St. Charles North's Harmon clicks, gets his pick against Glenbard North
Jaden Harmon wanted to quiet the critics.
The St. Charles North junior defensive back entered Friday night's game against Glenbard North with a glaring omission from his resume -- no interceptions.
Sporting a big smile, Harmon said his teammates were starting to let him know about the oversight.
"I had no picks going into this (game), even though I've had chances before but just didn't get them," Harmon said. "Going into this, I needed a pick because my teammates are getting on him about getting a pick."
Harmon almost doubled his pleasure on Friday at Glenbard North.
Led by a strong rushing attack, one big play via the passing game and a stout defensive effort, the North Stars won their seventh straight game with a workmanlike 14-7 triumph over the Panthers.
Harmon stopped a potential scoring threat with an interception in the end zone with 6:29 left in the third quarter. He snared an interception at midfield early in the fourth quarter, but the play was nullified due to a roughing-the-passer penalty on the North Stars (7-1, 6-0 DuKane Conference).
Even so, Harmon was happy with his lone interception, which he returned 12 yards.
"It felt good," Harmon said. "The first one was right to me. I was very excited about getting a pick. Our defense is really special, and it's great to be a part of it."
And to be a big-time contributor to the defense, in the case of Harmon.
The Panthers (3-5, 2-4) saw their playoff chances whittle away thanks to an opportunistic St. Charles North defense and the hard running by Drew Surges to close the final drive of the game.
The North Stars' defense equaled their success from last week's 38-7 romp over rival St. Charles East. The Panthers' lone scoring play came on a 15-yard run by do-it-all quarterback Justin Bland in the first quarter.
"Jaden Harmon is a junior who put himself out there, and kept his head on and showed what he can do out there," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said. "The kids are playing extremely hard on defense. They are diligent in their preparation and want to learn."
The North Stars had a key fourth-down stop to end a Panthers' potential scoring drive with seven minutes left in regulation at their own 33-yard line. From that point, Surged put the offense on his back, carrying the ball 13 straight times before giving way to quarterback Ethan Plumb ending the game via Victory Formation to finalize the 14-play, seven-minute drive.
By this point, Pomazak has become accustomed to watching Surges perform superhero-like efforts on the gridiron. But Pomazak admitted Surges' latest performance -- a grind-it-out rushing display on the final drive that did not include a run more than 8 yards -- was an impressive way to seal a victory.
"It's 30 degrees outside, there's rain and the ball was slick, so we wanted to ice the clock if we could," Pomazak said. "Our coaches made a great adjustment at halftime, and it worked. You have a great running back like Drew, a true all-state caliber-type player. He just took it over from there, but the entire line and tight ends did an amazing job of pushing. We moved the chains."
Surges made big plays throughout the game. He scored on a 37-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter to give the North Stars a 14-7 lead. The drive started with a successful onside kick recovery from the North Stars to open the half.
But Surges' strong running on the final drive was even more impressive, even leading him to forgo a touchdown. The senior running back broke through the line for an apparent 5-yard touchdown. But he elected to slide before scoring a touchdown to let the clock run on his 13th consecutive rushing attempt, as he was called down at the 1-yard line to set up Plumb's victory formation kneel-down. Zachary Priami caught a 65-yard touchdown from Plumb for the North Stars' first touchdown in the opening quarter.
"I was looking at the clock the whole fourth quarter and wanted to run the clock and secure the game," Surges said. "I wanted that second (touchdown) but I knew the situation, saw the end zone but I wanted to win more than give them a shot to go down and score. It was a great game. It was a great adversity win that will help us in the playoffs in a close game. We came out firing in the second half. I have to credit my offensive line for opening up those big holes."