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Wheaton North follows through
By Joshua Welge | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 10/30/2010 1:22 AM

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As efficient as Reece Butler and Wheaton North's offense was Friday, they could have sent the punt team to the south side of town to scout.

Now all the Falcons are headed back there.

Butler threw for 193 yards completing his first 8 passes and ran for 77 more in the Falcons' 27-12 win over Marian Catholic in the first round of the Class 7A playoffs at Rexilius Field.

Butler completed 19 of 25 passes with scoring strikes to Micah Penn and Richard Finley and capped off his night with an 8-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Wheaton North's first four drives resulted in two touchdowns and two Marcin Gawlak field goals. The Falcons (8-2) didn't need to punt until four minutes remained in the game.

"When we get going, we're tough to stop," Butler said. "I can't take credit for it the O-line was doing a great job and receivers were making plays like they always do. They made my job easy."

Wheaton North won its fourth straight game since a 42-14 loss at Wheaton Warrenville South on Oct. 1. Next up for the Falcons is a return trip to Red Grange Field to face the No. 1-ranked Tigers, who beat Benet 49-7 on Friday.

"The senior kids especially are excited to have another chance to go at 'em," Wheaton North coach Joe Wardynski said. "They're the best team in the state. If you want to advance you got to beat good teams. It's a huge challenge for us."

Wheaton North came out aggressive, going for it on fourth down three times and converting all three in the game's opening drive. On fourth-and-goal Butler rolled left and found Penn in the back corner of the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown, capping a 14-play, 62-yard march. Penn earlier hauled in a 13-yard grab on fourth-and-two from the Marian Catholic 41.

"Coach trusts the offense," Butler said. "It's always nice to get a lead at the beginning of the game, and that's what coach was thinking. To go for it on fourth down and to get points, it's exciting and gives the offense a lot of confidence."

Marian Catholic (7-3) matched Wheaton North with its own 14-play scoring drive, John Rhode throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass, but the extra-point kick was short.

Wheaton North shut down its visitors' option attack from there, and Marian Catholic didn't sniff the end zone again until well into the fourth quarter.

"Coming into the game we knew we were going to have to deal with a lot of outside run, a lot of option football," said Wheaton North defensive back John Bloss, who had 2 interceptions to give him 9 on the season. "I thought we shut down the dive in the middle pretty well, but they were hurting us on the outside. We changed a little bit of our coverages, just to get an extra man outside."

Butler connected with Finley for a 33-yard touchdown pass on a go route down the left sideline on Wheaton North's next possession. Gawlak field goals of 23 and 29 field goals pushed the Falcons ahead 20-6 at the half. Butler's touchdown run with 11:14 left in the fourth quarter made it 27-6.

Finley caught 10 of Butler's throws for 92 yards, and Patrick Sharp ran for 60 yards on 15 carries.