After three straight 1-8 seasons, North Chicago's 3-0 start feels a little bit like …
"Heaven," North Chicago coach Glen Kozlowski said joyfully in the wake of his team's latest triumph Saturday.
The Warhawks stayed unbeaten in convincing fashion with a 50-6 North Suburban Conference Prairie Division victory over visiting Round Lake.
North Chicago took full advantage of a couple of early Round Lake turnovers and by halftime was sitting on a 22-0 lead.
"They just didn't get a lot going offensively," Kozlowski said of Round Lake, which drops to 0-3. "Our defense overwhelmed them."
Tazari Bryant, Khalil Rogers and Daminian Martin were just a few of the stars defensively for North Chicago. Bryan came up with a couple of sacks, Rogers made tackles all over the field and Martin picked off three passes, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
"We started off with two big turnovers and they capitalized right away," Round Lake coach John Coursey said. "They got good field position, starting within our 40-yard line twice. Within the first nine minutes, we were down 14-0.
"I think that flustered us. We had a good plan, we just didn't execute it well."
The Warhawks also made their mark on special teams, blocking three Round Lake punts.
Offensively, quarterback JaVairius Amos-Mays had a big day for North Chicago. He threw 2 touchdown passes and also was able to move the ball on the ground behind the blocking of big 6-foot-4, 300-pound lineman Jazz Johnson.
"(Amos-Mays) had a really nice game," Coursey said. "He ran well, and he showed that he could pass the ball. He kept them really balanced."
North Chicago entered the fourth quarter up 38-0 when Round Lake finally got on the board. Tyler Hernandez ran in a score from 3 yards out.
Hernandez, normally a receiver for the Panthers, took over at quarterback when starter John Ridley left the game with an injury. Ridley hit his thumb on a helmet on a passing play and it began to swell.
"I pulled John just to be on the safe side. We'll have to see how he does, but for now he's day-to-day," Coursey said. "Tyler did a nice job of coming in and running our spread offense."
North Chicago also shuffled up its lineup, subbing out starters en mass as the lead ballooned.
"Everyone got to play today and that was good for us because it creates competition and it gives us the chance to see a lot of different guys in game situations," said Kozlowski, who has about 40 players on his varsity roster. "That was a positive that we'll take into next week when we really get into the meat of our schedule. We play Antioch and we'll see what we're really made of."
But already, the season has been a success for the up-and-coming Warhawks, who even overcame an 18-point deficit in Week One to defeat Waukegan.
"We've made such great strides after having struggled for so long," Kozlowski said. "This has been fun and I have a wonderful group of kids. We start 18 underclassmen, so we've come together a year earlier than I even thought we would.
"We're only going to get better."