Stevenson passes up Libertyville
The identical twins got nearly identical touchdowns.
So for once, the one-upmanship was probably kept to a minimum at the Marchese household.
"Obviously, the competition is there," Henry Marchese said of the sibling rivalry and the constant comparisons between him and twin brother Michael. "But we're still pretty tight."
So tight, in fact, that on Friday night against visiting Libertyville, the Marchese brothers, Stevenson's A-list wide receivers, were practically mirror images of each other. Which seems appropriate for identical twins.
Each brother hauled in amazing catches for touchdowns (each touchdown went for 30-yards, and each was secured in the left corner of the end zone) in leading Stevenson to a 27-14 victory over the rival Wildcats in North Suburban Conference action.
Henry Marchese finished with 6 catches for 81 yards and brother Michael had 3 catches for 71 yards. They were two of seven different receivers who caught passes from quarterback Aidan O'Connell, who had yet another big game (19-of-34, 293 yards, 2 touchdowns). Anthony Sibo was also a big target with 5 catches for 63 yards. He also rushed 10 times for 75 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"We have so many playmakers on this team and the coaches put us in great positions to make plays," Henry Marchese said. "We all mesh together and it's really nice."
Nice too was the payback win for Stevenson, which moves to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the North Suburban Conference with its fifth straight win. Last year, behind superstar quarterback Riley Lees, Libertyville pounded Stevenson 35-7 en route to a run to the Class 7A state championship game.
"This was always on our minds," said Michael Marchese, who also plays defensive back for the Patriots. "Last year, Riley Lees ran all over us. It was kind of embarrassing. We took that to heart, especially on the defensive side of the ball. This was a huge rivalry game and we know (Libertyville) is going to come at us hard, and we wanted to come harder.
"And you saw the defense tonight. We played great. We shut them out in the second half."
Libertyville (3-3, 2-2 NSC) had a couple of close calls, but could not find the end zone in the second half after putting together a promising first half.
The Wildcats were tied 14-14 with Stevenson at the break on the strength of Brendan Bazar's relentless running. The junior running back scored both of Libertyville's touchdowns, one on an 87-yard kickoff return and the other on a 6-yard run.
He was a textbook workhorse, which he had to be since fellow running back Jason Tse has a broken hand and is only able to block right now. By halftime, Bazar had 28 carries for 82 yards and he finished with 43 carries for 162 yards.
"I didn't know it was that much," Bazar said of his carries. "But the whole week in practice, the motto we went with was 'run it down their throats.' Our offensive line did a great job and the holes were there for bigger runs.
"I didn't expect (to be such a focus). But I really wanted to help the team win. I saw the line blocking their tails off and I knew I needed to work my butt off, too. Those linemen don't want to see me not fighting for yards when they are working really hard."
Early in the fourth quarter, Libertyville marched to the Stevenson 4-yard line, trailing 21-14. On fourth down, Bazar got the ball yet again and barreled to the end zone. Libertyville fans, and Bazar himself, thought he crossed into the end zone. But the referees said he didn't make it, so Stevenson took over and that pretty much took the life out of the Wildcats.
Stevenson scored an insurance touchdown with three minutes remaining on an 8-yard run by Sibo.
"(Stevenson) is just very athletic, that's the difficult part of defending them," Libertyville coach Mike Jones said. "They are confident in what they do and they have a lot (of weapons)."