Will Vaske had seemingly one extra second to dump the ball off to Drew Surges before being sandwiched between two Batavia defenders.
Trailing 14-10 with 5:57 left in the fourth quarter of St. Charles North’s eventual 32-31 double overtime victory over Batavia to clinch the DuKane Conference title, Vaske saved perhaps one of his best plays for last.
Surges, the North Stars’ star running back, broke seven tackles beelining for the end zone. Vaske, all of a sudden, became his lead blocker and chipped Batavia’s Kyle Porter just enough for Surges to hurdle and fall in for the stunning score.
That play is just a small culmination into Vaske’s road to recovering from a right shoulder sprain sustained in Week 4 and seeing his first varsity action since then.
“First of all, it all started mentally,” Vaske said. “I mean, just my recovery process at Olympia Chiropractic. They were helping me a lot along the way. I was getting in there twice a day every day. What they do there is special.”
Despite not seeing varsity action in over a month, his shoulder felt healthy. Adrenaline, of course, helped too.
“I was just out there trying to make a play,” Vaske said. “I had no mental restrain on that. I think that’s really the biggest part of it. I [saw] Drew making a play, so I had to do something. He had my back on the catch in the first place just recovering it. It was a huge play, so I had to get his back.”
“Will is a tremendous competitor. There’s no question about it,” North Stars coach Rob Pomazak said. “He just has a very strong determination. From the time he got injured, we just talked about when he was going to get back and how we wanted to go about it and he worked off to the side when we kept moving forward.”
The play – arguably the entire win – speaks to the “special bond” the North Stars program has cultivated.
“We have a great culture over here at North…We spend a lot of time with each other,” Vaske said.
St. Charles North (8-1, 7-0)’s self-titled ‘revenge tour’ through the DuKane Conference began back in June.
“They’re a really special group of young men,” Pomazak said. “There’s no question about it. We talked about it from the very beginning of June on how we wanted the season to go. We were very honest with what we thought we had to do and how difficult it was going to be. We put a lot on the kids.”
“We talked about getting a return on the investment that we made of playing a lot of younger players last year and asking our seniors to lead us,” Pomazak continued. “And, every week, they’ve gone in and just battled and kind of proven everybody wrong week in and week out.”
The North Stars now hope to continue their surging season past Friday night’s opening round playoff game against Maine West at 7:30 p.m. in St. Charles.
“I’m excited. It’ll be a sight to see,” Vaske said. “I recommend everyone watch us along the way, because if you’re not, you’re missing out on a long ride.”
Playoff times announced
St. Charles North vs. Maine West is Friday, Oct. 28 at 7:30 p.m. Gates open at 6:15 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.
Geneva at St. Rita is Friday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased here.
Batavia at Rockford Guilford is Friday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Ticket info is to be announced.
St. Francis vs. Marengo is Friday Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. Ticket info is to be announced.
Kaneland vs. Riverside-Brookfield is Friday, Oct. 28 at 7 p.m. Ticket info is to be announced.