Matt Crider’s return sparks Wheaton Warrenville South past Glenbard North

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WHEATON — As the second to last weekend of summer began at Friday’s dawn, high school football teams begin to turn toward conference play where an automatic bid awaits the champion and an at-large berth could be for the taking if a team finishes strong in the standings.

Which placed a tremendous importance on the DuKane Conference bout between host Wheaton Warrenville South and visiting Glenbard North.

Both teams had taken it on the chin in their respective DKC openers the previous week meaning that they could ill afford to be 0-2 in the conference at the end of the night.

Thanks to the return of one of WW South’s veteran leaders, two-way starter Matt Crider, it got a fully-charged Tiger squad to post a dominant performance on posting a 41-0 shutout over the visitors from Carol Stream at Red Grange Field.

Glenbard North fell to 0-4 overall and 0-2 in DKC play.

Crider made his season debut after missing the first three games due to an ankle injury.

“I told these guys I felt like we’ve pieced together games where we had good special teams and good defense (when) we sputtered a little bit,” WW South coach Sean Morris said. “Tonight was a complete team win. I was proud of them (for being) focused to get to the point where we can put it all together.”

The Tigers (2-2, 1-1) did just that by establishing game control from their opening possession as they took advantage of a short punt which Dajion Riley returned 21 yards to set up the home team at the Panthers’ 14-yard line.

It was after a 10-yard holding penalty that WW South got going thanks to Crider breaking through the defense and taking it in from 24 yards out for a 7-0 lead at the 9:47 mark.

After a second three-and-out by the Tigers defense, junior signalcaller Luca Carbonaro got in the scoring with a slalom-like run. He spun around the defense for a 30-yard score that had WWS up 14-0 at the 4:41 mark of the first.

Crider (14 carries, 119 yards) continued to make his presence felt with two more touchdown runs in the second quarter. The first came from 3 yards out in which he ran four straight times for 44 of his game-high 119 yards using a combination of stiff-arms and broken tackles.

Next, he completed the Tigers’ final score of the half with a 1-yard TD run with 37 ticks left until halftime. It was set up by a pair of Carbonaro passes to Joey Preede (19 yards) and to Riley (36 yards) leaving them up 28-0 at half.

WW South closed out the scoring in the third when Axel Boecker scooped up a fumble caused by a Lucas Rossini hit on a Panthers receiver which he took to pay dirt 59 yards. That was followed by a 35-yard TD run by sophomore running back Owen York with 3:05 remaining in the quarter to begin the running clock.

Crider enjoyed his return to the squad.

“I felt great being back,” Crider said. “We played like (a bunch of) junkyard dogs. We all came together as (both) an offense and a defense and shut these guys out. We really needed this win. I’m really proud of these guys.”