The atmosphere was already a little sad when Grant and Stevenson kicked off in Fox Lake on Friday.
Fans on both sides set out to raise money for the family of Grant junior cornerback Christian Gomoll, who suffered a broken neck last week against Wauconda. Gomoll is expected to make a full recovery.
Then the host Bulldogs endured another nasty injury in this game, to quarterback Kyle Whitman, but this one might be solved with a few stitches.
With Grant down to its third-string quarterback, it couldn't match Stevenson's offensive firepower. The Patriots utilized plenty of weapons in their spread offense and won 42-7.
"First of all, hats off to Grant. They're a little banged up right now," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. "We feel really bad about the kid that got hurt last week. We hope that he's OK. When you start digging deep in your team, it can be hard for you."
For a while, it looked like this could be a competitive game. Grant trailed 14-7 late in the first quarter and had just picked up a first down near midfield when bad luck struck.
Whitman was fighting for yards in a crowd when his helmet flew off. He emerged from the pile with a gash on his head and used a towel to control the bleeding. He headed to the hospital, most likely for stitches, and coach Kurt Rous said there didn't appear to be signs of a concussion, which is obviously good news.
"He just has a cut on his head. He should be back," Rous said. "I haven't seen him since he left, but all signs point to him being able to play."
Stevenson's defense seemed geared to stop Grant fullback Jonathan Wells, and Whitman stepped up to gain 53 yards on 11 carries before leaving the game. His 9-yard touchdown run tied the score at 7-7.
Grant's backup quarterback is junior Jake Bychowski, who suffered an elbow injury last week and is out for about a month. Third-stringer Jason Bach did a decent job, but the Bulldogs faced an uphill battle.
Meanwhile, the Patriots (3-1) put their sophomore connection on display. Quarterback Willie Bourbon hit Cameron Green for a 59-yard touchdown pass to put the visitors up for good, and later found his fellow sophomore for a 28-yard gain.
Green said he and Bourbon have been together since they were 6-year-old bantams playing for the Buffalo Grove Bills.
"We've been best friends since then," Green said. "(We were teammates) almost every year. Those were great times. I was actually a running back then, but he's always been such a great player. Great guy."
A muffed punt return by Grant set up a 4-yard run by Bourbon, giving Stevenson a 28-7 lead in the final minute of the first half. Seniors Ian Burns and Collin Becker added touchdown runs in the second half.
"Everybody on our team practices really hard and they don't always get an opportunity to get in a game," McNamara said. "It was a great team win and we're very proud of all of the kids on our team."
Grant (3-1) plays its Homecoming game next Saturday against Vernon Hills and is hoping to be a little healthier.
"We've got our work cut out for us. We've got to fill some spots," Rous said. "It's good that we have an extra day so we can hopefully get our guys healed up."
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