Wheaton North starts fast, blows by Hoffman Estates
Not in our house. Not on this night.
That was the sentiment senior quarterback Mark Forcucci and his Wheaton North teammates had Friday night and they wanted to convey that message early and often to visiting Hoffman Estates in the Class 7A second round football playoff.
The Falcons scored a touchdown on their opening drive and then the defense stood tall with a pair of sacks that halted the Hawks' opening drive. That early play set the stage for an impressive 38-8 victory by 10-1 Wheaton North which heads onto the round three with a ton of confidence.
"We really wanted to come out and throw a haymaker right off the bat and set the tone in our house. To show how we come to play and we really did that tonight," said Forcucci, who completed his first 10 passes of the game and went 12-for-16 for 190 yards through two quarters as the hosts led 17-0 at the half. "Everyone just came out and played our game. At all the positions, the O-line up front they were just dominating. The receivers were catching everything when the ball came their way, the running backs ... everyone had a big night."
Hoffman Estates was looking to answer the Falcons first score -- a 4-yard touchdown catch by Ross Dansdill -- and did march down to the Wheaton North 13 before back-to-back sacks from Chuck Neidballa and Devon Neal put an end to that threat. The Falcons sacked Hawks quarterback Aidan Cyr six times in the game and also forced him to turn the ball over twice.
The high-scoring Hawks were blanked until late in Friday's contest after the Falcons had taken a 38-0 lead.
"We knew they were a very explosive team on offense so we knew a big thing for us was going to be putting points up on the board," said Forcucci. "And our defense they just played outstanding. Holding a team like this to 8 points is just absurd."
Hoffman Estates coach Tim Heyse knew the going could be tough on Friday. "Going into this we said we felt their defense is a state championship caliber defense," said Heyse, whose team won 8 games and claimed a share of its first-ever Mid Suburban West crown. "We had some big plays early but they didn't let us score. They got a quick score and then we shot ourselves in the foot."
Western Michigan recruit Jashawn Johnson had 9 catches for 151 yards including the late score for the Hawks, but Wheaton North's offense saw Forcucci pass for 203 yards and Luke Beedle and Walker Owens each run for a pair of scores.
Neidballa, the Falcons middle linebacker, said the team's bend but don't break defense was a key on Friday.
"Whenever we get in that kind of position we like to try and keep them out," he noted of the sacks that stopped Hoffman Estates first drive. "Three and outs are great and all, but we didn't give up any points until very late. We knew they had some great receivers and skilled position players. We were preparing all week to swarm to the football."