Schaumburg kept its focus on Friday night at Hoffman Estates, and now all eyes are on Palatine.
The Saxons football team exploded for 30 second-quarter points en route to a convincing 57-7 Mid-Suburban League West victory over Hoffman Estates at Dennis Garber Stadium.
The victory sets up a big matchup next Friday night when Schaumburg (7-1, 3-1) visits MSL West leader Palatine (7-1, 4-0) with the West title at stake.
"We talked about this all week -- it's not about beating Hoffman, it's about getting better," said Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling of the Saxons' focus. "The kids know the significance of next week but our focus doesn't change."
Schaumburg was keyed in all night against a feisty Hoffman team and junior running back/quarterback Stacey Smith gave the Saxons a lift by rushing for 203 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Smith opened the scoring with an 87-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and then rushed for 18- and 24-yard scores in the second quarter.
"We knew we couldn't take it easy this week," said Smith. "We had to keep the motor running. We've been looking at Palatine since the season started."
Senior Cole Reyes added to the fun by returning a kickoff 70 yards for a score in the first quarter, giving the Saxons a 13-7 lead.
Reyes then set up Smith's third touchdown with a one-handed interception at the Hoffman 30.
The senior added a 7-yard scoring catch from senior quarterback Nick Anzelmo with 1:05 remaining in the first half to increase the Saxons' lead to 36-7.
A 30-yard touchdown reception by senior Juwaan Richards from Anzelmo (8-for-10, 2 touchdowns) on the final play of the first half increased the Schaumburg's lead to 43-7.
"We've kind of been doubted all year," said Reyes."Now we just have to show what we're made of."
Hoffman Estates (0-8, 0-4) battled hard early and tied the score at 7-7 on a 5-yard scoring run by senior Harry Wright (15 carries, 90 yards) late in the first quarter.
But Hoffman unraveled, committing 15 penalties for 148 yards.
Schaumburg didn't miss a beat in the second half as backup O.J. Sally scored on an 18-yard run, increasing the Saxons' lead to 50-7 late in the third quarter.
Junior backup Ryan Hoemecke picked up a fumble and rumbled 74 yards for the Saxons' final score in the fourth quarter.
"The kids stayed with it," Stillings added. "The focus the last nine weeks has been about us getting better."
Hoffman continues to pick up the pieces in a trying season.
"We didn't handle adversity well tonight," said Hoffman coach Eric Ilich whose team had three critical turnovers that resulted in Schaumburg touchdowns. "All the credit goes to Schaumburg. They have a very skilled team."
One that will be playing for an MSL West title next week.