Hinsdale Central stuns Naperville Central
Heading into the 2019 season, the most important terms for most football teams were blocking, tackling, running, catching and scoring. For Naperville Central and Hinsdale Central, they were, respectively, "relocation" and "referendum."
The Redhawks' hopes this season were boosted by the transfer of four highly regarded receivers into the program, while the Red Devils were just happy to be playing after the passage of a referendum on April 2 saved the program from being shuttered.
If the early returns are any indication, it will be money well spent. The Red Devils completely shut down every aspect of the Redhawks offense on the way to posting a stunning 14-6 season-opening victory.
"We didn't think about (the referendum) at all, we just got in the weight room and got ready for the season," said senior defensive back Ryan Loughlin, who helped spearhead the defensive effort. "We had three rules tonight: one, stop their running game; two, get hits on their quarterback; and three, run to the ball on every play. I think we did a pretty good job on all three."
Indeed, the Redhawks (0-1) were limited to 77 yards rushing on 18 carries. Junior quarterback Sam Jackson was harassed into an 11-for-34 passing performance for only 93 yards, with 9 rushes for 1 yards and 3 sacks, and newcomers Jadon Thompson and Keon Green accounted for just 5 catches and 41 yards.
Offensively, the Red Devils (1-0) had their own problems with a Redhawks defense led by Shane Roth, Olen Nanninga and Ryan Lein, but two big plays were enough to win the game. The first came midway through the first quarter when quarterback Michael Brescia broke a pair of tackles at midfield and took off on a 61-yard scoring run that made it 7-3. The Redhawks had taken the early lead on Dylan Greenhagen's 27-yard field goal five minutes into the contest.
Greenhagen's 23-yard field goal following Shane Roth's blocked punt made it 7-6 at halftime. That's where the score stood as the clock crept toward two minutes to play. Facing third-and-7 from their own 43, and with the Redhawks out of timeouts, a run looked like the safe call, but after Brescia faked a pitch he floated a 57-yard scoring pass to Braden Contreras to establish the final score.
"We had been scheming for that all game and it finally opened up and 'Bresh' got it to me," Contreras said. "All props to him and the line for the blocking."
The victory was the first for Brian Griffin, a former Red Devil linebacker making his head-coaching debut.
"(The Redhawks) do everything great programs do and this is how you find out who you are and it's a great win," he said. "It's a great way to start the season."
For the other Central, coach Mike Stine knows it will take some more time to integrate all of the talent, both old and new, into a cohesive whole.
"It is a process," he said. "We have new pieces and it's my job to get them on the same page and I have to do a better job of that. We'll get back to the drawing board and get better next week."