Special doesn't even begin to describe Lake Zurich's special teams on Friday night.
Maybe not even extra special would do it.
The Bears scored 19 points directly off of their special teams and another 7 points as a result of a key special teams play en route to a 33-14 North Suburban Conference Lake Division victory over Warren.
There were 4 field goals, a blocked punt and a punt return among the special highlights that helped Lake Zurich move to 2-1 on the season. Warren drops to 0-3.
"We all love special teams. We like to think we're the baddest guys on the team," said senior defensive back Chris Rantis, who was in on the blocked punt and another muffed Warren punt. "We've been preaching special teams all week. We knew it was going to be key."
Down 14-3 after Warren exploded in the first quarter for touchdowns on its first two plays, Lake Zurich cut the deficit to 14-6 when Mike Leiva hit his second field goal a 27-yarder with 2:01 left in the second quarter. His longest field goal of the night went for 40 yards.
"It was a team effort, great holds, great snaps, everything was good. I just had to put them through," said Leiva, a soccer player turned kicker. "The special teams...what can you say. We did great. We definitely did our jobs today."
After Leiva's field goal, the Lake Zurich defense forced Warren to punt while deep in its own territory. Will Hussey blocked it and Rantis and Robert Rossdeutcher were in on the recovery.
Two plays later, Lake Zurich quarterback Zach Till ran in a touchdown from 8 yards out to cut the halftime deficit to 14-13.
"The blocked punt changed the momentum for us and gave us an edge," Lake Zurich coach Bryan Stortz said. "We had our backs against the wall. We were facing adversity (being down so quickly) and our kids had to come together and they responded.
"We've been on them about how they respond and that was obviously created here tonight."
Leiva connected on his final two field goals midway through the third and fourth quarters, giving Lake Zurich a 19-14 lead with 8:20 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Bears finally got some breathing room about a minute later when John Orlando returned a Warren punt 54 yards for a touchdown.
The final nail was hammered in by Mike Shield, who recovered a Warren fumble in the end zone with 1:34 left in the game.
"We made some mistakes and gave them some momentum because of it," Warren coach Dave Mohapp said. "We have to find a way to clean those things up. The biggest thing we have to work on is (special teams)."
The Blue Devils have also been working on their new spread offense and early on, it seemed to be running on all cylinders.
Fifty seconds into the game, Mitch Munda hauled in a 23-yard pass from quarterback Adam Reuss for a touchdown. It was Warren's first play from scrimmage after Tyler Keith recovered a Lake Zurich fumble deep in Bears' territory. Reuss left the game in the third quarter with a deep cut on his hand and backup Pat Kenney filled in the rest of the way.
With three minutes left in the first quarter, Warren struck again when Davonte Willcox scrambled 74 yards for a touchdown.
"We came out strong and thought we'd be able to keep it up in the second half," Munda said. "But we just had a bad second half and we weren't getting our receivers enough touches."