Against Schaumburg, Lake Zurich leaves its mark
A long-standing football tradition at Lake Zurich is for players to cover themselves in temporary tatoos.
"It started in the playoffs in 2009, I think, and they did really good that year, so we've kept it going," Lake Zurich quarterback Evan Lewandowski said. "It's a good tradition that we started."
Lewandowski did his part to keep the tradition going by wearing a tattoo star on one cheek and wings on the other.
Appropriate choices. Because Lewandowski was the star of the show of Lake Zurich's 42-6 Class 7A first-round playoff victory over Schaumburg on Saturday night by letting the ball fly (as if it had wings).
Lewandowski, despite frigid temperatures, completed 13-of-27 passes for 253 yards and 3 toudchdowns. He also ran in a touchdown.
All three of Lewandowski's touchdown passes came in the first half as Lake Zurich built a 35-0 halftime lead.
The No. 3-seeded Bears, ranked No. 1 in Class 7A throughout the season, are now a perfect 10-0 on the season and will face No. 14 Plainfield North (8-2) in the second round next week.
"It helped that we had a great offensive line today. They've been really strong and that helps with the passing game," Lewandowski said. "And our wideouts are doing a great job. They're all really good."
Lewandowski completed passes to five different receivers. But his main target was actually his running back, Joey Stutzman. Stutzman caught 5 passes for 117 yards, including a beautiful 64-yard touchdown bomb at the beginning of the second quarter.
Lake Zurich's first score was a 24-yard pass from Lewandowski to Matthijs Enters (4 catches, 87 yards) with 4:35 left in the first quarter. Two minutes after Stutzman's touchdown reception, Lewandowski struck again, hitting Payton Powell for a 12-yard touchdown pass. That score was set up by a quick Schaumburg 3-and-out.
Stutzman (11 yards) and Lewandowski (5 yards) also ran in touchdowns in the second quarter to give Lake Zurich that 35-0 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, Schaumburg had just 2 first downs and 31 total yards at halftime.
"They are extremely tough," Schaumburg coach Mark Stilling said of Lake Zurich. "And they do a ton of little things extremely well. Just attention to details. They don't miss tackles, they do a great job defensively of seeing the ball and flying to the ball. Defensively, they are pretty darn solid.
"We would have needed to come in an execute at an extremely high level and we just didn't do that. A lot of that was us, but a lot of that was them. They're a darn good football team."
Schaumburg finally got on the board in the third quarter when quarterback Marcus Ross (20 rushes, 65 yards) ran in a 1-yard touchdown but Lewandowski answered at the end of the quarter with another touchdown run, from 29 yards out.
Lewandowski ran for 48 yards on 5 carries. Stutzman led the Bears on the ground with 68 yards on 13 carries.
"You can tell that Evan is a seasoned quarterback. He started last year, he has a lot of experience," Lake Zurich coach Luke Mertens said of Lewandowski. "He played well for us."
Lewandowski has put up big numbers all season for the Bears, who have had a target on their backs for weeks as their wins continued to pile up.
"I think our kids have done a great job of not being overconfident in spite of all the publicity they've gotten pretty much the whole season," Mertens said. "And they get it now. They know that this time of year, everyone is good so it's going to come down to the little things."