Devils working for another strong finish

6 minute read

Bill Stone, Sports Writer | Hinsdale Doings | Published October 4, 2006

Hinsdale Central standout senior defensive end Jack DiNardo just missed making a big tackle on the decisive play of last year’s triple-overtime loss to York.

Following Saturday’s loss to the Dukes, DiNardo is hoping to help the Red Devils tackle another big finish to this season.

The 35-6 homecoming setback at Dickinson Field was even gloomier than the skies that caused a 45-minute lightning delay with 7 minutes, 41 seconds left in the first quarter and the Red Devils already trailing 6-0.

Hoping to contend for the West Suburban Conference Silver Division title, the Red Devils (3-3, 0-3 in Silver) instead have lost three straight to Silver frontrunners York (5-1, 4-0), Downers Grove North (4-2, 3-1) and Oak Park (5-1, 3-0).

In 2005, the Red Devils were 3-3 after losing to the Dukes 37-34, but they won their last three regular-season games and reached the Class 8A semifinals. The Red Devils finish this regular season with Proviso West (3-3, 1-3), Glenbard West (1-5, 1-2) and Lyons Township (2-4, 0-3).

“We were in a similar situation last year. That’s definitely something we think about. We do have a lot of new players this year, but we have come back from this before,” DiNardo said.

“We got off to a real good start, and we haven’t had a good week the last three weeks. But we’re definitely staying positive and hoping to finish strong these next three weeks and get some momentum into the playoffs. The goal is still to be playing Week 14, and even though we’ve had some rough games, we still have a chance at that.”

On Saturday, the Red Devils ran just 34 offensive plays to the Dukes’ 66, quarterback Zach Leathers was sacked six times and they had only 44 yards of offense before York’s second team took over in the fourth quarter.

Steve Morris scored on an 28-yard pass from Leathers with 7:21 left. Defensively, the Red Devils, who entered the game having allowed 52 points and none in the first quarter, saw the Dukes score on all four first-half possessions and grind out 261 yards and 23 first downs. York’s Cory DeRosa rushed for 111 yards and three touchdowns.

“There’s nothing really worth talking about. (York) just pummeled us,” first-year Hinsdale Central coach Mike DiMatteo said.

“They’re bigger and stronger than us, and certainly the thing on the offensive side was we didn’t execute. As much as it sounds like I’m trying to beat a dead horse, we’re trying to learn some new things. But our guys played hard, and that’s all I can ask and I’m proud of them for that. It’s just that York was the better team, and that’s what it comes down to.” In 2005, York squeaked by the Red Devils on a 7-yard touchdown pass to DeRosa in the third overtime from graduated quarterback Nick Zerante — as he was hotly pursued by DiNardo.

On Saturday, safety Nick Chenier had 15 tackles, and DiNardo and Pat Clegg each had eight. Jon Rogowski also had a sack.

“I definitely think (Saturday’s loss) was a little more frustrating. Even though last year we lost the game, we found some positive things,” DiNardo said. “Watching the film (Monday), it was difficult at times to find positive things. It wasn’t the product we hoped to put on the field.”

The Red Devils, who had scored just 14 points in their previous two games, tried to find a spark when their second drive stalled. They tried a fake punt on fourth-and-8 at their 16-yard line, but it was stopped at the 17, and the Dukes turned that into a 32-yard field goal and a 9-0 advantage.

“(York) played very, very well. That’s part of the reason we did the whole fake punt,” DiMatteo said. “We planned for it all week. We thought they were going to come after the punt and try to block it. Truthfully, it’s one of those things that if it goes right, you’re a hero and if it doesn’t, you’re a goat.”

The Red Devils had been dealing with an emotional week following the death of former Hinsdale Central football standout and assistant football coach Bill Huskisson Sept. 23 after a battle with stomach cancer. The Red Devils had a moment of silence for Huskisson prior to the varsity game.

“My regret is I wish I had gotten to know him better because he had been so ill,” DiMatteo said. “He was a living legend and his legacy will continue to live on because he touched so many lives. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.’ And in his case, he has nothing to be ashamed of. You’ve got a bunch of athletes and former athletes that prove his victory, that’s for sure.”

Huskisson was DiNardo’s physical education teacher sophomore and junior years and his defensive line coach when DiNardo was promoted to the varsity as a sophomore.

“He was a real approachable and friendly guy. He left a great legacy at Central. Many players went to his memorial service last week, and a lot of players were talking about how he really helped them in different parts of their lives,” DiNardo said. “He really helped me sophomore year. Physically, I had the ability, but sometimes I doubted myself, playing against players who were two years older. He really helped me develop a lot mentally as a player. I’m very grateful for what he’s done for me.”

Copyright © 2006, The Doings