Olano's FG as time expires gives Naperville North win over Metea Valley
Kickers lead lonely lives.
Outside of kickoffs and extra points, they spend most of their time on the sidelines, waiting and waiting. And waiting.
Naperville North junior kicker David Olano had about all he could stand of the waiting Friday night, what with getting iced not once, but twice by Metea Valley with 2.4 seconds left in a tied game.
No problem. Olano booted a 43-yarder that gave the Huskies the 31-28 win and pushed them one step closer to the state playoffs.
Here's the wild part: Olano was a lifelong soccer player until he took up football eight months ago.
"I've always been prepared for it," Olano said. "Coach (Sean Drendel) has always told me it's going to come down to special teams. All thanks to coach for having the faith in me to kick that."
It was a wild ending to a wild game, one that saw the new-look Mustangs twice hold a two-touchdown lead. But Naperville North tied the game with 9:27 left in the fourth quarter on junior quarterback Aidan Gray's third touchdown run of the evening, and, of course, Olano's extra point.
Metea Valley followed with an 11-play drive but could only get as far as Naperville North's 45.
The scene switched to the Huskies (4-3, 2-2), who marched from their 13 behind Gray and senior running back Ethan Robert. They managed to get the ball to the Mustangs' 27 before calling time out with 2.4 seconds two go.
Olano trotted out, then had to wait as Metea Valley coach John Parpet called his final two timeouts to give Olano and holder Gray plenty to think about. When play resumed, the snap was a little low, but Gray righted it and Olano nailed the kick with plenty of distance.
"You know as a kicker when the ball comes off your foot whether it's good or not," Olano said. "That's the feeling I like."
Gray said everyone on his sideline knew Parpet was going to call the timeouts. The key was Olano's composure.
Did he think it was through?
"Oh, I knew when he kicked it, it was going through the uprights," said Gray, who completed 6 of 9 passes for 55 yards. Robert contributed 210 yards rushing on 29 carries and a touchdown,
You might think it was a devastating loss for Metea Valley (3-4, 2-2), but Parpet took another view.
"You know what, when you're dealing with amateur athletics, you want to win, but it's that development, it's those teachable moments," he said. "Our kids played hard. We were down two offensive linemen. We had 31 guys. You're going up against a program like that, to me, it's a win for the development of our kids and our program. How far we've come."
Overshadowed by Olano's big kick was the fact that senior John Flynn had a stellar night in his first start as a running back. Normally he plays receiver, but he picked up 78 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns.
"Since our freshman year, we knew this 2022 class was special," Flynn said. "This is the first year we got to play together with everybody. You can tell it's all forming. We know we can compete with everybody."