Hersey senior quarterback Quinn Orlandi said his final high school football game was far from perfection on Friday night at Wheeling.
But playing for the Huskies was close to it.
"I loved the whole high school experience here," said Orlandi, who raced 4 yards for a touchdown less than three minutes into the game and the Huskies would never trail in a 19-6 victory that gave them their first second-place finish (tied with Elk Grove) in the Mid-Suburban East since 2004. "And Ioved our whole coaching staff."
The leader of that staff, Dragan Teonic, said he could not have been more proud of his seniors.
Three of them -- Bob Jaacks, Lendell Hargrove and Matt Thoms -- were on the offensive line along with juniors Chris Collins and Tyler Masini which helped pave the way for junior running back Mario Thomas' career-high 126 yards on 23 carries.
"They (O-line) did a real good job," said Orlandi, who also threw for 97 yards (9-of-19) and a touchdown pass to Eric Miklasz that made it 12-0 with 8:39 left in the third quarter. "They helped us up front and gave us that extra push."
The defense took care of the rest.
With the help of solid play from linebackers Matt Korff, Grant Burke, Hunter Rollins and Jim Thomsen, the Huskies (4-5, 3-2), pitched a shutout until the final minutes.
"Our defense did a great job," Orlandi added. "That kept us in the game."
Rollins also made his presence felt on offense, rushing for 68 yards, including a 1-yard TD run which put the visitors ahead 19-0 with 7:19 left in the game.
As they have all season under first-year coach Brent Pearlman, the Wildcats fought to the end. They got on the board when sophomore quarterback Amani Dennis sprinted 22 yards for a touchdown, cutting the deficit to 19-6 with 1:15 left to play.
Wheeling turned the ball over on fumbles a few times. Ed Beyer recovered one at the Huskies' 12-yard midway through the first quarter and Rollins grabbed one at the Wildcats' 30 yard line which set up Orlandi's TD pass to Miklasz.
Chad Mikosz had an interception for Wheeling (3-6, 1-4) while teammate Noah Ihde recovered a fumble in the final 40 seconds.
"I was upset because I felt we let down at the end," Teonic said. "But overall I was pleased. There was great physicality in the game. Their kids hit hard. We ran the ball well and controlled the ball most of the game."