DOWNERS GROVE – The 2013 version of the Downers Grove crosstown classic was full of surprises.
Downers Grove North’s starting quarterback was one of them.
With tight end Sebastian Calvino taking over for David Edwards, the Trojans took care of the Mustangs in an eventful 42-21 game.
The first memorable moment came with Calvino earning the start, his first start under center as a varsity player.
The next came before the game kicked off as Calvino led the Trojans (3-3 overall) on to the field, where they proceeded to dance on South’s Mustang logo at midfield. Downers Grove South then charged out to the 50-yard line, exchanging a few words with its rivals before coaches and referees intervened.
The Mustangs struck on the game’s first possession as quarterback Jordan Skach connected on a slant to receiver Javon Turner, who raced 86 yards for a touchdown.
A power outage to one of the stadium’s light fixtures, another twist in the rivalry game, delayed play for about ten minutes; but, when action resumed, the proverbial lights flicked on and the Trojans looked like a different team.
“It was a strange start,” Calvino said. “But we really controlled the tempo once the offense settled down in the first half and started playing fast, physical football.”
North starting quarterback David Edwards suffered a deep leg bruise, according to coach John Wander, during the Sept. 27 game against Lyons Township and was declared inactive an hour before the South game. Calvino was quickly thrust into action.
All-purpose player Vontae Diggs tied the score at 7-7 when he took a direct snap, sprinted 16 yards, and leaped over two players into the end zone. Later in the half, with the score still 7-7, the North defense forced an interception and the offense took over on the South 38-yard line. Calvino and company marched downfield and the quarterback’s 1-yard touchdown run gave the Trojans a 14-7 lead.
The Mustangs answered with a touchdown, but Diggs took the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for a score, giving the Trojans a 21-14 advantage they would not relinquish.
“With a couple players hurt, I kind of wanted to show off some of my different skills tonight,” Diggs said. “They squibbed the kick to the left side, opening the right half of the field. My 10 teammates threw some good blocks and I made a play.”
“Vontae can do a little bit of everything,” Wander said. “He’s a big part of our offense, he plays defense and he had a big kickoff return for a touchdown tonight.”
In the second half, the Trojan offense ran roughshod over the Mustangs’ defense.
North received the ball first in the third quarter, driving 68 yards behind 14- and 16-yard runs by Calvino, whose 2-yard option keeper gave the Trojans a 28-14 lead.
“I was definitely a little nervous before the game,” Calvino said. “But my teammates had my back and David [Edwards] was a huge help – encouraging me and giving me advice.”
Calvino finished with 211 yards and four rushing touchdowns, as North pulled away in the second half.
“We call [Calvino] our little Tim Tebow,” Diggs said. “He stepped up tonight and played a great game at quarterback.”
Wander seconded Diggs’ sentiments, but added that Edwards will play next week if his leg heals.
For South, it was the team’s first loss in four games, dropping them to 3-3 overall while remaining 3-0 in the West Suburban Gold.
“You have to give a lot of credit to North’s offense,” head coach Mark Molinari said. “They were able to successfully run on us all night. Our defense has to be better.”
Molinari gave credit to his offense, which hung in the game until the third quarter. Skach threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns, Turner totaled 166 receiving yards and a score, and running back Alec Arvanitakis had a receiving and a rushing touchdown.