Hinsdale Central football is back.
After enduring months of speculation on the status of their program during the offseason, the Red Devils made their return to the field an impressive one with a 14-6 upset victory over Naperville Central on Friday night in Hinsdale.
For first-year Hinsdale Central coach Brian Griffin, it was his first career coaching victory. Griffin said the victory was especially sweet since so many people were involved with keeping the program afloat throughout the turbulent offseason.
“It’s one of those things, so much goes into it throughout the week, every coach putting in time, every player, so it feels like any big win,” Griffin said. “You turn around, look back at your team, coaches and parents, you realize everybody contributed throughout the week to make it work. I was really proud of us collectively as coaches and players in how we prepared and executed. It was a lot of fun, a moment of pride.
“I think this group of kids had a tough offseason, but they worked really hard in spite of all the noise going. Adversity brought them together. It’s a great group of kids who play and fight together, which makes them a lot of fun to coach. They have the team mentality, makes it a lot of fun.”
Griffin said linebacker Ryan Loughlin and wide receiver Braden Contreras were among a large group of the players who stepped up on Friday night. Contreras gave the Red Devils some cushion with a 58-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Michael Brescia on third down in the fourth quarter. Brescia scored on a 61-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that gave the Red Devils a 7-3 lead.
“Ryan has battled injuries throughout his high school career, but he had a great game,” Griffin said. “He played the entire game and made some big tackles and had two pass deflections.
“Braden made big plays when we needed them. He had big catches on third down and all throughout the game made plays.”
Contreras said Friday's win was a special moment for the program.
"It was everything to win that game," Contreras said. "It was all we’ve been thinking about for six months. There was all that talk and the predictions but we just went out and played our game with the kids we’ve been playing with since we were little.
"It's a great feeling when all the hard work pays off. The touchdown at the end was being planned all game. We were running jet sweeps on every drive then all it took was a good fake and a good throw by Brescia. I’m thankful for my teammates for performing the fake and getting me the ball."
Coming out Party for Pardy
Westmont senior Mason Pardy scored five total touchdowns last season.
He nearly eclipsed that total in one game on Friday. Pardy scored four touchdowns, in four different ways, to lead the Sentinels to a 50-14 win over Collins.
“It was pretty surreal,” Pardy said. “It was a pretty special game. I knew we would come out strong as a team, but not by that much of a point difference.”
Pardy set the stage for a once-in-a-lifetime performance by taking the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.
“I told my wide receiver coach the night before the game that I have a feeling I’m going to take one to the house,” Pardy said. “I had never returned a kickoff for a touchdown before. That was just a good overall start for us. We just have to now be more prepared and conditioned and secure tackles.”
Pardy added a 13-yard touchdown reception, a 55-yard punt return for a score and a 15-yard interception return for a TD. He finished with four receptions for 86 yards.
“One of my goals was a punt return, pick six, kickoff return and receiving touchdown for this season,” he said.
Cassens’ strong running highlights big comeback
Downers Grove North quarterback Drew Cassens is back to his old tricks.
As a junior, Cassens ran for 1,200 yards and passed for 500 yards.
On Friday, Cassens’ legs led the way again. He ran for four touchdowns in a 35-14 win over Buffalo Grove on Friday. The Trojans scored 28 unanswered points to roll to the nonconference win. Cassens ran for 213 yards and threw for 70.