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Larkin making a habit of fourth-quarter drama
 

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Larkin making a habit of fourth-quarter drama
 

It's a fitting nickname, but Larkin football coach Mike Scianna would prefer something else.

Anything else.

"One of our coaches called us the cardiac kids, but I don't want to keep that name," the Royals' second-year coach said after his team beat rival Elgin 22-21 Saturday. "I want to take control of one of these games."

Larkin won its last two games but didn't "take control" until the final seconds in either instance.

Last week the Royals defeated St. Charles East 26-20 by blocking a field goal and returning it 82 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 13 seconds left.

The Royals tested their coaches' threshold for suspense yet again Saturday.

After getting stuffed at the goal line by the Elgin defense, the Larkin defense responded with a safety on the next play to regain the lead with 2:46 left in the fourth quarter.

Each team would score another touchdown in the frenzied final three minutes. Larkin was finally able to celebrate when the Maroons misconnected on a 2-point conversion pass with 12 seconds left in the Town Jug game.

The two thrillers upped Larkin's record to 3-2, but each came at a cost to the coaching staff: a few more gray hairs and lower scores on their next stress tests.

"You couldn't put two games together like we just played," an emotionally drained Scianna said after his team moved above .500 for the first time in his tenure. "That's just amazing. The only thing that would have been better would have been if these had been playoff games."

Playoff games ... hmmmm. That's a valid topic of conversation on the west side of Elgin now that the Royals have won two straight for the first time since Weeks 7 and 8 of the 2009 season.

Larkin hasn't made the playoffs since 2006 when current Elgin coach Dave Bierman was leading the Royals. Beating St. Charles East and Elgin in dramatic fashion gives this team of second-half heroes a shot to end that drought, but they must win two of their four remaining games to become playoff eligible.

The task is not impossible, but it won't be easy. Larkin's final four opponents include Waubonsie Valley (4-1), St. Charles North (0-5), Streamwood (5-0) and Geneva (5-0).

If there's a silver lining to that difficult schedule, it's that the Royals play Waubonsie Valley, Streamwood and Geneva within the friendly confines of Elgin's Memorial Field.

"We get them all on our home turf this year," Scianna said. "That's unbelievable. I'd rather play them here than there. I know Waubonsie Valley is great. We've got our work cut out for us on our homecoming (next Friday). We want to defend our turf."

Larkin is beginning to click at the right time. Senior Shaquille Mosley is developing into a dependable secondary receiver to bookend senior Justin Banks, who led the area in receiving yards heading into the weekend. Both are athletic, run-after-the-catch targets for third-year quarterback Kyle Newquist, who has yet to throw an interception this season.

Another reason for hope is the emergence of junior running back Mo Jackson. He carried the ball 34 times for 143 yards Saturday. Play-action passing should become more effective for the Royals in the wake of that performance.

Scianna sees it all coming together for a group of kids he knows so well.

"This group of seniors I had as freshmen; I was their freshman coach," he said. " But they took our identity away back then by taking five kids up to the sophomore level. "These kids now are really still learning each other a little bit up at this level. Hopefully, we find our identity."

And a new nickname while they're at it.

jfitzpatrick@dailyherald.com

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