They debuted their triple option, received a Connor Daly double, and didnt allow a single point.
It added up just enough, if not perfectly, for Grayslake Centrals football boys Friday night.
The Rams eked out a 14-0 win over visiting Round Lake in front of a loud Opening Night crowd, making it a successful debut not only for their offense but also head coach Ben Ault.
A dominating defensive effort and just enough offense from a unit led by new starting quarterback Alex Lennartz lifted the home team.
Grayslake Centrals defense surrendered only 52 yards of total offense. The D was led by Daly, who had 2 sacks; 6-3, 270-pound lineman Luke Stancil; free safety Teddy McGraw, whose interception ended the game; high-energy middle linebacker Alex McCully; and lineman Erik Infante, who recovered both of Round Lakes 2 lost fumbles. Drew Garbett forced a fumble.
I thought we all played really well, Daly said of the defense. Everyone did their job, which is what we planned on doing. Their running back (sophomore Chris Perry) was pretty good, but we sniffed out mostly all of their plays.
Daly, a 5-10 senior outside linebacker, was playing his first varsity game on defense. He underwent surgery last year to repair a torn meniscus and played only the Rams final two games, filling in at tight end for the injured Jimmy Molitor.
It was real exciting, Daly said. I like lots of guys Im playing with.
As well as Grayslake Central played defensively, Round Lake was nearly just as good on the defensive side of the ball. The Rams didnt score until the second quarter, when Lennartzs keeper from 2 yards out capped a seven-play, 50-yard drive. Grayslake Central maintained that lead until Lennartz hit Kacey Adams on a 10-yard touchdown throw with 1:59 left in the fourth quarter Lennartzs only completion after Infante pounced on a fumble at the Round Lake 47.
We came out hard, said Round Lake defensive end Zach Williamson, who shined along with teammates Freddy Araiza, Augustine Bahena, Daniel Cleveland, Perry and Taylor Stempinski. We competed, and we gave them a fight. Fourteen to zero. They beat us (47-6) last year. We gave them a run. We had fun. Good time. Well come back stronger next time, too.
The losing is never easy for Round Lake coach John Coursey, whose Panthers have won just twice in his first four seasons, but he loved his teams effort.
Its the best Opening Night weve played, Coursey said. We were aggressive, we knew what we were supposed to do, and we played hard. ... Defensively, I was a little concerned. I thought we had some question marks. But they played. I was unbelievably proud of their effort.
Grayslake Central QB Lennartz, a 6-3 junior, rushed 15 times for 74 yards. He was in competition for the starting job with senior Tyler Gustke, who instead started at fullback. The 5-7 Gustke was a workhouse, gaining 84 hard-fought yards on 26 carries.
Under head coach Nick Goshe, and with Ray Beckman at quarterback last season, the Rams ran a spread.
I knew switching offenses, and with the talent we lost, that it definitely was going to be a learning curve, and I think thats what we saw tonight, Ault said. We started installing it really in July, so after almost two months in the system, I think were making improvements.
Its something our younger levels are running, so in 2-3 years we expect to be very, very good at it. But we know were going to take our lumps a little bit this year. Its a hard offense to learn. But once you master it, it can do a lot of great things.