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Carol Stream

Abrubt ending won't mar North's accomplishments

Glenbard North assistant coach Rich Smelko, left, applauds a play while Justin Jackson gets ready to go back into the game.
Scott Schmid -
Glenbard North assistant coach Rich Smelko, left, applauds a play while Justin Jackson gets ready to go back into the game. Scott Schmid -

CAROL STREAM – As the old saying goes, hindsight is 20-20.

When Glenbard North’s football team is able to take a step back and look at the 2013 season, the Panthers will be proud of what they see.

From a second consecutive perfect record in the DuPage Valley Conference to running back Justin Jackson nearly setting the state’s single season rushing record, the accomplishments are impressive.

But in the moment, Saturday’s 20-16 loss to Stevenson in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs was tough to digest.

“There is a lot to talk about in terms of what we accomplished this year,” Glenbard North coach Ryan Wilkens said. “But obviously this is not where we wanted to end things.”

One year after making it to the Class 8A state championship game, Glenbard North looked to be in a prime position to advance to the quarterfinals before turnovers proved to be its undoing.

The Panthers led 14-7 at halftime, thanks to touchdown runs of 56 and 47 yards by Jackson. But on the opening drive of the third quarter, a fumble led to the tying touchdown for the Patriots.

The home team regained a 16-14 lead early in the fourth quarter on a safety, only to see that advantage wiped away by a 75-yard punt return touchdown by Cameron Green with 4:53 to play.

Glenbard North would get the ball back three more times, but a pair of interceptions and a turnover on downs stalled any comeback hopes.

Jackson finished with 283 rushing yards on 38 carries but was held to 79 yards in the second half. The Panthers weren’t able to get the ball in his hands over the final three possessions.

“After the punt return, we weren’t doing a very good job moving the ball on the ground, so we tried some play-action passes,” Wilkens said. “We tried to move the ball through the air. But they were doing a pretty good job, they were stifling us pretty well. We tried to get him [Jackson] open for a few passes.

“Turnovers and penalties, and Stevenson played well,” Wilkens said. “Their defense did a good job slowing our run game. And I thought our defense played very well also. It was a battle of two good defenses and we turned the ball over more than we would have liked.”

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