Highland Park coach Joe Horeni was familiar with the history of Prospect football and quite impressed after his visit to George Gattas Stadium
"This place is awesome," he said after the Giants rolled to a 31-7 triumph. "The fans were fantastic. I thought it was really cool place to play football. They packed the house.
"Obviously, there is a lot of great tradition here. When I was in high school (at Downers Grove South) they won two state titles in 2001 and 2002 and another in 2005. My senior year, they won 7A title and we won 8A."
The Giants (1-3) won their first game of the season at Prospect's Homecoming on Friday, making the trip to Mt. Prospect even more enlightening for Horeni and company.
"It's a huge first win," Horeni said. "Now we've got some momentum heading into our first conference game with Vernon Hills, which got into the state championship game last year."
The Giants ran and passed the football with success, getting 3 rushing touchdowns by senior Ryan Brinks, a 44-yard touchdown pass by John Stakos to Giancarlo Volpentesta and a TD run by Tom Motzko.
"Our kids now believe in all the hard work it takes to win a football game," Horeni said. "I think we had some doubters after we went 0-3. But we play three good football teams. I'll tell you this right now -- Libertyville is going to make the playoffs, Lakes might go 9-0 and Hersey has a D-I quarterback with 15 offers."
Horeni has a running back with a lot of heart.
Brinks (83 rushing yards and 35 receiving), who also played safety, raced to the biggest offensive game of his career.
He had just one touchdown coming into the game.
He missed all but the final two games last season coming back from a torn ACL and he played only defense as a sophomore.
For good measure, Brinks even booted a 30-yard field which put the visitors ahead 24-7 as time expired in the first half.
"I definitely like running better (than kicking)," he said with as smile. "Everything worked for us today. It feels great to be back out here playing on offense. Our linemen did a great job giving us a push up front. It feels great to get our first win."
After forced a Prospect punt on the game's opening drive from the Giants' 35-yard line, Highland Park took over at its 21. Sakos marched the Giants 79 yards in 13 plays which ended in Motzko's 4 -yard TD run off left tackle.
"It's a simple story," said Prospect coach Mike Sebestyen. "They played a physical football game and out-physicaled us. End of story.
"They simply came downhill, punched us in the mouth and we were unfortunately not able to rally quickly enough. Give them credit, they played a more physical football game and that's what going to happen."
The play of the game was Volpentesta's TD catch following an interception by Noah Spitz.
Sakos lofted a 44-yard sideline strike to Volpentesta, who bobbled the ball in the air and hung on with a defender clinging to him. That made it 14-0 with 7:09 left in the second quarter.
After a Knights' three-and-out, the Giants went 62 yards in 6 plays capped by Brinks' first of 3 touchdowns to make it 21-0.
"Ryan Brinks is a football player," Horeni said. "A lot of people say 'this kid is a running back, or this is this kid is a linebacker'.
"Whatever position we put Ryan at, he's done a phenomenal job. And he is a great leader."
Prospect's lone trip to the end zone came less than a minute after Brinks' first TD.
Quarterback Jimmy Martin took the Knights 63 yards in five plays, taking advantage of a pass interference call and a personal foul.
Andrew Shafis had a big 13-yard run to the 2-yard line, and two plays later Martin scored on a 1-yard run to make it 21-7.
"Their quarterback is very good," Horeni said. "He's a tough kid and he does a nice job. And their coach (Sebestyen) is doing a good job. They shut out Niles West last week and my buddy is the head coach over there. They're (Niles West) going to get some wins, too."
The Knights (1-3) visit Buffalo Grove (4-0) on Friday.
"We've got to get ready for a game seven days from now," Sebestyn said. "So we'll go back to drawing board and go to work."