Wheaton Academy's Sam Cote and Tai Libby had a leg up on St. Joseph all afternoon Saturday in Westchester. And their efforts collectively gave St. Joseph the boot.
Cote connected on a 46-yard field goal in the first quarter - the longest of his career - while Libby rushed for 104 yards and 4 touchdowns as the Warriors coasted to a 33-7 victory.
Cote's kick - the first of two field goals he nailed in the first quarter - not only was impressive distance-wise, but he also had to factor in a strong crosswind blowing from the west.
"Obviously Sam and the kicking game was tremendous," said Warriors coach Ben Wilson. "That 46-yard field goal really gave us some momentum. That was an awesome kick."
On Friday, Cote made a 60-yarder in practice.
"I came out before the game (Saturday) and practiced a lot with the wind," he said, "which helped out a lot because I knew where to place my kick. My leg has just been feeling great lately.
"Yesterday in practice I got a lot of confidence when I hit a 60, so I knew my leg was good enough."
Cote, Libby and the rest of the Warriors' offense was more than good enough. With 7:25 to go in the second quarter, Kevin Mann recovered a fumble on Wheaton's 36-yard line, which opened the doors for the first of Libby's TDs - this one a 6-yarder that put the Warriors in front, 13-0.
Libby credited his "Band of Brothers" offensive linemen - Nate Jones, Aaron Pell, Seth Gasick and Jake Heidorn - for providing him with plenty of room to reach the end zone so often.
"Thanks to my line," he said. "They stepped it up - the Band of Brothers."
"We just learned from last week that we had to be better in the run game," Wilson added. "Westminster (Christian of St. Louis) last week came after us, and we knew that was going to be tough again, so our commitment was to run the ball a little bit better. (Senior quarterback) Tommy (Decker) didn't throw any touchdown passes (on Saturday) but he threw the ball well for the most part. It's just great how Kai ran the ball today and that's what we needed. We need to be able to do both."
Decker did a nice job of finding open receivers and spreading the ball around all afternoon. Libby, Luke Thorsen, Tyler Bosse and James Johnson each caught four-or-more passes as Decker threw for 203 yards.
Defensively, Mann recovered 2 fumbles, and Peter Ferrill also recovered a fumble for the Warriors. Matt Wiersema picked off a pass in the fourth quarter.
The undefeated Warriors (2-0) now turn their attention to Suburban Christian Gold play. They'll visit Guerin next Saturday. And Wilson, for one, can't wait.
"I'm excited about the conference," Wilson said. "I think we've got a great chance to win the SCC Gold; that's going to be our goal every year no matter how I think our team is. That's the bar we're going to set for our program.
"Last year we came up a little bit short, and this year we want to win it. So next week is an important game against Guerin. They're 2-0, we're 2-0, and we want to win the conference."Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.