'Good, hardworking football': Titans build big early lead in football opener
As Glenbrook South quarterback Hunter Kreske said while walking off the field, it's go time.
And off the Titans went Friday against Rolling Meadows.
Glenbrook South scored touchdowns on all five first-half possessions and added a defensive touchdown, the basis of a 51-21 victory in their season opener at John Davis Stadium on Aug. 26.
"It was exactly how we expected, almost," said Glenbrook South defensive end Jacque Gariepy, whose hit on Rolling Meadows quarterback Evan Grace caused a fumble that teammate Hank Leahy returned 35 yards for a 14-0 lead in the first five minutes.
"The expectations were high from last year. But we had belief in ourself, we had confidence in ourself, and we got work done," Gariepy said.
The Titans reached the Class 8A quarterfinals and went 9-3 in 2021, but Rolling Meadows, out of the Mid-Suburban East, is a playoff perennial.
The Mustangs did not have the opener they wanted.
"They physically kicked our butt," said Mustangs coach Sam Baker.
"I always talk about, I can handle losing if we don't beat ourselves, but it was a combination of they were better than us and we beat ourselves. Which is how you get a 30-point differential. Pretty disappointed in that," Baker said.
Glenbrook South opened the scoring at 8:03 of the first quarter on a 67-yard drive that netted 5 first downs. Versatile senior Tommy MacPherson stiff-armed his way into the end zone on a 10-yard run, followed by kicker Jacob Priegnitz's conversion kick.
Then, on Rolling Meadows' second play from scrimmage, Gariepy broke into the backfield and rocked Grace as he attempted to pass. No whistle came from the officials and linebacker Leahy scooped up the football and rumbled in for a 14-0 lead at 7:19 of the first quarter.
"I think any time you can get a defensive touchdown you feel good that you're going to be in a good spot to win a game," Titans coach Dave Schoenwetter said. "I thought our defense played really well in the first half."
Scoring again on Chuck Gottfred's 8-yard run behind linemen guard Drew Duffy and tackle Ryan Taylor, Glenbrook South led 21-0 after one quarter. At that point the Titans had 109 yards rushing to Rolling Meadows' minus-5.
"That was good, hardworking football," said Duffy, who also took reps at defensive tackle. "That's the kind of football we aspire to have, the kind of play we worked for all summer."
Getting something going on a 45-yard pass to Ben Petermann from Grace, that long play helped set up Grace's crisply thrown 11-yard touchdown pass to Ben Petermann on the first play of the second quarter. Gabe Cherwin's kick pulled the Mustangs within 21-7.
It was but a speed bump. On successive Glenbrook South possessions Kreske threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to MacPherson, a 27-yarder to Griffin Dahiya and then stepped out of a tackle to dump it off to Leahy for a 34-yard touchdown play and a 43-7 lead with 1:40 left in the second quarter.
Kreske finished the game having completed 10 of 15 passes for 192 yards.
"That was kind of the question mark, I think," Schoenwetter said. "I knew we had a good backfield, I knew we had a good line, but the question was, are we going to be able to throw the football and complete it, and I thought we did a nice job."
Rolling Meadows' Grace-to-Petermann connection worked again in the final seconds of the second quarter to trim Glenbrook South's halftime lead to 43-14. They added their third touchdown strike, a 46-yarder, in the last five minutes of the third quarter.
Petermann, a junior, finished with 6 receptions for 145 yards.
"Evan put them in the right spot, and we're going to grow from this," Petermann said.
"We're going to practice it even more. Evan's a great quarterback, he's going to put it in the right spot -- he's going to put us in the right spot to win."
Glenbrook South's Gottfred ended the scoring on a 1-yard run, his second touchdown to go with 116 yards rushing.
The large Davis Stadium crowd left happy. Yet, like coaches say, a team's greatest improvement often comes from Week 1 to Week 2.
"After that first half I was really disappointed. I think we got a little complacent, I think we kind of let the Rolling Meadows team get back into it," Kreske said.
"It felt like a momentum shift on our home turf, and part of that's on me, part of that's on the offense as a whole. But I think next game we'll even out those kinks and it'll be a full four quarters."