Defense carries St. Charles North over Wheaton North
The St. Charles North defense went the distance in a 17-3 victory over visiting Wheaton North in the DuKane Conference debut for both football teams Friday.
The North Stars avoided the type of late-game defensive breakdown they experienced a week earlier at Bolingbrook, when they led by 14 points late in the third quarter only to lose by 10.
With the scored tied 3-3 at halftime, the Wheaton North defense forced 3 straight, third-quarter turnovers. However, the Falcons were unable to do anything offensively against the swarming North Stars.
"After last week, giving up a few big plays, we just had to limit that," St. Charles North senior free safety Egon Hein said. "I wouldn't say we were playing conservative, but we didn't want to have any big plays."
Wheaton North (1-2, 0-1) took the ball away from St. Charles North (2-1, 1-0) on third-quarter interceptions by junior Xander Mueller and sophomore Riley Dravet, which bookended a fumble recovery by senior Sam Chesney.
However, the Falcons could not capitalize. They fumbled the ball back after the first interception and went three-and-out after the other two turnovers.
Wheaton North was limited to 181 total yards, 118 via the ground game. Junior quarterback Nathan Love gained 66 yards on 19 carries. Junior running back Stephen Garner rushed 18 times for 52 yards. The Falcons' only points came courtesy of Love's 35-yard field goal that knotted the score at 3-3 with 5:04 left in the second quarter.
"We held them to 17 and got 3 turnovers in a row in the second half and could do nothing with it," Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski said. "We were completely inept offensively. That's my side of the ball so I take the blame for that. I thought our coaches on the defensive side did a really good job of getting our kids ready for their scheme. Offensively, we came out and just completely laid an egg. Some of it was missed assignments, poor communication, lack of blocking. We did just about everything wrong that you could do on the offensive side of the ball and I'll take the responsibility for that."
St. Charles North offensive linemen Alex Westendorf (6-foot-4, 285 pounds), Johnny Ambrogio, Nick Smith, Matt Fell and Joe Duhownik and Carmine Bastone cleared the way for 233 rushing yards. Senior Sam DeMarco was a battering ram all night long. He carried 24 times for a career high 150 yards.
Senior Tyler Nubin helped the North Stars surge to the lead with 2 fourth-quarter touchdown runs out of the wildcat formation. The Minnesota recruit capped a 63-yard, 9-play drive with a 10-yard burst right up the middle to stake St. Charles North to a 10-3 lead with 11:19 left.
"I have to give credit to our line," said Nubin, who rushed 7 times for 71 yards and 2 touchdowns. "They really opened up a hole and it was just green straight to the end zone."
Nubin made it a 2-score spread on his team's ensuing drive when he took a direct snap, bounced to the outside and raced 24 yards to the end zone. His touchdown finished off a 10-play, 72-yard march that was given new life by a pass interference penalty against the Falcons on third-and-15 at the Wheaton North 41.
"We battled through, stuck together as a team and really kind of showed what kind of team we're going to be when we make that deep run through the playoffs," said Westerdorf, a South Dakota State recruit.