North rules in Battles of Plainfields
September 23, 2012 9:40PM
Updated: October 25, 2012 6:12AM
All Kurt Palendech needed to do to get Plainfield North’s point across Friday night was throw a laser beam right into the chest of wide receiver Brock Thoms on the game’s first play from scrimmage at Plainfield Central.
From that 72-yard score onward, Plainfield North meant business.
The visiting Tigers beat host Central 28-7 behind Palendech (6-of-10 passing, 136 yards, 2 touchdowns), Thoms (5 catches, 112 yards, TD) and a rejuvenated Jay Roberts (154 yards rushing on 22 carries, 2 touchdowns).
With Oswego defeating crosstown rival Oswego East, Plainfield North remains tied with the Panthers for the top spot in the Southwest Prairie.
It was the third win for North over a Plainfield school. The Tigers also have beaten Plainfield South and East.
Against Central, North took a 14-0 lead into the second quarter on Thoms’ touchdown and Roberts’ 2-yard run. North increased its lead to 21-0 in the third quarter on Roberts’ 24-yard touchdown catch from Palendech. That shut the door on Central’s chances of a comeback on its home field.
“It’s like we’re winning over the town and it means a lot,” Thoms said. “It was very important (to get out to the two-touchdown lead) because we like to bury our opponents early.”
Thoms said the 72-yard touchdown to start the game was crucial. The play was drawn up before the game, and Thoms’ explanation of how the play was executed was pretty simple.
“We went over it before the game and they told me how to run it and it went well and I caught it for a touchdown,” Thoms said. “Our quarterback had a good pass and ran it out good and then — touchdown.”
North’s defense limited Central’s vaunted running back trio of Gino Giarratano, Jordan Ellingwood and Tyler Erdman to 111 combined yards and no touchdowns. Central’s only score came late in the game on quarterback Mike Smiles’ 19-yard pass to Brian Blair.
Speaking of Smiles, he wasn’t all that in his first start. Central coach John Jackson and his staff went with Smiles in lieu of Blair, the Wildcats’ usual starting signal caller.
“He adds a little different dimension and he’s our backup outside linebacker so he’s a tough kid,” Jackson said of Smiles. “We still have to work on his throwing mechanics, but he’s going to get better and he commanded the offense. He made some mistakes but that’s expected.”
Jackson and his staff probably felt they had to do something to ignite the offense after dropping a 45-14 contest at previously winless Minooka on Sept. 14.
But back to North and especially Roberts, who was all smiles Friday night after the previous week’s incident against Plainfield East. Roberts had two first-half fumbles against East, one in the end zone, and was benched for the third quarter. He rebounded in the final period and helped the Tigers earn a 28-14 victory.
Roberts was able to forget those bad times and concentrate on the good Friday night. Pregame showers made him a little nervous that the ball would be slippery and he would have a repeat of the previous week. But the rain stopped before kickoff and Roberts’ nerves eased.
“The offensive line did a fantastic job but the defensive line of Central’s was also pretty good as well,” said Roberts, a two-year starter. “(Central’s Bryce Douglas) is also a fantastic player and he goes on both sides of the ball and they made a lot of nice plays. They just didn’t come out on top.”
Douglas is one of those guys to watch and Jackson predicted two weeks ago that the 6-foot-2, 320-pound offensive/defensive lineman would be playing Saturdays somewhere for a college team next fall. Douglas scored his first-ever touchdown in a 42-0 rout over Romeoville on Sept. 7, and against North he even took over the punting duties.
In the annals of rivalries this is a fairly new one. It doesn’t go down with the history of an Ohio State vs. Michigan — on that grander, collegiate scale — or even Joliet Catholic vs. Providence. These Plainfield rivalries are fairly new, as in the past five to 10 years new, and they are beginning a slow simmer that potentially will boil over in the near future.
“I’d say it’s pretty intense and they’ve all gotten pretty intense within the Plainfield area,” North coach Tim Kane said. “We’ve always had a good rivalry with Central since we opened and we got some Central kids in our school. And I think, obviously, (the rivalry) with East it’s starting to be a good rivalry because they’re right down the street from us.
“In the offseason, it is about bragging rights,” Kane said. “This past week was intense, like any other week, and we won three in a row and we had to keep focused. Let’s not let our heads get too big.”