St. Charles North blanks St. Charles East
'Specials be special.'
Sammy DeDobbelaere was looking to give the St. Charles North football team any kind of boost he could Friday.
With the North Stars up a touchdown midway the second quarter, but struggling to sustain any offense, the senior punted a ball that seemed to just keep rolling.
A 66-yard boot was downed at the Saints' 1-yard line, changing the momentum for a North team that ran away from that point in a 34-0 rout of rival East in DuKane Conference play.
The punt came after East elected to have DeDobbelaere re-kick on fourth down after a penalty moved the North Stars back 10 yards.
"We always preach specials [special teams] be special," DeDobbelaere said. "It's all about the three phases of the game: offense, defense and specials. If we don't win on specials, it hurts our offense, it hurts our defense ... when we perform well on special teams, it helps the other two phases succeed."
The ensuing Saints possession was a 3-and-out, followed by a chaotic punt that went just two yards. Two plays later, North quarterback Michael Priami found Ryan Doherty for a 13-yard touchdown to push the North lead to 14-0.
The North Stars (2-1, 2-1 DuKane Conference) went on to score on four of their five second half possessions, while allowing just 21 total yards after the punt.
"[Sam] is such a fantastic athlete," North coach Rob Pomazak said. "He's just such a consistent player for us and that was really huge play for us ... I think the defense did a really nice job. There are a lot of things we have to shore up, but we'll take wins any time we can get them."
While a stellar performance by Jordan Nubin (47 total yards, three total touchdowns) keyed a stronger offensive second half of the game, it was the defense that really grabbed the brunt of the momentum from DeDobbelaere's boot.
Despite committing a season-high 16 penalties for 139 yards, the North Stars defense stood tall, forcing nine punts, a missed field goal, a turnover on downs and an interception on East's 12 possessions.
"I think all 11 guys playing together," North linebacker Dan Kowaleski said of the key to his team's defensive effort. "I think you honestly saw both sides of the ball get hyped up after that punt. Coach always preaches about special teams being special and I think tonight we were ... special."
Field position played a huge role after DeDobbelaere's punt as well.
East's average starting field position in the second half was its own 18-yard line, while North averaged starting its second half possessions on the Saints' 37-yard line.
North running back Josh Bridges finished with 130 yards on 15 carries -- a night that included a long touchdown being called back for a holding penalty. Both of Nubin's second half scores came from a direct snap out of the wildcat formation.
"I think any time you have a big play like that, it's important to keep the keep that momentum for as long as possible," Nubin said. "I think when we have momentum on our side, we're an unstoppable team. I think we need to clean some things up, like the penalties, because all that does is hurt ourselves and takes that momentum away."
A lone bright spot in the second half for the Saints, who completed just 1-of-23 passes Friday night, was a 15-yard fake punt run from punter Ryan Gerkin. The senior also had a 56-yard punt of his own late in the game.
After bouncing back from a loss to Batavia a week ago, North finished second in its division. The North Stars await the loser of Saturday's unbeaten showdown between Wheaton North and Wheaton Warrenville South next week.