ST. CHARLES – Regardless of who was at quarterback for St. Charles North Friday, Glenbard North didn’t appear to mind.
Preparing for the rotating quarterback possibility between either junior Will Vaske or freshman Ethan Plumb perhaps had some challenge to it given their ability to scramble – but it was the Panthers’ defense that imposed their will in the second half to soundly defeat the North Stars 28-16 on Friday in the DuKane Conference.
The North Stars took a 10-7 lead on Plumb’s 54-yard touchdown to Jake Furtney to open the third quarter, the Panthers forced three fourth quarter interceptions – two by Vaske, and one on a prayer wide receiver pass downfield – to hold the North Stars scoreless the rest of the way until Plumb’s 55-yard touchdown to Jake Mettetal as time expired.
The Panthers (6-2, 4-2) clinched a postseason appearance, while the North Stars (4-4, 2-4) need to beat undefeated Batavia next week to become playoff eligible.
“[It was] difficult just because they [Vaske and Plumb] also run. It’s not like they’re drop-back guys,” Panthers coach Ryan Wilkens said of the game week preparation. “They’re both agile kids. They do a lot of things offensively. It makes it very, very difficult during the week for the preparation with the formations and the amount of plays they run.”
Vaske was held to 6-of-18 passing for 57 yards and two interceptions. Plumb was 5-of-9 for 125 yards passing, though 109 of those yards came on the two touchdown completions. North Stars standout running back Drew Surges, who had 46 yards at the half, was limited to just seven more yards and had only three carries the rest of the way.
“…Our defense has played well all year,” Wilkens said. “If we can get this [offense] going and get our pass game going a little bit, we’ll be ok.”
While the defense held the North Stars offense in check until time expired, two-way lineman Paulie Robertson and running back Sam Palmer generated all the offense Glenbard North would need. Palmer finished with 213 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
“Our O-Line is something special, really,” Gaffney said.
After the North Stars’ touchdown to open the second half, they couldn’t capitalize on an onsides kick attempt, which didn’t travel 10 yards. The Panthers then re-took the lead on Palmer’s 3-yard score to make it 14-10. After a North Stars punt, Panthers quarterback Justin Bland ran in a 1-yard TD for a 21-10 lead.
Glenbard North’s Shea Gaffney, Dylan Ramierez and Joshua Applewhite each had fourth-quarter interceptions to cap off a dominating performance.
Turnovers, multiple drops and abandoning the running game perhaps underscored the North Stars’ inability to get into a comfortable rhythm offensively when juggling either quarterback at a given play’s notice.
“It probably doesn’t help their [the offense’s] rhythm…we don’t want to do that,” North Stars coach Robert Pomazak said of the two-quarterback system. “We’re looking for somebody to kind of take control and go ahead and move the ball a little bit. We’ve got to sit down; we’ve got to talk about it. We’ve got to watch the film and maybe settle on somebody as we go into Batavia. Yeah, not ideal.”
“Offensively, I thought we ran the ball well in the beginning of the game. We’ve just got to stick with it. Defensively, we just got to do a better job at the point of attack,” Pomazak continued. “Kids fought a little bit; we had some momentum in the second half. That [failed] onsides kick: we work on it, we knew we had it and we touched the ball before we should’ve and that’s unfortunate.”
“…We lose momentum and we can’t regain it. We kind of compound it by throwing gasoline on it by throwing interceptions in the red zone and good teams don’t do that. I give all the credit to Glenbard North; great team.”
In the first half, after St. Charles North missed a field goal on their opening possession, kicker Hunter Liszka connected in his second try from 32 yards to give the North Stars a 3-0 lead with 19 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Glenbard North responded on their ensuing possession with a 10-play drive that resulted in Sam Palmer’s 8-yard score to make it 7-3 with 6:21 until halftime, where it remained.
“We got out of our game towards the third quarter, fourth quarter…we started passing a lot more and it’s not really us,” Surges said.