School district borders can be wacky sometimes.
Matt Micucci lives in Lake Zurich.
It's a fact that adds a little bit of insult to the injury felt by fans of the Lake Zurich football team.
Technically, the Bears got beaten by one of their own on Thursday night. A hometown boy, anyway.
Micucci, the starting quarterback at Stevenson, which entered the night chasing Lake Zurich and Lake Forest for first place in the North Suburban Conference Lake Division standings, was a load. He completed 18 of 23 passes for 247 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he also kicked a 42-yard field goal to help the host Patriots get a frenetic 24-17 final-minute victory over Lake Zurich.
It's a Lake Zurich team that is loaded with a bunch of Micucci's friends from youth football.
"I know everyone on that Lake Zurich team," Micucci said. "I grew up playing with them. It's always a big game for me, and I just came in with a big smile on my face, wanting to have fun because I knew that this would be the last time in my career that I would ever get to play Lake Zurich.
"It's the same for about six other guys on our team. They grew up playing in Lake Zurich, too, with the Flames youth teams. There are about 20 houses out in Lake Zurich that go to Stevenson."
Stevenson running back Kevin Foley lives in one of those houses. Like Micucci, he played youth football in Lake Zurich.
And, ironically, he also played a major role in disappointing many of the people who live near him.
Foley scored the game-winning touchdown on a 3-yard run with 23 seconds left.
With 4:33 left in a tie game (17-17), Micucci engineered a 13-play drive that moved the Patriots 98 yards. They had started at their 2-yard line after blocking a Lake Zurich field goal attempt.
"(Scoring the touchdown) was probably one of the best feelings in the world," said Foley, who rolled up 76 yards on 23 carries, including 41 yards on that final drive. "I live in this weird cutoff area, actually closer to Lake Zurich than to here (Lincolnshire) so I know all these (Lake Zurich) kids, too, and we always want to win this game real big.
"We got them last year and it's so exciting to get them again."
The Patriots, who move to 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the Lake Division and now just a half-game behind Lake Forest, had to dodge some major bullets in the process.
Up 17-3 at halftime, Stevenson watched as its lead evaporated within the first five minutes of the third quarter.
Lake Zurich quarterback Zach Till found openings all over the field, particularly on the outside corners and ran up the yardage. He had 2 rushing yards at halftime but finished with 108 yards.
He scored on a 22-yard run with 9:22 left in the third quarter and then swiftly directed the Bears (5-2, 3-1 Lake) down the field on their next possession. That drive also resulted in a touchdown, a 1-yard run by Mike Shield that tied the game at 17 with 6:53 left in the third.
Lake Zurich looked to score again early in the fourth quarter, but Stevenson came up with a clutch goal-line stand on the 1-yard line. On Lake Zurich's next possession, the Patriots blocked what would have been a go-ahead field goal.
"It took a lot to get back in the game, but we knew that we could do it." Till said. "We came out in the no-huddle offense in the second half and that seemed to help. We also had a different sense of urgency in the second half. We wish we could have come out that way at the beginning because it would have been a different game."
After a scoreless first quarter, Stevenson sprung to life in the second quarter when Micucci got the passing game working. He rang up back-to-back touchdowns on beautiful throws to Anthony Bozin and Jon Way.
Bozin's catch was a 55-yard bomb that he grabbed in stride while sprinting down field. And Way made a leaping catch in the back of the end zone in major traffic.
Bozin finished with 5 catches for 95 yards while Troy Radtke added 7 catches for 86 yards for the Patriots.
"Our receivers are awesome," Micucci said. "I would not be where I am without them. They had some great catches.
"This win is so great for us. It's a lot of momentum. We've got to feed off this victory."