Schaumburg pulls off West upset of Conant
As Schaumburg made the 10-minute trip to its archrival Conant for Friday night's Mid-Suburban West contest, the Saxons knew their postseason hopes were hanging by a thread after dropping their third straight game a week ago.
They also knew they had their work cut out for them in needing to win their final three games in order to gain playoff eligibility.
By the time the last second ticked off the Feutz Field scoreboard, that thread had gotten a little bit longer and stronger as Schaumburg posted a 10-7 win over the host Cougars to keep those hopes alive.
In addition, it knocked Conant (6-1, 2-1) not only out of the ranks of the unbeaten but out of first place in the MSL West as Fremd (5-2, 3-0) took sole possession with its victory over Barrington. Fremd and Conant will clash in Hoffman Estates next Friday.
"I just thought we showed a ton of guts (out there)," Schaumburg head coach Mark Stilling said of his team's performance.
"They're (Conant) extremely physical. Extremely well-coached. But I thought our kids physically were really good. I thought offensively I really liked the way (we kept) our nose to the grindstone kind of thing and grinded it out."
Literally and figuratively, Schaumburg (3-4, 1-2) tailored a masterpiece on both sides of the ball as it outgained Conant 251-215 on the ground (277-242 overall) while holding the host school 77 yards below its Northwest suburbs-leading per-game average and its lead ball carrier Malik Frederick (15 carries, 116 yards) 51 yards below his.
"Malik is going to get his," Stilling said. "Eight (Cougar sophomore quarterback Giuseppe Dugo) is athletic as heck. We wanted to be physical with him early. We thought if we could get them into a game where they were pitching the ball that would be in our favor."
Schaumburg two-way starter Shamaree Brown (16 carries, 125 yards) broke a 48-yard run to pay dirt to get the visitors on the board 7-0 on their first offensive series at the 6:23 mark of quarter one.
Conant evened things up 14 seconds later when Frederick busted through the Schaumburg defense on the subsequent play from scrimmage for an 80-yard scoring jaunt.
The Saxons answered with an 11-play, 59-yard drive that junior Roberto Sanchez finished with a 43-yard field goal that gave Schaumburg a 10-7 lead at the break.
Schaumburg's defense would preserve that lead the rest of the way as it forced a pair of fumbles in Saxon territory that senior Jeremy Serio and junior Anthony Hernandez recovered in the second period that wiped out potential scoring chances for Conant.
The Saxons would stitch together another pair of critical stops in the final four minutes of regulation as junior Mike DiGioia, who added 110 yards rushing on 16 carries offensively, brought down Conant's Marktwain Green on a failed reverse on a 4th-and-five at the Schaumburg 44 with 3:43 left.
Then stuffing the Cougars' last gasp at their own 41 when junior Blake Buchanan got a hand on a Dugo pass attempt to Mason Rieger on a 4th-and-nine at their 41.
Brown, who received an offer from Winona State earlier in the week, credited his team's practices as the catalyst for victory.
"We really get after it," Brown said. "(Our) coaches made a game plan for us and we did the job we had to do this week."