ROMEOVILLE – Beware of the trap game.
Heading into its game against Romeoville, that could have easily been the message Plainfield North coach Tim Kane relayed to his players with a showdown against conference-leading Oswego on the horizon.
Any concerns for the Tigers overlooking the Spartans lasted about 10 seconds Friday as junior Carlos Baggett returned the opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown.
“I saw the opening and my team had it blocked, and then I went through,” Baggett said. “It felt great to start the game like that and set the tone.”
Plainfield North jumped to a 35-0 first quarter lead, extended it to 56-7 at half and never looked back en route to a 56-7 victory over Southwest Prairie foe Romeoville.
The Tigers (5-2, 4-1) scored in all three phases. North’s defense forced three turnovers, had five quarterback sacks and allowed Romeoville 77 total yards of offense.
Offensively, the Tigers were led by junior running back Tyler Hoosman (five rushes, 57 yards, two touchdowns) and senior quarterback JD Ekowa (4 of 7 passes, 85 yards, two touchdowns, four rushes, 47 yards, touchdown).
Defensive end Zachary Shelton had three sacks and linebacker JJ Frey had a 2-yard interception return for a touchdown. On special teams, in addition to Baggett’s kickoff return, Dillon McCarthy had a 50-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Quarterback Anthony Kitchens led the Spartans (10 of 25 passes, 136 yards, touchdown).
“I am so proud of our kids,” Kane said. “We knew that it was a dangerous situation, but our kids really focused mentally and played well physically, so it was a good win.”
After Baggett’s opening-kickoff heroics, the Tigers’ defense made an early statement, forcing a three-and-out by sacking Kitchens twice.
On the first play of the Tigers’ next possession, Ekowa connected with Nicholas Capezio for a 45-yard touchdown that extended North’s lead to 14-0 with 10:01 left in the first quarter.
“We knew coming into the game that we had a good chance of beating them [Romeoville] and we wanted to make a statement to them and whoever else was watching,” Ekowa said.
Hoosman’s 5-yard touchdown run made it 21-0 with 8:55 left in the opening quarter. On the next North possession, Ekowa found Kimo Burton alone in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown that extended the lead to 28-0 with 3:22 left in the first quarter.
“When our offense scores, it picks up the defense, and when they force a three-and-out, it picks us up on offense,” Ekowa said. “We feed off each other.”
After another three-and-out for Romeoville, Hoosman scored on a 34-yard run for his second of the game and a 35-0 lead with 1:31 left in the first quarter.
Romeoville (1-6, 1-4) had little success on the ground against the bigger Tigers’ defensive line. Kitchens connected with wideout Bradley Gabreicik for a 47-yard touchdown to make it 35-7 for the lone Spartans’ highlight.
Next week, North hosts Oswego with first place in the SPC on the line.
“We should have a great week of practice with our kids knowing what is at stake,” Kane said. “We’re going to line up and get after it.”