WHEATON – There was a clear silver lining for Wheaton North after Friday’s 33-13 loss to Glenbard North cost the Falcons a share of the DuPage Valley conference title.
This week’s game holds even more importance.
Settling for second place in the DVC after wrapping up the regular season with a 7-2 record, Wheaton North will host Glenbrook North Friday in an opening round Class 7A playoff matchup.
“As nice as it would have been to win conference, or at least to share it, it was not the most important game of the year,” coach Joe Wardynski said. “This week is the most important game of the year. If you want to play in Week 11, you have to win in Week 10.”
The Spartans come in with a five game-winning streak after a 1-3 start.
“Glenbrook North is coming off maybe their best win of the season last week against Highland Park,” Wardynski said. “They have a very athletic senior quarterback in AJ Spitz. He is the featured runner in their offense and he throws the ball really well. He has a couple of big receivers – Alex Zera, Nick Cox and Will Brassil – to throw to.”
As for the Falcons, they head into this week battled-tested, having played six teams who qualified for the postseason.
“We had a good schedule, starting off at the beginning with Cary-Grove and Geneva,” Wardynski said. “We’ve played quality competition. Now we need to build on what we’ve done so far and get some confidence back on the offensive side.”
The offense had a trio of three-and-outs in the first half Friday to go along with an interception and a turnover on downs. Two of those punts came after Glenbard North fumbles.
Trailing 12-0 at intermission, Wheaton North did slice into the deficit on a 1-yard touchdown run by Clayton Thorson midway through the third quarter. Thorson later connected with Jack Kirschbaum on a 29-yard TD pass.
Defensively, the Falcons had no answer for Northwestern-bound running back Justin Jackson, who rushed for 354 yards and four scores.
“They did what they do,” Wardynski said. “Teams have tried to come up with different ways to slow down their running game. We had stretches where we were able to do some things but they keep going at you and eventually they find a seam. They have an explosive kid back there and a good group in front of him.”