Schaumburg shuts out Highland Park

 
By Lou Nunez, Jr.
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/15/2018 12:30 AM
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Consistency and familiarity.

They have been central themes in the history of Schaumburg football.

As it competes in its 48th season, the Saxons have had had only three men directing the program: Bob Ferguson (1971-83), Tom Cerasani (1984-2004) and current head coach Mark Stilling, who took over the helm in 2005.

It has also experienced a touch of familiarity in recent years as it entered its Week 4 CSL-MSL crossover against visiting Highland Park with a 2-1 record for the fourth consecutive year against a Giant squad that suffered its first loss the previous week as they surrendered 56 points at home to Rolling Meadows.

Successfully operating under those themes, the Saxons were able to pitch a 25-0 shutout win at a newly renovated Gary Scholz Stadium Friday night for their third straight win after a Week 1 loss at St. Charles North.

"Our kids have done a nice job of getting better every week," Stilling said. "Tonight, we were able to control the tempo of the game early on and it allowed us to get off to a fast start."

That start began on the Saxons' second possession from scrimmage when it compiled an 11 play, 72-yard drive over a four-minute span of quarter number one. Sophomore running back Mike DiGioia would handle the ballcarrying load on 9 of those plays with the ninth finding the end zone from 4 yards out at the 5:07 mark of the opening frame. A Heze Trotter shovel pass to Shamaree Brown off an errant snap of the ensuing PAT attempt gave Schaumburg an 8-0 lead.

The home team's defensive effort had its highlight with 5:49 left until halftime when Francis Zepeda scooped up a Giant fumble that came as a result of botched offensive play at the Highland Park 44 where the 5-11 senior LB took it all the way to the end zone for a 15-0 Saxon lead.

Zepeda gave credit to his defensive line (Joel Routhowski, Joseph Jamison, Malik Moore-Rozier, and Jeremy Serio) for setting up his scoring opportunity.

"Those guys were great all night," Zepeda said. "On that play they were able to get in to their backfield really quick and they weren't able to get the play off the way they wanted."

Meanwhile, Schaumburg continued its offensive success as they churned out another 11 play drive (68 yards) that found pay dirt before half number one came to a close.

It featured the successful signal calling of Marcus Ross, who connected on 4 of 6 passes with the fourth finding Trotter in the end zone from 14 yards out with just 13 ticks left until halftime.

Stilling credited the senior quarterback (10-15-93 yards passing, 6 carries, 22 yards rushing) with his game management that set the Saxons on a winning pace.

"Marcus has one of the smartest football IQs that I've ever seen," Stilling said. "The plan was to attack them with a faster tempo that was able to change them up on defense and he had a huge role in us being able to do that."

DiGioia who paced the Saxon effort with a 123 yard performance on 32 carries credited his offensive line with his evening's output.

"They (Mike Dan, Allen Oaknovic, Dane McMahon, Joe Parra and Brandon Schweigert) know where to go to create the holes that give us the chance to make plays. They work so well together."

A 33 yard Jon Mueller field goal with 8:18 left in the third period closed out the scoring as Schaumburg outgained Highland Park 279-132 in total offense.

"I feel like that we still haven't reached our best as of yet," Stilling added as his team begins MSL West Division play hosting a 4-0 Hoffman Estates squad next Friday.

"It's a whole new season. There are no easy games over the next 5 weeks. We will need to be ready for each and every one of those contests."

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