Friday night's rainy conditions at Neuqua Valley presented the perfect opportunity for the Wildcats to unleash their "thunder and lightning" running game on visiting St. Charles North.
Behind the bludgeoning bursts of Joey Rhattigan and the slithery streaks of Danny Dudek, the Wildcats (2-1) rolled up 363 rushing yards in a 43-3 Upstate Eight Conference crossover victory over the North Stars.
According to Rhattigan, whose 202 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns represented personal bests, the outburst was a direct result of the licking the Wildcats took the previous week against Naperville Central.
"Our mindset was to come in and redeem ourselves," Rhattigan said. "Naperville Central played a great game last week and punched us in the mouth. But we had a great week of practice and came out and got redemption tonight."
Belying the final score, it was actually the North Stars (0-3) who had the game's earliest scoring opportunities. St. Charles North moved the ball inside the Neuqua 35 on its first two possessions, but both ended in punts. After Rhattigan's 35-yard run opened the scoring, Oshay Hodges returned the ensuing kickoff 46 yards and George Edlund followed with a 46-yard run to the Neuqua 10, but the best St. Charles North could manage from there was Mike Schroeder's 28-yard field goal that made it 7-3.
Things began to unravel for the North Stars after that as Rhattigan added 7- and 4-yard scores on Neuqua's next two possessions before a St. Charles North intentional grounding penalty in the end zone gifted the Wildcats a safety and a 22-3 lead.
The North Stars did have a couple more chances in the first half but could manage just 2 yards on 4 plays after Nick McCullough's 38-yard punt return set them up at the Neuqua 17. Then Nick Boudreau's 26-yard completion to Shane Langton enabled the Wildcats to escape from deep in their territory late in the half, and after Dudek's 22-yard run, he barged in from the 2 with 23 seconds left for a 29-3 halftime edge.
Rhattigan closed his big night by carrying a St. Charles North defensive back for 10 yards before shaking him off and completing a 67-yard scoring sprint in the third quarter, with backup quarterback Andrew Dylan weaving 35 yards to close the scoring with nine minutes to play.
For the Wildcats it's on to Upstate Eight Valley Division play next week at East Aurora, while St. Charles North initiates River Division action at Streamwood.
"It's going to be a tough conference this year," Rhattigan said. "We just have to come out and have great weeks of practice the rest of the season."