NAPERVILLE – Mikey Dudek has a chummy sounding first name, but the Neuqua Valley receiver was cold-blooded Friday night as far as the St. Charles East football team was concerned.
Dudek punctured the Saints in just about every way imaginable – and that was just the first half – as Neuqua handed the Saints their first loss of the season, 54-28, in an Upstate Eight Conference crossover.
“[East assistant coach Max Payleitner] said he’s the best high school football player he’s ever seen,” Saints coach Mike Fields said. “I’ve been doing this a little bit longer, there are a couple others I’d put in there, [former Geneva running back Michael Ratay] being one, but I would certainly put him in there with that kind of a caliber of kid. He ran circles around us at times.”
The Illinois recruit directly accounted for five touchdowns – three on conventional catches, one on the back end of a hook-and-ladder, one on a kickoff return – and he returned another kick to East’s 3, setting up the Wildcats’ opening score.
The 5-foot-10 Dudek took East’s second kick of the night 94 yards all the way to the end zone as the Wildcats pounced early. Before the first half was through, Dudek added a 28-yard TD reception and a crowd-pleasing finish of a 48-yard, hook-and-ladder play in which he took a pitch from fellow receiver Ryan Kuhl to supply Neuqua with a 34-16 lead by halftime.
“That’s the point of football, to get a touchdown, so whenever I get the ball, I’m giving it 110 percent, trying to find the end zone,” Dudek said.
East (3-1) appeared to create some traction late in the second quarter when H-back Phil Hopper caught his eighth pass of the half, a wide-open, 10-yard TD grab from quarterback Jimmy Mitchell. After the PAT, East trailed 28-16.
Hopper finished with 10 catches for 113 yards and two TD receptions.
“You hate to have your best game in a loss, but Phil’s been working hard like we’ve said,” Fields said. “We’ve been challenging Phil every week, and he always responds. He’s a great kid.”
After Hopper’s TD late in the second quarter, a joint sack by the Saints’ David Mason and Michael Candre had Neuqua facing third-and-long on the ensuing drive before the Wildcats (3-1) pulled off the hook-and-ladder for a back-breaking score in the final minute of the half.
“We expected a good team, we got a good team,” East defensive lineman Vinny Mugnolo said. “Neuqua’s a very good team, and I take my hat off to them. They played a great game. We have some work to do as a team.”
East starting running back Erik Anderson (13 carries, 45 yards) left the game with a shoulder injury early in the third quarter but Fields didn’t believe the injury to be serious.
With the game out of hand in the fourth quarter, Fields replaced Mitchell (18 for 32, 220 passing yards, two TD passes and an interception) with backup Mitch Dupuis, who added a late-game highlight with a 47-yard touchdown strike to fellow senior AJ Washington.
NEUQUA VALLEY 54, ST. CHARLES EAST 28
STCE 6 10 6 6 – 28
Neuqua 13 21 14 6 – 54
HOW THEY SCORED
NV – Dean 3 run (Tappin kick), 11:40
STCE – Lopez 1 run (kick failed), 8:32
NV – Dudek 94 kick return (kick failed), 8:20
STCE – Anderson 32 field goal, 11:39
NV – Dean 17 run (Tappin kick), 9:31
NV – Dudek 28 pass from Rutter (Dudek from Rutter), 4:28
STCE – Hopper 10 pass from Mitchell (Anderson kick), 2:15
NV – Dudek 33 lateral run (run fails), 0:34
NV – Dean 4 run (pass fails), 11:14
STCE – Hopper 4 pass from Mitchell (run fails), 8:25
NV – Dudek 53 pass from Rutter (Dean run), 7:33
NV – Dudek 17 pass from Rutter (pass fails), 11:10
STCE – Washington 47 pass from Dupuis (run fails), 5:55
RUSHING – St. Charles East: Anderson 13-45, Lopez 18-48, Mitchell 2-minus 1, Dupuis 4-minus 2, Arvizu 1-3. Totals: 38-93. Neuqua Valley: Dean 11-88, Scruggs 13-86, Rutter 2-minus 7, Muoghalu 6-19, Krajacic 2-18, Starks 1-minus 2. Totals: 35-202.
PASSING – St. Charles East: Mitchell: 18-32-1-212, Dupuis 4-9-0-76. Totals: 22-41-1-288. Neuqua Valley: Rutter 10-14-0-223, Perrigo 0-1-0-0. Totals: 10-15-0-223.
RECEIVING – St. Charles East: Hopper 10-113, Barry 4-69, Washington 2-46, Flanigan 5-36, Munroe 1-34. Totals: 22-288. Neuqua Valley: Hill 2-21, Dudek 6-162, Kuhl 2-40. Totals: 10-223.
TOTAL OFFENSE – St. Charles East 381, Neuqua Valley 425