Naperville North wins rematch with Naperville Central
Players from both sides of Thursday night's Naperville crosstown football season finale are talking about forgetting about the outcome, but for two very different reasons.
The Huskies are riding high after a 31-3 victory at Central sends them into the state playoffs with a 7-2 record and plenty of momentum, but there's the fear of too much confidence after such a great showing. For the 6-3 Redhawks - who beat the Huskies in overtime earlier this fall - the tough loss should not take away from their postseason plans.
The Redhawks picked up a 22-yard Logan Ellison field goal on the night's opening drive, but it was all Naperville North from there as the Huskies' defense did not allow another point. They also helped set the offense up with two interceptions and fumble recovery by defensive end Jackson Bauer that led to 3-yard touchdown run by Cole Arl and a 14-3 lead in the first quarter.
"As great of a win as this is we have to look past it," said Bauer, who had an interception return for a touchdown in the teams' first meeting this year. "We can't get overconfident and we have to get back to work tomorrow."
With the defense coming up with the three takeaways, the Huskies dominated on this night. Arl had a pair of rushing touchdowns and Nathan Jacobs and Danny Eloe also ran their way into the end zone. Quarterback Aidan Gray passed for 158 yards and ran for another 79 for North.
"It's great momentum heading into the playoffs," the senior quarterback said. "We just need to follow this momentum and get back to work."
Huskies coach Sean Drendel, who knows there's an outside chance these two rivals will meet again in the playoffs, maybe even next week, was thrilled with the way his team played on Thursday.
"We played a lot better on offense this time against them and the defense got us some big turnovers which always helps," he said. "That's what you want to do this time of year, play your best football. We shored some things up tonight."
Redhawks linebacker Christian Kuta knows his team can bounce back from the one-sided loss.
"It was rough. We wanted to win and you can't deny our effort," he said. "They won. It was a hard battle and they won. We're going to put this game behind us now and we're going to come back better than ever."