Mundelein can't catch up to Zion-Benton
After many years at Round Lake, Cristo Garza is pretty happy these days in his new role as Zion-Benton head football coach.
"I love being here and being a part of this culture," said Garza, whose team escaped with a 22-13 victory over visiting Mundelein on Zion's Homecoming Friday.
"This is how you build culture. Grinding out a win like we did tonight."
Only it didn't look that way early on as Zion (2-3, 1-2) and senior Nathan Prado took the opening kickoff 98 yards to the house for a score.
"It was huge we jumped on them early," added Garza, whose team travels to Stevenson next Friday evening.
"And we minimized our penalties. Big plays and our defense was awesome."
After the opening score, Mundelein got the ball and had a nice sustained drive, mostly via the ground. But on a 4th-and-four from Zion's 11, junior cornerback Davyn Moss stepped in front of an Isaac Wellman pass for a pick and thwart any further progress.
"We came out flat and sloppy and didn't play with a lot of emotion," said first-year Mustangs coach Vincent DeFrancesco, whose team slipped to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the North Suburban.
Then on the ensuing drive, Zion senior Stephan Watkins raced 94 yards on the first play from scrimmage.
"Credit our guys," said Garza. "They hunkered down and decided they wanted to win this game."
The turnover bug plagued Mundelein all evening to the tune of six. And speaking of which, Zion looked to put the game out of reach when senior defensive lineman Chasen Brothers picked up a fumble and raced 60 yards to the house and all of the sudden it was 22-0.
"It was great. Our offense, defense and special teams all scored tonight," said Garza. "But give Mundelein a lot of credit. Those guys came to play. You can't take anybody for granted especially when you're trying to move up in this conference."
After the fumble return for a score, Mundelein got on the board late in the second when Wellman hit Deangelo McClellan for a 37-yard score and Mundelein was in business down 22-7 at the intermission.
Then, with 51 ticks left in the third, junior fullback Rudy Osornio rumbled in from 4 yards out to cut the deficit to 22-13.
"When we had moments, we couldn't take advantage of it," added DeFrancesco.
Osornio ran for 93 yards on 18 carries, while Patrick rumbled for 119 yards on 19 attempts.
Zion senior running back Jordan Chisum was held to 52 yards on 19 carries.