Redhawks defense slams the door on Mustangs
Championship effort. That's the slogan the Naperville Central defense lives by.
And that's the effort the Redhawks gave in a smothering 28-0 victory Friday night over Metea Valley in a DuPage Valley Conference matchup. Naperville Central (6-2, 4-1) forced seven punts and didn't allow a first down until late in the third quarter in earning its third straight shutout.
"The No. 1 thing about that slogan is to be selfless," Redhawks defensive lineman Maverick Ohle said. "Do your job so your brother can do his. We preach that and we're all about that."
Daniel Nussbaum, a sophomore linebacker, exemplified that selfless attitude when asked about his 33-yard interception return that set up the Redhawks' first touchdown. Nussbaum stepped in front of a Noah Larson pass at the Metea 35-yard line and barreled down to the 2, leading to a third-down scoring run by Tyler Dodd to give Naperville Central a 7-0 lead.
"The front three -- John Stout, Maverick Ohle, Oliver Robak -- I mean, they're pressuring the quarterback every play and no one can block them," Nussbaum said, deflecting attention from his interception. "Our secondary is doing great. We all know what we're doing and the coaches are putting us in the best spots possible. But it really starts with the front three."
Nussbaum's interception sparked the Redhawks offense, which managed only 31 yards in the first quarter. They surpassed that on their second scoring drive alone.
Quarterback Chris McCormack capped a 13-play, 56-yard drive with a sneak into the end zone to make it 14-0 just before halftime. Dodd ran for 47 of those yards after having only 19 yards to that point. He finished the game with 19 carries for 94 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also added 3 catches for 36 yards, including a 26-yarder that nearly led to another touchdown before halftime.
But that drive was thwarted when McCormack was intercepted by Colin Schoo at the Mustangs 4. It was one of the only highlights of the night for the Mustangs (1-7, 1-4).
The Redhawks added to their lead on their first possession of the second half when Dodd again found the end zone, scoring from the 7 to push the score to 21-0. Caleb Brown capped the scoring with a 1-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
But this night was all about the defense, which has not allowed a point in 13 consecutive quarters.
"They just play so well together," Naperville Central coach Mike Ulreich said. "They understand what their assignments are. They're adaptable throughout the game. They just play really well together and are fun to watch."