Neuqua Valley enjoys role reversal against Waubonsie Valley
The family members congratulating Neuqua Valley coach Bill Ellinghaus said they saw it coming. Few others could have.
Ellinghaus' Wildcats were homecoming kings, defeating previously unbeaten Waubonsie Valley 47-16 in DuPage Valley Conference play Friday in south Naperville. Neuqua gained 451 yards against a Waubonsie defense that had allowed an average of 238.
"We felt like we did not play a good football game the last time we played them, we felt like we left a lot out there," Ellinghaus said of a 17-10 loss to the Warriors in Week 3. "So our kids took it personal all week long, and they came out and executed. Really, we executed as good as we've executed all year long tonight."
Countering Waubonsie Valley's successful, 11-play opening drive, capped by Cross Holmes' 25-yard field goal five minutes into the game, Neuqua Valley (4-2, 1-0) scored 40 straight points on a Warriors club that hurt itself with penalties.
"I thought we were going to have another tough game against them like we did last time. But once we started rolling, it was 20 to 3 at halftime, I knew the adrenaline was going to keep pumping and I knew we were going to keep going," said Wildcats quarterback Mark Gronowski, 12-of-15 passing for 177 yards and a touchdown and 86 yards rushing and 2 touchdowns.
Despite losing a fumble on Waubonsie's 3-yard line, Neuqua Valley scored on three other second quarter possessions. Will Chevalier scored on a 50-yard run and burrowed 1 yard under center Nolan Baker. Gronowski added a 2-yard bootleg run secured by receiver Brandt Stare's solid perimeter blocking.
"Some of these guys, I've been playing football with them since first grade," said Chevalier, who ran for 133 yards and added 62 yards receiving. "Senior year, one last ride with them, to be able to beat our rival school, I mean, there's nothing better than that."
On the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter, Gronowski angled his shoulders to the right then broke left. Ahead was 73 yards of grass and a 26-3 lead.
"I just tried to draw the defense to the right side so it opened up the left, and it did, and it worked. It was awesome," Gronowski said.
Scoring in each of the game's three phases, cornerback Jake Karaba returned his second interception of the game 31 yards for a touchdown. Waubonsie (5-1, 1-1) cut the deficit to 40-10 on Bryce Logan's 1-yard run only to see Stare return the ensuing kickoff 84 yards for a touchdown.
"I know that we knew we were going to beat them," Karaba said. "We didn't think it would be this much of a blowout, though."
Warriors quarterback Jack Drow, who had missed the prior game to injury, threw a bullet 5-yard touchdown pass to Ryan LeMoine as time expired.
"They didn't make any mistakes and we made a ton of mistakes, they outplayed us," coach Paul Murphy said. "We got a little full of ourselves and that's the result. You go 5-0, you think you've conquered the world. If that's a lesson that helps us down the road then that's a good lesson. If it doesn't help us down the road, then we've got issues."