Wheaton North stuffs Joliet Catholic
Wheaton North senior linebacker Danny Walker had an especially long wait to enjoy what happened Friday.
Injured all of the 2015 season, the Nevada football recruit could only watch as the Falcons lost to perennial power Joliet Catholic for the second straight year.
On Friday the third-year varsity player had 2 sacks as the Falcons' convincingly turned the tables for a 37-7 nonconference victory in Wheaton.
"Everything's just crazy. We had some ups and downs but overall it was a great game by both sides of the ball," Walker said.
"It was almost the complete opposite of the game two years ago (a 41-13 loss). They totally ran all over us, but this time we held our ground. I know they punted a lot (seven times) and it was just amazing."
Junior Sam Singleton rushed for 184 yards and 4 touchdowns as the Falcons (2-0) scored on their first three possessions for a 16-0 lead.
The defense had four straight three-and-outs during a first half in which the Falcons allowed just 83 yards and recorded four of their seven sacks.
The Hilltoppers (0-2) nearly had the game's final score with 7:39 left, but the defense caused a fumble at the 1 that the Falcons' Charlie Hill recovered in the end zone.
"It would be hard to judge which is more satisfying, but whenever you play a team of their caliber and hold them to one score, that's a great accomplishment for our defense," Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski said.
The Hilltoppers didn't go quietly. The Falcons lost fumbles on consecutive possessions and the Hilltoppers cut the deficit to 16-7 with 3:16 left before halftime on a 35-yard TD pass.
After another three-and-out, the Falcons got the ball at the Hilltoppers' 40 with 32.8 seconds before halftime and reached the 6 after back-to-back pass interference penalties trying to defend Andrew Lauber along with an unsportsmanlike penalty.
Quarterback Luke Anthony hit Lauber for a TD on the next play with 18.2 seconds for a 23-7 halftime lead.
"That (score) was really big. I really liked that, especially being on defense," Walker said.
After the Falcons had consecutive three-and-outs to begin the season opener with Wheaton Warrenville South, they started with a 58-yard TD drive Friday with all but 9 yards from Singleton. His third score came from the 6 in the third quarter after Anthony's fourth-and-11 completion to the 19 with Jack Bennett, who delivered the key block on Singleton's 37-yard TD run in the second quarter.
Singleton praised the line of Bob Wall, the lone returning full-time starter, Harrison Rozwat, Ryan Lawlor, J'Kolbi Grant, Connor Tegtmeier, Keith Klein, Tyler Johnson and Michael Gehl.
"It's just good blocking up front," Singleton said. "The guys up front put in a lot of work. It's all about them."
After back-to-back seasons starting 0-2, Wheaton North is 2-0 for the first time since its 2013 Class 7A quarterfinal team. Joliet Catholic is 0-2 for the first time since 2008.
"We didn't have those smiles on our faces the last couple of years after the first couple of games," Wardynski said. "It's nice to see them feel good about themselves, but they know the caliber of teams we're going to play is going to be very high throughout the year. You can't take a week off."