Grayslake North opens season with rout of Waukegan
A couple of false starts and a sack on the opening drive spelled an auspicious start for Grayslake North.
However, on the next possession the Knights forced Waukegan into a three-and-out and a punt and suddenly that first drive was quickly forgotten.
"I don't think we've won our first game of the year since I've been here, so this is big for us to get off to a good start," said Knights senior wide receiver Joe Swanson, who made his mark on the afternoon with touchdown catches of 82, 6 and 10 yards.
"After that first drive we said we need to get it together and score. Once we get going, the offense rolls."
Indeed it did, to the tune of a 48-6 victory over the Bulldogs in the season opener for both teams at Weiss Field in Waukegan on Saturday afternoon.
"Even last year we picked it up after penalties. We punched it down their throat."
Swanson hauled in an 82-yard screen pass from junior quarterback Nick Fish on the Knights' second possession and the offense was off to the races.
On the next possession, senior free safety Jeremy Rowder picked off a pass and returned it 53 yards for a score and all of a sudden it was 13-0 with 6:25 left in the first quarter.
The Knights put the game on ice in the second quarter, prompting a running clock after they scored 28 unanswered points for a 41-0 halftime lead.
Junior running back Christian Johnson scampered in from 44 yards for a 20-0 lead with 9:20 left in the half. Johnson rumbled for 104 yards on 6 carries for the day.
Then Fish hit Swanson with back-to-back touchdown passes for a 34-0 lead. Fish ended up completing 6 of 12 passes for 138 yards and the three scores. Swanson caught 4 passes for 108 yards.
The final score of the half came when Tony Hines plunged in from 3 yards out for the 41-0 advantage.
Johnson then scored his second TD when he scampered in from a yard out for Grayslake North's final tally with 4:11 left in the third.
Grayslake North lost its first four games a year ago, only to win its final five and narrowly miss the playoffs.
"It's nice to continue our winning streak (6 games) from last year and get off to a great start (this year)," said Knights head coach Sam Baker.
"We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times. But our defense was awesome. We need to clean some things up but we're coming together."
The Knights' defense forced a couple of take-aways when Tony Hines and Matt Staudt recovered fumbles.
Waukegan got on the board and spoiled the shutout with a touchdown late in the fourth.
"It's always nice bringing them (Grayslake North) over here," said Bulldogs head coach Jonathan Hadnott, who formerly coached under Steve Wood at Grayslake North.
"It's like old family. Grayslake North plays hard and they do the little things well."