Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 11/5/2016 12:15 AM

St. Viator rallies but can't catch Lake Forest

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By Howard Schlossberg
Daily Herald Correspondent

Sometimes statistics can be deceiving.

For instance, St. Viator had about 150 more yards in total offense Friday night than host Lake Forest in their second-round, Class 6A playoff game.

The Lions made huge plays. They kept the host Scouts out of the end zone in the second half. They dominated play in yardage, plays run, scoring and total offense in the final two quarters.

But not in efficiency, and that's likely what led to a 24-21 decision in favor of Lake Forest (8-3).

"Mistakes," lamented St. Viator coach Dave Archibald, after his club surrendered 2 interceptions and lost a fumble. Two of the three turnovers ended possessions which appeared likely to end up as scoring drives.

St. Viator trailed 14-0 at the halftime and 24-14 after three.

But the Lions (6-5) did rally back.

For every mistake, there was a dynamic TD run by Darreontae Jackson (25 carries, 180 yards) -- especially the broken-field, zig-zag 49-yard dash that made it 24-14 late in the third. And even though St. Viator had been dominated and self-destructive to that point, you could feel the spirits rise on the Lions' sideline after the play. They felt they had a chance.

And after Bryce Hellgeth (19-for-40 passing, 263 yards, 2 interceptions) finally clicked on a fade to Cole Kmet to make 24-21 with 1:48 left, hope reigned supreme.

At least, until, Lake Forest recovered the subsequent onside kick that followed and ran out the clock. After pulling off the nearly impossible, Viator couldn't pull off a miracle.

"We did not execute well in the first half," Archibald said. "We left too many points on the field."

Like after being picked off on second and goal with a chance to pull within 14-7. Or after having Jackson and Hellgeth collide and drop the ball on an exchange, causing a fumble that led to a Charlie Reinkmeyer TD toss to Matt Barrigazzi, who had torched the Viator secondary earlier for a 67-yard score.

St. Viator wasn't making plays like that until the second half.

"They made plays when they had the opportunities," said Lake Forest coach Chuck Spagnoli, whose club, despite the yardage surrendered to Hellgeth's passing and Jackson's ground game, made the defensive stands it had to.

Ultimately, the game's deciding points came on Jack Brush's 29-yard field goal in the third quarter, which followed Lake Forest's defense turning back St. Viator on a fourth-and-5 in plus territory.

For Viator, especially the senior leaders, the loss was devastating. "We got rid of the mistakes," in the second half, said a tear-soaked Jackson.

It wasn't so much the game's outcome as its implications that he found most troubling, saying he's just going to "miss being with my brothers every day."

"Their leadership," is what they'll miss, said junior QB Hellgeth of Jackson and 6-foot-5 wideout Kmet, who made a spectacular grab on a short fade in the end zone late in the game after being double- and triple-teamed on that play all night.

"It was frustrating," Hellgeth said of the errors, but, "We got fired up a little bit."

Indeed, in the second half, as he put it, "the defense was just flying around," after being pushed around by Reinkmeyer (8-19, 197 yards) and running back Liam Pooler (25 carries, 184 yards) through most of the first half.

Hellgeth will miss the steady leadership and consistent play and mindset of players like Jackson and Kmet, and defenders like Matt Dziubuk, Tony Valentino and Wilson Starr.

So will Archibald.

"I'm really proud of these guys," he said. "Jackson has grown up as a player, and a man."

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