NORTHFIELD — The New Trier football team’s defense started strong against Niles North, holding Vikings junior running back Craig Dawkins and the rest of the Vikings’ offense at bay en route to a quick 7-0 lead.
But then, late in the first quarter Friday, Niles North quarterback Tony Granato rifled a quick screen pass to Yomade Adefeso. The senior wide receiver made the first New Trier tackler miss before quickly accelerating down the sideline for a 46-yard gain.
Adefeso’s catch-and-run put the Vikings in field-goal range. The big play didn’t turn the tide of the game — New Trier blocked the field-goal attempt to end the drive, and the Trevians went on to win 34-6 — but it showed one of the reasons why Adefeso’s been so effective to start the season. It also proved a point.
“It was eye-opening because if I’m making big plays out here, I know that [my teammates are] saying, ‘OK, I can make those big plays, too,’ ” Adefeso said. “That got them pumped up.”
Adefeso has been a constant threat in Niles North’s passing game thus far. He has 20 catches, 244 yards and three touchdowns through the first three weeks.
Moving forward, Adefeso’s production figures to continue to be crucial to the offense’s success given the Vikings’ injury woes at running back. Not only is junior Barrington Wade expected to be out for at least one more week — he was wearing a walking boot on his right leg against New Trier — but Dawkins fractured his left fibula in the first quarter against the Trevians.
Dawkins finished the game in spite of the injury — he even carried the water jug to the bus afterward, Niles North coach Mark Egofske said — and scored on a 55-yard screen play right before halftime. However, Egofske said Dawkins will be out for at least four weeks and could miss the rest of season.
The Vikings are likely to use a running back-by-committee system against Glenbrook South on Friday.
Running screens effectively is a big part of the Vikings’ offense. They’re not only a vehicle for Adefeso to get the ball, but they’re high-percentage passes that help take the pressure off of the running game and Granato.
“When I catch a screen pass, I’m looking for a person to dodge,” Adefeso said. The key “is making that first guy miss, and then [it’s] off to the races.”
Adefeso’s shiftiness, speed and vision with the ball make him a big-play threat.
“He’s a kid who also likes to run with the football,” Egofske said. “He’s not bashful at all. When we go on the scout team, he goes in the backfield without even being told. He’ll just sneak in there and then the next thing is, ‘Wow, look at that kid! That kid can run.’ [And then it’s] ‘Oh, that’s Yomade!’ ”