Naperville North outlasts WW South

By Ryan Wooden
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/21/2017 12:15 AM
  • Mark Black/mblack@dailyherald.comNick Vogel, Naperville North varsity football player during practice on August 14, 2017.

    Mark Black/mblack@dailyherald.comNick Vogel, Naperville North varsity football player during practice on August 14, 2017.

After decades as rivals in the DuPage Valley Conference, Naperville North and Wheaton Warrenville South will go their separate ways next year.

The Huskies will stay in the DVC and the Tigers will head to the new DuKane Conference, putting a spotlight on what could have been their last matchup.

In typical rivalry fashion the two sides fought until the bitter end, with Naperville North coming out on top with a 28-21 win.

Naperville North got the scoring started in the first quarter with a well-executed 13-play, 86-yard drive that ended in a Brett Strubecky 7-yard touchdown run.

However, Wheaton Warrenville South answered almost immediately when senior tailback Ryan Young took a 62-yard carry down to the 7-yard line on the next play from scrimmage. Just three plays later, Zach Harris found Jacob Odom in the corner of the end zone for a 4-yard touchdown strike.

Early in the second quarter, the Tigers took the lead when Harris found Odom again, this time for a 26-yard touchdown on a beautifully designed play that left Odom wide open.

"We threw a couple of post-corner routes -- I think they had a different kid out there other than the starter, I'm not sure if he was injured," Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch said. "So we were really happy with (the scheme offensively in the first half.)"

Late in the half, Naperville North put together a strong two-minute drill that ended in a 22-yard scamper by quarterback Drake Davis. The extra point tied the game at 14, but Wheaton Warrenville South wasted no time responding.

The Tigers put together a 6-play, 80-yard drive that took just 1:01. It culminated in a third touchdown pass from Harris to Odom to give the Tigers the 21-14 lead heading into the half.

At the half Naperville North coach Sean Drendel said the team had to make mental adjustments.

"We just had to play with a little more pride and play with a little more passion and just do what you're taught to do. I think that were conducive for us, which was helpful," Drendel said.

In the second half those simple mental adjustments helped the Huskies hold the Tigers to just 86 yards of total offense after surrendering 273 in the first half.

Offensively, Naperville North kept on trucking. They opened up the playbook to tie the game with a trick play that led to wide receiver Clifford Vickers throwing a 20-yard touchdown pass to Nick Calcagno.

They also dominated in the trenches with the offensive line paving the way for a pair of 100-yard rushers. Zdrubecky finished with 126 yards on 26 carries with 2 touchdowns, and Davis put up a whopping 220 yards on 16 carries with a score of his own.

"It's great. We know we've got great running backs and a great running quarterback in Drake and we've got to do our best to just give them the smallest holes because we know they can make something out of nothing," senior offensive lineman Nick Vogel said.

After the two teams traded a pair of punts to start the fourth quarter, the Huskies authored an 11-play, 59-yard drive that ate up 4:32 of game clock and gave them the lead on a Zdrubecky 1-yard scoring plunge. It was their third scoring drive of 10 or more plays on the day.

A Wheaton Warrenville South response ended in an interception, and Naperville North went on to drain the clock and are now looking ahead to the postseason.

"We just have to come out better. Against (Naperville) Central we came out really well, but in this game we came out a little flat so we've got to make sure we get off the bus and we're ready to play in the first quarter," Vogel said.

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