A famous shampoo brand warned us some years ago that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
That theory was certainly on display at Owen Metcalf Field in Crystal Lake on Friday night.
Grayslake Central outplayed and outscored Crystal Lake Central in the second half.
But the first-half events proved that the host Tigers were head and shoulders above the Rams as they ran away with a 38-14 homecoming and Fox Valley Fox Division victory.
Crystal Lake Central (5-1, 3-0 in Fox division) had its ground game working early and often as it took all of three plays and 83 seconds for the Tigers to strike first. After a Tyler Jenkins 55-yard run, Darwin Stone raced in from 23 yards out.
That started a string of four consecutive Tiger touchdown drives in the first half. Jenkins tallied 173 of his 195 rushing yards in the first half alone including two of his three total touchdown runs. Connor Hines (90 rushing yards) added a 6-yard scoring run.
"We loved it, said Jenkins. "All of the backs ran really hard today and we did a great job."
Grayslake Central (2-4, 1-3 Fox Division) battled back in the second half behind an energized defense and the running of quarterback Tyler Gustke (83 yards rushing) and Jourden Swopes (team-high 94 yards rushing). Swopes, who had 110 yards the week before against Johnsburg, also tallied both Rams touchdowns with runs of 21 and 49 yards.
"We came out a little too flat, a little bit intimidated." said Swopes. "I feel that if we had come out with the fire and intensity that we had in the second half, we would have come out of here with a win."
"This week we emphasized playing through the end of the game," said Grayslake Central coach Ben Ault. "I think that really showed in the second half and it has built some confidence for our players when good things happen."