First and goal: Glenbrook North QB Mulvihill exceeds his own expectations in Week 1
Making his first start at quarterback for Glenbrook North in last Friday's football season opener, senior Murphy Mulvihill surprised even himself.
"I set a goal at the beginning of the week," he said. "Two passing touchdowns would be a big goal for me."
Listed at receiver on the Spartans roster and coming off a spring season as an all-Central Suburban League South safety, Mulvihill threw three touchdown passes in the Spartans' 26-14 nonconference win over Taft at William Lutz Stadium in Northbrook.
"Didn't necessarily expect it; I thought we were going to be really run-heavy," said Mulvihill, who completed 11 of 15 passes for 214 yards and ran for 43. "But the offensive line really stepped up and allowed us to throw the ball."
That quintet included his junior brother, Max, at guard, alongside Nate Glazebrook, Patrick Mahoney, Brian Clinkunbroomer and Nate McGinnis.
"There's nothing like coming into the huddle and seeing my younger brother, Max," Murphy Mulvihill said.
"He puts in a lot of work and, from what I saw, he didn't allow anyone to get through tonight, so that's huge. It's brought us a lot closer, and I'm just excited for a couple more weeks to get to play with him."
Eight more, at least. After a 6-game spring season no one was certain would happen, Friday delivered the atmosphere expected of a season opener. A loud crowd filled the Lutz Stadium grandstand and nearly all stayed until Glenbrook North ran the final 1 minute, 45 seconds off the clock.
The Spartans took a 7-0 lead with 4:34 left in the first quarter on Patrick Schaller's 10-yard touchdown catch and Michael Cosentino's kick. Schaller also aided the 85-yard drive, catching Mulvihill's nicely-placed pass for a 27-yard gain. Running back Reese Marquez also broke a screen pass for 35 yards.
Down to 18 players after COVID struck the Chicago team, Taft flipped field position with a long, scoreless drive. Glenbrook North held the Eagles on fourth-and-3 from the 10-yard line, but fumbled the ball right back.
Taft's Ryan Porebski, a bruising 6-foot-2, 215-pound running back and linebacker, recovered the fumble and four plays later blasted in from 1 yard out on fourth down.
"We were in the run game today kind of by necessity with our (absent) receivers, but that's who we are anyway," said Taft coach Zach Elder. "It was two teams just kind of battling, playing old-school football, coming downhill and trying to get after the run game."
With Mulvihill on his game and protected by his line, though, Glenbrook North had the edge through the air. On Glenbrook North's next possession, Mulvihill threw for 2 first downs and ran for another to set up Ryan Henschel's sparkling 12-yard touchdown catch for a 13-7 Spartans lead just before halftime. The all-conference two-way starter caught the football just inside the right pylon with a defender riding up his back.
"He won on a comeback route, he was right along the sideline. I put it right on the edge where only he could catch it," Mulvihill said.
Though starting running back J.R. Flood didn't play due to injury, in their first second-half possession Glenbrook North stressed the run. Marquez scrambled 4 times for 56 yards to help set up Mulvihill's third touchdown pass, an 18-yarder to another back, Juan Saenz, who bulled through people the last 8 yards.
Cosentino's kick gave the Spartans a 20-7 lead at 2:50 of the third quarter. The margin was short-lived as Taft's Jaiden Padilla ran 80 yards on the Eagles' next play from scrimmage.
Penalties and cramping players slowed the game to a crawl thereafter, but Glenbrook North scored the silencer with 5:57 to play. Henschel tracked down a Mulvihill pass for a 47-yard gain, and Marquez followed center Mahoney, pulling around left end on an 11-yard touchdown run.
"That was actually really cool," Mahoney said. "Me and Marquez are neighbors and, like, we grew up together. We always go and do workouts at the Crestwood (Park) field right by our house, and I'm just blocking for him, setting up that touchdown. That's just awesome."
Sophomore Jack Philbin, Mulvihill's successor at safety, led Glenbrook North with 10 tackles. Anar Binderiya made 8 tackles and Henry Shen made 7, each with 2 tackles for loss.
Spartans coach Matt Purdy praised the defense, the running back rotation of Marquez and Saenz and, of course, Murphy Mulvihill.
"We did a nice job, and with the number of kids who hadn't played a lot of varsity football and got in there and really contributed, I'm proud of that and I'm excited to see how we grow in the weeks coming up," Purdy said.