A multi-tasking Stevenson coach Bill McNamara was talking to reporters on Libertyville's football field when he ordered an exhausted Chris Geppert to take a knee.
Geppert's opinions on Friday night's North Suburban Lake Division opener/thriller had also been requested.
" 'Gep' played very good on defense," McNamara said of the defensive end, who batted down a pass and made a tackle for loss on third-and-4 on the game's first series.
Geppert and all of his Stevenson teammates on defense played well, and, following the Patriots' 14-9 win, finally, they could rest. But they had to survive a scare from the host Wildcats, who nearly authored their second come-from-behind win in the season's first three weeks.
"That was definitely in the back of my mind -- Barrington all over again," said Libertyville running back Brian Swift, referring to his team's 24-20 win on Opening Night. "I wish."
Libertyville (2-1) trailed Barrington 20-10 after three quarters. The Wildcats spotted Stevenson a 14-0 lead in the opening quarter, and the score didn't budge until Austin Williams kicked a 27-yard field goal with 1:52 left in the third to spoil Stevenson's shutout bid. A 42-yard completion from Jack Deichl to Week-1 hero Justin Guarnaccio, after a deft pump fake from Deichl, put Libertyville in field-goal range.
"Once we opened up and started passing more, then it opened up the box for the run and our pass game, too," said Swift, who led the Wildcats on the ground with 62 yards on 18 carries. "They complemented one another."
Then midway through the fourth, Deichl (13-of-26 passing, 202 yards) engineered a quick, four-play, 79-yard drive capped by his 8-yard bullet to Conor Simpson (6 catches) in the end zone with 5:42 left. Another long pass to Guarnaccio -- good for 46 yards -- had put the home team inside the 10.
Anthony Bozin broke up Deichl's PAT pass to keep the Stevenson lead at 5.
"(Stevenson) was being aggressive in the secondary, and we tried to take advantage of it," Wildcats coach Mike Jones said. "The biggest thing is, you got to be able to pass protect, and we did. But we got to be a little more balanced (running and passing) than we were tonight."
When Stevenson (2-1) got the ball back, sophomore quarterback Willie Bourbon hit Matt Morrissey for a 15-yard pickup on third-and-7 from the Patriot 23. The visitors were able to eat up all but 21 seconds remaining on the game clock.
"Our offense just did unbelievable," Geppert said. "Our defense did even better."
Bourbon was intercepted by A.J. Schmidt and Kevin Thompson on Stevenson's first two possessions of the second half, but he overcame it to finish with 180 passing yards and 68 rushing yards. Bourbon completed 7 passes to 6-foot-4 wide receiver Alan Velev.
"One time the linebacker baited him like he was going to the flat, and he stayed in the curl," McNamara said. "But other than that, Willie had a great game tonight. He's a very mature sophomore for us, and he's a big-time player."
Libertyville failed to take advantage of either interception.
"Missed opportunities," Jones said. "It's tough, but the way we've been practicing is inconsistent, and it showed on the field."
Libertyville did not commit a turnover in either of its first two games, but Bozin's interception of a Deichl pass at the Libertyville 33 resulted in Danny Nowak's 2-yard TD run with 1:58 left in the opening quarter. Nowak's 16-yard sprint had given the Patriots the lead.
Afterward, McNamara noted to his players how games against Lyons and Homewood-Flossmoor had made them battle-tested.
"Lyons showed us what smash-mouth offense is," Geppert said of the Patriots' Opening Night opponent.
"Our defense was very strong," McNamara said. "Libertyville was playing with a short field most of the second half, and our defense came up big. They had big stops. They made plays."