Bobby Suchecki has been building for this moment his whole life. Now the 17-year-old has Rolling Meadows poised to break through in the Class 6A playoffs when the Mustangs host Batavia in a second-round Class 6A playoff matchup at 6 p.m. Saturday.
"We are really looking forward to this," Suchecki said. "It is what we have worked for all season."
And that work has really started to add up nicely. Suchecki has thrown for 2,251 yards and 24 touchdowns as the Mustangs have averaged over 35 points.
"He has played well all year for us," Rolling Meadows coach Matt Mishler said. "But he has really hit his stride for us lately. It is not a surprise to me at all. I thought he was going to be real good this year."
With the success Suchecki has had this year at quarterback, Rolling Meadows has become one of the premier programs at developing quarterbacks. Jimmy Garoppolo, who played at Rolling Meadows four years ago, is tearing up the college ranks at Eastern Illinois and is expected to go in the NFL draft next year. Jack Milas, who was a three-year starter for the Mustangs is now plying his trade at Ball State.
"I've been fortunate," said Mishler, who also coached Matt Holmes when Mishler was at Wheeling. "I would say it has been the luck of the draw to have the talent we have had."
Mishler had just the off-season to develop Suchecki, after Milas led the program last fall. And the hard work by both has paid huge dividends for the Mustangs.
"Not playing as a junior, this is essentially his first year as a starter," Mishler said. "It took him a little while to get to his maximum. Bobby has got better and better every week. He is hitting his stride now."
Mishler says that the easy-going attitude that Suchecki demonstrates makes it easy on his teammates.
"Bobby is a great kid," Mishler said. "He is happy-go-lucky and a lot of fun to be around. He is never too high or too low. He just takes every day and tries to get better.
"He makes me laugh on a daily basis, even some times when I don't want to be laughing. He keeps the team loose. But they know when to get down to business. They focus well and get their work done."
The Mustangs needed that focus -- and resiliency -- after their devastating last-second loss to Elk Grove midway through the season.
"That was the hardest thing I had to ever go through as far as football is concerned," Mishler said. "It was so shocking and sudden. But I knew our kids would bounce back because they are such resilient kids. I never had any doubt that it would make them stronger."
Mishler didn't need to wait long to see how strong. Just a week later, Suchecki rallied the Mustangs in the final 1:51 against Hersey. Suchecki drove Rolling Meadows 80 yards, throwing an 8-yard touchdown pass to Matt Campbell with 6.8 seconds left for a 24-21 victory.
"I knew we could do it when we got the ball back," Suchecki said. "This was the opportunity I was waiting for."
Suchecki didn't have to wait long for his opportunity to play quarterback. He began his football career playing for the Rolling Meadows youth program as a backup quarterback. But when the starter went down with a broken arm, Suchecki stepped in and had success from then on.
"I always wanted to be the starting quarterback at Rolling Meadows high School," Suchecki said. "This is a dream come true for me."
Suchecki was a starter on the freshman "B" team and worked his way up from there. As a sophomore, he won the starting job, but moved up to the varsity when Milas' backup was injured.
He played behind Milas last year, seeing only limited time.
"It was something we wanted to happen," Mishler said. "But Bobby did get to work out with the varsity for the last half of the season. But up until that point he was having a fantastic season on the sophomore team. We were excited to get him and we knew he would be good."
Suchecki had to wait his turn to get that starting. He tutored for a year and half under Milas, waiting for his chance.
"I learned a lot from him," Suchecki said. "I was in his hip pocket all the time, seeing his reads. I would then do the reps myself and that helped prep me."
Suchecki has had great targets to throw to in Campbell, Romello Boykin, Alex Niecikowski and running back Kevin Montero, who is coming off a 5-touchdown game that included 2 pass receptions for scores. They all get that done behind an offensive line of George Someris, Francisco Trejo, Billy Golaris, Jason Scheele, Greg Off and Matt Long, who broke his foot against Buffalo Grove.
Suchecki will wait until the season is over to explore his options in college.
"That's what my parents, coach Mishler and I decided," Suchecki said. "If it works out for me, that is great. But I am just concentrating on Batavia right now."
And living the dream.