Heading into Saturdays second-round Class 8A football playoff showdown at Oak Park-River Forest, the only blemish on Waubonsie Valleys record was a 35-34 loss in double overtime to District 204 rival Neuqua Valley on Oct. 5.
With the opportunity for a rematch against the Wildcats looming large, the Warriors came out and took care of business in impressive fashion on the road, capturing a 28-7 victory over the host Huskies in Oak Park.
No. 4 seed Waubonsie Valley (10-1), which advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time since 1994, will meet undefeated top seed and Neuqua Valley (11-0) next weekend.
It feels so good, said Waubonsie Valley running back Austin Guido. We are going to play Neuqua. Coach (Paul Murphy) promised us that if we kept playing well, we will get the rematch.
Guidos stellar play is one of the main reasons the Warriors are marching on. The senior piled up 234 yards on a season-high 40 carries and punched in 2 touchdowns. With the offensive line of Jackson Hynes, Noah Szott, Anthony Napolitano, Joe Rodriguez and Jon Harris opening holes, Guido punished would-be tacklers with interior runs and moves outside the tackles. He simply would not go down and kept churning away for yards. This season Guido has gained 2,236 yards and has 3,809 yards in varsity games.
On Waubonie Valleys second play of the game, Guido raced in from 41 yards for a touchdown, putting Oak Park (7-4) on its heels. After the next change in possession in the first quarter, he capped a 16-play, 70-yard drive that took 8:26 off the clock with a 1-yard plunge. Dominating the time of possession was key.
It really wears their defense down, said Waubonsie Valley quarterback Dylan Warden, who was elusive as well, running for 93 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown. We are gaining yards every play. It keeps our defense well-rested on the sideline. It works out well for us.
We knew that we had to put together these long drives, Guido said. (The Huskies) have a good offense. We had to keep them off the field and we knew if we kept our composure and run it down their throats, we knew we would be fine.
Running back Demario Webb also scored on a 12-yard run in the third quarter, finishing another clock eating drive.
They did a tremendous job of controlling the time of possession, said Oak Park coach John Hoerster. The thing they did so well is that they did what was working. They did not start throwing the ball all over the place.
They just kept running the ball and eating up the clock. We did not have many possessions in the second half. When we dont have the ball, we cant make plays.
For the Warriors, their defense stepped up too. Entering the game, Huskies back Jakari Cammon had more than 1,500 rushing yards. They limited him to 51 yards. He didnt score. The only one who did that was Jamal Baggett on a 23-yard run.
Waubonsie Valley defensive stalwarts such as ends Troy Fumagalli and Trevor Hardin and linebacker Hugh Griffin made big stops. Safety Christian Gibbs had two interceptions and cornerback Jeff Markhamn had a pick too.
I am proud of our kids, Murphy said. When you are in the second round of the playoffs, there are no bad teams. This was a big step for our program. I told the kids if we stay the course and do what we are supposed to do, you will get your rematch. The good news is that someone from (District) 204 will be playing in the semifinals the week after.
It will be two great football teams ready to do battle. It is going to be a great atmosphere for high school football. I hope everyone comes out to watch.