Vernon Hills gets back on track with rout
Senior night really brought out the best in host Vernon Hills Friday night as the Cougars lined up against Maine East in Central Suburban League football action.
And while Vernon Hills fell behind 6-0 right away, the Cougars bounced back quickly with an impressive 57-6 CSL North Division victory over the Blue Demons to snap a 5-game losing streak.
Maine East (0-8, 0-4) returned the opening kickoff 84 yards when Emmanuel Joshua Carson found the end zone to give the visitors a quick 6-0 advantage.
But after taking over on its own 32-yard-line, Vernon Hills senior running back Anthony Berktold responded with a 68-yard TD run down the left sideline to deadlock the score at 6-6 to put the momentum back in the Cougars' corner.
"It was great we started the game with Anthony (Berktold) being able to score, and the seniors wanted to go out on a positive note," said Vernon Hills assistant coach Jay Czarnecki, whose team had 241 of its 427 total yards through the air. "He (Berktold) kind of led the momentum charge for us, and right from the get-go we got Derek (Jarrell) out of the pocket. The offense was really balanced so that was good to see."
Besides the early TD from Berktold, Vernon Hills senior Quinn Geren caught 7 more passes Friday to set the career school record with 108 receptions heading into the final game of the season next week at Glenbrook North.
"I was lucky enough to get in and play, and I can't even believe I got in," said Berktold, who led the team in rushing. "There is no I in team, and it's not just me that made that big play."
The Cougars' offense was clicking big-time in the first quarter as Geren caught a 63-yard TD pass from Jarrell (12-for-15, 229 yards passing) to take a 13-6 lead following the extra point by Shane Moncayo.
Then senior Jake Morris scored on a 37-yard TD run before his 2-point conversion run boosted the lead to 21-6 midway through the first quarter.
Junior Giovanni Zullo got into the act when he caught a 36-yard TD pass from Jarrell as the ball was thrown just over a Maine East defender for a 29-6 lead as Max Xu added a 2-point conversion run.
Then Jarrell scored on a 38-yard keeper on a quarterback option and the Cougars held a 36-6 lead after one quarter.
"I rolled out a lot, and our saying is take what the defense gives," said Jarrell. "It (senior night) is tough because it's bittersweet, and my last play was a touchdown so I'm always going to remember that."
Geren stayed on his feet and found the right pylon for a 23-yard TD catch to give Vernon Hills a 43-6 lead at halftime.
Then after a 49-yard catch by Geren to start the second half, Morris scored on a 16-yard TD pass from Jarrell for a 50-6 lead as almost the entire second half was played with a running clock.
Jack Peterson added a 15-yard interception return for a touchdown later in the third quarter to account for the final score.