The best, however, was yet to come.
The Falcons held Downers Grove South to just two possessions and 29 yards of offense in the third quarter as they built a 20-0 lead, and Wheaton North went on to win 23-7.
“We’re coming together as a team,” said Falcons senior Matt Rambasek, a two-way lineman, after the game. “I was a little gassed today because I didn’t play both ways last year. I’ve kind of got to get used to how to stay energized.”
Downers South quarterback William Potter, previously a defensive stalwart, played well in his first varsity start, and the Mustangs defense performed much better than the score indicated.
“This (playing QB) was a lot different from playing safety,” Potter said. “I’ve got a lot of things to learn and I’m looking forward to what comes in the future. We’ve got a good group of guys and I think we learned tonight what some of our weaknesses are.”
“We’re going to get in early tomorrow, work on it, and we’ll be ready.”
The Mustangs rallied in the fourth quarter as Potter fired an 18-yard laser beam to wide receiver Keon Maggit for a touchdown, but Downers South couldn’t overcome the deficit.
Wheaton North got the first big play of the game, on defense, naturally.
Linebacker Shane Diericx recovered a fumble deep in Downers Grove South territory, and it led to a 32-yard first quarter field goal by teammate Luke Bellini.
The Falcons struck again with 7:38 remaining in the second quarter when quarterback Max Howser found Matt Kuczaj with an 11-yard strike in the far left corner of the end zone.
Wheaton North threatened again near halftime, but it was Downers South that came up with the big defensive stop.
Senior defensive back Dylan Spencer intercepted a Wheaton North pass in the end zone to keep halftime score 10-0 Falcons.
It was a big first half for Kuczaj, who caught 6 passes for 140 yards in the first two quarters.
Wheaton North tacked on another field goal to start the third quarter, then put another touchdown on the scoreboard minutes later to make it 20-0.
It was Howser again, connecting with tight end Joe Barna over the middle for 23 yards.
The Mustangs didn’t give in, however, and cut the lead to 20-7 with 9:36 left in the game on the strike by Potter.
Downers South had a chance to get even closer but an interception by Diericx stopped the final Mustangs threat.
“This is his first year on varsity,” Rambasek said of Diericx. “He’s a sophomore, he did well in summer camp and he did great in the game (tonight).”
Bellini tacked on his third field goal late in the contest to account for the final score.