Preview: North to face Central in crosstown football rematch this Friday

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Photo by Caroline Kady

Elissa Eaton, Features Editor

This week, the halls of Naperville North are buzzing with excitement for the highly anticipated playoff football game taking place on Friday. This matchup holds extra weight– for the first time since 1999, Naperville North will be competing against rival Naperville Central at home in round one of the IHSA postseason playoffs. 

The last time the two teams played, North scraped together a win by 11 points with a final score of 38-27. Although North and Central have the same record of 6-3, North edged out Central in rankings with the Huskies slotted in the 16th seed and the Redhawks as the 17th. NNHS junior and varsity quarterback Aidan Gray expects the game to be evenly matched, but is confident in North’s ability to face Central. 

“It’s going to be a very competitive game. I know both sides are very motivated to get onto the second round. It’s a very big game for us as a program, so we’ll definitely be ready for them when the game starts,” Gray said. 

Considering that this is the first home postseason game against Central in over 20 years, there’s a lot of pressure for Friday. Assistant coach of the varsity football team Chris Arthurs talked about why this game is so special. 

“It’s a playoff game, so the stakes are higher, but it’s also a rematch game against conference opponents so that adds a little fuel to motivate both squads. We’re super excited to play at home for the first time in over 20 years. It’s a great opportunity for our program and our athletes,” Arthurs said.

Athletic Director Bob Quinn explained that this rivalry is different, compared to other teams that North plays.

“Any time we play Naperville Central in any sport it’s a big deal. Many of our student-athletes grew up playing sports against their student-athletes, maybe they grew up as friends or maybe they went to school together at some point,” Quinn said. “So it’s certainly more of a rivalry than other teams.”

After pulling off an upset against Neuqua Valley last week, the Huskies are riding high going into this upcoming game. Junior and varsity kicker David Olano believes that if the Huskies play like they did last game, they’ll face a promising result. 

“At North, we have the mindset to play our hearts out. If we have that same attitude and passion like we had in the last game, we’ll come out even stronger,” Olano said. 

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