Tommy Carlsen’s ability to put his personal goals aside for the greater good has been a boon for Naperville Central.
He knows better than most that the impact of Payton Thorne and Jayden Reed isn’t understated at all.
“Those two guys – I haven’t really played with anyone as good as them,” Carlsen said. “High-caliber athletes and they really show it every time they step on the football field.”
With Ohio power St. Edward in town, the Western Michigan-bound Reed did everything he could to keep the Redhawks at arm’s length.
His three touchdowns allowed Naperville Central to hope.
St. Edward’s running game, however, put that to bed.
Four rushing touchdowns helped the undefeated Eagles gut out a 34-24 victory over the Redhawks on Saturday.
“Our coach told us to treat this game as an opportunity for us,” Reed said. “We just came in and fought hard to the fourth quarter and we played a very good game overall.”
Payton Thorne and Reed found a groove for the Redhawks (5-1) to the tune of six receptions for 197 yards and two touchdowns
The two touchdowns went 74 and 75 yards, respectively, as the two Metea Valley transplants continued to do their thing.
Reed had 288 total yards while Thorne threw for 264 yards as Naperville Central turned a 20-10 halftime deficit into a 24-20 lead.
Reed’s 15-yard TD run late in the third gave the Redhawks a final lead at 24-20.
“We came into that game prepared and expected to be in that situation – having a shot at the end,” Thorne said.
“(Reed and I) come into every game with that mindset that we’re a part of this team and we’re going to do everything we can to help this team win. That’s the ultimate goal, so we didn’t come into this game with anything different than we have with any other game. We prepared hard and did what we could do against them.”
Tylan Rice and Jordan Castleberry combined for 215 rushing yards for St. Edward (6-0) with Rice finding the end zone three times.
After welcoming the first out-of-state opponent to Memorial Stadium since 1998, the Redhawks remain the only undefeated team in the DuPage Valley.
Naperville North comes calling next week at North Central College as Naperville Central looks to officially clinch a postseason berth.
“They gave us a knockout punch there and we fought back and took the lead,” Naperville Central coach Mike Stine said. “That was credit to our kids that they didn’t quit even until the very end there. Our goal all week was ‘let’s get this game into the fourth quarter and see if we can get the ball to bounce our way and make a play or two.’”