Highland Park outlasts Vernon Hills

By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/4/2019 11:31 PM

Luke Lutgens will be OK.

So will Daniel Shin.


Lutgens, a Vernon Hills sophomore wideout, and Shin, a VH senior running back, both had to be immobilized after each suffered an injury in the fourth quarter of a home football game Friday night.

Both Cougars were transported to a hospital.

"What [the medical personnel] did out there was mainly for precautionary reasons for each player," optimistic VH coach Bill Bellecomo said of the most important news of the night.

The least important?

The final result of the football game. Highland Park defeated Vernon Hills 16-7 in a Central Suburban League North game at chilly Rust-Oleum Field.

"We were all feeling for those two guys," HP coach David Lindquist said.

HP (3-3, 1-1), which trailed 7-0 at the half, relied on big plays on both sides of the ball. Giants junior running back/linebacker Giovanni Volpentesta (12 carries, 105 yards) rushed for 65- and 2-yard touchdown runs in the third quarter and added a 2-point conversion after the second score.

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In between the tallies he intercepted a pass from VH senior quarterback Thomas Monken (19-for-35, 214 yards, TD, 2 interceptions) and returned it to VH's 14-yard line.

Monken's 22-yard TD toss to sophomore slot receiver Jake Pieper had given VH (4-2, 1-1) a 6-0 lead at the 5:16 mark of the second quarter.

HP defensive lineman Erick De La Cruz had a superb first half, recording a pair of sacks resulting in a combined minus-19 yards. He then picked off a pass at the Giants' 12 to set up the visitors' first TD drive.

"Way to respond, way to respond," Lindquist -- a former University of Illinois defensive lineman who played in a Rose Bowl -- said to his gridders after the postgame handshakes.

VH had entered the game a man down. Make that, a Ryan Mann down. VH's top running back, a junior, suffered a serious leg injury in last weekend's defeat of visiting Niles North and depended on crutches Friday night.


"This game, sometimes, can be such an unforgiving one," said Bellecomo, whose squad limited HP to 14 yards passing a year after HP topped VH 42-32.

Cougars senior wide receiver Jack Barszcz finished with 5 catches for a game-high 92 yards. Pieper came down with 5 receptions for 46 yards.

VH's top rusher was sophomore Kamrin Martin (12 carries, 20 yards).

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