Martin, Prospect down Niles North
After a tough loss to Hoffman Estates last week, the Prospect Knights rebounded in Skokie as they spoiled Niles North's homecoming, besting the Vikings 47-28 Friday night.
Prospect senior hurler James Martin led the Knights as he rushed for 2 touchdowns and threw for 2 more. The Knights' quarterback shared the wealth his teammates as he connected with eight different receivers.
Martin finished the win with 307 all-purpose yards (253 yards passing and 54 rushing).
"I think we just cleaned things up at halftime, and executed more," Martin said. "We put four good quarters together and one great second half. I took what the (defense) gives me. The receivers did great and so did our D."
Prospect and Niles North traded two turnovers on downs. A Niles North penalty late in the first quarter after stopping Prospect on fourth down gave the Knights good field position. Martin promptly punched in a 4-yard touchdown through the trenches to start the second quarter.
Midway through the second quarter, Niles North and Prospect capitalized on a collection of their adversaries' errors.
Two plays after a Niles North turnover on downs, Martin linked up with one of his receivers for a 55-yard gain only to fumble at the 2-yard line where the Vikings recovered.
Deep in its own territory, Niles North went three-and-out only to have a high snap go through the end zone for a safety.
Two plays later, a Prospect lob was deflected into the paws of Niles North senior defensive back Myles Davis. Davis scampered for 78 yards for the touchdown to cut the deficit to 9-8.
A few sequences later Niles North quarterback senior quarterback Tremaine Conner (3 passing touchdowns for 376 yards) threw an 81-yard Hail Mary to one of his receivers, but a holding call erased those points from the board. Prospect retrieved a short punt from Niles North and Knights senior kicker Anthony Santangelo connected from 29 yards out. Prospect carried a 12-8 lead into the locker room.
"I think we're trying to figure out who our playmakers are," said Prospect coach Dan Deboeuf. "Aside from our seniors Jimmy (James Martin) and (Michael) Shafis, we have a lot of sophomores that made big plays."
In the second half, Prospect running back Shafis recorded two 25-yard runs that were decisive moments.
On Shafis' first run of the second half, he shook off one Niles North defender and scampered for a 25-yard score. The 6 points proved to be the insurance the Knights needed to sustain their lead. The aforementioned Prospect tailback also has the responsibility of punter. After initially fumbling the snap on a punt deep in their territory, Shafis bobbed and wove another 25 yards to prolong the drive they were on early in the fourth quarter when the score was 26-16. The gaffe turned exceptional play extended the drive and took precious minutes off Niles North's chances and exasperated the Niles North defense for the remainder of the game.
"I didn't catch the snap and it slipped away," Shafis said of the punt. "I just had to try and do something with it. (On my touchdown) I got great blocks from the O-line. They make it easy for us to go. They ball out up front and make my job a lot easier."
Niles North never gave in as they tallied three more scores from senior wide outs Jaelynn White and Sayvon Davis (Davis scored twice), however the deficit was too large to overcome.
Other Knights journeying to the end zone included junior receiver Matthew Meyer, sophomore receiver Noah Marx and sophomore running back Luke Zardzin.
Prospect heads home to host Deerfield in its homecoming game.
"I'm trying to put ownership on the kids," Deboeuf said. "I wanted them to focus at half and get back to enjoying playing football and having fun with your friends. This win is good and it helps us build more energy. Deerfield is going to be tough and we have to be ready to play. We're excited to go back home as well.