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Merrick Gentile, a growing boy, hungered for more points.
So Grayslake North's thick sophomore quarterback stood near the sideline, close enough to the field so his defensive teammates could hear him, and shouted words of encouragement.
"Get the ball back, baby!" Gentile yelled. "Fire up, 'D!' "
"He's a very vocal kid," Knights senior cornerback Mike McGrath said. "He's just a great kid."
Grayslake North's defense had taken its cue long before the fiery Gentile made his request with the Knights on the verge of commencing a running clock in the third quarter.
Grayslake North took the ball away from visiting Hampshire three times in the opening half, and Gentile and running back Titus Booker repeatedly carried the ball into the end zone, as Grayslake North celebrated homecoming with a 42-14 rout Friday night.
Hampshire had headed into the Fox Valley Conference Fox Division showdown with just 1 loss through four weeks. Grayslake North improved to 5-0 and 3-0 in the FVC Fox. The defending division champs visit 4-1 Crystal Lake Central next Friday. Gentile rushed 14 times for 141 yards and a touchdown, while completing 11 of 14 passes for 168 yards and a pair of scores.
In his first extensive action since Opening Night, Booker rushed 18 times for 105 yards and 2 TDs. The junior played only sparingly last week after missing two straight games with a high-ankle sprain. His return simply provided a spark against a quality opponent.
"I don't think we're stunned," Grayslake North senior linebacker Jesse Davis said of the final score. "We're more excited than stunned. We know we can do something special this year, so to see a score like that just instills even more confidence in us."
Grayslake North's defense set the tone immediately, pushing Hampshire (3-2, 1-2) back for negative yards on the game's first three plays from scrimmage. Grayslake North's first drive stalled, but the Knights needed only three plays to score when they got the ball back. Gentile's 27-yard scramble set up Booker's 5-yard TD run.
"We were out of sync from play one in the first half, both sides of the ball," Hampshire coach Dan Cavanaugh said. "(Grayslake North) prepared better than we did. They're a good football team."
Grayslake North starts 10 seniors on defense. The Knights' push came from their front eight of Davis, Noe Perez, Ian Pearce, Brandon Bock, Spencer Davis, George Deligiannis, Zac Juron and Joe Stark.
"Since (Opening Night against) Lakes, which is a great football team, our starters have given up 6 points," Grayslake North coach Steve Wood said. "That's a really good football team (Hampshire) that's put up a lot of points, and the kids played really well."
Up 7-0, the Knights scored again when Gentile hit Andrew Martineau down the middle of the field for a 49-yard TD pass. McGrath then wrestled the ball away from a Whip-Purs receiver for an interception that gave the Knights the ball at their own 46. Gentile finished a six-play drive by breaking a tackle at the line of scrimmage and bouncing into the end zone from 5 yards out with 2:33 left in the opening quarter to make it 21-0.
Booker scored his second touchdown early in the second quarter, eight plays after the Knights' Brandon Garver recovered a fumble on a kickoff. Spencer Davis' interception later in the half was Hampshire's third turnover. It was a 28-0 game at the break.
"In the first half we all worked together," said McGrath, whose interception was his second of the season. "We all followed the game plan, we all did our job, and it worked out for us."
Gentile fired a 24-yard touchdown pass to Brad Baker on the Knight's first series of the second half. Deligiannis' 2-yard TD run in the third capped the scoring for the hosts, making it 42-0 and starting the running clock.
Hampshire trailed 42-0 when it scored a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns against Grayslake North's backups. Nick Kielbasa (23 carries, 137 yards) raced into the end zone from 32 yards out. Then after Austin Swanson recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the Grayslake North 4, Kielbasa scored two plays later from the 2.
Hampshire's playoff hopes remain very much alive, as its next three opponents all having losing records.
"A lot of football to go," Cavanaugh said. "We lost to two very good football teams (Crystal Lake Central in Week 3). We'll bounce back."