Initially boxed in, Maine South survives football battle at Glenbrook South

Initially boxed in, Maine South survives football battle at Glenbrook South

  • Maine South quarterback Luke Leongas, left, fumbles the ball as Glenbrook South's Tommy Corbett closes in during Friday's game in Glenview.

      Maine South quarterback Luke Leongas, left, fumbles the ball as Glenbrook South's Tommy Corbett closes in during Friday's game in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South's Joe Thein celebrates after the Titans recovered a Maine South fumble during Friday's game in Glenview.

      Glenbrook South's Joe Thein celebrates after the Titans recovered a Maine South fumble during Friday's game in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South quarterback Michael Bauer scrambles during Friday's game against Maine South.

      Glenbrook South quarterback Michael Bauer scrambles during Friday's game against Maine South. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South's Etor Agbenya, left, carries the ball during Friday's game against Maine South.

      Glenbrook South's Etor Agbenya, left, carries the ball during Friday's game against Maine South. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South's Jack Disano punts during Friday's game against Maine South.

      Glenbrook South's Jack Disano punts during Friday's game against Maine South. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South's Mathew Burda avoids a tackle by Maine South's Charlie Zajac during Friday's game in Glenview.

      Glenbrook South's Mathew Burda avoids a tackle by Maine South's Charlie Zajac during Friday's game in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Maine South quarterback Rowan Keefe, substituting for Luke Leongas following an injury to the latter, carries the ball during Friday's game against Glenbrook South.

      Maine South quarterback Rowan Keefe, substituting for Luke Leongas following an injury to the latter, carries the ball during Friday's game against Glenbrook South. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Lights shine on the field during Friday's game between Maine South and Glenbrook South in Glenview.

      Lights shine on the field during Friday's game between Maine South and Glenbrook South in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South quarterback Michael Bauer throws a touchdown pass to Justin Leszynski during Friday's game against Maine South.

      Glenbrook South quarterback Michael Bauer throws a touchdown pass to Justin Leszynski during Friday's game against Maine South. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South's Jack Disano, right, avoids a tackle by Maine South's Connor Leyden during Friday's game in Glenview.

      Glenbrook South's Jack Disano, right, avoids a tackle by Maine South's Connor Leyden during Friday's game in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Maine South's Mike Sajenko carries the ball during Friday's game against Glenbrook South.

      Maine South's Mike Sajenko carries the ball during Friday's game against Glenbrook South. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South's Devonjae Hudson, left, tackles Maine South quarterback Luke Leongas during Friday's game in Glenview.

      Glenbrook South's Devonjae Hudson, left, tackles Maine South quarterback Luke Leongas during Friday's game in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Maine South quarterback Luke Leongas throws the ball away to avoid a sack by Glenbrook South players including Michael Carney, left, during Friday's game in Glenview.

      Maine South quarterback Luke Leongas throws the ball away to avoid a sack by Glenbrook South players including Michael Carney, left, during Friday's game in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South quarterback Michael Bauer gets tackled by Maine South's Chris Petrucci during Friday's game in Glenview.

      Glenbrook South quarterback Michael Bauer gets tackled by Maine South's Chris Petrucci during Friday's game in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Maine South Kevin Wolf, left, intercepts a pass in front of Glenbrook South's Justin Leszynski during Friday's game in Glenview.

      Maine South Kevin Wolf, left, intercepts a pass in front of Glenbrook South's Justin Leszynski during Friday's game in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • The ball is just out of reach for Glenbrook South's Jack Disano as Maine South's Justin Marques defends on the pass play Friday's game in Glenview.

      The ball is just out of reach for Glenbrook South's Jack Disano as Maine South's Justin Marques defends on the pass play Friday's game in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South's Justin Leszynski carries the ball for a touchdown during Friday's game against Maine South.

      Glenbrook South's Justin Leszynski carries the ball for a touchdown during Friday's game against Maine South. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South's Connor Weisensel leaves his feet as he tackles Maine South's Chris Petrucci during Friday's game in Glenview.

      Glenbrook South's Connor Weisensel leaves his feet as he tackles Maine South's Chris Petrucci during Friday's game in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Maine South's Mike Sajenko somehow manages to stay on his feet and carry the ball another seven yards for a touchdown during Friday's game against Glenbrook South.

      Maine South's Mike Sajenko somehow manages to stay on his feet and carry the ball another seven yards for a touchdown during Friday's game against Glenbrook South. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South's Justin Leszynski leaps for a reception against the defense of Maine South's Kevin Wolf during Friday's game in Glenview.

      Glenbrook South's Justin Leszynski leaps for a reception against the defense of Maine South's Kevin Wolf during Friday's game in Glenview. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Glenbrook South's Mathew Burda carries the ball during Friday's game against Maine South.

      Glenbrook South's Mathew Burda carries the ball during Friday's game against Maine South. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 4/14/2021 6:47 PM

Mike Sajenko cited a tool Maine South used as motivation for tough football games.

Watching a classic prize fight.

 

"The champ was getting hit early and stumbling," the junior running back said of a recent viewing. "Then the second round came up and he knocked him out, and it was good."

It was a great metaphor to Friday's Central Suburban League South clash hosted by Glenbrook South. Maine South, the No. 6 ranked team in Class 4A, survived a battle to win 17-7 at John Davis Stadium.

"We knew it was going to be a toe-to-toe," said Hawks coach David Inserra.

Taking out the 6-time state champion's starting quarterback, Luke Leongas, and tied with the Hawks through three quarters, Glenbrook South had the visitors off-rhythm and bottled up.

"I just thought that our kids showed great heart and composure throughout the game," said Titans coach Dave Schoenwetter, whose team fell to 1-3 overall and in the Central Suburban League South.

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"I think despite what our record is right now, we're a good football team, and I think Maine South knows that tonight," he said.

Maine South (4-0, 4-0) led 7-0 after one quarter on Leongas' fourth-down, 25-yard screen pass to Sajenko, set up by tight end Chris Petrucci's 27-yard catch to bail the Hawks out on third-and-34. Johnny Sassan added the kick.

Due to plays like Michael Carney's fumble recovery and Connor Weisensel's interception, Glenbrook South recovered to own field position and time of possession the rest of the first half, which ended 7-0. For the game, the Titans outgained Maine South 258 yards to 255.

"After the first drive, they scored right away, but we knew that we were going to come back and we were going to be fine," said Titans linebacker Will Solis. "For the entire game, I was so proud of the entire defense. Everyone came out and played the hardest that they possibly could have."

Taking a handoff at 5:41 of the second quarter, Leongas ran right. Down in a scrum, he stayed down and needed help to reach the bench. Leongas watched the second half on crutches. After the game, Inserra said Leongas had injured the same leg as a junior.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"My prayers are out for No. 4," Solis said.

In came 6-foot-3, 207-pound Rowan Keefe, a big-armed junior.

"My first couple drives I had some jitters, it's a big game. But my teammates -- great teammates -- they calmed me down, helped me stay calm and collected," Keefe said.

It took time.

"We had one drive, I think, with him at quarterback before half and he was throwing it everywhere," said Sajenko, held to 48 yards rushing on 13 carries.

Keefe would reappear prominently. First, Glenbrook South stated its case.

Weisensel's return of the second-half kickoff gave the Titans good position. Stout junior running back Matt Burda broke a run for 34 of his game-high 109 yards rushing, but his biggest impact in a 13-play, 74-yard scoring drive may have been his fumble recovery at Maine South's 17-yard line.

"I just saw the ball on the ground after a fake and I just jumped on it. Nothing more than that," Burda said.

But there was. On the next play, Titans senior quarterback Michael Bauer passed left to 6-5 receiver Justin Leszynski, who juked two defenders and cut inside for a touchdown. Franco Fernandez-Enjo's kick tied the game 7-7 with 4:56 to play in the third quarter. Leszynski finished with 6 catches for 95 yards, Bauer with 151 yards passing.

"Coming out of the third quarter we said we were going to pound it down their throat and that's exactly what we did," Burda said. "We ran the same play, I think, maybe five times and they couldn't stop it. We just went out there and played physical."

At this point, Maine South showed urgency, and Keefe started clicking. He connected on two straight passes to Division I recruit Petrucci, then scrambled 14 yards for a first down. The Hawks made it to Glenbrook South's 8-yard line, where Sajenko ran it in. Sassan's kick gave Maine South a 14-7 lead with 9:08 to play.

"Once you get that first completion it's all downhill from there," said Keefe, who finished 6-of-11 passing for 100 yards. "We started rolling, put a drive together and then put one in the end zone. It was a nice feeling."

Not out of the woods yet, another strong Weisensel kickoff return of 32 yards had Glenbrook South back in business. A Carney run gained a first down and a Tommy Gebien catch earned another. Four straight run calls to Burda, minus a holding penalty, had Glenbrook South fourth-and-6 at Maine South's 8-yard line, 3:45 left to play.

Bauer threw toward Leszynski in the front left corner of the end zone. Maine South cornerback Mike Marquardt successfully defended the play.

"His play was huge," Inserra said. "(No.) 41 (Leszynski) was a very, very, very good receiver, a big target. He made a heck of an effort on the play, I mean, his feet were up above his head. But as I told Mikey, if you're not in his face, if you're not battling him, he makes that catch."

Now in gear, Keefe immediately connected on a 46-yard fly to Luke Kracik, then a 33-yarder to Sassan to set up Sassan's 25-yard field goal to complete the scoring with 1:03 left.

"It just stinks," said Solis, disappointment overshadowing effort.

"I think (the Titans) gave Maine South everything they could handle, and we know what a great program they are," Schoenwetter said. "I think that they respect the way we play the game and how tough we played the game tonight, and I was just extremely proud of our kids."

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