Hoffman Estates made all of the plays, seemed to get all of the breaks.
But it was visiting Fremd that got all the scores Friday night in a 17-0 Mid-Suburban West victory that just as easily could've gone the other way.
"We were fundamentally unsound," said Lou Sponsel, Fremd's coach, after watching his team commit 14 penalties for 145 yards and losing the ball three times on turnovers.
"We got outplayed," Sponsel said.
But certainly not outscored. The Vikings (4-1, 1-0) made the big plays when they needed to.
Nick Breitzman was in the right place at the right time when he took in a deflected pass and scooted 80 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter, blunting what looked like it was going to be a game-tying touchdown drive directed by Dante Cleveland on a pass to Mike Baureis and Kabrian Johnson on a halfback option completion of 17 yards to Connor McCreary.
"The defense came to play," said Sponsel. Breitzman had a fumble recovery later too.
"The defense played awesome," said Fremd running back Jeff McGlade, whose 66-yard dart opened the scoring in the first period. McGlade somehow managed to dance through a string of tacklers and then picked up some key blocks. He credited the offensive line for his ability to gain 138 of Fremd's 276 total yards.
That group included tight end Clayton Dukewich and Matthew Konopka, plus Brad Ruehrdanz, Scott Hoffmann and Dominic Lombard.
Quarterback Trever Cutler stepped in for injured Sam Beutler and played well, going 7-of-11 for 62 yards with a late pick that fortunately didn't hurt. Andrew Stark's punting kept Fremd out of field-position problems, especially in the second half.
But Hoffman just left too many plays and points out on the field. The Hawks moved the ball on Cleveland's arm and Keegan Mugerditchian's legs, with occasional counters from Johnson and key receptions from Tyler Biddle and and Mike Baureis. But Fremd's defense just smothered the Hawks when it had to.
Jonathan Van Duch, Garrett Groot and Jawan Gaines shut down the receivers in the red zone and Dukewich, Djameno Ntowe-Fankam and Stephen Walsh bottled up the running game and provided the pass rush. Dukewich stunted a drive himself, sacking Cleveland and forcing a fumble.
Except in the red zone, "We were fundamentally sound," said former Fremd coach and current Hoffman Estates coach Mike Donatucci, who said how nice it was to play against so many athletes and coaches he knows so well and respects so much. "I'm extremely proud of our kids. This is the first complete game we've played. I thought Dante did a good job of managing the game."
But the 17-0 win wasn't good enough for Fremd, which travels to Barrington next week.
"We were undisciplined," Sponsel said of the penalties and turnovers. "We had too many errors."
As long it comes out 17-0, McGlade will take it, although, lugging a game ball of the field, he agreed with his coach.
"We've got to stay smart," he said of the errors. "We've got to eliminate the mental mistakes. We've got to focus on that."