For his final regular-season home football game Friday, Glenbard North senior Anthony Marre again was fueled by special teammate bonds.
He and the Panthers aren't about to let go just yet.
"I tried to keep my emotions separate from the team because we do have a goal to make the playoffs," Marre said.
With their 42-0 DuPage Valley Conference victory over Metea Valley in Carol Stream, the Panthers (4-4, 3-4) now must win their regular-season finale at Neuqua Valley (5-3, 4-3) for a chance to reach the playoffs for the third year in a row.
"It's going to be a tough game," Marre said. "We're going to just have to prepare tough, just play like we know how to play."
In their second year together in the Panthers' 4-3 linebacking corps, Marre and junior Mike Wellman were big contributors on both sides of the ball.
Marre rushed for a varsity single-game best 65 yards and 2 TDs after scoring on a 21-yard run earlier this season against Wheaton Warrenville South.
Wellman also played tight end and caught his first varsity TD pass, a 22-yarder from quarterback Lee Rady for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
"I haven't played a lot of tight end this year. (Rady) gave me a corner route and no one really guarded me," Wellman said.
"(Wellman) blocked well also for us," Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens said. "We do ask quite a bit of our guys to go both ways and this week Anthony and Wellman did a (heck) of a job for us."
Defensively, Glenbard North held the Mustangs (0-8, 0-8) to 117 total yards and 9 first downs -- all of them in the second half after 12-net yards at halftime.
The Panthers also had 4 interceptions, starting with two in the first half by Jabari Fitzpatrick and Jayleen Fitzpatrick off a deflection by Josh Flowers. The last two were returned for touchdowns in the final 2:15 -- 87 yards by Maksym Shersen after the Mustangs had their deepest drive to the Panthers' 21, and 48 yards by junior George Marre, Anthony's brother.
"It was amazing. I was coming down (watching) on the sidelines and I saw him take off and I knew it was a touchdown from there," Anthony Marre said.
"Our defense is like we play our best when we come together as a team," Wellman said. "If (Anthony and I) can encourage others to play as a team, that's when we're good."
It was once again running back by committee with Mark Finley, who had a team-best 93 yards, Jayleen Fitzpatrick and Cusumano joining Marre. Fitzpatrick carries converted fourth-and-2 and fourth-and-1 at the 26 on the first scoring drive, which began when Wellman's punt was muffed and recovered by the Panthers' Ricardo Thompson at the Metea 47.
Most of the Mustangs' offense came from receiver Adam Nicodemus, who caught 8 second-half passes from starter Patrick Straub and Brandon Hing for 63 yards. Bryan Francisco recovered a third-quarter fumble caused by Penn State recruit Bryce Effner.
Metea will end its season with a first-time nonconference visit to Rock Island.
"A team we've never played before. We hop on the bus Friday and get out of a little bit early and take a trip and go have some fun," Metea coach Ben Kleinhans said. "It's our last week together. They'll show up, they'll work hard like they have all year and we hope to go win a football game."
Marre scored first on a 30-yard run by cutting back on a key block by Jose Vazquez. Marre scored again 20.6 seconds before halftime for a 21-0 lead by racing from the 1 around left end and reaching the near corner of the end zone.
Cusumano scored his first offensive touchdown on a 27-yard run in the third quarter. He also had a pick-six touchdown earlier this season.
"We ran the ball well. Lee threw the ball well. We got some guys open on play-action pass," Wilkens said. "(We) finished drives, didn't turn the ball over, things we've been striving to do all year."