Barrington's football regular season couldn't have ended more successfully. Bill Modelski's Conant football coaching career couldn't have ended more gratifyingly.
Although the Broncos will enter the 2016 playoffs 8-1 and on a roll after Friday's 54-7 Mid-Suburban West win at Conant (0-9), the Conant coach ended his 12-year tenure as the head man and 30 years on the school's staff with a smile inside anyway and the gratitude of players and opponents alike.
"You knew you were in for a game from a team that was always prepared to play the right way," said Barrington coach Joe Sanchez, whose career has almost paralleled Modelski's.
But not this year. The Broncos' finish likely assures them of a home game next weekend to open the 8A playoffs. And Barrington played like a top seed Friday night, rolling up more than 600 yards in total offense, getting 92 yards rushing and 3 TDs from quarterback Ray Niro and 162 yards passing and 2 more TDs.
"Everybody stepped up. The team really came out strong," said the junior quarterback on the heels of the previous week's only loss of the season, to Palatine.
The Broncos had 21 points before Conant had a first down on Niro's 20-yard run, Logan Moews' 6-yard scamper and Alex Andrea's 68-yard bomb from Niro, set up by the success of the running game behind Alec Meister, John Stefan, Brad Warman and Mark Bach.
The Broncos looked ready for the playoffs by halftime. "I'd say so," when it comes to being ready for what comes next, said Niro. "We're prepared."
Niro kept rolling, hitting Josh Babicz for a 12-yard TD after Dave Lozzio blocked a punt and a adding another 5-yard run before halftime.
"Our coaches did a great job," said Sanchez of getting everyone ready after the loss. "We accomplished what we wanted to."
That included getting contributions from everyone. Even backups Michael Curran (143 yards rushing and Ethan Glowacki (50 yards) made big contributions.
Conant never quit, but was quite outmanned. Dave Reiger finally scored from a yard out after Brian Modelski dropped a perfect dime into the lap of Jack Lampert for 47 yards to set it up.
"It's more than football for him," the younger Modelski said of his dad retiring as head coach. "He'll miss the game. He'll miss Conant. Conant will miss him," he added after 5 Cougars playoff appearances under his guidance.
Between Reiger, a junior, sophomore Brenden Spates and sophomore Matt Majer, next year's coach has a good nucleus.
"It's a little surreal," said coach Modelski after the game. "I think I'll definitely coach again," likely as an assistant someplace, as many former head coaches have done.
"This has been consuming my life," for 30 years, he noted.
But he wouldn't trade it.
"There's been some really great teams."
But maybe opposite-number Sanchez said it best: "I hope I can say I worked at a place for 30 years and left a legacy like he did. He's a class act."