Neuqua Valley shows balance in victory over Naperville North
Without question, all eyes were going to be placed upon Neuqua Valley senior running back Joey Rhattigan in being the one to get Neuqua Valley’s offense moving.
In Neuqua Valley’s 43-20 victory at Naperville North on Friday, the 6-foot, 201-pound Rhattigan did what was expected of him by toting the rock 29 times for 157 yards while scoring a pair of touchdowns.
But Rhattigan’s job was made a whole lot easier by the efficiency shown by Wildcats’ senior quarterback Dylan Andrew.
Andrew completed 12 of his 14 passes for 199 yards and threw a 33-yard TD strike to junior wide receiver Mike Dudek midway through the second quarter that increased Neuqua Valley’s lead to 30-14.
“I think we worked really hard to be diverse. Because last year, it was Rhattigan right, Rhattigan left and that kid could do it again. He could do it again,” Ellinghaus said after the 23-point victory. “If we asked him to carry the ball 35 times, he could. Two touchdowns, 160 yards (Friday night at Naperville North) or whatever it was. He could do it again, but for our team to continue to play well for the duration of the season, I think we need to be diverse and that’s what we’re shooting for.”
More performances like that from Andrew, who also ran for a one-yard score in the second quarter that gave the Wildcats their first lead of the night at 13-7, certainly will make the Wildcats’ offense much more difficult to contend with.
The fact Neuqua Valley (1-0) was able to score five touchdowns en route to putting up 43 points on the board was made all the more impressive because of Rhattigan’s running mate in the backfield, Danny Dudek, being sidelined for the entire year with a torn ACL.
“Danny Dudek, I miss him out here,” Rhattigan said. “I told him before the game I was playing for him because he’s such an asset to this team that when he went down (in July with an ACL tear), you think about what are you going to do to compensate for him? I think we’ve done a good job with that.”
Mistakes haunt Huskies
When you have a punt blocked and fumble a ball that your opponent recovers and returns the other way for a touchdown, it’s probably a sign that it’s not going to be your night.
Neuqua Valley junior Mike Dudek’s punt block, which led to Andrew’s one-yard plunge, and Wildcats’ sophomore defensive back Nolan’s Dean 59-yard fumble recovery for a TD both highlighted a first half that saw Naperville North’s quick 7-0 lead turn into a 36-14 halftime deficit.
But as the Huskies (0-1) prepare for their visit Saturday afternoon to Thornton, all wasn’t lost as they accounted for 423 total yards, including 220 rushing yards.
“A wise man, Coach (Larry) McKeon, used to tell me that, you know, between Game 1 and 2 shows if you’re any good — as a coach, as a team, as a lot of pieces,” Naperville North coach Sean Drendel said after the game Friday. “So we’ll find out what we’re made of after
Game 1 and 2. Game one, you don’t … the unknown. We weren’t sure what (the Wildcats) were gonna play defensively. Not that they really didn’t (do anything out of the ordinary).
“I mean, we moved the ball. We’re not disappointed in how we moved the ball. We’re disappointed in 20 points. I mean, we should put more points on the board. And we got to stop people. We know that. We actually didn’t tackle awful (Friday). I mean, we just weren’t good enough and (the Wildcats) are a good football team.”
Senior Kendall Veluvolu ran 18 times for 74 yards and two TDs, while quarterback Johnny Brown completed 11 of his 25 passes for 203 yards and capped a scoring drive on the game’s opening possession with a 33-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Brown.
Benet’s defense leads way
Coming into the year, Benet coach Pat New thought he had good reason to be bullish on his defense.
Last Friday, his defensive charges showed him why.
Leading the way in the Redwings’ 62-0 shutout of Washington, a victory that matched their victory total from all of last year, the defense permitted the Patriots to only 86 total yards and four first downs.
They recovered a fumble and added in an interception of Washington junior QB Aaron Cruz from senior linebacker Tim Veselik for good measure.
“I have a lot of tremendous confidence in our defense. I think those guys are gonna be ready to play,” New said last week. “I think if they play with great energy and play as a unit, I think we’ll be in pretty (good shape). I feel very confident in our defense.”
The Redwings’ defense proved to be quite stout in the run game, as Washington managed minus-5 rushing yards.
The 2012 opener marked a sharp contrast to Benet’s 2011 opener, which saw it not get much done offensively in a 17-0 loss at Nazareth.
“It’s interesting because Nazareth, last year, was returning all their seniors on defense,” New said. “So they were ready to play football on Opening Day, so I’m kind of counting on my defense to respond similar to the way Nazareth responded last year on defense. Seniors make a difference, in terms of (experience). They’ve played varsity football. They know the speed of the game, so that’s why I’m excited.”