There weren’t any leather helmets in sight, but everything else about Saturday’s Naperville North-Thornton game felt old-school.
There was Thornton’s immaculate grass field, a rarity these days at larger schools. Then there was Naperville North’s game plan, which consisted solely of runs.
The Huskies called one pass play late in the first half, but it was nullified by a penalty. So officially they had nothing but rushes — 69 of them, for 377 yards — in a 34-20 victory over the No. 23 Wildcats.
“Coach [Sean] Drendel told us at the beginning of the game we were going to run it down their throats because we can’t really pass in the rain,” said DeSean Brown, who ran 12 times for 119 yards and three touchdowns.
“Even when the rain started [letting up], we told our offensive line to keep pushing, ‘Let’s go, let’s go, we’ve got another half, another quarter.’ ”
The Huskies’ big guys heeded Brown’s call. Mike Langman (6-5, 270), Ben Obriecht (6-0, 220), Dan Patton (6-5, 250), Colin Goebel (6-4, 280), Jarvis Alexander (6-2, 205) and Kevin Jiang (6-1, 260) kept moving the Huskies forward all afternoon long, starting with an 18-play, 80-play drive after the opening kickoff.
That series ended with quarterback Johnny Brown’s two-yard touchdown run with 5:01 left in the first quarter. North’s Danny Schertz intercepted Thornton quarterback JoWahn Brown on the Wildcats’ second play from scrimmage and Johnny Brown scored again from five yards out, making it 13-0 with 2:19 left in the first.
The rain eventually stopped, but North’s run calls didn’t.
“The conditions to us didn’t feel conducive to throwing it, especially early when it was raining,” Drendel said. “And we were running some good plays so we thought, ‘Our offense is kind of clicking. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’ ”
It was a bit of deja vu for Thornton coach Bill Mosel, who was aware of North’s 43-20 loss to Neuqua Valley in Week 1. “As big as they were, Neuqua was much bigger than them,” Mosel said. “It was a similar game. They got pounded last week and this week they pounded us.”
Thornton (1-1) got to within 13-6 on JoWahn Brown’s 18-yard scoring pass to Jauan Wesley with 7:55 left in the second quarter. But DeSean Brown’s 10-yard TD run 3:14 before halftime put the Huskies up 20-6 at the break.
James Doyle’s interception of JoWahn Brown (16-of-26, 156 yards) set up DeSean Brown’s one-yard TD run at 9:18 of the third period and Sharad Crosby’s 39-yard punt return led to DeSean Brown’s seven-yard touchdown run that made it 34-6 with 6:25 remaining in the third.
That’s the way it stayed until Thornton got two late scores, on Tifonte Hunt’s 76-yard punt return with 2:35 remaining and Michael Hoover’s 66-yard TD pass to D’Andre Fuller with 36.8 seconds left.
Johnny Brown had 18 carries for 116 yards for the Huskies and was fine with using his legs rather than his arm.
“I knew they had some pretty good DBs so I knew we were going to run the ball a lot today,” he said. “The whole game, they couldn’t stop us with our running game. There was no reason to pass.”