Thunder overcome heat, tempers for opening win
Woodstock North High School football continued its winning ways Aug. 24 in Elmwood Park, earning a season-opening 34-10 win over Elmwood Park High School.
The Thunder played through 90-degree heat at kickoff, as well as some hot tempers triggered by a sequence of perceived cheap shots taken by Tigers linebacker Trent Woods on WNHS quarterback Brian Loftin.
Woods drew jeers from the North sideline and fans, as well as a personal foul penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, for chasing down and hitting Loftin three plays in a row with the Thunder threatening in the second quarter. Already in the red zone, the penalty moved North to the Elmwood Park 2-yard line.
The Thunder maintained their composure and capitalized on the personal foul penalty one play later with Ryan Wade plunging in to give the Thunder a 13-3 lead.
“We were just trying to keep our cool,” said Loftin. “We obviously got it taken care of.”
It certainly was taken care of. North scored again, this time on a Loftin 11-yard end-around, to take a 21-3 lead into halftime.
With the offensive fireworks provided in the form of five rushing touchdowns, three on the legs of workhorse fullback Wade and two from Loftin, the defense was equally stout. The initial touchdown on the opening drive of the first quarter was set up by Ricky Krenger’s interception of a tipped pass and subsequent return to the Tigers 11-yard line.
Krenger was all over the field in the first half, contributing several tackles, including a tackle for a loss and a sack, in addition to the pick before succumbing to a heat-related injury in the second half.
The Thunder kept athletic trainer Christina LaBrie busy in the second half with a plethora of heat-related issues. The second half became a challenge for coach Jeff Schroeder to hold onto the lead, with several starters having to be replaced late in the third quarter and into the fourth.
“For us to win with the amount of adversity we had...,” Schroeder said. “I think at one point we had four or five kids on defense that weren’t starters. I’m extremely proud of these guys. We played tough football.”
Despite the extreme conditions and physical football, Wade carried the load for the Thunder throughout the game. Wade rushed 29 times for 124 yards and stayed on the field for most of the game in his linebacker position.
“There (were) a couple of times that I thought I was going to go out,” said Wade. “But I kept it together.”
Wade said his heavy workload was just a case of North taking what Elmwood Park was giving them.
“We just went off of what they were showing and what worked,” he said. “Then we started repping what was working for us.”
The Thunder take their 1-0 record to Lake Villa Friday to take on 6A powerhouse Lakes High School. Lakes handed North one of its two defeats last year, winning 23-14 in Woodstock.
Schroeder was happy with how his team played that night against a Lakes team that went all the way to the semifinals of the 6A playoffs in 2011.
“We had a lead against them in the fourth quarter last year,” Schroeder said. “I know they’re looked at as one of the strongest teams in that area. It’d say a lot about us if we can go out there and get one.”
Lakes, who topped Grayslake North High School 35-21 at Grayslake last week, will be the second of three road games to open the season for the Thunder.