Wheaton Warrenville South still enjoying November
Wheaton Warrenville South proved it's no one-year wonder.
The Tigers are headed back to the Class 7A quarterfinals after Saturday's 28-7 victory over visiting Downers Grove North.
Locked in a tight football game, No. 22 WW South (8-3) opened it up with fourth-quarter touchdown runs by Prince Lankah and Jake Arthurs. The Tigers -- following up three straight two-win seasons with back-to-back quarterfinal appearances -- will play host to No. 3 Rolling Meadows (11-0) at 1 p.m. next Saturday.
"This is extremely important, for the younger classes especially," said Tigers linebacker Michael Rogers. "When I was a freshman and sophomore, I was going through the 2-7 years, but last year we made it to the playoffs and made a run. This year we're making a run.
"We've been picking up a lot of momentum," he said. "It's fun to play football in November."
Twenty-seventh seeded Downers North (6-5) stuffed the Tigers on fourth and goal from the 1 with just under 10 minutes to play. Trailing 14-7, the Trojans made it to their 30 before being forced to punt.
WW South took advantage three plays later when Lankah, who rushed for 69 yards, broke free for a 48-yard touchdown. With a 21-7 lead and 3:12 to play, the Tigers had run-heavy Downers North in a tough spot.
"Them scoring those two touchdowns at the end, I don't think that shows the story of the game," said Trojans coach Joe Horeni. "We certainly had a lot of opportunities to put some more points on the board.
"Like I said at the end of our meeting, this is the expectation," he said. "We make the playoffs, we win games in the playoffs and then we put a run together. Our younger guys know that now and our seniors showed them the way to do it."
Don't know if this went through. 41 yard TD pass from Brown to Olsen. pic.twitter.com/5joscjVPGu— Kevin Schmit (@kevin_schmit) November 9, 2019
Downers North turned the ball over on downs and Arthurs added a late 9-yard touchdown run to make it 28-7.
"We went into the playoffs with a chip on our shoulder," said Arthurs, who had 112 yards on 22 carries. "We knew teams were going to underestimate us. We're back to where we were last year and now we've got to go further. That's our goal."
The teams traded touchdowns on three straight first-quarter possessions. Arthurs scored on a 3-yard run but Trojans running back Josh Lumpkin answered with a 42-yard touchdown burst. The Tigers went ahead for good when Parker Brown found Jack Olsen in stride for a 41-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead that held until the fourth quarter.
Lumpkin rushed for 123 yards on 17 carries. Fellow senior Drew Cassens added 90 yards as the third-year starting quarterback closed the season with 1,513 rushing yards for the Trojans.
"It's a bittersweet moment," Cassens said. "Obviously, we would have loved to go further, but our goal all along was to make the playoffs. Not only did we make the playoffs but we moved past the first round and into the Sweet Sixteen. That just made it so much better for us."