The old "take what the defense gives us" adage proved to be true once again. It also showed that it's not easy to stop a team with as many offensive weapons as Rolling Meadows.
In Friday's Mid-Suburban League crossover football game at Schaumburg, the Mustangs chipped away at the Saxons defense with their short passing game and mixed in an effective ground attack. The result was a 35-20 victory that left both teams with 2-1 records.
Meadows quarterback Jack Milas completed 25-of-31 passes for 253 yards and 3 touchdowns. His favorite target was Artie Checchin, who caught 12 passes for 132 yards and all 3 of Milas' scoring passes.
It might be easy for Milas just to lock onto Checchin play after play, but five other Meadows receivers caught passes. And four running backs shared the load and accounted for 142 yards on the ground.
"I make my reads and don't get stuck on Artie all the time," said Milas of his mission to share the ball with as many teammates as possible.
Meadows coach Matt Mishler said Milas' skill at sharing the ball has developed over time.
"Jack's gotten really good at recognizing that," he said.
"Last year, we got our chemistry going, and we went to camps and combines over the summer," Checchin said. "Our offensive line played great, and our defense stepped it up.
"We showed our Mustang Pride and got after it."
Mishler agreed that the defense needed to make a statement after giving up 79 points the first two weeks of the season.
"The defense was reeling after first two games," Mishler said. "We were scratching our heads.
"We always believed in ourselves. We stepped up our physicality. We thought we were a little soft the first two weeks."
"They're very good," Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling said. "They executed very well.
"We weren't very fundamental, and that's not going to win you many games."
Meadows roared out of the gate by scoring on its first two possessions. The first came on a 55-yard scoring pass from Milas to Checchin with 10:06 left in the opening quarter.
The Mustangs capitalized on a bad snap that sailed over punter Nick Anzelmo's head and scored two plays later on Ryan Gundersen's 34-yard run with 7:23 left in the first.
Meadows took a 21-0 lead when the Milas to Checchin combination clicked again, this time a 10-yard pass to cap a 70-yard 10-play drive at the 6:36 mark in the second quarter.
The Saxons got on the board when sophomore Sadaris Patterson (14 carries, 82 yards) scored on a 9-yard run. Three Meadows penalties for 40 yards aided the Saxons' scoring drive.
Anzelmo scored on a 1-yard sneak with 6:10 left in the third quarter to make it a 7-point game, 21-14, but the visitors put the game away with touchdowns on successive possessions in the third and fourth quarters.
Milas hit Checchin for a 2-yard scoring pass with 24 seconds left in the third quarter, and the Mustangs made it 35-14 on Tyler Bobowski's 18-yard run.
Anzelmo connected with Stacey Smith for a 14-yard touchdown pass, cutting the deficit to 35-20, and after Mike Mallet recovered the onside kick, it looked like the Saxons had momentum on their side.
Three plays later, though, Scott Purcell recovered a fumble, dashing Schaumburg's hopes for a comeback victory.