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Tough conditions, tough loss for Wheaton North

WHEATON – It is safe to say that Mother Nature and the Wheaton North football team aren’t the best of friends.

One year after its season was ended by a 3-0 loss to Glenbard West on a mud-caked field, the Falcons had to endure rainy and windy conditions in a 16-6 loss to Lake Zurich Saturday in a Class 7A quarterfinal.

“It’s tough,” Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski said. “It’s true, a night like Saturday does not help our offense. Obviously both teams have to play in it but we are a throw-first team and they are a run-first team. The rain was one thing, the wind is another thing.

“But give Lake Zurich credit. They deserved to win the game. They are a very well coached team and they executed what they do very well.”

Trailing 9-0 at halftime, Wheaton North saw its deficit swell early in the third quarter on a Bears’ 48-yard touchdown pass. The Falcons answered back midway through the period on a one-yard touchdown pass from Clayton Thorson to Jake Heggeland, which came after a fumble recovery from Tristan Jones.

The home team had chances in the fourth quarter to pull even closer, but three turnovers ended any comeback hopes. For the game, Wheaton North could never get its run game on track.

“We knew we couldn’t give up may points and win,” said Wardynski, whose team finished the 2013 season with a 9-3 record. “We hoped 16 points might be enough but it didn’t happen.

“Against a five-man box, you have to run the football and we didn’t do that. When you know they are playing a five-man box and they still stop the run, that means you’ve got special kids in there.”

The Falcons now must say goodbye to a standout senior class which also played a pivotal role in the team reaching the quarterfinals last fall.

“I feel bad for the seniors, but that is high school football,” the coach said. “It’s a very good group and we had great senior leadership. And I don’t know when we will have another quarterback like Clayton Thorson. He is as talented of a high school football player as you will find. It’s hard to see him go.”

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