Balanced Waubonsie Valley rolls by Libertyville
With a balanced attack in the air and on the ground, the Waubonsie Valley football team got the job done Friday night at Libertyville in nonconference action.
The Warriors built a 20-6 halftime lead over the Wildcats before posting a convincing 40-20 victory to improve to 2-0 on the young season.
Senior quarterback Ethan Nelson (15-for-17, 202 yards passing) had a fantastic performance for Waubonsie Valley as he threw for 3 touchdowns while guiding the Warriors' offense to 21 first downs overall.
Libertyville (1-1) actually got on the scoreboard first when junior quarterback Blake Ellingson (14-for-22, 151 yards passing) hit teammate Sean Wittenbrink with a short pass early in the first quarter.
Wittenbrink slipped a tackle and went 64 yards down the left sideline for a 6-0 lead 2:39 into the contest.
The Warriors answered right back on their first possession as a 7-yard TD run by sophomore Antonio Torres (115 yards on 15 carries) capped a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive. The extra point by Alex Brots made the score 7-6.
On Waubonsie Valley's next drive, Nelson faked a handoff before hitting Sean Clinton in stride down the right sideline for a 33-yard TD play and a 14-6 lead six seconds into the second quarter.
"The offense stepped up big tonight, we were really prepared and played to our ability," said Nelson. "We have a balanced attack, everything is clicking right now, and whatever is working we're going to go with."
The Warriors boosted their lead to 20-6 when Torres scored on a 9-yard TD run late in the first half. Waubonsie Valley had a chance to score again with a first-and-goal from the 1. But the Warriors were stopped cold on a keeper by Nelson before a delay-of-game penalty and no timeouts left ultimately kept the score at 20-6.
"They're a good, solid team, they have a good mix of guys, but we didn't play to our potential," said Libertyville coach Mike Jones. "We've just got to be better fundamentally. We didn't block well or tackle, and we just didn't meet our goal on first down in the first half."
The Warriors boosted their lead to 27-6 when Nelson hit Demari Wilson with a 6-yard TD pass with 7:43 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats bounced back when Ellingson (49 yards on 18 rushes) scored on a 7-yard keeper. But a 30-yard TD pass from Nelson to Torres, who somehow stayed inbounds going down the right sideline, boosted the lead back to 34-13 late in the third quarter.
"We played a lot cleaner game than we did last week. I think you saw the output with us scoring six touchdowns," said Waubonsie Valley coach Paul Murphy, whose team had 437 total yards of offense. "Since last year he (Nelson) has probably progressed as well as any quarterback I've had in 30 years as coach."
Libertyville cut the gap to 34-20 when Ellingson scored on a 1-yard run with 6:04 to play before a 12-yard TD run by Waubonsie Valley's Josh Stevens with 31 seconds left closed out the scoring.
Waubonsie Valley's Bryce Logan (46 yards on 14 rushes) was solid in his first game back from ACL surgery in the offseason while Libertyville's Shaun Luce had 33 yards on 6 attempts.
"Our whole philosophy is take what the defense give us, and that was the point of emphasis all week," added Murphy. "I think we had a good mix of running and passing, I think now (Logan's) confidence is going to just grow."
After only 1 first down in the first half, the Wildcats' running game was much more effective in the second half as they wound up with 16 first downs overall.