In this pivotal NSC Lake Division battle in Lincolnshire on Friday night, both visiting Lake Forest and home-standing Stevenson used a back-up quarterback.
Injuries? No, it was a romp.
Stevenson (2-1, 1-0) waited most of the opening quarter to tally and it came on a safety.
But then the passing game of Aidan O'Connell and his collection of receivers began to chalk up yards.
Stevenson's statement game of the early season was a loud one, to the tune of a 43-12 romp.
The 6-foot-4 senior O'Connell, who has been quarterbacking since back in
the third grade, sat out the fourth quarter but still managed to complete 19 of 26 tosses good for 294 yards and three scores.
And he was quick to credit the folks who kept him safe -- that is, offensive linemen Jordan Casselberry, John Maskalunas, Ricky Machado, Brad Drazner and Anand Batbaatar.
Naturally, his TD tosses went to the Marchese brothers (Henry and Michael), but maybe the offensive hero on this night was another senior, Anthony Sibo.
He, too, handed out compliments after this one-sided affair.
"Lake Forest is a pretty good team,'' Sibo said. "But we played so well as a unit. Our offensive linemen did a good job and Aidan played a great game. We also have the best coaching staff. I think we have the best coaches in the state."
Again, this game didn't look like a romp early. Both teams had lengthy drives early but they fizzled out. Lake Forest (2-1, 0-1) made the first mistake and a bad snap on a punt handed the Patriots a 2-point lead.
Following the Lake Forest kick, the Pats tallied in just four plays. The key play came on a O'Connell pass of 38 yards to Terrence Fisher. Henry Marchese caught the game's first TD from 8 yards out and the Pats' lead was 9-0 heading to the second quarter.
"Our passing game is so hard to defend,'' O'Connell said. "Plus our defense made a lot of good plays so we got to stay on the field. I also have some great receivers. Sibo is so quick. He's like Christian McCaffrey (Stanford)."
Stevenson used just one play of the second quarter to bring the lead to 16-0. Another senior, Matt Korinek, did the honors from 3 yards out. Now, the visiting Scouts did have something to cheer about late in the second quarter. LF wide receiver, Ryan Cekay made a spectacular catch in the end zone and made good on a 38-yard touchdown pass. The Stevenson lead was down to 10 points at 16-6.
The Pats answered back before halftime. O'Connell teamed up with Sibo on two throws. In fact, the 6-foot-4 O'Connell didn't miss on a toss in this two-minute passing drill. The final toss of 8 yards went to No. 8, Michael Marchese. The halftime score was Stevenson 23, Lake Forest 6.
The third quarter kickoff went to the Patriots and they used just three plays to score again. The big blow was a 56-yard TD toss from O'Connell to Henry Marchese.
Sibo got three more catches in the second drive of the third quarter. That set up another short TD run by Korinek and this game was in control at 37-6.
The versatile Sibo turned into a running back late in the third quarter and his third carry paid off on a 4-yard TD run.
Back-up QB Grayson Kubow took the controls in the final quarter for the winning Pats.
"Our whole team got in the game tonight,'' Sibo said.