Piepers are keepers for Vernon Hills
One day, Jake Pieper hoped, he would play football with his dad as his coach.
One day. That's all Pieper, a Vernon Hills sophomore slot receiver, gets with his dad on the sideline. It's better than no days.
Bob Pieper, the former longtime coach at Glenbrook North and a member of the Illinois High School Football Coaches Association hall of fame, stepped down after last season so he could watch his only son play varsity football. Pieper assists GBN Monday through Thursday, then helps chart plays for Vernon Hills on Friday nights.
The arrangement works for both schools, and Jake couldn't be more thrilled.
Saturday, Vernon Hills played a matinee at Weiss Field in Waukegan. Bob Pieper worked the VH sideline and watched as Jake's 2 touchdowns help the Cougars beat Waukegan 44-0 in a nonconference game.
"It's awesome," Jake Pieper said after the Cougars improved to 2-0 with their second shutout. "(Growing up), we both had football so we didn't really see each other until late at night when I got home from practice and he got home from practice. We missed a lot of time together, but it's good to be together."
Jake has been making his dad smile especially proud the first two weeks of the season. He caught a touchdown pass in Vernon Hills' season-opening win over Grayslake Central, then opened Saturday's matinee by hauling in a 56-yard TD pass from running back Ryan Mann on the first snap from scrimmage.
Cougars quarterback Thomas Monken (son of VH offensive coordinator Tony Monken) pitched the ball to Mann, who rolled right and hit Pieper in stride.
"We put it in this week and around Tuesday Coach Monken said that he was going to start off the game with that," Pieper said. "We said, 'All right, we're going to start it off with a bang.' "
The pass would be for either Pieper or fellow wide receiver Giovanni Zullo, who was on the outside. When the safety come down after Monken pitched the ball, Pieper was left wide open on the seam. Mann delivered a perfect ball.
"We've been practicing that all week, and Mann was throwing it flat all week," Cougars head coach Bill Bellecomo said. "I was getting nervous. I said, 'Are we really starting with that?' (Monken) said (enthusiastically), 'Yeah. He'll make the throw.' That was actually a perfect throw today. Then (Monken) looked at me and said, 'I told you it would be perfect.' "
The 5-foot-6, 145-pound Pieper finished with 5 receptions for 118 yards. His 22-yard touchdown catch from Monken in the third quarter started a running clock and was the final scoring play of the game.
"He's a football player," Bellecomo said. "He plays above his years. You forget he's a sophomore."
Besides his touchdown pass, Mann rushed for 2 scores (8 and 3 yards), finishing with 96 rushing yards on 14 carries. Monken completed 11 of 19 passes for 184 yards and 2 TDs.
Vernon Hills junior Cree Morrison got in on the fun late in the third quarter. The 6-3, 230-pound nose guard, who backs up senior Brad Gothelf, intercepted a pass at the Vernon Hills 20 with Waukegan trying to break the shutout.
"I was just going to come to the circle to get (the quarterback) with Josh (Ludolph)," Morrison said. "(The quarterback) just threw it up and I was right there. I was like, 'All right, here I go. I just ran.' "
Visions of a Pick 6 entered the mind of Morrison, who rumbled and raced down the sideline. He settled for a return of 33 yards to the Waukegan 47.
"I felt someone on me and I was like, 'I'm too big for this. I'm just going down,' " Morrison said with a laugh. "I didn't want to drop it. I don't carry the ball."
Waukegan, which fell to 0-2, got an interception from Quinton Idleburg. The Cougars held the Bulldogs to 73 yards of offense.
Vernon Hills, which led 37-0 at halftime, also got a 17-yard TD pass from Monken to Zullo and a 1-yard score from Jackson Wiegold. Morrison and Josiah McDonald had interceptions for the Cougars.