The emotions were overwhelming.
For the players, for the coaches, even for visiting scouts.
Round Lake defeated Wauconda last week on a last-minute field goal to snap a 26-game losing streak in the North Suburban Conference Prairie Division. In the moments that followed, players were hugging players, coaches were hugging players and North Chicago coach Glen Kozlowski, who was there scouting the game, felt compelled to hug someone, too.
"After the game, I went up to (Round Lake coach) John Coursey and I gave him a hug," said Kozlowski, whose Warhawks take on Round Lake on Saturday afternoon. "I was just so proud of him and his team."
Kozlowski doesn't normally hug opposing coaches while he's out to scout their teams. But this was a special situation.
Kozlowski has been in Coursey's shoes. He could relate to the overwhelming feelings of pride, relief and happiness that were likely pulsing through Coursey in the wake of such a huge victory.
Before taking over at North Chicago a couple of years ago, Kozlowski was the head coach at Wauconda for seven years. In the two seasons before Kozlowski's arrival, the Bulldogs won a total of three games.
Wauconda then went 0-9 in each of Kozlowski's first two seasons.
The Bulldogs got their first win under Kozlowski in his third year, 2004. Ironically, it was a victory over Round Lake. Sadly, it was the Bulldogs' only win that season.
"I've been on the other side," said Kozlowski, who turned Wauconda into a playoff team by his sixth year. "I can appreciate how hard it is to turn a program around and what you have to go through.
"To break through and get a win like Round Lake did, that means so much for your program. Does it pain me that it happened against a school (Wauconda) I still love? Of course. But I still really admire what John and his team were able to do."
In the emotion of the day, Kozlowski also got swept up in reminiscing about the breakthrough win he experienced with Wauconda in 2004.
That win was also dramatic. His Bulldogs beat Round Lake in double overtime.
"We were at their place and it was their Homecoming," Kozlowski said. "We had an 8-point lead with 1:20 to play. They had to go 90 yards to score. And, of course, they scored. They also got the 2-point conversion to tie the game.
"We both had chances in the first overtime, but we both wound up fumbling the ball away. Then, in the second overtime, we sent out our kicker, Brian Santella, right away and he hit a 27-yarder to win it."
Santella is the older brother of Anthony Santella, who went on to kick at the University of Illinois.
"I will never forget how happy our players were when he kicked that ball and the refs raised their arms to signal it was good," Kozlowski said. "I remember just stepping back so that I could watch them celebrate. That gave me so much joy."
More than just getting by: Injuries can often doom a team.
But at 3-0, Lakes seems to be thriving, despite the fact that some key players have been out most, if not all, of the season so far.
Junior running back Direll Clark is running like the wind and getting more reps to fill some of the voids. He had 3 touchdowns last week in a win over Grant. Others are filling in, too.
But long term, there is reason for concern.
"We have been able to overcome some setbacks so far with the injuries," Lakes coach Luke Mertens said. "But it's definitely putting some pressure on us."
The Eagles are without their starting linebacker Jimmy Wright, who tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee three plays into the season opener. Meanwhile, senior lineman Mike Forney missed the first two games with a hand injury, was cleared to play against Grant last week and then wound up hurting his ankle before halftime. His status is currently uncertain.
Perhaps most notable is the absence of senior Mike Pfeiffer, a three-year varsity starter who was the Eagles' leading rusher last season.
Pfeiffer hurt his knee in doubles this summer and has not played a down yet. He is hoping to be back within the next couple of weeks.
This is the second straight year that Lakes has played most of the season without one of its top backs. James Zell was sidelined last year with a knee injury.
"Our kids tell me that they think the running back position at Lakes is cursed," Mertens said with a chuckle. "I just tell them that it's not, of course. We've just had some bad luck. We need a little good luck to get healthy and stay healthy."
Wrestler = worker: Wrestlers are welcomed with open arms to football tryouts at Antioch.
"The tough, hard-nosed kids on your team - a lot of times they're wrestlers," Antioch coach Brian Glashagel said. "When I was playing in high school (at Conant) and we made it to the semifinals, all four of our defensive linemen were state-caliber wrestlers. Wrestlers are usually really good football players because they're tough and they work hard."
Glashagel, whose Sequoits are 3-0 heading into their big NSC Prairie Division tilt against Vernon Hills tonight, was reminded of that work ethic over and over again this past summer.
Two of his best players, linebacker Zack Freundt and defensive back/running back/kicker George Gonzalez, both wrestlers, pushed themselves to the brink between wrestling and football workouts.
"Zack is a workout maniac," Glashagel said. "He lives in the weight room. We'd do three hours of football, then he'd go lift. Then at the end of the day, I'd be pulling out of the parking lot to go get something to eat and I'd see him running around the track. Then he'd go to wrestling camps, too."
Freundt and Gonzalez attended a summer wrestling camp together in Minnesota.
"From what I heard, it was really intense, almost like boot camp," Glashagel said. "They'd condition all day, run through the woods. It definitely got them ready for football."
Expecting the unexpected: It's been at least 15 years, likely more, since Grayslake Central started a football season at 3-0.
So, you'd think that the Rams' current 3-0 mark would have the entire school buzzing.
Only half of it is.
"I'm hearing a lot from the faculty and staff," Grayslake Central coach Nick Goshe said. "I'm getting all kinds of e-mails and congratulations from them. I think they're really getting into it because they know what it's been like here before. I think some of them had gotten used to the losing so this is a surprise for them."
The students, on the other hand, don't seem surprised at all. And therefore, they aren't over-hyping the Rams. At least not just yet.
"Our students know our players and they know what kind of athletes they are," Grayslake Central coach Nick Goshe said. "I think they aren't really that surprised. I think they were expecting a really good season out of us."
Based on past history, that would be a logical expectation.
Goshe says that his senior class has never had a losing season. The seniors went 7-2 as freshmen, 4-4-1 as sophomores and were part of last year's 6-5 playoff team.
"Our kids are at the point where the expectations are there for themselves, too," Goshe said. "We've always had some talented kids here but I think over the last few years we've really been able to train that talent and improve that talent by working hard in the off-season in the weight room and by better learning our system. It's all starting to pay off now."
No rust here: After missing his entire junior year with a shoulder injury, Nate Malinski was a bit of an unknown heading into this season.
But the Grayslake Central senior defensive back didn't take long to put any questions about him to rest.
He has started every game and given the Rams a peace of mind in the defensive backfield.
"Nate's a kid who hasn't played football since his sophomore year, plus he was hurt all last year," Grayslake Central coach Nick Goshe said. "We really weren't sure what we were going to get out of him.
"But Nate is so smart and heady and he's a really good athlete. He's been able to fit right back in and he's doing a great job for us."
Move on in: First Anthony Bozin was pushed to the sidelines with a concussion in the season opener. Then Nate Khan broke his foot in the next game.
Just like that, Stevenson's starting backfield was finished. Both Bozin and Khan were out indefinitely.
"I'd be lying if I told you I wasn't losing sleep about that," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. "But what happened was that the injuries created opportunities for other kids to play and we've had some guys really step up."
The Patriots are 2-1 and have gotten all kinds of help from Kevin Foley, Chris Peters and Mike Ling at the running back position.
Peters had 2 touchdowns and Ling had 1 in a win over Zion-Benton last week.
Physical search: Ask coaches in the North Suburban Prairie Division to characterize Grant and one word would be used more than any other: physical.
The Bulldogs have had the reputation for years as being one of the most physically punishing and tough teams in the league.
But Grant coach Kurt Rous is seeing a different look with this year's team and he thinks it explains why the Bulldogs have limped out to a 1-2 start.
"We're not being physical right now at all. In fact, we're getting out-physicaled," Rous said. "We're flat in practice, flat in games. I mean, Lakes really beat the tar out of us last week. They really punished us. It's not what we're used to at all and it's frustrating. It's disheartening because how do you coach desire?
"We've yelled, we've tried being nice. We haven't found what works with this group yet."
For starters, getting healthy would probably work wonders.
The Bulldogs have been without center Jared Lalanda, who has been sidelined since the second game with a knee injury. Starting cornerback Dillon Watters has been out just as long with a strained Achilles and starting middle linebacker Jake Bychowski is out with a knee sprain suffered in practice.
Starting wide receiver Keion Miller hurt his wrist during the first game and will likely be out most of the season.
"Injuries are part of the game, so you can't complain about it," Rous said. "But we were struggling as it was. And then we get a lot of injuries, too. We really need to get some things figured out because we're in desperate need of wins if we want to make the playoffs."
Undivided attention: Big plays by seniors Jake Sherman, Erik Eischen and Shawn Sundquist, as well as junior Erik Fuller have meant vast improvements by the Wauconda defense.
Last year, the Bulldogs gave 42 points per game and allowed 350 yards per game. So far this season, they're allowing 23 points per game and around 240 yards per game, dramatic decreases in both areas.
"We've been strong defensively this year. Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "We've got some good athletes and I think it's helped that our defensive coordinator, Shawn Rudolph, has been able to concentrate just on the defense."
In the past Rudolph has also coached both the offensive and defensive lines for the Bulldogs.
"I think it's made a big difference for him to be able to give his full attention to the defense," Mills said. "The guys are getting a lot of help and we are always able to work on a lot of things."