Neuqua Valley collects another shutout to remain unbeaten
After going up against his own team's defense all the time on the practice field, Neuqua Valley running back Jaden McGee is never surprised to see how well they play against opponents' offenses.
So when the Wildcats blanked their second straight opponent Friday night -- a 28-0 DuPage Valley Conference win at Waubonsie Valley -- McGee chalked it up to just more of the usual stellar play from the likes of defensive end Gabe Willis, linebacker Palmer Domschke, who tweeted a commitment to play at Western Michigan on Friday, and a secondary that makes it hard to pull off big plays through the air.
"I love going up against our first defense in practice. They challenge me," said McGee, who rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown as Neuqua Valley stayed perfect at 7-0 on the year.
McGee was not at all surprised to see Willis get in on a pair of sacks of Warriors quarterback Luke Elsea.
"He's a beast," he said of his junior teammate. "He's very athletic and so quick. He definitely hits the quarterbacks unexpectedly."
With a defense that doesn't give up many points, the Wildcats offense can go to work knowing they don't always have to pile up the touchdowns. They had a pair of scores wiped out by penalties Friday but still managed to score a touchdown in each quarter. With a 14-0 lead in the second half, they just kept feeding the ball to McGee, who liked the wet field conditions.
"I just like getting the ball in general," he said. "But it is more fun in the mud when you're sliding around out there."
Wildcats quarterback Mark Mennecke completed just six passes against the Warriors, but he made them count for 166 yards and two scores. Carter Sessa had a 56-yard catch and run in the second quarter, while Cole Dutkovich caught a 5-yard touchdown in the second half.
The defense, meanwhile, allowed just one first down in the first half and five for the game, including a few that came late against the second team. Andre Cobb added an interception for good measure.
"Every day in practice we just get after it," said Willis, trying to explain why his unit is so stingy this year. "I think our defense is great. We have athletes all around. I just feel like we're unstoppable and we have a chance to win state."
A young Waubonsie Valley squad was missing some key players to injury and dropped to 2-5 on the year with the setback. Elsea was under heavy pressure most of the night while completing 6 of 21 passes for 84 yards. Luke Pettaway led the way with a pair of catches for 51 yards and Jacob Bellows gained 37 yards on the ground.
"Give credit to them, they have a great football team on both sides of the ball," Warriors coach Tom Baumgartner said. "But our defense, considering what they've faced all year, has also played extremely well."