Wheaton North plays trick on state power Providence

Updated 9/3/2021 11:04 PM

It's not every day you see a flea flicker on the opening play of a high school football game.

But that's the kind of faith Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski has in his team. And it's also the kind of respect he was paying to Providence Catholic, a perennial state title contender.


The play worked to perfection, with quarterback Mark Forcucci hitting Seth Kortenhoeven on a 47-yard strike.

The trickery set the tone and the Falcons' defense did the rest as Wheaton North moved to 2-0 on the young season with a relatively easy 30-7 victory.

"We knew coming out this week we were going to take a shot on a trick play," said Forcucci, who completed 15 of 20 passes for 166 yards. "I did underthrow him a little bit, but at the end of the day it all worked out."

Said Wardynski: "It helps having a three-year varsity quarterback and three-year varsity tailback (in Brayton Maske). They executed the play well and the O-line gave him time to throw it. It's a nice way to start the game."

Kortenhoeven had a big night, reeling in 4 passes for 66 yards, including a 6-yard TD that made it 23-6 early in the third quarter. He also raced 78 yards for a TD on a punt return late in the second quarter.

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Many of the stars came defense and special teams, however.

Senior Jake Kapel was everywhere, snuffing out a screen pass to force a fourth down on Providence's second possession, then keeping a punt from rolling into the end zone midway through the second quarter. Kapel tight-roped the goal line and kept the ball in play, forcing Providence to start from the 2-yard line.

"We practice that every week, just getting down there and being ready to toss it out," said the speedy 5-foot-9, 170-pound senior. "It pays off when you work hard."

That impressive maneuver helped give Wheaton North a short field on its next possession, and Forcucci took advantage by zipping a 27-yard TD pass to Casey Morrison (4 catches, 53 yards) to make it 10-0 with 3:42 remaining in the half. Forcucci, a Holy Cross recruit, did a good job looking away from his primary receiver, leaving Morrison wide open in the end zone.

"I trusted he'd be in the right spot," Forcucci said. "He ran himself a great route."

Kaiden Libby played solid in the secondary, nearly picking off a pass in the second quarter. Trent Gabriele also recovered a blocked punt in the third quarter.


And defensive linemen Devon Neal, Marques Boddie, Chuck Neidballa and Gabriele were big reasons Providence Catholic managed just 41 rushing yards on 14 carries in the first half.

"We're all like brothers out there," Kapel said of the defense. "We work so hard every week. Every single guy is watching film, everybody is just getting ready and we just put it on the field."

"They fly around, they get to the ball," Wardynski said.

After two games, Wheaton North has outscored its opponents 80-7.

Backup tailback Luke Beedle piled up 73 yards on 12 carries, all in the second half.

Wheaton North is at Batavia next Friday.

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