Perfect finish for Stevenson
In what might have been a preview of next season, Jack Sorenson looked awfully comfortable throwing the ball rather than receiving it.
Stevenson's sure-handed junior receiver morphed into a halfback and then into a quarterback on the very first play from scrimmage against Libertyville on Friday night.
Quarterback Willie Bourbon flipped the ball back to Sorenson in the backfield and Sorenson, assumed to be the heir apparent to Bourbon next year, aired out a 58-yard halfback option touchdown pass to a wide-open Cameron Green.
"He put it right where it needed to be," Green said of Sorenson.
Like Sorenson's job change, the pretty touchdown was also a hint of things to come as Stevenson scored early and often in a 34-14 win over Libertyville that completed a 9-0 perfect regular season.
"Maybe (the touchdown) was a sneak peek," laughed Sorenson, quarterback of the sophomore team last year. "All week we've been practicing that play, and it kind of set the tone of the game. It was game-changer. Cameron was wide open and I threw an OK ball. I'd love to play some quarterback next year."
For now, Sorenson is hoping he's got a lot more games left at wide receiver. The Patriots, ranked among the top teams in the state all season, are now gearing up for what they hope will be an extra-long postseason run. They've cruised thus far, defeating teams by an average of 23.3 points per game.
"We've got a lot of good players and we're trying not to become complacent," Stevenson coach Bill McNamara said. "We talk about getting better every day. We had one heck of a regular season and now it's time to move on and focus on the second season."
Stevenson was certainly machine-like in its focus against the Wildcats. Especially in the first half.
The Patriots barely gave Libertyville a chance to put anything together. The Wildcats had just 7 first downs at the break and had reached the red zone only once. Meanwhile, the Stevenson offense kept churning.
Green couldn't have been more impressive in front of his future coach, Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald, who was roaming the Libertyville sideline with his two sons. Green (4 catches, 150 yards) scored on another long touchdown pass midway through the first quarter. That one was on a 44-yarder from Bourbon.
Running back Jack Joseph (13 carries, 68 yards) also scored his first of 2 touchdowns late in the second quarter.
"I'm just proud of how we kept fighting, down 21-0 at half," said Libertyville quarterback Riley Lees, who scored both of Libertyville's touchdowns and finished with 293 all-purpose yards. "Anyone of us could have just laid down and no one would have faulted them for it. But we kept fighting. I'm really proud of our guys for that.
"We knew we were putting drives together, we just weren't finishing."
Lees finally finished off a drive midway through the third quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run that cut Stevenson's lead to 21-7. Two plays later, the Wildcats recovered a Stevenson fumble and again drove into the red zone. But Libertyville sputtered and was faced with a fourth-and-12 at the Stevenson 17-yard line.
The Wildcats elected to attempt a 34-yard field goal on fourth down, but that missed. When Joseph scored on the next drive, with 5:03 left to play, that essentially salted the win away for Stevenson, up 27-7 at that point.
"We had a chance to make it 21-14," said Libertyville coach Mike Jones, whose team drops to 6-3. "Fourth-and-12 was a tough situation. I thought about (going for) it, but if you go for it and don't get it, then everyone is asking about that.
"We just have to clean up the penalties and mistakes that hurt us. We just seemed a little tight early on. But I was proud of the way our guys fought and kept playing I don't question our effort whatsoever."
Stevenson closed its scoring with an insurance touchdown late in the fourth quarter when Bourbon connected with Henry Marchese for a 44-yard touchdown pass. Overall, Bourbon completed 13-of-16 passes for 213 yards.
Lees completed 9-of-21 passes for 140 yards. He also rolled up 153 rushing yards on 31 carries.