It was a very special occasion for host Libertyville when the Wildcats faced Mundelein in North Suburban Conference football action Friday night in the rain.
And Libertyville put on quite a show on its centennial football homecoming game as the Wildcats stormed out to a 21-0 first-quarter lead before rolling into halftime with a 42-0 advantage.
The entire second half was played with a running clock, and Libertyville (4-3, 3-2) wound up winning by that same score as the Wildcats put themselves in a good position to earn an IHSA playoff berth despite a very tough road matchup at Lake Zurich next week.
With the loss, Mundelein (2-5, 1-4) was eliminated from playoff contention.
Starting at its own 23-yard-line, it only took Libertyville three plays to find the end zone as a 41-yard pass from senior quarterback Alex Stanulis (7-for-13, 115 yards passing) to Jack Turco put the ball on the Mundelein 35.
Then senior running back Brendan Bazar (96 yards on 5 carries) scored on a 35-yard TD run before teammate Matt Rudolphi kicked the first of his 7 extra points for a quick 7-0 lead.
The Mustangs' first possession took a turn for the worst when a snap went awry, resulting in the Wildcats taking over with great field position at the Mundelein 38-yard-line.
Five plays later, Bazar got the job done again as he ran right for a 6-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 lead with 7:13 remaining in the first quarter.
After a three-and-out by both squads, Mundelein was able to sustain a drive before another bad snap to quarterback Anthony Norris (5-for-11, 37 yards passing) resulted in a third-and-17 from the Libertyville 35.
Then disaster struck for the Mustangs as Libertyville senior Jon Schlapper intercepted Norris' next pass to put the momentum right back on the Wildcats' side.
This time it only took one play for Bazar to find the end zone as he broke a tackle on his way to a 40-yard TD run and a commanding 21-0 lead with 56.7 seconds left in the first quarter.
"We knew it was the centennial game so there would be a lot of people here so we just came out firing," said Bazar, who also caught a 6-yard TD pass early in the second quarter. "We've been stressing all week every position on the field has to block, and they just make my job a lot easier."
The Wildcats' secondary was on the ball again on Mundelein's next possession as Rudolphi picked off a Norris pass on a third-and-18 play and took the ball down to the Mundelein 39.
Four plays later, junior Niko Christensen (45 yards on 9 attempts) bolted 26 yards for the touchdown and a 28-0 lead just 51 seconds into the second quarter.
After a three-and-out with Mundelein's Abram Nazario briefly in at quarterback, Libertyville put together another short scoring drive as Bazar's 6-yard TD reception capped a 40-yard drive, making the score 35-0.
"We got out of the gates and did what we needed to do, and that was important," said Libertyville coach Mike Jones, whose team had 15 first downs in the contest. "We made some adjustments in the first quarter as we went, and I was really happy with what the offense did."
The opportunistic Libertyville defense struck one more time when junior Jon Palmieri picked off a pass deep in Mustangs' territory and took the ball down to the Mundelein 8.
Christensen wound up scored on a 2-yard run to close out the first-half scoring.
Norris did have a 60-yard keeper midway through the third quarter as he leaped past numerous Libertyville defenders. But the Mustangs could not get and farther than the 8 as Norris (80 yards on 13 carries) had to take a 12-yard sack due to a bad snap on first down.
"(Bazar) is a playmaker, he doesn't go down easy, and he's been very consistent for us," Jones said. "We've been in every game, our defense has played well all year, and we are going to give Lake Zurich our best shot."
The game's festivities featured many former administration in attendance as well as alumni representing athletics and fine arts. The alumni band performed before the game and at halftime.
Libertyville's oldest living graduate, 97-year-old Ethel Jochheim, will be the grand marshal of the homecoming parade on Saturday. Jochheim is from the Class of 1938.