Huntley senior linebacker Jake McGovern started his birthday celebration by wrapping up quarterback Patrick Breisch for an 8-yard loss the first time McHenry had the ball Friday night.
It kicked off a big sack party where the Red Raiders dropped Breisch eight times behind the line of scrimmage. McGovern, Justin Allen and Matt Burba had two apiece as they rolled to their seventh straight victory 45-7 in the Fox Valley Conference regular-season finale at McCracken Field in McHenry.
"We knew coming in they were 4-4 and it was a playoff game for them so we had to stop them," McGovern said. "We played really bad (defensively) against (Crystal Lake) South last week (51-26 win) and we had to step it up this week."
Michael Talesky and Donovan Spann also had sacks, linebacker Charlie Zornow had a tackle for loss and Cam'Ron Carrington and Patrick Roppolo snagged interceptions as Huntley (8-1, 7-1) allowed only 223 yards of total offense. Eighty came when Breisch connected with Kennedy Kosmalski with 9:57 to play as McHenry (4-5, 3-5) kept the visitors from their first shutout since 2016.
"We have good defensive players who really came together today," said Huntley coach Matt Zimolzak. "We played good pressure defense and when we're able to do that it gets the quarterback on his heels a lot more. That's more of who we are."
Allen teamed with Nolan Engmann, Burba, Alex Pitrone, Nathan Schupbach and Travis Oddo in the front-line defensive rotation to keep the heat on the Warriors.
"It comes down to us just attacking full-force," Allen said. "It forces bad passes ... and the quarterback isn't able to sit in the pocket and throw like he normally does.
"That's why we got a three-and-out (after McGovern's first sack). Someone gets us excited and gets us going and we keep it going the whole game."
The first-team offense had its usual excitement going in the first half as it gained 334 of its 449 yards and scored on all six possessions for a 38-0 lead at intermission.
Quarterback Eric Mooney (12-for-20, 245 yards) connected with Ryan Antonsen for a 49-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the game. Mooney, who didn't play in the second half, also hit Michael Boland (5 catches, 122 yards) for a 24-yard score.
Melvin Aninagyei-Bonsu (12 carries, 45 yards) had touchdown runs of 14, 1 and 3 yards and Chase Zion kicked a 33-yard field goal. Justin Precour's fumble recovery for a touchdown with 10:57 left was an offensive lineman's ultimate reward for the heavy lifting he did up front with Tommy Ryan, Ben Dworski, Cade Golembeck and Colin Reed, who was subbing for a banged-up Joe Wilson.
"We're excited and we want to do well and we want to go far," Zimolzak said. "We have the tools but we just have to put it all together. This team has never been complacent with where we are at."
The Red Raiders know they will be at home next weekend to start the playoffs. Last year they came in a dangerous 6-3 and made the quarterfinals.
If their defense continues to play the way they did Friday, they could be in for another long run with an offense averaging 46 points a game.
"We're capable of doing a lot," McGovern said after McHenry had just 17 yards on its first 16 plays.
"I feel we've proved to ourselves we can hold a team to one touchdown at most," Allen said. "It shows we don't have to rely just on offense. We can rely on our defense."