WHEATON – As Wheaton Warrenville South’s football team prepared for arguably the toughest opening three-game slate in the state, Tigers’ senior Mocha Uchiyama held the belief that his team would come out unscathed despite missing the playoffs in 2012.
Some might have thought that was wishful thinking.
As it turns out the defensive lineman is quite the forecaster.
Coming off impressive non-conference victories over Glenbard West and Maine South, Wheaton Warrenville South made another big statement Friday with a 17-13 victory over Wheaton North in the DVC opener.
“We’ve got the pride in our program back,” Uchiyama said.
One thing that gave Uchiyama confidence heading into the fall was the amount of senior leadership that returned. A year ago, the Tigers were a much younger and less-experienced group.
“We have a lot of leaders everywhere,” the senior said. “And we had basically a full returning defense. I was very confident in our defense, and the offense has come out and been tremendous.”
Heading into their Week 4 matchup with West Aurora Friday night, the defense has indeed risen to the occasion, holding three highly-regarded opponents to a combined 40 points. And similar to recent Tigers’ units, what the group lacks in size is made up for with speed and smarts.
“That’s how it has always been here, small and fast,” Uchiyama said. “What we emphasize is 11 hats to the ball.”
Offensively, Wheaton Warrenville South controlled the line of scrimmage while rushing for over 200 yards as a team. The Tigers attempted just 11 passes in the game.
Isaiah Campos put the home team on the scoreboard with a 6-yard TD run in the first quarter and Evan Jakubowski added a 26-yard field goal to make the score 10-0 at halftime.
A 5-yard touchdown scamper by quarterback Ryan Graham, who earlier in the week decided on Northern Illinois as his college choice, upped the advantage to 17-0 on the Tigers’ first possession of the second half.
“We’ve got some good running backs and Ryan can make plays too,” said Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch. “So for me to sit here and throw the ball like Wheaton North throws the ball would be foolish. We are playing a little different game this year.
“Defensively, we are tough and offensively, our ground game is good. It’s a nice complement.”