It's getting to the point where the Conant Cougars are struggling.
Struggling to find room for improvement, that is.
After Thursday's 33-7 Mid-Suburban divisional crossover victory at home against Prospect, the Cougars remained unbeaten (3-0) and ever more impressive against a young, relatively inexperienced Knights team that is struggling to find its identity and carve out a win (0-3).
"We're getting it together," said Conant coach Bill Modelski. "We're in the deep end of the pool, schedule-wise," with Rolling Meadows, Palatine and Schaumburg coming up.
And things didn't start out so well against Prospect, which sliced through the Cougars for an easy TD on their first possession and battled them tough all throughout the first half.
But these Cougars don't get rattled, even when they don't play well. "I wasn't on my game at all in the first half," said Cougars quarterback Danny Modelski, the coach's son.
You could've fooled the Knights, as Modelski threw 2 short TD passes in the first half, to Dante Marski and Michael Kos, and finished with 4 TD passes after breaking the game open in the second half with TD passes to Elias Gardner and the sure-handed, reliable Kevin Copher. Modelski hit 9-of-11 in the second half and 20-of-29 for the game for 228 yards.
More importantly, "I didn't get hit tonight at all," he noted, crediting Joe Novak, Mitch Tednes, Cody Foss, Micheal Meier and Brian Polaski (who left on crutches) with protecting him well all evening. And he spread the wealth, hitting four different receivers for TDs while five had multiple catches, including Bryson Brown, who rushed for a TD as well.
"If I put the ball anywhere near where it's supposed to be, they're going to catch it," he said of the confidence he has in them.
His defense played much the same, providing him with great field position most of the night thanks to the pressure Garry Hickerson and friends were able to get on impressive sophomore quarterback Matt Drew of Prospect. While he could only manage 8-of-20 for 89 yards and got picked on a great play by Odell Andrews, Drew showed a deft arm and good awareness.
"I'd go to war with kids like that anytime," said his coach, Mike Sebestyen. "I thought we played them even in the first half."
But the pick, two lost fumbles and then a botched snap on a key fourth down turned the momentum, and Prospect never got good field position again either.
Drew's effectiveness with Brian Maigler (3 receptions, 29 yards), Mike O'Malley (3 receptions, one for a TD) and Luis Leguer (11 carries, 53 yards) essentially disappeared after that play. After their touchdown, Prospect didn't snap the ball in Conant territory again until late in the third quarter.
Meanwhile though, "We're a very talented team," but with room for improvement still, said the younger Modelski. "We left a lot of points on the field. A lot of teams will make us pay."
"There's still a lot of things we can do better," said coach Modelski.