Drew Novatney is the hero again as Hinsdale Central nips OPRF

3 minute read

Patrick Kelly
Pioneer Press

Junior safety Drew Novatney is proving two things in the opening weeks football season: First, that he has a knack for the ball, but also that he is quick at picking up a new position.

Novatney provided the only score against Oak Park-River Forest when he picked off a Jaden McGill pass and returned it 21 yards for a touchdown Friday night in Hinsdale. The fourth-quarter interception return helped the Red Devils open West Suburban Silver play with a 7-0 victory against the Huskies.

“I was just playing normal defense, playing deep,” said Novatney, who lives in Hinsdale. “You knew they were going to throw, they were pinned back in their own end zone. It was just reading the receivers, and a lot of pressure on the quarterback made him make a sub-par throw and I was able to grab it. It was awesome.

“It feels unreal to be able to help my team out like that. There is nothing better than that, helping your guys.”

Novatney was also instrumental in Week 1, when he scooped up a blocked punt for the winning score when Hinsdale Central defeated Naperville Central 35-34 on Aug. 24.

“He is having a pretty good year so far,” Red Devils coach Dan Hartman said.

As a freshman and sophomore, Novatney predominantly played running back, but the Red Devils (2-1, 1-0 WSC Silver) are loaded at that spot with seniors Luke Skokna and Matt Bobak (86 yards against Oak Park).

The coaches decided to switch him to safety this summer, a move that has definitely paid off so far.

“He is the type of athlete you need on the field,” Hartman said. “We felt that he could be a big-time contributor on the defensive side of the ball, and he has not let us down.”

Novatney said he was apprehensive about making the switch at first after starting workouts on the offensive side of the field. It did not take long before he got used to the adjustment.

“I was not really sure about it, but I am having a great time right now,” Novatney said. “Working hard, it is paying off pretty well.”

There weren’t too many chances against the Huskies, and the game unfolded as if it would come down to one play.

Novatney provided that play.

“Just the way both teams were playing, it looked like one of our two defenses were going to step up and probably end up securing the win for whoever was going to come out on top,” Hartman said.

Patrick Kelly is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press.

Twitter @Pioneer_Press

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