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updated: 10/28/2017 12:26 AM

Full speed ahead for unbeaten Barrington

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By Lou Nunez, Jr.
Daily Herald Correspondent

The player they're calling 'Nitro' was ready to burn.

Barrington senior quarterback Ray Niro delivered his typically high-octane first half on Friday, rushing for 150 yards and 2 touchdowns and passing for 74 and another TD as the Broncos accelerated past visiting Glenbrook South 45-3 on Friday in a Class 8A first-round playoff matchup.

The victory sends the second-seeded and unbeaten Mid-Suburban West champions into a matchup against 16th-seeded Minooka (8-2), a 22-19 overtime winner at home against No. 17 seed Notre Dame (7-3).

"Our kids came in laser-focused with their minds on one thing -- to beat Glenbrook South tonight," Barrington coach Joe Sanchez said of his squad's second win this year over the Titans (5-5).

That focus was clear in all areas of the game, starting with Barrington's first play from scrimmage as junior running back Michael Curran took a handoff from Niro, broke through the line and raced 59 yards for the game's first score just 16 seconds into the contest.

"In a lot of ways, it's a result of teams keying on Ray so much that opportunities like this happen for us," Curran said.

Curran, a 6-foot-, 175-pound junior, finished with 6 carries for 83 yards and credited another returning starter from last year's squad, offensive lineman Brad Warman, with the key block that sprung him loose.

"He was able to open things up where I all of a sudden had this huge hole to run through," Curran said.

The 31st-seeded Titans then had their best series of the night, driving 75 yards to the Barrington 1. On fourth-and-goal from 1, an apparent Savontae Garner touchdown run was negated by penalty. The Titans settled for a 33-yard Julian Aragon field goal.

After that, Barrington (10-0) held Glenbrook South to just 143 yards of total offense.

Meanwhile, the Broncos' offense scored TDs on four straight possessions.

First came a 68-yard drive that Niro completed with an 11-yard run.

Next came Curran's second touchdown came from 8 yards out. On that drive, Niro had 62 yards combined rushing and passing and delivered a key 15-yard completion to Nick Bogaerts.

The next Barrington possession saw Niro finding Alec Andrea with a 51-yard scoring pass with 6:18 left in the second quarter.

On the final Barrington series of the first half, Niro broke free for a 54-yard TD dash.

Curran closed the Broncos' touchdown production by recovering the punt he blocked in the end zone with 1:19 left in the second quarter. He credits linebacker Mikey Owsley for the opportunity.

"He was able to clear some space for me when he took care of his guy," Curran said. "It couldn't have been more perfect. I was then able to block it."

Barrington junior kicker Will Hutchinson closed out the evening's scoring with field goals of 33 and 27 yards in the second half.

Niro says his coaching staff has gotten Barrington to where it is this season.

"Every practice, every game, our coaches like to stress how important it is to keep focus on what's in front of you. One step at a time," Niro said. "At the end of the day the guys on this team have a passion and a heart that gives us the strength and confidence to compete with anyone we play."

Curran says the team's family atmosphere is special, which was clear to see as players hoisted Bogaerts in honor of his 18th birthday.

"We may not be the most athletic nor the most talented team out there, but look at these guys," Curran said. "We care about one another. We definitely work hard in order to be prepared for these opportunities when they come our way."

Next weekend's opportunity against Minooka matches the progress of last year, when the Broncos' season ended with a second-round playoff loss to Maine South.

"We've got a group of guys that remember that loss last year," Sanchez said. "That has served as the focal point for our season, to try and get back to this point and go beyond that. In all honesty, it all comes back to preparation. And if we can have a good week of it, the more our chances for success improve."

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