Downers Grove North keeps Downers Grove South off the scoreboard
A shutout victory over your cross-town rival is a great feeling.
The program's first 3-0 start since 2013, that's even better.
Behind a dominating defensive effort, Downers Grove North stayed undefeated to begin the 2021 season with a 7-0 road win against Downers Grove South on Friday.
The Trojans racked up five sacks and a pair of interceptions, the biggest coming when Thomas Williams picked off a pass in the second quarter with the Mustangs facing a second and goal from the 5-yard line.
"I have to hand it to my linebackers coach, coach (Bill) Kleckner," said Williams, who also had a sack late in the fourth quarter on the final drive for Downers Grove South. "He's been working so hard with us, coaching us, helping us out. And I have to give a special shoutout to our D-line.
"We knew we needed to play downhill. We knew they had Eli Reed in the backfield and we knew he is fast. So we had to play downhill and we did. We executed on defense and we shut them out. It was so much fun, I had a blast out there."
Holding Downers Grove South to a total of seven first downs, the Trojans' special defensive effort was needed on a night where their offense went the first 20 minutes without a first down of their own.
That came on Downers Grove North's final drive of the first half, which ended up spanning 80 yards on 10 plays, culminating in a 22-yard touchdown pass from Sam Reichert to Ethan Thulin.
That junior duo is a part of a group of eight players who got their first taste of varsity action as sophomores during the spring season that ended on April 23 with the Trojans defeating the Mustangs 23-7.
"These coaches do a great job of developing us," Thulin said. "We thought we could have done a little better last year (Downers Grove North went 1-3 in the spring season) so this year we have something to prove.
"We put ourselves in the game every time which sometimes is a good thing but also sometimes is a bad thing. Our expectations are high so we still have room to grow."
Joseph Chiarelli also had an interception for the Trojans while Alexander Kartsounes, Declan Moore, Dylan Wendt and William Janka added sacks.
"It was an awesome atmosphere," Downers Grove North coach Joe Horeni said. "Every year no matter what the records are, this game will be close. It doesn't matter what year it is.
"It was a great job by the kids and the defensive staff deserves a raise. It's awesome to be 3-0 and we are excited to get back to work."
Despite falling to 0-3, Downers Grove South still has a goal of winning its first conference title since 2013 as it starts West Suburban Gold play next week against Willowbrook. The Mustangs must first figure out things offensively, having failed to register a point thus far, albeit against a very challenging schedule.
The defense did its part on Friday with Matthew Wild picking off a pass and Jacob Diamantos and Mack O'Halloran registering sacks.
"We had a couple new D-linemen," Downers Grove South coach Mark Molinari said. "O'Halloran really stepped up. The defense really did some nice things, we just had that one bad drive at the end of the first half.
"The kids played hard. We've played hard and played some really good teams. We are just having trouble executing and keeping the penalty flags off the field. We've got to do a better job of executing, we had a lot of positive plays taken off. We got to get that fixed."
Normally a wide receiver, Reed lined up in the backfield as a new look and carried the ball 12 times. He also caught two passes for 26 yards.