Football: Tigers Fall to Vikings but Crush Saints

Tomas Moran, Copy Editor

The Wheaton Warrenville South Varsity football team was defeated by the Geneva Vikings in their home opener 35-11 at Red Grange Field on Friday, Sept. 16.

The game started off with an electric Viking touchdown on a 71-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nate Stempowski to wide receiver Talyn Taylor. The rest of the first quarter went scoreless, with South struggling to advance the ball. “Obviously a big, explosive play hurts your momentum,” said WWS head coach Sean Norris. “But it’s so early in the game, we always challenge our kids to respond to those challenges.”

Afterwards, the Tigers gained some momentum with a sack from Braylen Meredith resulting in a defensive stop on the Vikings’ 12-yard line. A great punt return from Colin Moore gave the Tigers excellent field position. South entered the redzone, however they were unable to convert that into a touchdown. Nevertheless, South tallied their first points of the game with a field goal from Maison Haas. Unfortunately, the Vikings would answer. A rushing touchdown by Stempowski right before halftime and another passing touchdown from Stempowski to Taylor in the third quarter increased the Vikings’ lead to 21-3. A 40-yard rushing touchdown from Troy Velez and a pick-six from Jackson Reyes for Geneva sealed the Tigers’ fate.

Running back Matthew Crider scored South’s only touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Luca Carbonaro connected with Max Schlegel for the two-point conversion, but it was too little, too late. South struggled offensively for most of the game. “We had nine penalties, and a lot of those penalties were off of big, positive yard gain,” coach Norris remarked. “Those are big mistakes, undisciplined mistakes that really hurt you to get a momentum going on offense.”

The Tigers responded strongly versus the St. Charles East Fighting Saints on Friday, Sept. 23 with a 27-0 win at Red Grange Field. It was South’s homecoming game and they did not disappoint.

Two consecutive runs from running back Jake Vozza resulted in a touchdown for the Tigers midway through the first quarter. A five-yard pick six from Colin Moore shortly afterwards doubled the Tigers’ lead, South never looked back. Moore continued his impressive performance with a punt return to the red zone. However, the Tigers weren’t able to convert that field position into a touchdown, so they settled for a Maison Haas field goal. WWS had a 17-0 lead entering halftime. “Credit to our offensive line, we really responded to that challenge, they were able to get great push on the line of scrimmage, and our running back and our full back that were able to run hard and set the tone early,” said coach Norris. “I think that was what really boosted us in the early part of the game.”

Luca Carbonaro secured the victory with a quarterback sneak in the third quarter, giving the Tigers a commanding advantage. Another interception from Moore and a subsequent reception from Mattew Crider set the Tigers up for another field goal from Haas. The Tigers had interceptions from Connor Sliwa and Jailani McGee in a scoreless fourth quarter, closing out the game.

“Our emphasis was to eliminate big plays this week, we played good defense but we gave up some big plays early on in the season and that’s what hurt us, those momentum plays,” said coach Norris. “So, when we were able to create that on our defense, to get that interception and Colin to return it there, that really set the tone for our defense.”