WHITING | With a 39-0 victory over River Forest on Friday, Whiting secured at least a share of its first Greater South Shore Conference title.
Here's what it means to the Oilers (8-0, 6-0): "It means a lot and we want to be conference champs outright," senior Patrick Petruf said, "but we want to improve every game and perfect what we do over the next game to be ready for the sectional."
Whiting coach Jeff Cain, who last won a conference title in 2005 in the Lake Athletic Conference Blue, nearly echoed the statements: "We're in a conference?" he said jokingly. "Our goal starts in two weeks. We're not going to be sad because we won, but we're not going to be happy if we win conference and don't come out and perform well in the playoffs."
In 2005, the Oilers finished the regular season unbeaten and were 11-0 before losing in the sectional championship game.
On Friday, the Oilers' defense notched its third shutout of the season and held River Forest quarterback J.J. Pennington to 78 yards on 8-of-20 passing. Last season, Pennington lit up Whiting in a 16-10 River Forest victory.
"We really wanted to shut down Pennington; last year he ripped us up and single-handedly beat us," Petruf said. "I think our defense did an amazing job. He had one scramble, that was it, and other than that they shut him down."
The Ingots (3-5, 1-5) used several big runs in the first quarter to edge closer and closer to the goal line, but they didn't convert once down there. Pennington had passes of 29, 15 and 12 yards in the first half.
River Forest found short yardage and a sustained drive in the hands of senior running back John Flores, who ran 14 times for 31 yards, 24 of those in the second half. He was counted on for seven consecutive carries on a drive in the third quarter that ended in an intercepted Pennington pass.
"The defense played awful well," Cain said. "Early they came out a little flat and they moved the ball on us, but the bend-don't-break mentality and we got the stop and it didn't take too long."
Whiting quarterback A.J. Veloz threw touchdowns to four different receivers, and Ethan Young ran in a 2-yard scamper.
Veloz finished with 324 yards passing, five TDs and threw two interceptions.
"We're starting to see what we think is a complete offense, and we're starting to see contributions from all the kids," Cain said. "We've had some kids that've had some really good nights, but we threw scoring wise to four different kids and Ethan had one ... once we put the ball in (Petruf's) hands, he knows what to do with it."