Though Friday night's varsity edition of Larkin at West Chicago wasn't the score-a-palooza that the 51-34 sophomore win by Larkin was, the end zones weren't bored.
West Chicago fought to a 16-12 halftime lead, but Larkin pulled away in the final 24 minutes to win 18-16, spoiling the Wildcats' home opener.
"We started off slow. I hope that's not our M.O. for the year," Royals coach Mike Scianna said. "Our seniors stepped up in the second half and got us back into the game and kept us in the game."
Two of those seniors were quarterback Kyle Newquist and receiver Justin Banks. Newquist was 11 of 15 for 217 yards. Eight of those passes were caught by Banks for 206 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"Early in the game you can't get down. I trust all the guys to do their jobs," Newquist said. "I was confident that we could come back in the ball game. Coming back from two scores."
The Royals (1-1) were down 13-0 when Mo Jackson ran in from the 1-yard line with 7:15 left until intermission. Just about three minutes later, Banks caught his first scoring grab on the second play of a drive, a 36-yard reception that cut the West Chicago (0-2) lead to 13-12.
Just 51 seconds into the second half, it was Banks again, grabbing a Newquist pass and turning on the afterburners for a 76-yard touchdown that the Wildcats couldn't overcome.
Both teams' running games were flat in the first half and the Royals and Wildcats went to the air.
West Chicago quarterback Matt Green was 4 of 6 during the first two quarters and his 11-yard toss to Zach Doell with 2:33 left in the first quarter put his team up 6-0.
Two 18-yard tosses to Alec Stratchota helped set that score up and later Keneen Freeman's 27-yard field goal that ended the first half.
Between those scores Green converted on a 12-yard keeper on the first play of the second quarter that gave the Wildcats the two-score lead.
The Royals finally come home this Friday as they enter league play against Batavia.
"If we play solid, like we did in the second half, and shut these teams down, we will do well," Newquist said.
Meanwhile, for West Chicago and coach Paul Reinke, there was improvement over the 42-0 season-opening loss at Addison Trail. And more improvement will be needed as the Wildcats open DuPage Valley Conference play next week at DVC power Glenbard North.
"I felt we were playing more to our capability. There were a couple of critical mistakes, but the kids stayed in the game. Both teams played hard," Reinke said.