Blue Demons end 42-game losing streak

 
 
Updated 9/8/2022 4:09 AM

Maine East football coach Bob Winkel said he had 42 missed text messages on his phone after last Friday's game.

Coincidentally, the same number of missed opportunities the Blue Demons finally exorcised in Park Ridge on Sept. 2.

 

In a 13-6 nonconference victory over Round Lake, Maine East (1-1) snapped a 42-game losing streak. Its last previous varsity win came in the 2017 season opener, 16-13 over Schurz.

"It was incredible," Winkel said Monday.

"Having all the fans come down on the field, all the kids had tears in their eyes, they were all so happy to finally get a win on the varsity level," he said.

"We had a few guys on the team who didn't have a single victory at East, and for them to get a win it brought tears to their eyes. It brought tears to my eyes, I'm just so happy for them."

First-year Maine East Principal Melissa Pikul was in attendance with other administrators, including athletic director Kendall Griffin. They shared their thoughts on the hard work and dedication by Blue Demons players and staff alike that finally paid off.

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Among those who sent Winkel a message was his former coach at Marmion Academy, Dan Thorpe.

"I told him I definitely wouldn't be where I am without him," said Winkel, in his fifth year as Blue Demons head coach. "He definitely paved the way in showing me how to be a coach."

Maine East trailed Round Lake 6-0 when senior running back Yusuf Awad scored on a 7-yard run in the second quarter. Lucio Roa added the extra-point kick for a 7-6 halftime lead.

Awad's younger brother, Adam, completed a 42-yard pass to set up the first-half touchdown.

In the third quarter, Yusuf Awad followed a Roa block, evaded four would-be tacklers and ran 47 yards down the sideline to push the margin to 13-6.

The rest of the game, Winkel said, was tense. Maine East had a couple offensive drives, but couldn't put the ball in the end zone, and was forced to punt with 3:30 left to play. Blue Demon sophomore Chris Irving immediately tackled the return man at Round Lake's 15-yard line, and the defense held.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

After Maine East had been denied the best play in football for five years -- the winning quarterback takes a knee to run out the clock -- the Blue Demons "celebrated like crazy," Winkel said.

He praised the effort of players like senior lineman Christian Cabrales, who hurt a knee in the game and, though he couldn't run, continued to do the long-snapping on punts.

"I think that kind of just summarized the kind of kids we have," Winkel said. "They may have obstacles in their way, but they're always going to grind through and find a way and do everything that we ask. That's what made them successful on Friday."

Success can be fleeting in the nine-game schedule. Maine East was looking ahead to its Sept. 9 game at Wheeling, also 1-1.

"As much as we want to celebrate and have a great time, you've got to move on and start focusing on the next opponent. We've got seven more games and we hope to get several more victories, not just the one," Winkel said.

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