Naperville Central shuts out DeKalb, claims share of DVC championship
A tenacious defense and a constant diet of Aiden Clark resulted in a 42-0 win for Naperville Central on Friday against DeKalb and the Redhawks' first DuPage Valley Conference title since 2018.
"It's something we haven't done in a long time," said Clark, who had 23 carries for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns. "It's a great feeling to be able to bring it home for this school. We've been working for it from February until now. It's not the biggest moment in our season but definitely a milestone we wanted to get to."
The Redhawks (6-1, 4-0) scored on their first four possessions, shutting down DeKalb (2-5, 1-3) each time. Early in the third quarter, quarterback Jack Cook faked a handoff to Clark, and found an open Colton Lenz in the end zone.
With the backups in for the Redhawks, Jalen Isom capped a long drive in the fourth quarter with an 8-yard touchdown run and a 42-0 lead.
Clark had 175 of his yards in the first half. Cooke threw for 167 yards, with Chris Bern making 4 catches for 85 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"A lot of work goes into that," Naperville Central coach Mike Ulreich said of the title. "Early mornings, a lot of hard work for our seniors and juniors in the summer. We have great leaders and group that has worked really hard and earned it."
DeKalb finished with 246 yards of total offense but just 33 in the second half. The Barbs committed four turnovers in the loss. Cole Latimer threw 212 yards but also two interceptions. Davon Grant had 7 catches for 136 yards.
"They're good enough they're going to expose you every time you have a mental lapse," DeKalb coach Derek Schneeman said. "We knew we had to have so breaks go our way and try to play turnover-free football and as mistake-free as possible. We just didn't get it done tonight."
The loss likely eliminates the Barbs from the postseason.
"There's still so much to be gained from these last two games," Schneeman said. "We have a really good team next week in Neuqua Valley and I'd really like to see us put our best foot forward. Our guys are still learning, still growing. We need something ... to hang our hats on and move into the offseason with some momentum."
On the first series of the game, Naperville Central faced a fourth-and-2 on their own 23. The Redhawks went for it, got it, and three plays later Cook hit a wide-open Bern for a 44-yard score.
Bern and Cook hooked up later for a 25-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead early in the second quarter. In between the two, Clark had touchdown runs of 2 and 85 yards.
The first half ended with each time driving down to the other's 5, but failing to score as penalties derailed each drive. The Redhawks got down to DeKalb's 3, got hit for two false starts, and missed a 31-yard field goal.
DeKalb answered with a drive down to the Naperville Central 4, but a false start and a hold backed it up to the 19. Latimer hit Grant five times on the drive but was interrupted on the last play of the half.
"That sophomore, No. 13 [Grant] is incredible," Ulreich said. "His top-end speed, his ability to go up and get the football. I thought Nick Zbylut at corner just competed like crazy all night. [Grant] had some great catches but Nick was there they whole night."
The Redhawks had a 28-0 lead at the break and outgained the Barbs 302-202 in the first half.
DeKalb was last shut out on Oct. 7 of last year in its homecoming game by Naperville Central 26-0. The last time the Barbs were shut out by a team that's not Naperville Central was October 27, 2019 in a playoff game against Lake Zurich 17-0.