Nothing could keep Fremd quarterback Sam Beutler from starting on senior night.
Not even a torn ACL, which he suffered just three weeks ago, could keep the four-year starter in street clothes Friday.
"It is senior night and my senior year, what do I have to lose?" said Beutler, whose team had just stunned Schaumburg 36-27. "After I got hurt I targeted this game to come back and start.
"My knee is going to be repaired and I am going to have surgery after the season. I might as well get as much as I can out of it."
With Beutler on the field, the Vikings are a completely different team offensively. He kept the Saxons on their heels, going 8-for-13 passing for 102 yards a touchdown.
That allowed Garret Groot, who has come on like a cyclone the past two weeks, to rush for 167 yards and score 4 touchdowns for the second consecutive game.
"We can throw the ball with Sam in there," said Fremd coach Lou Sponsel. "Now if you want to bring everyone in the box, we just wait and take a shot.
"I can't believe he is playing. He has no ACL but no trainer, no doctor can find anything wrong with his knee. The kid can sprint, cut full speed, run, turn, hit and do everything fine. He's a leader out there too."
Scahumburg coach Mark Stilling, who showed his true class by crossing the field after the game to congratulate Beutler privately, was also impressed.
"I have nothing but respect for No. 8 (Beutler)," Stilling said. "I have been playing against him for four years. What a competitor. People have given in to far lesser injuries than that."
Fremd (6-2, 3-1) is now in a three-way tie for the conference lead in the MSL West with Schaumburg (7-1, 3-1) and Barrington (7-1, 3-1), which beat Palatine on Friday, with one week left in the regular season.
It wasn't just the Fremd offense, but also the Vikings defense that came up big.
After surrendering 156 yards to Schaumburg quarterback Stacey Smith in the first half, Fremd limited the Northwest suburbs' leading rusher to just 5 yards in the second half.
"We basically said that we needed to do our job out there," said defensive lineman Brandon Barwacz, who along with Stephen Walsh, Nick Breitzman, John Magnani, Joshua Soland, Jack Hansen, Erik Nelson, Jonathan Van Duch, Ryan Tarallo and Vincent Donile, held the Saxons to 82 yards rushing in the second half. "We had to clog them inside. We knew if we could keep their linemen off our backers, they could make the plays."
"Smith was gashing us up the middle in the first half," said Walsh, who had a fumble recovery and a sack. "In the second half we made some adjustments. The coaches put us in the right place and everyone just started making plays."
It was Fremd that made the plays early to take a 6-0 lead. After a defensive stop, the Vikings marched 59 yards in 11 plays in just over 5 minutes. Groot then tallied on a 7-yard run and the kick was wide.
Schaumburg came right back behind Smith (21 carries 161 yards) and Ryan Tuma (9 carries, 62 yards).
With Tuma keeping the Vikings off balance with his jet sweeps, the Saxons drove 80 yards in 9 plays with Tuma bouncing up the middle on a 3-yard run to put Schaumburg up 7-6.
The Saxons then appeared to be on their way to an easy victory, scoring on each of their next two possessions.
Justice Macneal-Young scored on a 3-yard run to make it 14-6. And after Fremd's Andrew Stark nailed a 36-yard field goal to close the gap to 14-9, Smith took over.
With the Saxon fans chanting "showtime, showtime," Smith put on one. He busted off two long runs in a row, the second a dazzling 54-yard touchdown run, and Schaumburg was up 21-9 with just over three minutes left in the half.
Fremd appeared to be in deep trouble when its next drive stalled after three plays, but Stark's punt was fumbled by Schaumburg and the Vikings' Max Schroll pounced on the ball at the Schaumburg 39.
With Beutler directing the Vikings, Fremd moved to the Schaumburg 1 on a sweet back-shoulder pass from Beutler to Cam Parker. Groot blasted over with 15.2 secondz left to cut the lead to 21-16.
"We had the momentum going into the locker room," Beutler said. "And we weren't going to lose it."
True to his words, Fremd came out of the second half and marched 69 yards 10 plays. After faking a jet sweep to Groot, Beutler hit Anthony Halvorsen on 20-yard seam pass for a touchdown. The conversion pass was incomplete, but the Vikings led 23-22.
Beutler connected with Halvorsen for a 36-yard pass to start the fourth quarter and Groot followed with a 28-yard touchdown run as Fremd increased its lead to 29-21 with 11:42 to play.
Schaumburg put together its only scoring drive of the second half, going 53 yards in 7 plays.
Tuma scored again on a 3-yard run as Schaumburg closed to 29-27 with 9:38 left. On the conversion, Smith rolled to his right, but his pass was knocked down at the last instant by Van Duch in the end zone. And that was as close as Schaumburg got.
After another defensive stop, Fremd grounded out four minutes on the clock. Groot finished off the scoring with a 13-yard run and the Vikings sideline erupted.
"The O-line has been pounding kids for me," said Groot, who has rushed for over 350 yards in his last two games. "It has been the same story the last two weeks. They are giving me gaps to hit."
Stilling says that his team will rebound from the tough loss.
"In crucial situations they absolutely killed us," Stilling said. "It was situations on both sides of the ball. But we will bounce back, and this will makes us a better team."