Wheeling dumps Buffalo Grove

By Howard Schlossberg
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/21/2018 11:45 PM

Wheeling's Michael Best didn't forget a thing Friday night against Buffalo Grove in their Mid-Suburban East football opener.

That included making sure his final act was a big hug for BG's Tom Trieb, the Bison's injured star and his good pal.

"I'm great friends with Tommy," said the Wildcat quarterback, whose 1-yard plunge with 9:51 left provided the winning points in Wheeling's emotionally charged 14-10 win at home.

And Best did it all in the win, scoring all 14 of Wheeling's points, including a 6-yard dart in the second quarter and a dash for a 2-point conversion and an 8-3 lead. His punts of 60 and 49 yards helped keep BG pinned in poor field position most of the night as well.

And he was on the field all night on defense, helping teammates J.P. Smith, Luis Gonzalez and Kenny Yoshimo apply pressure on BG quarterback Connor Adams, forcing him into a 9-of-27 night and perhaps the game's most-consequential play, an interception by Smith with under 2 minutes left off a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage while BG was looking at attempting a last-ditch, 2-minute drill drive for a winning score. Instead, Wheeling ran out the clock.

"They came to play. They're a well-prepared team and they outplayed us," said BG coach Jeff Vlk, tipping his cap to Wheeling and acknowledging his own team's inability to capitalize in the red zone on the few occasions they got there thanks to Wheeling's pressure and the pass defense of Danny Provost and friends in the secondary.

Best had a lot of help though. And while he "gave props to the other team," he praised his side. "Coach (Brian) Hauck had a great game plan that kept BG from registering any long plays, save for one.

But Wheeling had one too -- Best's fade to Provost for 26 yards to set up his game-winning plunge. Best threw for 52 yards and ran for 65 more, complemented by the hard running of Johnny Panganiban and Ryan Glassberg. But Wheeling kept BG's offense in check, limiting Adams to short gains on his 9 completions, 7 to Max Oberman, including their one big play -- a 44-yard wheel pattern on which the fleet-footed junior was wide open and the ball was thrown perfectly.

But the game was over with Smith's grabbing of the deflection.

"It's a tough loss, especially for our seniors because it's such a big rivalry," Vlk said, noting he'll have BG (3-2, 0-1) up for Hersey next week.

Wheeling (3-2, 1-0), meanwhile, is up for anything, but won't get overconfident after registering something of an upset.

"We won't get cocky," Best said. "We'll stay together as a team."

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