Cassens, Downers Grove North show off aerial game vs. Addison Trail
Everyone knows Downers Grove North quarterback Drew Cassens can beat teams with his legs.
Addison Trail found out Friday night he can also win with his arm.
Cassens completed his first six passes, including a 51-yard touchdown strike to sophomore Adam Criter, in leading the host Trojans to a 41-0 win over Addison Trail at Carstens Field in Downers Grove.
The big throw came with 2:43 left in the first quarter and gave Downers North (2-0) a 20-0 lead. It was the first varsity touchdown for Criter, who capped the scoring when he returned the second-half kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.
"Obviously, we have a great quarterback in Drew," Criter said. "He can see the defense really well and he was hitting his spots tonight.
"I think his arm strength is amazing. I think he's underrated throwing the ball. People should give him more credit."
Addison Trail coach Paul Parpet Jr. did just that. He wasn't surprised to see Cassens, who also rushed nine times for 129 yards and 3 touchdowns, excel.
"He's their guy," Parpet said. "Our emphasis all week was we wanted to try to not let him beat us, and he did.
"He's a great athlete and a tough kid."
It was a tough night for the young Blazers (0-2), who were held to 146 yards of offense. Downers North scored on its first play from scrimmage when Josh Lumpkin sprinted 50 yards up the middle for a touchdown.
Cassens later scored on runs of 4, 10 and 62 yards, the last coming on a fourth-and-2 play from his own 38 with 35 seconds left in the first half. He was asked whether he's ever had such a good all-around performance.
"Not really, because last year it was usually I was either passing the ball well or running the ball well," Cassens said. "I feel like today this was probably the first time I've actually been able to combine both into one solid overall performance."
The Trojans have always been known for their ground game, which has been solid in the first two weeks. But their long-term success will be predicated on their ability to establish an aerial attack.
Criter, who caught 4 balls for 79 yards, could be a useful weapon.
"That was nuts," Cassens said of Criter's TD reception. "Coach (Josh) Croci, our wide receivers coach, before the game goes, 'We're going to run this play and Adam is going to be open on the vertical.'
"He was open on the vertical, so I hit him in stride and he did the rest."
Safety Mark Dennison had two interceptions inside his own 10 to lead Downers North's defense, which held the Blazers to 8 first downs.
"We're very young," Parpet said. "We knew going into the year that young kids equal a lot of growing pains.
"That's the story of our first two weeks. We've just got to keep chopping the wood, stay positive and keep getting better."