Book it: Wheaton North stops Lake Park
It was textbook Wheaton North football.
With half the chapters written by Sam Singleton and his punishing offensive line.
The senior running back rushed for 200 yards and all three of his team's touchdowns on 18 carries in Friday's 21-12 DuPage Valley Conference victory at Lake Park in Roselle.
His biggest run came with two minutes, 34 seconds left in the game when Singleton capped an 80-yard drive with a 23-yard burst to the end zone. When Trenton Hegranes booted his third extra point, it gave Wheaton North (4-1, 3-1) a victory-sealing, two-score margin.
Lake Park (2-3, 2-2) stalled on its last drive to all but end a very physical game. Just like the Falcons wanted.
"Each play we just want to pound it and wear down the defense," said Singleton, making sure to give credit to his linemen: Sam Odell, Richard Ficociello, Lucas Royer, John Willeford, J'Kolbi Grant and Logan Meyer.
"We know we've got big guys up front and they just keep grinding," he said.
It took only three plays for Singleton to put the Falcons on the board, rambling for a 60-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Lake Park kicker Zach Deardorff kept the Lancers close at 7-6 with field goals of 26 and 29 yards, but the inability to get in the end zone came back to haunt the Lancers.
"Early in the game our offense did a really good job of moving the ball up and down the field and sustaining drives," said Lancers coach Chris Roll. "That kept their offense off the field and got us some points, but it wasn't enough."
Wheaton North took a 14-6 lead to the half after Singleton's 35-yard touchdown run. Lake Park's defense took control in the third quarter, and Lancers quarterback Jackson Behles, who threw for 217 yards, connected with Johnny Pacione for a 30-yard touchdown.
Trailing 14-12 late in the third, the Lancers went for the 2-point conversion and the tie, but Wheaton North's defense held.
"If you win the physical battle, there's a good chance you're going to win the whole football game," said Falcons linebacker Bo Neidballa. "We try to bring our 100 percent every play."
Wheaton North can become playoff eligible with a win against Glenbard North next week, and a sixth win clinches the Falcons' first playoff berth since 2013.
"It's been a few years since we've had five," said Falcons coach Joe Wardynski. "So we're going to fight for a fifth one and see what happens from there."
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