Naperville Central grinds out rivalry triumph
It was a simple question put to Naperville Central running back Trevor Simpson.
Have you ever rushed for 100 yards or more in a game?
"I don't believe so," the senior said. "I'm not sure what I got tonight."
Simpson ran for 112 yards on 16 carries, he was told.
"That's great," Simpson said, a big smile creasing his face. "That's a great feeling."
Simpson and his teammates also enjoyed the feeling Saturday afternoon's 23-7 DuPage Valley Conference victory over Naperville North gave them.
"It feels amazing. I have some friends over there, and it's just bragging rights for a lifetime. That's what (coach Mike Stine) has been saying this whole week," he said.
The Redhawks (2-3, 2-0) leaned on their running game to earn the victory. Bruising junior running back Elijah Jordan added 81 yards on 10 carries, including a 33-yard touchdown run on the opening possession of the third quarter, and senior quarterback Sam Jackson juked his way to another 68 yards.
"We talked that we were going to come out and try to run the ball," Stine said. "We felt like the team that could run the ball best in this game would win the game. So we challenged our guys up front and we rotated the two backs."
"Holes were huge," Simpson added. "Me and Elijah were getting huge runs. We were just killing ourselves (with penalties) at the end."
Jackson also threw touchdown passes to Keon Green and Jadon Thompson. Aidan Ellison split the uprights on a 31-yard third-quarter field goal.
Naperville North (1-4, 1-1) stayed close with the Redhawks, who led just 7-0 at halftime.
"We were able to keep the ball out of there hands and those types of things," Naperville North coach Sean Drendel said. "We made a conscious effort to keep the ball out of their hands. We just weren't able to do enough."
"Their offense stayed on the field," Stine added. "I don't know what the play differential was, but I think in the second half we really only had the ball three possessions before the one right there at the end. Give them credit. Offensively, they did some things different and they ate up the clock and they kept our offense off. This game was a lot closer than the final score indicated. They've got some really nice players."
The Redhawks play at Neuqua Valley next Friday in a game that could decide the conference championship and ultimately whether Naperville Central makes the playoffs.
"There's definitely a lot of pressure with playoffs and just the long line of Redhawks teams that have been great," Simpson said. "But we're just focused, just trying to win the DVC. We win that then we're automatically in."