskoff hit Brant Stare from 11 yards out for the 21-0 halftime lead.
Neuqua hit Metea with another 1-2 in the fourth quarter. Chevalier bounced outside for a 65-yard touchdown run. Within two minutes Wildcats defensive back Trevor Tesmond returned a Mustangs fumble 4 yards to net a 35-0 lead with 4:55 left to play.
Metea found the scoreboard with 2:43 left on Tate Smith's 72-yard touchdown reception from Garrett Despot.
"That first game, getting that first 'W' under our belt was good," said Wildcats coach Bill Ellinghaus. "I didn't think we were as crisp as we need to be, I think we've got a long way to go. I think you always make a huge jump from Week 1 to Week 2. We need to make that jump."