Randy Kuceyeski demonstrated one final time as Libertyville's football coach how to wrap up.
It was textbook, even if his team's performance was not Saturday.
Following Libertyville's 40-0 loss to host Boylan in the teams' Class 7A state playoff opener in sunny Rockford, Kuceyeski wrapped his arms around his favorite gal.
Martha Kuceyeski hugged her husband back.
And there they stood near the 50-yard line, hugging, for what seemed like two full minutes.
Tears welled in the eyes of Kuceyeski's wife, then his.
"It's tough," Kuceyeski said after composing himself. "Nobody wants to go out this way, but I've been very fortunate."
Luke Mathewson felt he was lucky ... to have played three varsity seasons for Kuceyeski.
A couple of years back, Kuceyeski announced this would be his last season, and then last spring he was diagnosed with cancer. A couple of weeks ago, he completed weeks of radiation and chemotherapy.
Libertyville's 5-5 record this season gave Kuceyeski a 133-58 mark covering 18 seasons.
"He's going to give you everything that he's got," said Mathewson, a senior defensive lineman. "All that he had left he was going to give it to us, and he did. There wasn't a single day when he sat off to the side or felt sorry for himself. It was all about the team."
No. 2 Boylan proved the better team Saturday, despite a spirited start for Libertyville. The Titans improved to 10-0, winning, remarkably, for the 65th time in their last 70 games, and earned last year's Class 6A state champs a second-round playoff matchup with Wheaton North (8-2).
Boylan went three-and-out on the game's opening series, averted a 3-0 deficit when Libertyville missed a 35-yard field-goal try on its opening series, then was forced to punt again on its next drive.
"The first quarter, we scripted it," Kuceyeski said. "We stopped them. We had great field position."
Libertyville started moving the ball again late in the opening quarter, but a pass by quarterback Jack Deichl (15 of 25, 155 yards) was deflected by Boylan's DJ Zimmerman and intercepted by Peter Cimino, who returned the ball 49 yards to the Libertyville 1.
"Our offense has been slow starting most of the year," Boylan coach Dan Appino said. "When our 'D' makes a play like that, everybody, all of a sudden, escalates their play. It definitely fired us up."
Two plays later, Titans quarterback Lamont Toney dived into the end zone from the 1.
Libertyville answered with a nine-play drive, but eventually punted. When Boylan got the ball back, a seven-play drive ended with the athletic Toney keeping the ball on the option and racing into the end zone from 19 yards out with 9:46 left in the second quarter.
"Across the board, at the skill positions, they're probably one of the best teams we've seen this year," Kuceyeski said. "Our issue was we couldn't tackle in the open field."
Toney started 0-of-4 passing, but his first completion resulted in a 34-yard touchdown pass to 5-foot-7 Marquez Beeks with 2:51 left before halftime, hiking the Titans' lead to 19-0.
It was one of 6 third-down passes Toney completed. He also had third-down TD strikes of 4 yards to 6-6, 230-pound Northwestern-recruit Dean Lowry and 5 yards to Tyreis Thomas (11 rushes, 55 yards).
"I think he kept all of those plays alive with his feet," Appino, whose Titans led 26-0 at halftime, said of his 6-1 senior QB. "Once things break down, I think that's what makes him so valuable."
DeMarcus Vines' 44-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter started a running clock.
"To go out like this, it's hard," Mathewson said. "But there were a lot of life lessons that we learned. There's more to life than just football, and this season is really going to prepare us for that later in life."
Kuceyeski and his wife were two of the last people to exit Boylan's stadium. They did so walking with their arms locked around each other.
"A class guy," Appino said of his coaching counterpart. "We're praying for him."