With its postseason life very much in the balance, Wheaton Warrenville South went back to basics Friday night against Naperville North.
Piecing together a balanced effort on both sides of the ball, the Tigers staved off elimination for at least one more week by virtue of its 41-0 victory over host Naperville North.
Jonathon Johnson’sa game-high 146 yards and three touchdowns and senior wide receiver Keishawn Watson’s 145 total yards and two TDs sparked the Tigers’ offensive attack.
Wheaton Warrenville South (3-4, 2-1) got a pair of first-half TDs from Watson to jump out to a 21-0 halftime lead.
The Western Michigan-bound Watson put the Tigers on the board with just a shade over four minutes gone in the game courtesy of a 20-yard TD run on a reverse.
With Johnson’s 3-yard TD run sandwiched in between, Watson put a cap on the first half by completing a 36-yard TD pass to Michael Campos that gave Wheaton South a 21-0 lead entering halftime.
“Tiger football. Coach (Ron) Muhitch said it. (He) said we just got to get back to the basics, play the way we know we can play and just go out there with (passion),” Watson said. “We got to compete. Compete and have fun and I’m telling you, we came out on top.”
Johnson helped Watson and junior quarterback Michael Stebbins — subbing for starter Josh Prueter after Prueter got hurt late last week in their overtime victory over Lake Park — with 18 carries. Two of his TDs came in the second half.
“It was the line. The line made the holes and I just saw them and made cuts and got through,” said Johnson, who was taking on much of the workload on the ground with Campos unavailable to run the ball.
Johnson’s final run of the night, a 38-yard TD, increased the Tigers’ lead to 34-0 with 4:09 to go in the third.
The Wheaton South defense held Naperville North (2-5, 0-3), which will miss out on the postseason for the first time since 1996, in check offensively.
Managing just one first down and 39 yards in the first half, the Huskies’ offense finished with just 140 yards.
“We didn’t play very well. I mean, that’s the disheartening thing. Our kids have played hard all year, for the most part, and it’s been two games we haven’t played very well and didn’t play hard,” Naperville North coach Sean Drendel said. “When you’re playing a good program and you don’t play hard, they’re going to take it to you.”
Aiming to avoid missing out on the playoffs for the second time in three years, and for just the third time since its first trip in 1988, the Tigers live to see another week, with games against Glenbard North and at Naperville Central remaining.
“Confidence. Everybody has confidence now. We feel like we can beat the next two teams, so we can get to the playoffs and show what we can do,” Johnson said.