Wheaton Academy on wrong side of fine line

  • Wheaton Academy's Trevor Donna holds onto the jersey of Bishop McNamara's Owen Jackson in a football game in West Chicago Thursday.

      Wheaton Academy's Trevor Donna holds onto the jersey of Bishop McNamara's Owen Jackson in a football game in West Chicago Thursday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton Academy's Alex Ventimilla makes a long gain against Bishop McNamara in a football game in West Chicago Thursday.

      Wheaton Academy's Alex Ventimilla makes a long gain against Bishop McNamara in a football game in West Chicago Thursday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton Academy's Masa Kasai stretches for Bishop McNamara's Tyler Hiller in a football game in West Chicago Thursday.

      Wheaton Academy's Masa Kasai stretches for Bishop McNamara's Tyler Hiller in a football game in West Chicago Thursday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton Academy's Shane Baumgarten looks for yardage against Bishop McNamara in a football game in West Chicago Thursday.

      Wheaton Academy's Shane Baumgarten looks for yardage against Bishop McNamara in a football game in West Chicago Thursday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton Academy's Stephen Garner is stopped by Bishop McNamara's Damien Thornton in a football game in West Chicago Thursday.

      Wheaton Academy's Stephen Garner is stopped by Bishop McNamara's Damien Thornton in a football game in West Chicago Thursday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • Wheaton Academy principal Kori Hockett sits on a camel at the fifty yard line before a football game against Bishop McNamara in West Chicago Thursday. It was part of Homecoming week activities.

      Wheaton Academy principal Kori Hockett sits on a camel at the fifty yard line before a football game against Bishop McNamara in West Chicago Thursday. It was part of Homecoming week activities. John Starks | Staff Photographer

  • The Wheaton Academy marching band percussion section makes an entrance to the field before a football game against Bishop McNamara in West Chicago Thursday.

      The Wheaton Academy marching band percussion section makes an entrance to the field before a football game against Bishop McNamara in West Chicago Thursday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 10/3/2019 11:39 PM

It can be a fine line between touchdown and incompletion, between getting off the football field on third down and not.

Wheaton Academy butted up against that line Thursday night against Bishop McNamara.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Right with the 2018 Class 4A runner-up physically and often inches away from executing big plays, on homecoming the Warriors fell 28-7 to Bishop McNamara in West Chicago.

"It's little things, right, it's those little margins that make for a victory or a loss," said Warriors coach Brad Thornton. "They did the little things, they got some breaks that went their way and we just didn't do what we needed to do in the moments that we needed to. Frustrating but still proud of the effort that our guys put in."

Things like allowing a 34-yard pass play on third-and-6, leading to Owen Jackson's 5-yard touchdown run on the first series for Bishop McNamara (3-3, 2-2 Metro Suburban Blue).

Like Warriors quarterback David Dorn's 19-yard pass into the end zone, a jump ball that could have been a second-quarter touchdown. Instead Brayden Smith intercepted for the Fightin' Irish.

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Or Jackson's second-quarter fumble at the goal line. Instead of Wheaton Academy (3-3, 0-2) recovering, the ball bounced right to McNamara tight end Brandon Courtney for the touchdown. Claudia Dolliger, a strong kicker, gave the Irish a 21-0 halftime lead.

In fact, hall of fame Irish coach Rich Zinanni delivered somewhat of a mixed postgame message. But after two straight losses in 31 total seconds, he'll take the win.

"I want to make sure they know that we're not the greatest team in the world right now," said the 45-year coach. "We won a football game, but we've got a lot of work to do."

Wheaton Academy's Stephen Garner tries to stay inbounds after being hit by Bishop McNamara's Tyler Hiller in a football game in West Chicago Thursday.
  Wheaton Academy's Stephen Garner tries to stay inbounds after being hit by Bishop McNamara's Tyler Hiller in a football game in West Chicago Thursday. - John Starks | Staff Photographer
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Bishop McNamara made it 28-0 on its first series of the third quarter -- one play after recovering its own fumble -- on a 47-yard run by Jackson.

On two of its next three series Wheaton Academy just missed connecting on touchdown passes, one from 13 yards out, the other from 43.

"It was just missed opportunities, some missed throws, dropped footballs, and then we just couldn't get off the field on third down," Dorn said. "We had a good week of practice, I think we just shot ourselves in the foot a lot of plays and that was kind of where we fell short."

The Warriors scored with 57 seconds left when Shane Baumgarten, at quarterback in his second game back from injury, scored on a 7-yard run. Lars Cassel added the kick.

"We just fought every play," said linebacker Trevor Donna, who made 6 tackles for loss and batted a pass that Jared Samuelson intercepted.

"We're going to come out here," he said, "work hard, try and get that 6-3 playoff spot. It's a challenge. Nothing's impossible."

The sportsmanship of both teams was impressive. Many times a player planted an opponent into the turf, then extended a hand to help him back up.

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