The 'D' was the key for Elk Grove on Friday night at Hoffman Estates.
Senior Grenadiers defensive back Kishan Patel grabbed a clutch first-half interception, linebacker Mike Bishoff had two blitzing sacks, and the rest of the defense excelled in a 31-0 Mid-Suburban League crossover victory over the Hawks.
Even with the big win, however, Patel and the rest of his teammates felt they could have done better.
"We had a good game tonight after a good week of practice," said the senior, who also caught 4 passes for 66 yards from his wide receiver position, "but we made a lot of mistakes. We came out flat in the second half, especially offensively."
Hoffman (0-2) coach Eric Ilich, whose team was hurt by penalties (11 for 80 yards) and turnovers (3), said he saw some good things despite the loss.
"There were a lot of positives for us tonight," said Ilich. "We made some mistakes, but we've been learning from our mistakes.
"Our kids battled and played with a lot of heart, and it paid off, especially in the second half. We asked them at halftime to come out and fight in the second half, and they did that. I saw some great progress and if we keep improving, we're going to have a lot of success."
The Grens (2-0) were dominant in the first two quarters, scoring touchdowns on runs by Mikey Maize (1 yard) and Emmanuel Amafa (10 yards), and on passes from junior quarterback Adam O'Malley to Travon Royal (a 38-yard strike to open the scoring) and Patel (19 yards).
The second half was a different story and much more competitive for the Hawks, who twice advanced deep into Elk Grove territory only to turn the ball over on downs. Maize's 2-yard touchdown sweep was the only scoring of the final two quarters.
O'Malley finished 10-of-18 for 191 yards and 2 touchdowns to give first-year coach Larry Calhoun his initial MSL win.
"Our defense did a great job," said Calhoun, "but I'd like to see us finish a little better. We were flat after halftime."
Hoffman Estates running back Kabrian Johnson rushed 10 times for 43 yards and teammate Taqwon Jones ran for 33 yards, while Elk Grove's Bishoff was also a force on the offensive end, grabbing 3 passes for 63 yards -- including a 40-yarder down the middle that led to a TD.
"We were energized tonight," said Bishoff. "Our coaches put us in the right position to succeed. We wanted to come out and prove what Elk Grove football was all about."