Thunder ride the Wade Train
Woodstock North High School senior fullback Ryan Wade seeks contact. Known as the power portion of the Thunder running game, Wade gets most of his carries between the tackles and isn’t seen as much of a “burner.”
Wade’s deceptive speed was on display Oct. 5, burning Grayslake Central High School for four touchdowns and leading Woodstock North to a convincing 39-7 victory.
Wade scored on runs of 2, 62, 1 and 42 yards, outrunning the Rams secondary on long runs and powering through the line on short runs, displaying all the facets of his well-rounded game. As usual, the soft-spoken Wade took little credit for the performance.
“The offensive line was just doing their job,” said Wade. “At the start we came off a little bit shaky, but we started getting it together and the offensive line was just driving people.”
In spite of the one-sided score, Thunder head coach Jeff Schroeder thought his team looked flat against Grayslake Central. Students at Woodstock North had Thursday and Friday off from school, and Schroeder suspected the change in routine may have affected his team’s focus.
“I don’t think we played particularly inspired tonight,” said Schroeder. “I’m really proud of the fact that we came out here and got a W anyways, despite the fact that we were flat.
“We can definitely play better, but the kids did what they had to do.”
After a scoreless first quarter, North scored quickly in the second, opening up a 12-0 lead on touchdown runs by Wade and Adam Haimbaugh. Grayslake Central tried to get back into the game before halftime, scoring with just 38 seconds left in the second quarter to make the score 12-7.
The Thunder answered in impressive fashion though, taking just 27 seconds to go 63 yards in four plays. Senior quarterback Brian Loftin hit Shane Zieman with a 29-yard touchdown pass, sending the Thunder to the locker room with an 18-7 lead.
The challenge was set for the Thunder to overcome their recent second half troubles. After taking comfortable leads into halftime the last three weeks, the Thunder had lost to Crystal Lake Central and barely held on to defeat Woodstock High School and Dundee-Crown High School.
North was able to keep the second half uninteresting against Grayslake Central though, outscoring the Rams 21-0 on the strength of Wade’s three touchdowns.
The victory was a big one for the Thunder, moving their overall record to 5-2 (3-1 Fox Valley Conference Fox Division), and making them playoff eligible for the second year in a row. While five wins makes North eligible for the IHSA playoffs, a victory at home on Friday against Hampshire High School will give WNHS six wins and clinch a playoff berth.
Wade said the Thunder are going to have to bring a more complete effort against Hampshire than they did against Grayslake Central.
“We’re going to have to give it everything,” said Wade. “We’re going to have to play better than we did this week. We’re going to have to show up and have a good week of practice. I know we can do that.”
Schroeder agreed, saying it will be nice to be able to return home. After having played five of their seven games on the road, North will finish the season with two regular-season games at home.
“If we think we’re going to show up and win, we’re wrong,” said Schroeder. “We’ll have to play very well and have more inspiration that we did tonight.
“We’ll be home. We may be a little road weary.”