Glenbard East wills its way past Bartlett
This was a teamwide physical embodiment of will power.
Bartlett gave Glenbard East all it could have wanted, but with remarkable resiliency the Rams won the Upstate Eight Conference contest 24-21 in Lombard.
"I'll tell you what, man, we found out a little bit about our football team tonight," Glenbard East coach John Walters said. "This was a physical game, and I think both teams just left it out on the field. And our guys just had a little bit more at the end."
Glenbard East sophomore quarterback Connor Cerkas had just gotten planted into the home turf for the umpteenth time, the second straight time by Bartlett defensive lineman Dan Angelone. Mired in a string of 11 straight incompletions, he started off the field then collapsed about 15 yards from the sideline.
"We just had some rough times. I just kept getting hit, hit, hit," he said.
And he kept getting back up.
Trailing Bartlett 21-17 with 3:17 left to play, Glenbard East (2-0, 2-0) gained possession at its own 16-yard line. Cerkas got wiped out again on third-and-10, so in came normal defensive back Jason Torrevillas, the "backup-backup" as Walters said.
Torrevillas threw an out to Deon Cook, who was blanketed so tightly he went down on his back as the ball popped up -- and came down in his hands for a 10-yard gain and first down.
Back in the game, twice more Cerkas hit Cook for first downs, and another time for a Torrevillas sideline toe-tapper at the Bartlett 19-yard line. The next play, Cerkas connected with LaDonus Rogers, a converted safety, for the game-winning 19-yard touchdown pass with 1:27 to play. It was Rogers' first varsity touchdown. Jorge Castaneda followed with the kick to complete a perfect night for the junior.
"It feels really good, everybody was giving me handshakes and everything," said Rogers, coincidentally Cook's cousin. "But it's truly a team effort. If Deon Cook didn't catch that ball down there and down there, we wouldn't get in that position to win."
Cerkas hobbled up to reporters afterward.
"I thought my receivers did a great job," said Cerkas, who credited his rally to faith. "Running backs executed, everybody executed, especially the last drive that we definitely needed them to."
The two halves were totally different. Glenbard East led 7-0 at halftime on James Loynes' 24-yard touchdown catch.
In the second half the teams took turns scoring. Bartlett (1-1, 1-1) tied the score 14-14 late in the third quarter on Tyler Rivelli's 85-yard touchdown run, his second of the game after a 54-yard score had knotted the game 7-7.
Castaneda's 21-yard field goal gave Glenbard East a 17-14 lead. Bartlett answered with Nick Bucaro's halfback pass to Matt Young, then Mike Priami's 17-yard touchdown pass to Young for a 21-17 lead with 5:48 to play.
Turns out that was enough time for Glenbard East.
"It's a great team that we played, so you knew there was a lot of football left in that game. We were aware of it, and they capitalized," said Bartlett coach Matt Erlenbaugh.