Elk Grove junior quarterback Adam O'Malley had a lot of responsibilities on Friday night.
O'Malley had to make reads on defensive ends to know whether or not to keep the ball. He had to read Buffalo Grove's base cover-three defense to hit his receivers downfield. On top of that, O'Malley had to grant his mom her wish.
"My mom was preaching, 'It's senior night. Get your brother in the game,'" O'Malley said.
O'Malley (9-for-13, 141 yards passing, two TD passes) did exactly that by leading Elk Grove (5-3, 3-1) to a 42-7 win against Buffalo Grove (1-7, 0-4), which allowed his older brother and understudy, Patrick, to get into the game in the fourth quarter on senior night.
"The more the game goes on, the more comfortable I get reading the backside ends in the run game and reading the pass coverage," O'Malley said. "Everything just went well tonight."
But while some hoped for Elk Grove to cruise to the victory, Grenadiers coach Larry Calhoun knew his guys couldn't afford to get caught looking ahead to the regular-season finale against Prospect next week.
"We talked to our guys about not being overconfident," Calhoun said. "We didn't talk about the urgency as much as we talked about them being overconfident."
It was the Elk Grove offense that stalled until its final possession of the first half. Though it led 14-7 thanks to some short field position, Elk Grove had yet to muster a drive of longer than 29 yards. O'Malley nearly doubled that with one play.
With just over a minute left in the first half, the Elk Grove signal caller hit a streaking John Pass down the middle of the field for a 52-yard touchdown. The touchdown gave the Grenadiers a 20-7 lead heading into the half.
O'Malley got it going again in the second half, only this time it was with his legs. He rushed for 41 yards on 6 carries, including a 20-yard touchdown scamper to put the game all but out of reach.
"I think what you're seeing is a kid maturing as a quarterback," Calhoun said of O'Malley. "He's going to keep getting better and better."
While O'Malley paced the Elk Grove offense, the Elk Grove defense didn't give the Bison any opportunities in the second half.
"We ran 10 plays offensively in the second half, so it wasn't O'Malley, it was us," DiMatteo said.
The all-around effort landed the once 2-3 Elk Grove into an enviable position heading into the regular season finale against Prospect. With 5 wins, the Grenadiers are now eligible for the playoffs but can clinch their postseason fate with a win next week. In case the pot wasn't juiced enough, Elk Grove can also clinch an MSL East title.
"It's huge," Calhoun said. "It's six wins, you're in the playoffs and five wins, it's maybe. We don't want to leave it to chance."