Senior quarterback Brian Owens completed 13 of 23 passes for 223 yards and rushed for a touchdown as Hinsdale Central eked out a 20-17 win over York and improved its playoff resume in its regular season finale Friday night in Hinsdale.
The Red Devils (7-2, 4-2) head into the playoffs after back-to-back wins, but head coach Rich Tarka wasn't too pleased with his team's performance against the Dukes, who finished the season without a win but hung around Friday night and were a defensive stop away from making things very interesting.
"We just made enough mistakes to keep us out of our flow," Tarka said.
A pair of fumbles, some missed assignments on the offensive line, and some forced throws by the quarterback were among "the little things" the coach said need to be fine-tuned before the postseason, which begins next Friday.
Pairings will be announced over the weekend. Tarka said the coming week of practice has to be different.
"It can't be just another week because what we've been doing has not been effective enough," the coach said.
Senior offensive tackle Nick Piker said it was nice to get a win on Senior Night, but it should not have been as close a game as it was.
"We gotta step it up a lot," Piker said, embracing the new win-or-go-home playoff mentality. "If we lose next week, it's over."
Junior running back Ben Stefani gave senior Jack Adams plenty of rest Friday night, running for 92 yards on 23 carries. Adams ran for 66 yards and a touchdown on seven carries in the first half. He didn't play after halftime.
All the Red Devils' points came in the second quarter. After dropping behind 10-0, Hinsdale Central rattled off rushing touchdowns on three straight drives—the first by Adams, the second by Owens, and the third by junior fullback Jacob White—to take a 20-10 lead into halftime.
A scoreless third quarter allowed the Dukes (0-9, 0-6) to hang around before a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Andrew Iwaszkiewicz to senior receiver Austin Wagner cut the Red Devils' lead to three with 5:22 left in the game.
Hinsdale Central never gave the ball back. An 11-play drive that featured a clutch fourth-and-inches conversion by Owens on a keeper was enough to run out the clock on York's last chance to win a game in 2012.
First-year head coach Steve Nye said his team simply wasn't big enough and strong enough this year. But he said he was proud of the way they finished the season against playoff opponents in Glenbard West and Hinsdale Central.
"We played those two teams tough," he said. "We can build off those things."
Nye said he understands his team is likely frustrated with their 2012 record.
"But they can look at themselves in the mirror and say they played hard every game, all year," he said.
Iwaszkiewicz completed 14 of 25 passes Friday night for 190 yards and two touchdowns, both to Wagner. Wagner finished with six catches for 102 yards.
Senior running back Jordan Peacock had 49 yards on 16 carries.