WNHS Thunder finish big
The Woodstock North High School football team appears dead set against making things easy this season.
After losing to Crystal Lake Central High School in the fourth quarter and barely holding off a rally by Woodstock High School a week later, the Thunder found themselves in another final quarter predicament Sept. 28 against Dundee-Crown High School before winning 25-20.
In a game that closely mirrored the Crystal Lake Central game two weeks prior, North dominated the game the entire first half, taking a 25-10 lead into halftime. As Central had, the Chargers were able to turn the tide in the second half, moving the ball almost at will against the Thunder defense and stifling the WNHS offense.
WNHS has a smaller roster than most of its opponents, forcing Thunder head coach Jeff Schroeder to play many starters on both offense and defense. While Schroeder refuses to use this as an excuse, he does acknowledge it’s a factor that he and his team have to account for.
“When you’re playing a bigger school and they’re bringing fresh guys on, our guys are digging deep, but they can only dig so deep,” said Schroeder. “They found a way tonight.”
The win was huge for the Thunder, moving their record to 4-2, one victory away from playoff eligibility with three games remaining on their schedule. Dundee-Crown entered the game with a 3-2 record and much fanfare. After several down seasons, the Chargers appear to be on the upswing under head coach Vito Andriola.
“(Andriola) is sharp on defense,” said Schroeder. “As much as we had it going in the first half, he got us figured out in the second half. What are you going to say? Nothing was working. The defense had to step up, and they did it.”
After a scoreless third quarter, the Chargers got back into the game in the fourth, with a touchdown and a field goal, to make the score 25-20 with 4:05 remaining.
After forcing North into a quick three-and-out, D-C was in business again from the Thunder 50-yard line with a timeout remaining and plenty of time on the clock.
The Thunder defense stepped up, stopping the Chargers cold on three consecutive plays. On fourth and 13 with 1:07 remaining, Thunder defensive lineman Rich Lucke forced the D-C quarterback out of the pocket to the right, where linebacker Ricky Krenger sacked him, ending the Charger threat and the game.
Krenger shared credit for the final play with his teammates.
“Everyone was going their hardest,” said Krenger. “I don’t want to take full credit. It’s the whole team. We all wanted it so bad. We couldn’t lose this game.”
The Thunder offense was led by senior running back, Adam Haimbaugh, who scored three touchdowns on runs of 9 and 10 yards, and a 74-yard reception from quarterback Brian Loftin. Alex Mitchell scored the other WNHS touchdown on a 6-yard run.
The Thunder continue their season Oct. 5 at Grayslake Central High School. After sharing the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division title in 2011 with Woodstock North and Crystal Lake Central, the Rams have fallen on hard times in 2012, with a 2-4 overall record, 1-2 in the conference.
In 2011 Grayslake Central came to Woodstock to face North as an undefeated favorite. The Thunder sent them home with a convincing loss, 25-0, giving Schroeder all the proof he needs to convince his players they shouldn’t be looking past any opponent.
“The first thing we’ll talk about is how they came in here last year expecting to win and got beat, and the same thing can happen to us,” said Schroeder. “We have to play. I’ve said it before, in the Fox Valley, you’ve got to play. Every week, you’ve got to play, it doesn’t matter who it is.”