Much of the attention directed around Naperville Central's football team has been pointed at the offense and rightfully so, but the defense is a big reason why the Redhawks will be making a return to the postseason.
The Redhawks capped the regular-season with a 42-7 win against DuPage Valley Conference foe West Chicago much to the delight of the homecoming crowd on Friday night at Memorial Stadium.
Running back Matt Randolph registered another stellar night as carried the ball nine times for 138 yards and 5 touchdowns to bring his touchdown total this season to 17.
"What can you say about Matt?" asked Central defensive lineman Cody Campbell. "He is a great runner and he was outstanding tonight."
A big reason Randolph had chances to be successful was the fact the Redhawks' defense wouldn't allow the Wildcats any breathing room, which allowed it to get the ball back to the offense. West Chicago was limited to 163 yards of total offense, with a majority of those yards coming once the game was in hand. The Redhawks also forced two turnovers.
Naperville Central scored on two of its first three offensive plays to lead 14-0 thanks to scoring runs of 56 and 6 yards by Randolph.
By the time West Chicago recorded its initial first down of the game, the Redhawks led 21-0.
Campbell accounted for the lone non-Randolph touchdown when he picked up a fumble and rambled 25 yards for the touchdown with 7 minutes, 43 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
"We came out and we were focused," Campbell said. "The coaches had us ready for (West Chicago's) triple-option attack. The most important thing is that we played a good, clean game and got the victory."
It would have been easy for the Redhawks (6-3, 5-2) to have a letdown of sorts after recording an emotional win against Naperville North a week ago and with a first-round playoff game looming next weekend, but Naperville Central played sharp.
"(Coach) Mike Stine kept reminding us to stay on the task at hand and we did that," Campbell said.
Randolph added scoring runs of 28, 3 and 43 yards to make it 42-0 with 9:30 remaining in the third quarter, which put a running clock in motion.
The Wildcats did piece together a 13-play, 79-yard drive in the second half, which was capped off by a Miguel Flores 2-yard scoring run to provide West Chicago with its lone points of the game.
The Wildcats finished the season at 1-8 overall and 1-6 in the DVC.
"I'd be lying if I didn't say that we are disappointed," West Chicago coach Paul Reinke said. "Our kids fought hard through every game we were just outmatched in a lot of our games. We didn't lose to any slouches that is for sure."