Grayslake North had already locked up a spot in this year's playoffs, not to mention at least a share of the Fox Valley Conference's Fox Division title heading into Friday night's clash at Woodstock North.
A loss against the Thunder, and it still would be considered a very successful season for the Knights.
But Grayslake North wanted to erase the memories of last year's season-ending loss to the Thunder and take home their first outright Fox Division crown.
The Knights achieved both of those objectives with a 35-29 victory, bringing years of frustration and heartache to a screeching halt.
"The hard work by everybody, especially the kids," said Grayslake North coach Steve Wood. "It's just so special to be where we are right now. It was not a cakewalk through the Fox (Division)."
Seeing Knights quarterback A.J. Fish's mud-caked uniform after the game, the only cake it resembled was devil's food. However, in typical Fish fashion, he remained as slippery as ever, carrying the ball 41 times for 244 yards and 4 touchdowns.
With the Knights clinging to their 6-point lead in the fourth and facing third-and-12, Fish spent what seemed to be an eternity in the backfield, scrambling around and eluding Thunder defenders before connecting with Titus Booker on a 13-yard pass play to give the Knights a first down and allowing them to run out the clock.
"They (the receivers) know how I play," said Fish. "They know I like to scramble around. I knew somebody would be there and I saw Titus and threw him the ball and he made a great catch. We needed that."
"I was confident that he was going to stay on his feet," said Booker of the play. "I was just going that way and when I saw him (Fish) look at me, I knew it was going to be big. When he threw me the ball, time just froze. I couldn't hear anything, I was focused on the ball and getting a first down."
Booker also scored for Grayslake North (8-1, 6-0 in Fox division) with a 5-yard run in the second quarter.
Woodstock North (6-3, 4-2 in Fox Division) matched the Knights play for play for most of the game. Senior Ryan Wade was the standout on senior night for the Thunder with a team-high 162 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns.
"He's a great kid, returning all-conference player," said Woodstock North head coach Jeff Schroeder of Wade. "Unfortunately, we just came up short."
Thunder running back Adam Haimbaugh caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brian Loftin.
Wood was proud of his team and how they have handled themselves throughout the year.
"The overall camaraderie that they have shown as a group," said Wood. "They don't hang their heads, they work. We've been in some close games. We have gotten better in the second half as the game has gone on. That's the biggest thing that I am proud of, how coachable they are."