With each touchdown Nate Dukich scored last Friday, the moment got bigger and bigger for the Lake Station senior quarterback.
Dukich threw a touchdown and ran for four more as the Eagles knocked off Bishop Noll 50-41 for their first win in nearly two years. Lake Station had gone 708 days and 14 games without a victory. The Eagles had scored 65 points during the losing streak before erupting for 50 points, the most Lake Station has scored in a game in nearly five years.
“That was really fun,” Dukich said. “As the game went on we just wanted it more and more. It was a like a dream that just kept going.”
The Eagles came into the game having scored just six points this season. Shutout losses to Osceola Grace, River Forest and Clark were a distant memory as Dukich repeatedly found the end zone against Bishop Noll. As the seconds ticked off the clock, third-year coach Jason Wolfe couldn’t help but get emotional.
“I’m so happy for the kids,” Wolfe said. “We don’t get a lot of respect, but they keep fighting every day. To see their expression, to see how happy they were, it was emotional. They are some of the hardest working kids in the Region and I don’t think a lot of people see them as that.”
Dukich has been front and center as one of Lake Station’s hardest workers all season. The senior captain threw for 109 yards and ran for 108 against Bishop Noll, marking the first time he topped 100 yards in both categories in the same game. Dukich added five tackles on a defense and had a 14-yard kickoff return.
“Nate was phenomenal for us the entire night,” Wolfe said. “He was sore, he was aching, but he fought through everything. He’s our leader and he battled. That’s what we want these guys to be. He kept coming up to me during the game saying that he wanted the ball.”
Dukich wants more than the ball now that the Eagles have tasted success. Lake Station will travel to winless South Central on Friday and then face a gauntlet with Calumet and Boone Grove in back-to-back weeks.
“We’re not satisfied yet,” Dukich said. “We want this thing to keep going. We want to keep winning now that we’ve tasted it.”
Johnson’s recruitment heats up
The numbers keep piling up for Morton’s JoJo Johnson, and with that, so do the scholarship offers. The junior all-purpose athlete scored four touchdowns in a 76-0 victory over West Side and picked up scholarship offers from Eastern Michigan and Northern Illinois in the process.
Johnson announced his Northern Illinois offer on Twitter (@jojofootball1) on Wednesday morning, just four days after he did the same for Eastern Michigan. Johnson now holds scholarship offers from six Midwest Athletic Conference schools, as well as Indiana. Johnson’s Twitter page has become a hotbed of recruiting interest as the 2021 prospect has shared images sent from Notre Dame, Michigan State, Louisville and Missouri since the beginning of the season.
“It’s been really cool to watch this all unfold,” Morton coach Sean Kinsey said. “With his dad (Morton defensive coordinator Henry Johnson) being on the staff the last three years, we knew what his potential could be. To see it all come together has been exciting.”
TF North beat District 215 rival TF South 17-2 on Friday, snapping a four-game losing streak in the series. But the score notwithstanding, this win wasn't just about North's defense.
"The two ballgames we lost, we gave up 21 points on special teams and three turnovers," Meteors coach Tristan Stovall said. "We fixed the special teams piece, that was a big piece."
Much credit goes to senior Efren Gonzalez, who dropped five punts inside the TF South 20 and also kicked a field goal and two extra points.
Next up for North (2-2, 1-1 South Suburban Blue) is a home game vs. Lemont (3-1, 2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.
"This is by far the biggest game of the season," said Stovall, who still remembers a pair of state playoff losses to the Indians when he was an assistant at Morgan Park.
"They knocked us off twice with phenomenal teams," Stovall said.
Times Night/Sports Editor Mike Clark contributed to this story.