Bartlett completes remarkable turnaround
Bartlett made a triumphant return on Friday night to its football home of the last 20 years with a 46-6 rout of host Streamwood at Millennium Field to finish the regular season 7-2.
It has been a complete turnaround under first-year coach Matt Erlenbaugh after the Hawks finished 2-7 last year. Bartlett is headed to the playoffs for the first time since 2015.
"It's been all the kids," Erlenbaugh said. "They were tired of losing and hungry to win. They have been very coachable since day one. Every week the kids have worked hard to get better and every week we all get more on the same page. I feel real good heading into the playoffs. We are excited for it."
Bartlett quarterback Jonah O'Brien led the way with 5 touchdown passes. He completed 12 of 20 passes for 251 yards.
'Our receivers did a great job of getting open and making plays," O'Brien said. "They were able to create a lot of space. All I had to do was get the ball to them. They were playing 2 high safeties and that created some mismatches we were able to take advantage of. It's been a big difference this year. Just a lot more energy. The offense is moving the ball efficiently, so we feel confident heading into the playoffs."
O'Brien spread the ball around to 6 receivers with four different ones catching touchdowns.
"He's a special talent," Erlenbaugh said. "He has a cannon for an arm and makes good reads and good decisions."
The Hawks scored on their first 5 offensive possessions. Threes times the Hawks were able to take advantage of great field position, starting inside Streamwood territory after the defense pinned the Sabres deep in their own territory, Bartlett had touchdown drives of 64, 22, 37, 27, and 70 yards in the first half as they built a 32-6 lead.
Nick Deckard got the Hawks on the board first with a 9-yard touchdown run. O'Brien followed with touchdown passes of 5 yards to Noah Herstad, 4 yards to Alec Palella, 14 yards to Hayden Angell, and 70 yards to Austin Gates.
Herstad caught a second touchdown of 46 yards in the second half. Deckard added a second rushing touchdown of 5 yards to round out the scoring. Deckard had a team-high 73 yards rushing on 17 carries.
"I really liked the way we executed all around tonight," Erlenbaugh said. "The kids were in it and focused right from the start."
The Sabres' lone score was a 51-yard touchdown run by Sirrion Dixon in the second quarter.
Streamwood finish the season 1-8, but there may be brighter days ahead.
"We have 16 of our 22 starters coming back," Streamwood coach Don Guindon said. "We were a very young team this year, but we learned a lot and hopefully that carries over to more success in the future."