South Elgin makes statement against Larkin
Larkin landed the first punch against host South Elgin in Saturday's Upstate Eight Conference football game.
The Storm landed the next eight to floor the upstart Royals 53-7.
Larkin (3-3, 3-3) jumped to a 7-0 lead. Facing third-and-long on the third play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Jaxon Aubry connected with senior receiver Jahari Stubbs over the middle for an 82-yard touchdown pass. Stubbs caught 5 balls for 106 yards.
South Elgin (5-1, 5-1) responded with 53 unanswered points via 7 touchdowns and a Andrew Bucaro 32-yard field goal that snapped a 7-7 tie.
"The sideline did a great job of staying calm and composed," said South Elgin coach Dragan Teonic, who coached Larkin for the last four seasons before taking over the Storm in June. "We were able to make a few adjustments on offense and rattled off 53 in a row, which is pretty good."
With South Elgin quarterback Jakob Johnson sidelined due to a concussion suffered in last week's loss to Glenbard East, part-time signal caller Azxavier Salinas took every snap for the Storm and directed eight scoring drives.
The senior threw for 236 yards and 3 touchdowns on 16-of-22 passing.
Salinas tossed a 27-yard, first-quarter touchdown pass to a leaping Patrick Noworol to tie the game 7-7, and he opened the second half with scoring passes of 53 and 10 yards to 6-foot-3 junior receiver Calin Gurau. The quarterback also rushed for 36 yards and 2 touchdowns.
"We practiced really hard for this game," Salinas said. "(Larkin) is our coach's old school. We wanted to do our best to show how he's developed our team and made us so good. We just put our all out there. I'm so proud of my team."
Bucaro's 32-yard field goal with 56 seconds left in the first quarter staked the Storm to a 10-7 lead. They scored twice more in the first half on a pair of Salinas touchdown runs to take a 24-7 halftime lead.
The Royals had chances to tighten the margin but dropped a pair of catchable interceptions and two potential touchdown passes that Aubry delivered on target.
"We felt like a lot of our things just weren't clicking today," Larkin acting coach Jason Aubry said. "We had open receivers. It's tough. (South Elgin) came out to play and they did a great job. They really did. I think the scheme we were playing against them worked but if anything could go wrong, it did. South Elgin is a good team, not to take anything away from them, but we're a good team, too. We just didn't execute."
South Elgin became playoff-eligible for the second straight year and the third time in four years by winning the turnover battle 5-1, thanks to 4 interceptions. Davion Cherwin and Ian Nathan made picks and Shiking Marshall snared 2 interceptions for a defense that limited the Royals to 144 passing yards, 36 rushing.
"It was a personal game for us," said Noworol, a starting safety who rotates in at slot receiver and returns kicks and punts. "We had to show them that we weren't messing around. We made it into the playoffs from this game. Obviously, it's a big statement game for us."
South Elgin's offense generated 449 total yards. Noworol caught 4 passes for 88 yards and a score and counted a 1-yard touchdown among his 6 carries for 47 yards.
Both teams hit the road next week. South Elgin travels to Glenbard South (4-2) while Larkin visits Bartlett (4-2).
"We had some rough plays, but we're going to get back at it and get ready for next week," said Larkin two-way lineman Isai Rios, who recorded 1.5 sacks.