Huskie football clinches playoff berth with thrilling Crosstown victory

The Naperville North Huskies played the annual Wes Spencer Crosstown Classic last night. Looking to repeat as champions of the event for the first time since 2008, the Huskies played with intense passion and resilience. With Naperville bragging rights on the line, the visiting Huskies were up to the challenge

The Huskies (5-2, 4-2) defeated the Naperville Central Redhawks (5-2, 5-1) by a final score of 44-41.

After scoring only 12 total first-half points in the previous three games, the Huskies matched up against a high-flying Naperville Central offense that had averaged over 37 points per game this season. The scoring opened on a 34-yard FG by K Matt Maschmeier, marking only the second time this season that the Huskies put the first points on the board. On the next offensive possession for the Huskies, QB Drake Davis connected with WR Ryan Laurenzo in the back of the end zone for a 26-yard TD completion.

“Our gameplan was to start off fast,” Davis said. “We knew we had to get it going early.”

The Huskies continued the first-half scoring barrage, adding a 1-yard TD plunge by Drake Davis and a 34-yard TD strike from Davis to RB Brett Zdrubecky. By halftime, the Huskies held a 23-13 lead. The Redhawks emerged from the halftime locker room firing on all cylinders, scoring a pair of touchdowns and blocking a field goal en route to taking the lead. The Huskies, needing a quick response, turned to RB Ameir Wilbourn who sprinted down the sideline for a 65-yard TD. The Huskies never looked back, adding two fourth quarter TD’s, the latter of which a 34-yard TD pass from Davis to WR Matthew Heinz that thrusted the dagger into the hearts of the Redhawks.

“We have never had a problem with big plays,” Davis said. “Our wide receivers are awesome.”

Amid rainy weather conditions, the special teams play of each team was magnified significantly. In addition to a pair of missed FG’s and a trio of missed PAT’s, the most notable miscue of the contest occurred in the final minute of the third quarter. As Redhawks WR Jayden Reed fielded the kick, he was immediately met by a wall of Huskies who jarred the ball loose. CB Jimmy Klaeren recovered the fumble, permanently swinging the momentum in favor of the Huskies.

The defense of the Redhawks gave up a season-high 44 points as they endured their first conference loss of the season. Despite losing consecutive games, the Redhawks remain atop the Dupage Valley Conference heading into the final two games of the season.

The Huskies seek to continue their winning ways next week against the Warriors of Waubonsie Valley in their last home game of the regular season. With only two games remaining before the playoffs, the Huskies look to finish the season on a high note. Head Coach Sean Drendel emphasized the distinct difference between the regular season and the postseason.

“We played hard until the very end,” Drendel said. “That is what playoff teams do.”