Naperville North 'fantastic' in victory vs. Benet

By Gregg Voss
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 8/28/2021 1:16 PM

The first thing you learn about Naperville North senior running back Ethan Robert is he's, well, gregarious.

He's not afraid to tell it like it is, and he did just that after the Huskies' 35-13 season-opening win over Benet on Friday.


"I'm running behind a fantastic line," he said, raising an octave on the "fantastic."

"They're making great holes, they're pushing their D ... It was too easy, honestly. I was following where they wanted me to go and I was putting my head down and running hard, like I'm supposed to."

Robert rushed 26 times for 161 yards and 3 touchdowns, including one from 53 yards out in the second quarter that put Naperville North up 21-6. And Robert and his mates never looked back.

That 53-yarder, with 3:46 in the first half, was broken open by senior lineman Jack Wachtel.

"That was with this guy right here," Robert said, motioning to Wachtel. "He opened the floodgates. The hole was too big. I couldn't miss it. I cut left and it was open for me."

His coach, Sean Drendel, had plenty of nice things to say about his star postgame.

"He had one great game last spring and I think he's going to have a huge year for us," Drendel said. "He's even a better person."

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Winning for the Huskies might not have been as seamless as Robert made it sound, especially when the defense had to contend with a fierce runner in Benet senior Carson Forney. He rushed 18 times for 153 yards and added a 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that pulled the Redwings to within 7-6.

Ultimately, Robert and Forney fought a battle of wills.

"The offensive line was getting to their blocks very easily," Forney said. "Just being able to see where the linebackers were coming from allowed me to make a move off my linemen, setting up a block and getting into the second level."

Although it was a tough loss, in a game played at Benedictine University, Benet coach Pat New also had high praise for his alpha running back.

"Really tough running," New said. "He's one of those warrior kids, man. He plays hard, he plays both ways, he's well conditioned. He's one of our top guys, for sure."

Robert wasn't the only offensive weapon Drendel had at his disposal Friday. Consider junior quarterback Aidan Gray, who connected with sophomore Luke Williams on a 77-yard scoring pass five plays into the game.

Later, Gray and Williams connected again, this time from 29 yards. All told, Williams had three catches for 110 yards and those two touchdowns.

Benet was led by senior receiver Ryan Snell with four catches for 55 yards.

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