Niles North waited 22 years to make the football playoffs, and it will now have to wait at least another year to return.
The Vikings were dealt the tough task of taking on powerhouse Cary-Grove in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs. The top-seeded Trojans (10-0) proved to be too much for the 16th-seeded Vikings as they rolled to a 52-14 win Saturday. The Vikings were outmatched from the start as Cary-Grove opened up a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter and never looked back.
But for the Vikings, who made their last playoff appearance in 1992, it was a positive step that they hope to build on.
“It’s disappointing to end like this,” Niles North coach Mark Egofske said. “What a year Niles North had. We are only a team of 33-34 players and we had two injured running backs. But we battled back and got a few scores at the end.”
Although the Vikings (5-5) fell behind early, the team battled back and managed to put together two scoring drives. The first one was capped off by junior running back Barrington Wade when he scored on a 4-yard run.
Wade finished with 94 yards of total offense, including 69 rushing yards on 15 carries. The 6-1, 208-pound junior is slated to return next season and is expected to be a key part of the Vikings’ offense.
Junior Craig Dawkins had the other Vikings touchdown on a 5-yard run late in the fourth quarter.
The Vikings’ seniors got a taste of the playoffs and many of them were key to the rebuilding process as they were called up to the varsity as sophomores. That group includes wide receiver Yomade Adefeso, who helped get the offense going on Niles North’s first scoring drive.
“This program has a bright future,” Adefeso said. “There are a lot of talented kids that are juniors and sophomores. If they keep their heads up and work hard, they can really go far.”
Adefeso finished with six receptions for 25 yards, including two catches on the team’s first scoring drive. He also had a long gain called back due to a penalty.
The encouraging news for the Vikings is they are expected to have a large amount of talent back next year and could contend for a Central Suburban North title. After the game, Egofske honored the seniors one final time before preaching about hard work and staying focused in the offseason to the returning players.
“We want to get to where Cary-Grove is at,” Egofske said. “There’s another level yet. We want to get to that next level and each year we keep building and getting better and better.”