Downers Grove North tops York for fifth win
Win and go to the dance and don't worry about things like seeds and records.
That was the motto for Downers Grove North heading into Friday's football regular-season finale with York with a 4-4 record and no plans to miss out like last year's 4-5 team.
The Trojans did indeed take care of business with a 24-6 defeat of the visiting Dukes and with the way the defense played, the team now has visions much grander than just making the playoffs.
An early fumble recovery led to quarterback Jack Carr's 1-yard touchdown. Later in the opening quarter running back Drew Shelly took a screen pass from Carr and broke a couple tackles on the way to a 30-yard score and a 14-0 lead.
The defense blanked the Dukes until a late 60-yard pass from running back Adam LaBarge to Joseph Chiappetta got York on the scoreboard with 1:21 left in the game. The Trojans defense also did some scoring of its own when Jason Bell turned his second interception of the night into a 21-yard touchdown return for a 24-0 lead with less than three minutes to play.
"Coming in here in August, this is all we talked about, making the playoffs," said Carr, who completed 6 of 12 passes for 78 yards and 1 touchdown. "A lot of people didn't think we could do it. Coming out here, practicing hard every day, that was our main goal. For us to accomplish it, that's unbelievable. It's an unbelievable feeling to be playing quarterback for this outstanding program."
With the win Downers Grove North will take a 5-4 record into Saturday night's playoff pairings announcement, expecting it has enough playoff points to make the cut. If it does qualify it likely will get a top seed, but the program is not afraid of facing top teams, not with the schedule it plays during the season.
"We're going to be a low seed and we're going to get a high seed but we've done that before," Trojans coach John Wander said. "We beat No. 1 seeds in 2012 and 2013 so our kids will be ready to go. We feel our conference is tough and that anybody who makes it out of here will be ready."
The Dukes had less at stake with a 1-7 record going into the game, but they played hard throughout, especially on defense. After the hosts took that 14-0 lead in the first quarter, York limited them to just a field goal over the next three quarters before Bell's interception return made the score 24-0.
"We did (play hard), we just couldn't get anything going offensively," Dukes coach Matt Monken said. "They played really well on defense, but our defense definitely played tough and our seniors hung in there and played it out."
Carr was thrilled to see his defenders shine, especially Bell with the picks and linebacker Blake Davis swarming to the ball all night.
"I've never seen the defense play that well. When they start playing it's a scary sight to see," Carr said. "We knew every single team we played was going to be tough. Records don't mean anything. They're here to play. They put the pads on the same way we do.
"We finally hit that peak, with the (Lyons Twp.) game and Oak Park. We're moving pretty fast right now and I don't think there's a lot of teams that can stop us out there."