WHEATON, Ill. -- Wheaton Warrenville South’s conference championship celebrations have been muted in recent years.
The way the Tigers rolled through the DuPage Valley, leaving no doubt who the conference’s top team was, didn’t lend itself to blowout parties. There was also the fact that Wheaton Warrenville South’s sights were set mainly on state titles, which it won in 2009 and 2010.
This year was different.
After Wheaton Warrenville South defeated No. 15 Wheaton North 27-13 on Friday, earning itself a share of the DuPage Valley title along with Wheaton North, the Tigers took the time to really enjoy their improbable accomplishment after starting the season with three losses in their first four games.
“How’s that feel?” Wheaton Warrenville South coach Ron Muhitch shouted as he entered his team’s postgame huddle.
The players yelled back in joy.
“It’s a huge, huge [accomplishment,]” Muhitch said to reporters after the game. “This senior class has been depleted and had a lot of kids that left. It takes time. When you’re young, you can’t coach experience. Playing Glenbard West and Maine South, yeah, that was a steak that was a little overdone for us the time we were trying to take it on.
“The credit goes to the kids. They’ve finally come back. They play good team football, which is what you want. Solid offense, good running game and just great defense.”
The Tigers defense continued to show Friday why it’s among the state’s best. Wheaton Warrenville South (6-3, 6-1) contained Wheaton North (7-2, 6-1) for most of the night, set the Tigers’ offense up with favorable field position and accounted for a key touchdown late in the first half.
Wheaton North running back Patrick Sharp scored on a 29-yard touchdown run with 2:08 left in the first half to pull within 13-7. Following the score, the Falcons forced Wheaton Warrenville South to punt and were looking to score quickly again before halftime.
Wheaton Warrenville South linebacker Daniel Roadman had other ideas. On the second play of the drive, Roadman picked off Wheaton North quarterback John Peltz and sprinted 37 yards for a touchdown to give The Tigers a 20-7 lead with 47 seconds left in the half.
Wheaton North would trail by two touchdowns the rest of the game.
“I tripped at the start and tried to run as fast as I could,” said Roadman, who has two interceptions on the season. “That definitely was a huge momentum-shifter going into the half. It gave us a lot of confidence at halftime having a two-score lead with our defense the way we’ve been playing.”
Wheaton Warrenville South running back Dan Vitale and sophomore quarterback Ryan Graham took care of the offensive side. Vitale rushed for 136 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries. Graham rushed for 77 yards and threw for 27 yards and a touchdown.
“We’re just playing with confidence,” said Vitale, a Northwestern recruit. “That’s the biggest thing. We know the concepts. The biggest thing is we’re executing now.
“We knew the potential we had as a team. We just had to get going. We knew it from the beginning.”
Peltz was 14-of-28 passing for 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Sharp had 63 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Wheaton Warrenville South’s Tyler Cook and Wheaton North’s Micah Penn had touchdown receptions.