There is no question Stevenson defensive back Sam Oriatti comes prepared for each game the Patriots play.
And that makes sense, considering Oriatti has to face Michigan State-bound senior Matt Morrissey and soon-to-be Division 1 recruit Cameron Green in practice every day in practice.
So when Oriatti was tasked with taking on the likes of Lake Forest seniors Stephen Cirame and David Glynn, he was more than ready.
"He gets the best competition you would find anywhere in practice every day," said Stevenson coach Bill McNamara. "He is such a hard worker and is a great athlete."
Oriatti made athletic play after athletic play in the secondary for Stevenson. He intercepted 2 passes and contributed four more tackles to help the Patriots clinch their 24th consecutive playoff berth with a 20-6 win at Lake Forest on Friday night.
The win sets up a showdown in Lincolnshire next Friday night between Stevenson (6-2, 5-0) and unbeaten Lake Zurich (8-0, 5-0). The winner takes the North Suburban Conference Lake division title outright.
"Lake Forest is a great football team and they know how to win games," McNamara said of the Scouts. "They came in 6-1 and I thought we had a heck of an effort on defense tonight."
The high-flying offense for Lake Forest (6-2, 3-2) was slowed to a crawl by the Stevenson defense.
"We just never really got any momentum going," said Lake Forest coach Chuck Spagnoli. "First down turned into second-and-long, and that just makes it hard when you are constantly behind the chains."
Heading into the game, the biggest key for the Stevenson defense was to slow down Lake Forest leading rusher Hub Cirame. His 13-carry, 30-yard night was a season low as Cirame didn't have a carry longer than 4 yards all night.
"(Cirame) is a great player and makes great cutbacks, and that's his strength," said Stevenson linebacker Itai Gerchikov, who contributed 5 tackles and a pair of sacks. "We just focused on being disciplined and not letting Cirame make his cutbacks."
With the type of defensive effort Stevenson put forth, the Patriots needed only a little offense and they got plenty. The pitch-and-catch combination of Willie Bourbon-to-Morrissey worked twice on Friday night to pace the Stevenson offense.
The first strike came at the close of an 11-play, 80-yard drive to put the Patriots on top 14-3 on the second play of the second quarter. The 15-yard strike was just one of 8 catches by Morrissey for 77 yards.
The second of the strikes came late in the game with Stevenson clinging to a 14-6 lead. A punt by Green was fumbled by the Scouts, setting Stevenson up inside the Lake Forest 10. On the next play, Morrissey took his final pass from Bourbon for 8 yards and the final score.
Oriatti's first interception of the night set up the first Stevenson score. His pick of Lake Forest quarterback Regis Durbin helped set up a 24-yard scoring play from Bourbon to Green to get the Patriots offense off and running.
Stevenson's defense forced 4 turnovers total and scored 14 points off them.