CARPENTERSVILLE – Dundee-Crown played with precision and purpose and a great deal of urgency.
The Chargers, who missed a shot at their requisite sixth victory to assure a playoff spot a week earlier at Prairie Ridge, were not going to let it happen again.
D-C scored on its first seven possessions, produced a running clock and ended Friday night at the D-C Bowl with a 49-21 win against McHenry and a playoff celebration for the first time since 1994.
After finishing the handshake line, D-C’s players danced and hugged as their fans stormed the field. Chargers coach Vito Andriola, in his third year of rebuilding the program, shed a few tears of joy.
“It took an unbelievable amount of hard work,” Andriola said. “We talked a lot about changing the culture and learning how to become a program.”
Andriola thought last week’s 42-0 loss at Prairie Ridge was a good eye-opener for his team.
“It was a better week of practice, doing everything we were supposed to do,” Andriola said. “We practiced harder, we practiced smarter, we practiced with a purpose. I’m real happy this happened.”
D-C (6-2 overall, 3-2 Fox Valley Conference Valley Division) likely would have been short on playoff points with five wins, so the sixth victory was vital.
Running back Caleb Parson scored on the first drive, then running back Malik Dunner raced 53 yards for the next score. Parson and running back T.J. Moss scored in the second quarter as D-C took a 28-7 halftime lead.
“Losing stinks, but we learned from our mistakes,” Chargers guard Jeremy Marshall said. “It knocks you ego down a little bit. It was great because you could tell how good practices transferred to the game.”
Dunner also had an interception in the first half and 99 yards on six carries before retiring with a sprained right ankle. He did not think it was anything serious and the Chargers had things well in hand.
Parson (14 carries, 110 yards) scored two more third-quarter touchdowns and reserve Brandon Brooks also scored for a 41-point lead and a running clock. With 1:10 remaining in the game, D-C’s students began chanting, “Playoffs! Playoffs! Playoffs!”
“After all the hard work we’ve done, I’m very proud,” said linebacker Jordon Linson, who had a sack and a tackle for a loss. “It’s a big step for the program. We wanted to throw the first punch and keep throwing punches. We just had to keep punching.”
Running back Payton Lykins had some big runs and led McHenry (2-6, 0-5) with 110 yards rushing on five carries.
“There was poor execution on our part, but good teams do that to you sometimes,” Warriors coach Dave D’Angelo said. “It’s been a long time [without the playoffs] around here. They got it going. We hope we can do that in two or three more years.”