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Passed by a senior and an up-and-coming sophomore on the depth chart to be Libertyville's primary passer, Jake Mansfield wasn't about to pass up an opportunity to contribute elsewhere on the football field.
Sometimes it's better to receive than give (up).
"They were better for the (quarterback) spot," Mansfield, a junior, said about senior Anthony Monken and sophomore Riley Lees. "What I wanted to do was try to help the team at a different position, so I just thought 'receiver,' because I think I'm pretty good at it."
The 6-foot, 165-pound Mansfield has been a good catch, so to speak, for the Wildcats.
Note the new wide receiver's 76-yard touchdown reception from Monken during Libertyville's 28-6 win over Westinghouse College Prep on Chicago's West Side on Saturday. It was a backbreaking TD for the host Warriors, who trailed just 7-0 before the Monken-to-Mansfield heroics late in the opening half.
It was Mansfield's first reception of the season.
"Right as I threw it, I was like, 'Is that Jake?'" Monken joked. "Quarterback-to-quarterback combo, I guess."
"We have that chemistry," Mansfield said.
Leading 7-0 thanks to the first of 2 touchdown runs by Conor Simpson (17 carries, 119 yards), Libertyville (1-1) faced a third-and-8 from its 24-yard line. Monken dropped back to pass and rolled left after being flushed from the pocket. He hit Mansfield near the sideline for a gain that would have been enough for a first down.
Mansfield then spun and sped down the sideline untouched, scoring with 2:28 left before halftime.
"I was running a 4-yard shallow," Mansfield said. "He threw me a little bit back so he didn't throw me out of bounds. I turned and there was nobody there. It was green grass."
It was Mansfield's only reception, but Wildcats coach Mike Jones clearly likes what he sees from his QB-turned-wide out. It was only about two weeks before the first game that Mansfield made the position change.
"We gave him the option to go to receiver, and he's really taken to it," Jones said. "He already knew the routes. He's done a nice job."
Libertyville got one more touchdown before the half was over thanks to its defense, which was dominant all afternoon. Kyle O'Malley's sack forced a fumble, which Matt Pierson of the Wildcats recovered at the Westinghouse 18. On the next play, Monken threw a perfect pass to the shoulder of Sean Ferraro, who had a defensive back draped all over him. The TD grab to the right corner of the end zone made it a 21-0 game with just six seconds left in the half.
Aleks Dragin had 2 sacks and another tackle for loss in the first half. Pierson produced 2 tackles for loss, while Taylor Rossmann, Pat McKiernan (interception), Zach Herr and Ryan Martin also dropped ball carriers for losses.
"We've been working hard on defense this whole week," Dragin said. "We've been watching a lot of film, and our scout team's been giving us really good looks."
Simpson, who started the scoring with a 38-yard touchdown run, scored Libertyville's only TD of the second half when he burst into the end zone from 25 yards out in the third quarter. Playing against Libertyville's backups, Westinghouse (0-2) broke the shutout with 5:35 left in the fourth on Devonte Odum's 5-yard TD run.
"I thought our defense played better," said Jones, whose Wildcats allowed 25 points in their season-opening loss to Palatine. "Better pad level, and our tackling was improved — but not where we need it."
Despite its 4-touchdown effort, Libertyville's offense still had its issues. The Wildcats fumbled six times on the artificial surface, losing one, and had four plays that accumulated negative-55 yards due to fumbled exchanges.
"We got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot," Jones said. "That's what happened last week, too (1 lost fumble, 1 interception). We got to clean it up."
For the second game in a row, Monken and Lees alternated series at quarterback, with the former receiving the start again.
The 6-foot-5 Monken finished 4 of 8 for 114 yards, while Lees was 1 of 5 for 23 yards (to Bryan Scanlan).
"Splitting time is fine," Monken said.
"I understand with Riley. He's got a great arm. He's a very fast and athletic kid. We don't have any hard feelings between the two of us. We get along fine."
And all of the Libertyville QBs — Mansfield included — are complementing each other.