For Vernon Hills senior Wayne Didier, the previous three seasons had all been about having fun and playing football.
His fourth year in a Cougar uniform hasn't been quite as much fun as Vernon Hills encountered a batch of adversity.
Mired in a three-game losing streak for the first time in seven years, Vernon Hills needed to find the fun in football again. Didier and Co. found it in a North Suburban Conference crossover Thursday night at Mundelein.
After falling behind in the early moments, Vernon Hills popped off its second-highest point total of the season, scoring 39 unanswered points in a 39-7 win over the Mustangs.
The game marked the final home game of the season for Mundelein; the Mustangs begin construction of a new turf field and track almost immediately.
Mundelein moved what would have been its final home game against Stevenson in Week 9 to Lincolnshire.
"We really emphasized this week just having fun," Didier said. "We were all down and we haven't had three straight losses like that in a while, so it was just about going back to having fun."
The start of the game was not fun for Vernon Hills. On the first play from scrimmage, Vernon Hills quarterback Steve Nelson was picked off by Mundelein senior Andy Chernyavskiy, giving the home team the ball at the Cougars 17.
Four plays later, senior quarterback Gable Leppert took it in from 4 yards out and Mundelein had the lead for the first time this season at 7-0.
"You want some momentum there and we got some right away with the big play on defense," Mundelein coach Bob Stone said. "We took it in right away and scored then we really couldn't do anything offensively from there."
The defense, a bright spot for Vernon Hills (3-4) all season, limited Mundelein (0-7) to 117 total yards and sacked Leppert 8 times. Didier was in on a pair of sacks, including a safety early in the third quarter that put the Cougars up 32-7.
"(Wayne) has such a high motor and with Jeremy (Brazil) clogging up the middle it allows Wayne to run free and do what he does," said Vernon Hills coach Tony Monken.
Vernon Hills broke the game open in the second quarter. Touchdown runs by Dylan McNamara (1 yard), Tyler Peterson (43 yards), Grady Skeoch (6 yards) and Steve Nelson (5 yards) propelled the Cougars to a 30-7 halftime cushion.
"Every time we made progress lately it seemed we would take a few steps back," Monken said. "Tonight we made some progress but we have a long way to go."