Defending champ Wheaton North impresses in season opener
That was then, this is now.
For Wheaton North, the 2021 Class 7A state champions, now looks pretty good.
The new-look Falcons looked a lot like last season, rolling up 303 yards of total offense Friday in a 28-7 home victory over Downers Grove South.
Junior Walker Owens got 7 touches out of the backfield and parlayed that into a pair of touchdowns and 109 yards. That included a 55-yard scoring run with 3:10 left in the third quarter, which set the final score.
Junior quarterback Max Howser completed 7 of 10 passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, a 36-yard pass play to senior Karsten Libby.
The defense was tough, holding the Mustangs to just 114 yards of total offense. Seventy-six of those yards were piled up by junior running back Deon Davis, who scored the Mustangs' only touchdown on a 1-yard run with 7:21 left in the third quarter.
For the Falcons, last year was fun, but it's in the rear view mirror.
The 2022 edition has something to prove.
"We kind of thought of it like, last year's team was so much different from this one," Owens said. "Our coaches really stressed that they weren't going to talk about last year's team, and that this is a new team this year, we were going to have a target on our back.
"We're obviously happy about last year, but I think we're focused on this year and being a new team."
Wheaton North was already up 7-0 with 8:52 left in the second quarter when Howser connected with Libby on a 36-yard touchdown pass. On that play, Libby managed to go up high over Downers South defensive back William Potter, snatched the ball out of the air and scampered into the end zone.
After the Mustangs went 3-and-out on its ensuing possession, Owens struck for the first time, on a 21-yard run up the middle.
This sort of offensive production may look familiar (read: 2021), but like Owens, Howser insisted that things are different ... because they have to be.
"We lost like 32 seniors last year and they were all a big part of the team," he said. "We've been harping all summer camp and all practice, forget about last year, forget about everything we did, we just have to be our own team."