The high school football season is going fast and after this weekend, one-third of it is already in the books.
Host Glenbard North easily dispatched West Chicago 42-0 on Friday night in the DuPage Valley Conference opener for both teams and at this point of the schedule, the Panthers stress they need to continue to improve. But when you are 3-0, you are not in need of an overhaul, maybe just a little fine-tuning.
"We feel we've progressed. But we know we have to improve," said sophomore Justin Jackson, who scored the Panthers' last touchdown of the evening. "The next five, six games are going to be real tough. We're going for the DVC title. That's our goal. Taking it one game at a time."
Quarterback Ryan Murphy, who scored 2 touchdowns, said there were mistakes made against the 0-3 Wildcats, and the team will look at game tape and correct them. But he feels confident about what the team can achieve.
"After three games we're pleased with how we have been able to put up over 40 points in each one. The defense has two shutouts. I like this team. I think we can be dangerous," Murphy said.
The Panthers had this one done in less than two hours after speeding away from the Wildcats early, thanks to 3 West Chicago fumbles that each resulted in a Glenbard North touchdown.
The first fumble came less than a minute into the game, and when Justin Jackson grabbed it the Panthers were on the Wildcats' 28-yard line. The team move the ball in six plays, capping the effort when Phil Jackson ran it in from the 8 for the first of his 3 rushing touchdowns.
West Chicago punted to end its next possession and again Glenbard North showed good ball control. But Murphy went for the big play on a 33-yard draw and with Trevor Hackett's second of six extra points on the night, the Panthers were up 14-0.
Phil Jackson scored his second touchdown, on a 5-yard run, with 8:48 left until halftime and then Glenbard North converted two more Wildcats turnovers into touchdowns.
Nicholas Maxwell recovered a fumble that set up Phil Jackson's last TD of the night, a 1-yard run, and James Vegrzyn scooped up the last one. That led to Murphy's 16-yard TD run with 4:58 remaining until intermission.
The Panthers ate almost 3½ minutes of the remaining clock to drive again deep into Wildcats territory. Phil Jackson came up with the big play on a 32-yard gain. Two plays later he appeared to have hurt a foot and was taken out. But with the score so lopsided, his night would be done anyway.
Enter his brother, Justin, who finished off the drive with a 5-yard trek to the end zone.
"I love playing with Phil. It's always been a dream of mine to play with him," Justin said.
Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens said everyone on the team, health-wise, should be ready for next Friday's trip to Glenbard East. That includes the defense, which held West Chicago to just 4 yards in the first quarter, 40 yards for the game. Wilkens said defensive play like the Panthers have shown helps the offense.
"When you go out and the defensive plays as well as we do, that allows the offense to take chances," he said.
Quarterback Matt Green's 20-yard run during the third quarter was the biggest play of the night for West Chicago, which returns home to host Wheaton North next Friday.