While there wasn't a playoff spot on the line for Prospect and Elk Grove in their season finale Friday night, both teams took a queue from the classic song first recorded by Stevie Wonder in 1973 and famously covered by the Red Hot Chili Peppers 16 years later.
Both squads were reaching for Higher Ground for their respective program's futures.
Thanks to their defense, the visiting Knights were able to get some with a 31-14 season-ending victory at Haskell Stadium that moved their final record to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in the Mid-Suburban East.
"It's good to get that fourth win," Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen said, referring to a 1-win improvement over the previous two seasons. "It's a step in the right direction for our program as we were able to get all 22 of our seniors in the ballgame tonight and go out with a win."
That win was helped by a 12-play, 56-yard drive on the Knights' first possession of the second half possession, which ended with a 21-yard Jack Pruban field goal that put Prospect up 10-8.
On Elk Grove's following series the Prospect defense began to turn the tide as a swarm of white jerseys with blue trim stopped junior RB Genio Hyppolite on a fourth-and-1 on the Grenadiers' own 25 with 2:48 left in the quarter. Some 48 seconds later, Knights QB Andrew Shafis (193 yards combined rushing and passing) separated himself from a Grens rush, shook off a couple of defenders and scampered 26 yards to pay dirt, giving Prospect a 17-8 lead.
Elk Grove (0-9, 0-5) answered with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that brought them back within 17-14 as junior QB Tyler Selvig (8-15, 107 yards) connected with Sammy Prestia from 12 yards on a fourth-and-goal with 7:22 remaining.
After forcing a Prospect three and out, the Knights defensive unit led by Sam Stolidakis, Drew Compton, Josh McDermott and Zach Gleason stopped Grens senior fullback Connor Cloherty (28 carries, 166 yards) on a fourth and 1 at the Elk Grove 47 with 4:19 remaining.
Prospect sealed the deal four plays later when another of its 22 seniors, Dante Cecala, broke free on a 35-yard run. A 45-yard pick six by Gleason 24 ticks later provided the game's final score.
"The whole week our coaches on defense have really been emphazing staying within our lanes due to their ability to spread the field so well," said Cecala, a two-way starter who also added 4 catches for 43 yards as a receiver. "It's been rough having been stuck on 3 wins the last couple of years and it's nice to go out with win number 4. Hopefully it will lead to the program getting that consistency that you need to compete and succeed long term."
For Elk Grove, Friday night marked the end for 13 seniors, each of whom got a hug and a show of gratitude from coach John Sigmund and his staff.
"I couldn't be more proud of our seniors," Sigmund said. "Our guys fought tooth and nail all season. Our sophomores were brought up to the varsity (the program did not have enough numbers for a sophomore team) and they got better as the season went. By them meeting that challenge, it will benefit us in the future."