Season ends after loss to Wheaton North

Photo by Jen Bielat
Photo by Jen Bielat

By Neel Thakkar
Associate Editor-in-Chief
On paper, the Knights should have beaten Wheaton North handily – they had more passing yards (339 to 148), more first downs (26 to 17), a supportive home crowd and a defense energized by the previous week’s effort against Carmel (holding them to 13 points).  But despite the impressive numbers, the only number that mattered was not Prospect’s favor at the game’s end, a 24-38 loss for the Knights.
For the first quarter, at least, Prospect showed off its advantages.  The first drive of the game — a six-play, 83-yard, two-minute-one-second, touchdown-scoring march downfield — was highlighted by a 54-yard toss from senior Miles Osei to junior Peter Bonahoom, a familiar sight for Prospect fans this season.
The next drive, the Knights’ defense preserved the lead.  They bent, allowing a field goal, but they did not break, stopping the Falcons’ five-minute-20-second drive at the Prospect 20 yard line.   After the field goal, Osei (435 combined yards, with three touchdowns and one interception) took his team 95 yards for another score —marked, again, by a pass to Bonahoom (119 receiving yards), this time for 32 yards.
But Wheaton North was not a team to give up — not without a fight, anyway.  This was, after all, the same team that made it into the playoffs only on the strength of a double-overtime, week nine victory.  This was a team that had forced itself into the playoffs for the past three years in the very last week of the regular season.  And most recently, this was a team that upset second-seeded Rockford Boylan last week 17-13, stopping Boylan 17 yards from the end zone.
“We’re not afraid to be down,” Wheaton’s junior quarterback Reece Butler said, “[and] when we are down we don’t panic.”
So the Falcons clawed their way back into the game, helped by a penalty-prone Prospect team (13 penalties for 101 yards) that, on one occasion, let Wheaton start its drive just 19 yards away from the end zone.  Field positioning was crucial for the Falcons, whose kicker, senior Steve Jones, always managed to make the Knights’ job on offense difficult, to say the least.  By the end of the half, Wheaton was in the lead, 24-17.
The Falcons would never let it go, scoring again in a clock-consuming, six-minute-57-second drive that put them up 31-17.  On their next possession, the Knights were able to come tantalizingly close to scoring, but could not convert on a fourth-and-four, eight yards away from the end zone.
“We didn’t end plays,” Osei said, referencing the team’s struggles in completing drives.
Though the Knights did manage to bring the gap to one touchdown eventually, with 3:43 left in the game, they were unable to stop Wheaton from scoring on the next drive, bringing the score to 24-38 — the most points the Falcons scored this year.
And, at this point, reality began to set in.  Prospect would be the second victim of the now 7-4, still 15th-seeded. underdog Wheaton North Falcons.  For the seniors — the first class not to see a state-championship at Prospect — came the realization that they would not see one in their time.   For the rest of the team, another regimen of running, lifting, and practicing for another chance.  And for the fans: the end of a season marked by a greater excitement than many, filled as it was with shootouts, turnarounds, triumphs, upsets and broken records.
For more pictures of the game, click here.
For more reaction and insights about the game and the season,  see senior Mike Hammerlsey’s blog post on his time  watching and covering the team.