Owen Prucha’s big game leads Naperville Central past DeKalb

DeKalb linebacker Aiden Sisson brings down Naperville Central quarterback Owen Prucha during their game Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, at Naperville Central High School.

NAPERVILLE – Naperville Central coach Mike Ulreich said the Redhawks have found away to calm down quarterback Owen Prucha – make sure he gets hit.

Ulreich said getting Prucha more involved in the running game has a calming effect on the signal caller, and it showed Friday in the Redhawks 48-20 win over DeKalb, which more than likely eliminated the Barbs from postseason contention.

“There’s something about when he gets hit that kind of just calms him down,” Ulreich said. “The last couple of weeks we’ve really tried to commit our quarterback [to the] run game. It seems to get him going. He likes contact, he likes to run the ball, and it has kind of added a new element to our offense.”

Prucha ran the ball in twice and had a team-high 59 rushing yards. He also threw for 330 yards and another two touchdowns.

“I don’t mind getting hit. It makes me feel more comfortable, more relaxed,” Prucha said. “I just love running the ball.”

Naperville Central (4-3, 2-2 DuPage Valley) pulled its starters after three quarters. Prucha capped the team’s scoring with a 2-yard run in the third quarter, making the score 48-14.

Prucha finished 16 of 21 passes in the game, with completions to six receivers. Tristen Hall had four catches for 95 yards, and Northwestern recruit Reggie Fleurima had four catches for 93 yards and a touchdown,

“He had a heck of a game, man,” DeKalb coach Derek Schneeman said. “I’m very impressed with what they do offensively. They have really good boot action, they get three or four guys out on boots. ... It’s hard to cover ’cause they’re pretty good in their run game, then they hit you with the boot game. You’ve got to be assignment sound, and they’ll find the hole if you don’t. Reggie’s Reggie, but their supporting cast made some plays.”

The teams traded touchdowns in the first quarter, but on the first play of the second the Redhawks started a 34-0 run when Prucha found Luke Roy for the first time for a 22-yard touchdown pass to break a 14-14 tie.

“We’ve got shifty receivers,” Prucha said. “They played great getting all those extra yards.”

The Barbs failed to score for the first time on the next drive, then the Redhawks rolled off a time-consuming 12-play drive that ended with a 32-yard field goal by Seth Lendzion for a 24-14 Redhawks lead.

The Barbs then went three and out. Naperville Central followed with a 41-yard drive, ending with 11 seconds left when Prucha ran it home from a yard out and a 31-14 lead at the break.

“We wanted to play complimentary football, and I feel like in the second and third quarter we did that,” Ulreich said “Stout defense, and offense was able to move the ball.”

After Tyler Dodd opened the game with a 1-yard run, DeKalb answered with an 80-yard scoring drive. Adrien McVicar found Talen Tate for a 27-yard pass, with Tate cutting across the field to pick up extra yardage. McVicar capped the drive with a 3-yard run for a score.

“They made plays, flat out,” Schneeman said. “The margin for error in our conference is so slim. When you don’t execute, teams exploit that. Overall, I still think it’s us. We have to focus on ourselves and improve ourselves. We’re our own worst enemy at times.”

Fleurima hauled in a 24-yard scoring pass on the next drive, but DeKalb answered with a 51-yard run by Jamari Brown to tie the game at 14 late in the first.

Josh Klemm, relieving McVicar at quarterback, had a 13-yard run in the fourth quarter for the final DeKalb score. Brown led the team with 83 yards on 10 carries.

“You see glimpses of how good we can be,” Schneeman said. “We had two great drives in the first half that I feel were our two best drives of the season, especially against that defense. There’s no moral victories, but there’s a lot of positives to take from this game.”