It was another lesson learned for a young Wheaton Academy team as Byron got off the bus running en route to a 41-0 victory Friday night at Langhorst Field at Elmhurst College.
Byron (2-0) used a bruising rushing attack, which eventually opened up the passing game, to take a 14-0 lead after one quarter. The Bears gained control behind a heavy dose of running backs Devin Williams, Nelson Ziel and Zack Pattat, wearing down the Wheaton Academy defense on a sultry night.
"We worked hard on conditioning at practice and we wanted to pound the ball," Williams said.
The conditioning paid off big time as the Bears' ground game kept the game out of reach for Wheaton Academy (0-2).
The Warriors had plenty of opportunities as they repeatedly got the ball into Byron territory, however the drives stalled near the Bears goal line, which led to two back-breaking runs by Byron's Pattat.
After the Warriors turned the ball over on downs at the Bears' 11-yard line, Pattat broke lose for an 89-yard touchdown scamper the first play after the turnover on downs.
Another Warriors sustained drive ended in a turnover on downs at the Bears' 4-yard line, and again Pattat broke loose for a 94-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach at 35-0 after three quarters.
"Those big plays are momentum changers," Byron coach Mike Elsbury said. "They had it and were coming down the field and our backs were against the wall, but we got the ball back on the turnover on downs and were able to take the momentum back. We changed our cadence a little bit to catch them off guard and those are the small things that helped us win."
Despite losing by 41 points, there were some positives that could be taken away from the game for Wheaton Academy.
"There was flashes of good plays on both offense and defense," Wheaton Academy coach Ben Wilson said. "We had them where we wanted them a couple times, but couldn't finish. Our team is learning a lot; we're a young team with only two starters returning, we just ran into a really good team that I think will go far. With a young team you have to learn how to respond, and there is no way to teach that besides game experience."
As the Warriors gain that valuable experience, they now have a better idea of what things will be like in the Blue Division of the Suburban Christian Conference, joining the likes of perennial powers Montini and Marmion.
"We have to come with a greater intensity and be consistent with our assignments," junior running back John Mark Wiersema said. "We're going to come back hard next week to start conference, and come out more consistent."