As his Stevenson football teammates, including Matt Morrissey warmed up before kickoff on Barrington's wet field, an emotionless Jimmy Marchese watched the opponent run drills.
The junior linebacker/wide receiver balanced himself on crutches, which he's needed since tearing his right ACL against Glenbard North last week. Marchese, who took a helmet to the knee, is scheduled for surgery the day before Thanksgiving.
"I'm all right," Marchese said. "We got to get a win tonight, though, and I'll feel better."
Stevenson's walking wounded on the sideline before Saturday night's Class 8A state quarterfinal also included the big-boy trio of offensive linemen Zach Novoselsky and Henry Sise and defensive lineman Patrick O'Connell, all of whom have missed most of the season with injuries. Novoselsky (left leg), Sise (right) and O'Connell (right) each sported a walking boot.
"We have so many players injured, it's unbelievable," Marchese said.
In the end, however, after a pair of lightning delays and another stoppage as a result of Barrington's Dylan Bingham having to be carted off on a stretcher in the second half, it was Stevenson that was standing tall again. And healthy after a game, finally.
The Patriots booted the Broncos 14-0, so to speak, earning them a berth in the state semifinals for the first time since they finished as the state runner-up in 2002.
Marchese, surrounded by happy teammates, flashed a large smile.
Stevenson even won without its superstar wide receiver/safety again, as Morrissey didn't play for the second game in a row due to a left hamstring injury that he suffered during practice before the Glenbard North game.
Morrissey stood on the sidelines the entire game, helmet on, as if waiting for his jersey No. 8 to be called.
"Matt was ready to play if we needed him," coach Bill McNamara said after his Patriots won their 10th game in a row. "He was feeling pretty good. We were thankful that it worked out where we didn't have to put him on the field and risk the chance that he might tweak himself again."
"The team took care of it," said Morrissey, who even if he did play, was going to be limited. "I'm just so proud of our team. They showed their resilience."
Stevenson got exactly the start it needed. After the defense forced Barrington to punt on the game's opening series, the Patriots scored when two of their other stars, Willie Bourbon and Cameron Green, hooked up on a 37-yard touchdown pass. James Mahoney then recovered the ensuing kickoff, which slid through the hands of a Bronco, and seven plays later Bourbon hit sophomore Jack Sorenson in the end zone from 12 yards out.
Sorenson, who just got called up for the postseason and caught his first varsity pass against Glenbard North, happens to be Morrissey's backup at wide receiver.
"Very proud of him," McNamara said.
"He's a great player, great athlete," Morrissey said of Sorenson. "I'm excited for him."
Up 14-0 on a night when a driving rain and wicked wind made it difficult to generate offense, McNamara never had to be tempted to put Morrissey on the field. The defense was humming thanks to Ryan Mass, Itai Gerchikov, Green (Morrissey's replacement at safety), Sam Oriatti, Blake Drazner, Rory Koenig, Jason Vravick, Zack Kozub and Nick Dillon, among others. It was the Patriots' first shutout.
"I thought I was going to play a little bit," Morrissey said. "A decoy? I guess you could say that a little bit."
The sixth-seeded Patriots next get a shot at No. 1 Loyola in Lincolnshire. Rest assured, Morrissey will be in uniform again next Saturday. Whether he plays -- or plays decoy -- remains to be seen.
"I hope to be back early in the week, be practicing again and be back to 100 percent," Morrissey said. "I should definitely be able to play next week."
Come rain (again) or shine.
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