Elk Grove plays big.
Bigger than its listed height and weight.
Bigger than its larger opponents.
And bigger in belief and self-confidence things that enable the Grens to play bigger than their height and weight.
"We're not bigger than anyone else," said tailback Stefan Skoneczka after Friday's big homecoming win over Rolling Meadows. "We have such toughness."
They proved it to a very good Meadows team in a 46-7 Mid-Suburban East victory that reflected their focus, concentration and outstanding practices prepping for the game.
"We were so focused," said Elk Grove (5-1, 2-0) coach Brian Doll, whose team stayed in first place in the Mid-Suburban East going into next Thursday's showdown at Prospect.
Despite running up impressive numbers on offense all evening, it was defense and special teams that made the difference for the Grens. They regularly pinned the Mustangs (4-2, 1-1) in poor field position with great kick coverage and got a game-breaking 67-yard punt return for a TD from Kishan Patel that made it 14-0 in the first quarter.
The defense kept explosive Jack Milas and teammates in check, to the tune of 257 total yards and 9 first downs. Tom Jansen and Greg Johnsen were in Milas' face all night, forcing a pick and 3 fumbles that helped set up Skoneczka TDs on runs of 62, 37 and 1 yard and a pass reception from sophomore QB Adam O'Malley of 11 yards. Behind Kevin O'Malley, Dan Egan, Johnsen, Brian Mack and Martin Diaz, Elk Grove rolled up 110 more total yards than Meadows and controlled the ball.
"They're blocking so well," Skoneczka said of his offensive line. "I'm so proud of them, so proud of my guys. I've got the easy job. I've just got to run."
Milas was running too, for his life. He did direct a TD drive, hitting Ryan Gundersen for a 5-yard TD. But all that did was reduce the deficit to 25-7 in the second quarter.
"Give all the credit to Elk Grove," said Meadows coach Matt Mishler. "We turned it over four times. We cannot afford to do that against this team."
Luc Dimaso had the first-half pick and Johnsen had one of the fumble recoveries, killing a Meadows drive that might otherwise have kept the game close early.
And to think, the Grens are doing all this with an sophomore quarterback forced into varsity action by injuries.
"We love him," said Skoneczka. "No matter who we have out there, we love them. We've got his back."
And they kept it clean while O'Malley threw for 154 yards on 10-of-17 with no picks and no turnovers. He spread the ball around to Skoneczka, Fernando Lozano, Mike Bishoff and Jeff Miceli.
Coach Doll likes what he's seeing. "It's as good as it gets," he said.