The scoreboard might not quite reflect it, but New Trier senior linebacker Sam Coffey said the Trevians defense got the shutout they craved.
Sure, the special teams did allow one Niles West score. But the Trevians D created three turnovers, held the Wolves offense to 113 yards from scrimmage and kept them out of the end zone in a 35-7 win in Skokie on Oct. 6.
“Our defense was flying around all night, making plays,” Coffey said. “One of our goals is to have a shutout every week. Even though they scored on the kick return, we got the defensive shutout.”
Coffey was instrumental in one of New Trier’s most important defensive plays of the night. Early in the fourth, he chased down Niles West quarterback Mike McGivern nearly 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage, sacked the QB and jarred the ball loose. New Trier’s Brian Ball picked up the pigskin and carried 10 yards into the end zone, giving the visitors a 28-7 lead.
The Trevians also got second-half interceptions from junior Grant Amick and senior Will Caffery.
The Caffery pick set up a late fourth-quarter 5-yard touchdown run by New Trier’s senior quarterback Jack Nykaza.
Nykaza put up big numbers in the air (12-of-18, 157 yards, 2 touchdowns) and on the ground (13 carries, 101 yards, touchdown).
“Nykaza is an all-around player. He can run and throw the ball,” senior receiver Christian Carr said. “We all trust him with the ball. We just put trust in him to make the plays that he does.”
Many of the plays Nykaza made against Niles West (2-5, 0-3) were aided by Carr, who had an impressive eight catches for 134 yards.
Junior runningback Michael Thomas gained 98 yards on 16 carries. The Trevians were without junior runningback Daniel Olaniyan, who was nursing a leg injury.
One of the few negatives for New Trier’s offense was that it was called for a number of holding penalties, some of them responsible for preventing lengthy drives from reaching the end zone.
“It wasn’t pretty, we made a lot of mistakes that we have to clean up, but we did a lot of positive things too,” New Trier head coach Dan Starkey said. “Our defense was outstanding. Our special teams were pretty good, except for the kick return. Receiver Christian Carr made lot of great plays. We ran the ball well. We just have to clean up the number of holding calls.”
Despite outgaining Niles West 241-45 yards in the first half, the Trevians led just 14-7 at halftime.
Actually, New Trier looked like it was heading into the locker room with momentum after Nykaza hit Carr for a 20-yard touchdown with 24 seconds remaining in the first half. The score put NT up 14-0.
But Niles West junior Jeremiah Jordan returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown. It was Jordan’s third kickoff return for a score this season. He also has taken a punt back.
New Trier responded immediately in the second half, as Thomas ran it in from eight yards on the Trevians’ third play from scrimmage after the break.
The visitors had a chance to extend their lead early in the fourth, but Amick missed a 37-yard field-goal attempt.
New Trier opened the scoring on its first possession of the game when Carr caught a 24-yard touchdown from Nykaza.