Cesario, Downers Grove North take away win from Maine West
A big night on defense from Downers Grove North senior David Cesario led the Trojans to a Class 7A football playoff upset over Maine West.
Cesario had 3 interceptions as No. 27 seed Downers Grove North stunned the sixth-seeded Warriors 35-14 in Des Plaines.
Maine West scored first in the contest, then the Trojans reeled off 35 unanswered points before a late Warriors touchdown accounted for the final score.
"It was awesome to see David do that tonight," said Trojans quarterback Drew Cassens. "Last year he was primarily a JV guy, but seeing all the work he put in this off-season -- and then coming out in our first playoff game with 3 picks -- just made it so much better for us."
"David with 3 interceptions, that's unbelievable," said Trojans coach Joe Horeni. "He plays a lot of offense for us too and he did a fantastic job."
The Warriors turned the ball over five times in the game as they also lost two fumbles.
"Turnovers were huge," said Maine West coach Jason Kradman. "Our guys have been good for us all year but we just didn't play well tonight."
Maine West scored first, in the second quarter, when running back Zack Norman fumbled at the Trojans' 1-yard line but alertly fell on the ball in the end zone for a TD.
Downers North tied the game on a 92-yard tackle-breaking kickoff return for a touchdown by Jon Werthman. Then Cesario had two of his interceptions in the latter stages of the second period, and the Trojans took advantage.
Downers North running back Joshua Lumpkin scored on a 41-yard run right up the middle to give the visitors a 14-7 lead.
The Trojans took that lead into halftime, stopping Maine West on fourth down from the Downers North 5-yard line on the last play of the first half as Werthman broke up a pass headed for the end zone.
"At halftime we talked about the way the field was (sloppy due to snow and rain), and how that played to our strength of running the ball effectively," Horeni said.
Downers Grove North grabbed a 21-7 lead after three quarters when Cassens capped a long drive with a 1-yard TD plunge.
Then led by strong offensive line play, Downers North put the game away with two fourth-quarter scores.
First Cassens hit Ryan Schindler on a 12-yard play-action touchdown pass, then Werthman scored again on a 20-yard run.
Isaiah Siem-Davis had a touchdown for Maine West in the waning moments on an 8-yard run.
Maine West receiver Jaden Dolphin paced the Warriors on offense with 5 catches for 55 yards. Teammate David Jackson had 4 receptions for 29 yards.
Cassens rushed 23 times for 90 yards for Downers North. Lumpkin had 122 yards rushing on 21 carries.
"This was a great team win," said Trojans lineman Eric Goergen. "We all worked together, we played hard up front and played with heart all around. Great game by the defense, and on offense we knew we could run the ball. (Maine West) hadn't played a run-heavy team all year, and we planned well for this."
"Our kids did a phenomenal job taking the football away tonight," Horeni added. "I'm proud of them continuing to work hard and trying to get better every week."