Wheaton North deals knockout blow to Waubonsie Valley
Wheaton North finished its finest regular season since 2013 by eliminating Waubonsie Valley from the playoffs for the first time since 2006.
Wheaton North's 20-10 victory Friday at Rexilius Field moved the host Falcons to 7-2 overall and 6-2 in the DuPage Valley Conference, behind only Naperville Central.
A year ago, Waubonsie Valley (4-5, 4-4) dealt the knockout blow.
"We were both 4-4 going into Week 9 of last year so pretty much winner made it in the playoffs. And they beat us 17-14. I still remember exactly what I was feeling that day. I was just coming back with a vengeance today," said Wheaton North safety and kicker Trenton Hegranes, who intercepted 3 passes and booted field goals of 42 and 23 yards.
"It was a nice way to cap a great regular season for us," said Falcons coach Joe Wardynski. "We've had a couple somewhat lean years and so for us to win 7 games this year in the regular season is great."
In a choppy game that produced 22 penalties split equally, Waubonsie Valley owned the first quarter and led 3-0 on Cross Holmes' 29-yard field goal at 11:49 of the second quarter.
Wheaton North's Sam Singleton, who ran 19 times for 110 yards, gained a Falcons lead on an 11-yard touchdown run behind J'Kolbi Grant. Waubonsie followed with a promising drive stalled by penalties.
"That's kind of how it's been the whole season," said Warriors cornerback Derric Lee. "When we're going well everything's perfect, running smooth. But once the mistakes start coming that's just killer for our team."
Wheaton North capitalized. Taking over with 1:55 left before halftime quarterback Rhett Netzer completed 7 of 9 passes for 75 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown pass to Singleton for a 17-3 halftime lead.
"We knew we were straining for time, so we knew we had to throw the ball a little bit," Netzer said. "We came out and made some plays and punched it in at the end."
Hegranes' first interception led to his 42-yard field goal out of Hunter Bonga's hold, but Waubonsie countered with a 26-yard Tanner Westwood touchdown pass to Harper Cole to pull within 17-10 at 4:35 of the third quarter.
Hegranes interceptions ended Waubonsie's next two possessions -- "just reading routes, I guess," he said -- and he kicked a 23-yard field goal with 3:53 left to play.
"Have to give it to Wheaton North," Waubonsie coach Paul Murphy said. "They outplayed us, they outperformed us. They didn't make mistakes, we did, as simple as that. I feel bad for our seniors."
One of them, two-way lineman and team co-captain Connor Forrest, went out with a leg injury late in the first quarter.
"I told all the juniors and the sophomores, I'm not going to the playoffs, but I did everything in my power to do so. We can get back on track, and they can go to the playoffs," he said.