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Naperville North's Eric Montgomery tackles Glenbard North's Justin Jackson behind the line of scrimmage in Naperville on Friday. | Mike Mantucca ~ For Sun-Times Media
The last time Glenbard North celebrated a DuPage Valley Conference title, no player on the Panthers’ roster was even born yet.
Glenbard North finished off its undefeated season in the DVC by sliding by Naperville North 21-14 on a dreary Friday night in Naperville. The conference title is the program’s first since 1991 and it is the eighth win in a row for the Panthers.
Justin Jackson continued his stellar junior season rushing for 112 yards on 28 carries. Jackson scored all three of Glenbard North’s touchdowns, giving him 23 for the season.
“It feels great to win the conference title. When you look at the DVC you think of Naperville North or Central or Wheaton Warrenville South. I think we get overlooked,” Jackson said. “We didn’t play our best tonight but it is better to get better after a win than it is after a loss.”
Glenbard North (8-1, 7-0) found the end zone on its first possession of the game, marching 89 yards in 13 plays. Jackson capped the opening drive with a burst through the center of the line for a 12-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers doubled their lead midway through the second quarter thanks to some Huskies miscues.
Johnny Brown fumbled the football for Naperville North (5-4, 4-3) on its own 23-yard line, setting up the Panthers with excellent field position. On the ensuing possession, the Huskies bailed the Panthers out on third down when they were flagged for a late hit giving Glenbard North an automatic first down.
Two plays later, Jackson cashed in with a 1-yard touchdown run, putting North in an early hole.
“You can’t turn the ball over as many times as we did and you can’t have as many penalties as we did against a good team like Glenbard North and expect to win a football game. They make you pay for your mistakes,” Huskies coach Sean Drendel said. “There’s plenty to take away. We moved the ball well at times against them (Glenbard North) and did very well against some of their dynamic offensive players.”
Naperville North finally got on the board with 3:59 remaining in the half as Chris Junior took the handoff and scampered 51 yards untouched for the touchdown.
Junior took full advantage of his extra reps at tailback due to injuries and carried the ball 12 times for 128 yards.
Glenbard North cashed in on another Huskies gift as there was trouble with the exchange on the handoff between Brown and the running back and the fumble was recovered by the Panthers’ Sam Kriese. One play later, Jackson found the end zone from three yards out for his final score of the evening.
The Huskies once again cut the Panthers’ lead to one possession with 5:33 remaining in the game as Johnny Brown threw a perfect ball to Desean Brown for a 14-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-short play.
Glenbard North struggled in the second half but Jackson got three critical first downs late to secure the victory.
“We weren’t effective on offense and couldn’t get Jackson going like we would have liked. However we came off two emotional wins and we could have overlooked these guys but we didn’t and got the win,” Panthers coach Ryan Wilkens said. “I’m happy with the conference title, but that season is over. We are now going into the next season.”
Glenbard North clinched a playoff berth and Naperville North figures to also be in thanks to its five wins and ample playoff points.