HINSDALE – The element of surprise could assist Downers Grove North’s football team come playoff time.
The Trojans enter postseason play as No. 8 seed and will be the underdogs when they travel to Chicago to play Whitney Young, the No. 1 seed in the lower bracket of the class 7A playoffs.
What could aid the Trojans – and confuse the Dolphins – is that North’s starting quarterback could be decided at the last moment before Friday’s game.
David Edwards, who guided the Trojans into the Class 7A quarterfinals last fall, started the first five games of the season, but then was knocked out of the Week 5 game against Lyons Township with a bone bruise and hasn’t played since. In his stead, both Sebastian Calvino and Vontae Diggs have lined up under center, but that could change come Friday night.
“[David Edwards] is undergoing treatment and we want to get him back on the field,” North head coach John Wander said. “We are taking it day-by-day and if he’s healthy enough to go, he will start.”
Although the quarterback has suited up for every game after the Sept. 27 injury, he hasn’t played. Yet Wander has reiterated that if Edwards is healthy enough to play, he will get the starting nod.
The two teams traveled very different roads during their run to the playoffs.
While Downers Grove North (5-4, 2-4 West Suburban Silver) clawed its way to five wins and an at-large berth, Whitney Young (9-0, 7-0 Chicago Public League-Big Shoulders) coasted to an undefeated season, shutting out six teams and surrendering a combined 18 points in nine games.
But the Trojans are battle tested, having played a more rigorous schedule in a tougher conference and losing only to playoff teams. North enters the postseason winners of three of their last four games.
In Edwards’ absence, seniors Calvino and Diggs have taken over the Trojans’ option offense, going 3-1 and helping North qualify for the playoffs. The only blemish came during Friday’s final regular season tilt against Hinsdale Central.
Playing from behind and forced into throwing situations, Diggs – the more potent passer – took a majority of the snaps while Calvino moved back to tight end, his natural position.
Diggs threw a 64-yard score to receiver Richard Olekanma in the first half and ran in a fourth quarter touchdown, but it wasn’t enough as the Trojans lost 20-14.
It was the most action that Diggs had seen at quarterback all season. In North’s three previous games, Calvino quarterbacked most of Trojans’ offensive series, tallying seven touchdowns during the three wins.
“[Calvino and Diggs] have stepped up and led this team when our backs were against the wall,” Wander said. “Time and time again, they have come up with big plays.”
But the head coach has not tipped his hat regarding the status of either the former starter or playoff starter.
“If David is healthy enough to play he will start, otherwise time will be split between Diggs and Calvino,” Wander said. “From our standpoint, we just need to come out and establish our game early.”
Hinsdale Central 20
Downers Grove N. 14
Rushing: Kyle Leto 9-51; Vontae Diggs: 8-43, TD;
Passing: Diggs 5-for-15, 87 yards, TD
Receiving: Richard Olekanma 3-75, TD