Naperville Central remains perfect
Aidan Ellison was worth his weight in gold Friday night at Metea Valley.
The Naperville Central place-kicker, bound for Arkansas State, certainly illuminated the centrality of field position in a football game.
The Redhawks put on a special-teams exhibition in their latest DuPage Valley Conference victory as Ellison had all seven of his kickoffs find the end zone in a 42-7 victory in Aurora.
"He is one of the best kickers in the country," Naperville Central coach Mike Stine said of Ellison. "When teams have to go 80 yards it's hard at any level. It's really hard in high school, especially against a defense like ours. Our front seven is outstanding."
Naperville Central (5-0, 4-0) had a comfortable four-score lead at halftime as Metea Valley (0-4, 0-4) had few options of flipping the field.
The Redhawks chalked up 16 yards in losses on the Mustangs' 10 first-quarter plays from scrimmage.
Ellison ensured the Redhawks would have plenty of advantageous positions to start their four first-half touchdowns.
"I feel like we have won every field-position game we have had this year," Ellison said of Metea Valley having seven drives start at its own 20-yard line. "We practice a lot on special teams. It's one of the biggest strengths on our team. We have been winning special teams each and every week."
Ellison did not have to wait long to loosen his powerful right leg as Naperville Central quarterback Owen Prucha found Northwestern-bound wideout Reggie Fleurima on a gorgeous 30-yard connection four plays into the game.
It would be the first of three touchdown passes for Prucha.
Jaden McGill was the Redhawks' primary option on the ground.
McGill had back-to-back touchdowns from a yard and 20 yards out to boost the Redhawks' lead to 21-0 in the second quarter.
The only drive Metea Valley did not start from the designated touchback spot came after a second-quarter fumble recovery in plus territory.
But Naperville Central not only forced a three-and-out but Peter Orlandino further showcased the Redhawks' excellence on special teams with a blocked punt.
"We take special teams very serious," Orlandino said. "The coaches tell us to play fast and hard. I got in there and was able to make a play."
Luke Roy had a 39-yard catch and run for the Redhawks' fourth first-half score. McGill finished his night with a 25-yard scoring reception; Niko Gordon later initiated a running clock with his 8-yard run.
Alex Cleveland averted a shutout for Metea Valley with a 20-yard touchdown reception from Logan Frederick in waning moments.
Jalen Johnson also played admirably for the Mustangs.
"We just kept our nose to the grindstone," Cleveland said of the Mustangs playing hard until the final whistle. "It was a good effort from everybody."