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Varsity football falls to crosstown rivals for second straight year

Devesh Ramachandran, Correspondent

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Going into Week 7 of the football  season, the Redhawks headed to North Central College to face perhaps its most familiar foe, Naperville North. Before the game, the Redhawks were 5-1 overall and 5-0 in DVC. With the exception of a few players, both teams were mostly healthy.  

The Redhawks won the coin toss and elected to kick the ball. The Huskies suffered a three and out and punted the ball. Senior AJ Deinhart, the Redhawks running back, ran the ball for a couple of first downs early in the game, but the Redhawks still ended up punting the football. On the ensuing Huskie drive, they were able to move the ball down the field and with an NCHS pass interference penalty, were able to kick a field goal to get an early lead.

Ethan Allgauer ran the kickoff return well to give the Redhawks good starting field position. Effective plays between  quarterback Payton Thorne and wide receivers Jayden Reed and Jared Suchevitz led the Redhawks to the goal line. Deinhart soon capped off the drive with a touchdown, giving the Redhawks a 7-3 lead to close the quarter.

After a subpar drive by the Huskies, the Redhawks tried to get a drive going but were forced to punt. The Huskies responded  in impressive fashion with consecutive  completed passes which, along with a careless Redhawk penalty, led to a Naperville North touchdown. The PAT was no good and the kickoff was not much better.  With great field position for the Redhawks,  Thorne followed a run play with a downfield throw for a Redhawks touchdown.

After Vaughn Hallstrom missed the PAT, the Huskies began their next drive, securing a few first downs before quarterback Drake Davis snuck the ball into the end zone for more Huskie points. This time, the Redhawks were unable to respond, despite a good return by Tommy Coyne. North quickly went back to work once they got the Redhawk punt. Davis made a touchdown pass to Brett Zdrubecky, and the Huskie lead increased going into halftime.

The second half opened in electrifying fashion for the Redhawks, with a blocked field goal and two touchdowns by Reed.  This momentum, however, was short lived when Huskie running back Ameir Wilbourn carried the ball over 45 yards to the end zone.

Reed fumbled the kickoff and gave the ball right back to North, and it was 30-24 Huskies before the end of the quarter.

Naperville Central still pushed on, trying to convert on fourth down, but failing. Davis threw another touchdown pass to increase the Huskie lead. A Thorne-to-Coyne touchdown  kept  Central in the game, and he Redhawks recovered an  onside kick. But  Naperville North maintained a strong defense,  forcing the Redhawks to settle for a field goal attempt, which was no good.

The Redhawks soon got the ball back and scored with a two-point conversion, putting them within three points of Naperville North. But a second attempt at an onside kick failed, and the Huskies kept the ball for a 44-41 victory.

After the game, Central head coach Mike  Stine expressed disappointment with the loss, but acknowledged how well the Huskies played. ¨Naperville North played a great game and really prepared for the game well,¨ Stine said. ¨We need to focus on preparation and fundamentals for next week.¨

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