The eyes lit up, then the scoreboard did, too.
The Stevenson coaching staff called one of quarterback Willie Bourbons favorite plays right out of the gate in Friday nights homecoming game against Warren.
Wide receiver Alan Velev is a big fan of the play, too.
Bourbon unleashed a high-flying bomb in Velevs direction on the Patriots very first play from scrimmage. Nine seconds and 66 yards later, Velev was streaking into he end zone to the oohs and ahhs of fans who had barely settled into their seats.
And to think that the big, early strike was just a hint of things to come.
Bourbon connected with Velev and a handful of other receivers again and again as Stevensons aerial assault tore through Warrens defense to the tune of a 39-7 North Suburban Conference Lake Division victory.
The victory moves Stevenson, which was up 20-7 at halftime, to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the Lake while Warren drops to 2-3 and 1-2 in the Lake.
Everyone knows now that we can go deep and really stretch out a defense, said Bourbon, who is just a sophomore but is consistently putting up upperclassman type of numbers. It felt really good today. Its great to get the call (for the deep passes). And when I see a guy like Velev one-on-one, Im going to take it. Im so confident in him and in every one of our receivers.
Bourbon spread the wealth and 288 passing yards between six receivers. Velev had another gigantic reception (51 yards) later in the first half, Anthony Bozin caught four passes for 80 yards and Matt Morrissey hauled in 2 touchdown catches, one of which he held onto while diving in the corner of the end zone.
We have so many good receivers and that makes it so much easier for all of us to go up and make catches, said Velev, whose 2 catches totaled 117 yards. Willie is doing so great. Its amazing (that he is just a sophomore). Hes got a lot of confidence and its building up as he goes along. He just keeps on improving.
Bourbon completed 15 of 24 passes, including 3 touchdown passes. He also showed his versatility by running for a 46-yard touchdown for Stevensons first score of the second half. It was reminiscent of Stevensons first score of the game, coming just 35 seconds into the third quarter.
Willie is a sophomore, but every game he just gets better and better and better and thats what we need out of him, Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. Physically, hes a great player, but what Im really proud about is his decision-making and what hes doing mentally out there. Hes really making good reads, hes delivering the ball to the right guy. Mentally, he was on top of his game tonight.
After the mental blow that came with Stevensons immediate score in the first quarter, Warren was able to regroup and cut its deficit to 13-7 late in the second quarter. Quarterback Adam Reuss (19-of-35 passes for 198 yards) found Conner Iwema for a pretty 26-yard touchdown pass.
But even though the Blue Devils continued to move the ball up and down the field throughout the rest of the game, they could never completely break through Stevensons bend-but-dont-break defense.
The Blue Devils, who were without leading rusher Davonte Wilcox, have now lost two games in a row to powerful passing teams. Warren couldnt ground Libertyvilles passing game in Week 4 either.
We had a hard time matching up with those wideouts tonight, Warren coach Dave Mohapp said. Their quarterback threw the ball very well and he was on and the wideouts are very good. That was a concern coming into the game and our defense ended up being on the field too much. We got beat pretty good.