Wauconda spoils Round Lake's new stadium debut
Since Round Lake broke ground on its new stadium facility last spring, the Panthers looked forward to debuting their new turf field under bright lights.
That finally happened Friday on a cool autumn night, and then the Panthers and Wauconda threatened to break the bulbs on the new jumbo scoreboard.
On Round Lake's historic evening, complete with a ribbon-cutting ceremony before the game and a quick fireworks display after it, the two football teams played an entertaining game for four quarters. Behind quarterback Nick Bulgarelli's 3 touchdown passes and 1 rushing TD, Wauconda played spoiler, winning the Northern Lake County Conference game 47-27.
"It's a gorgeous field," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said after his Bulldogs improved to 3-5 and 3-3 in the NLCC. "It's a fantastic facility. It made us flashback to when we got ours (six years ago). Kudos to Round Lake."
The scoreboard even features a video screen. Round Lake (1-7, 0-6) had a walk-through on its new field for the first time on Friday.
"It felt so good," Panthers senior wide receiver Kevonne Peterson said with a smile. "It was so soft. It felt like you were floating out there. Everything just feels so much better on that field."
"We were able to get the kids out here, let them take some time to walk around, take it all in, try to get up all their pictures on the board," Round Lake coach Scott Blecha said. "I had nightmares thinking that we'd line up (during the middle of the game) and our guys would be looking up and taking it all in.
"At practice (Friday), they turned on the lights toward the end and our kids started clapping."
Wauconda sophomore running back/safety Colin Husko made history by becoming the first player to score a touchdown in the stadium. He capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive on the game's opening series by scoring from 8 yards out with 9:47 left in the first quarter.
"First drive, we came out strong," said Husko, who enjoyed his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game, carrying the ball 17 times for 132 yards. "Linemen did really well. It felt great being in the end zone, celebrating with my teammates."
Round Lake answered Husko's score by making its own team history. Sophomore running back/wide receiver Jamariel Brown scored the Panthers' first touchdown in their new place when he raced into the end zone from 16 yards out with 4:09 left in the opening quarter, giving the hosts a 7-6 lead.
But Wauconda got the lead right back, as Bulgarelli (12-of-14 passing, 218 yards) threw a 22-yard TD pass to wide receiver JJ Jacobo, and the Bulldogs had the lead for good. The same two players hooked up again midway through the second quarter, this time from 20 yards out.
The teams then traded touchdowns before the end of the half. Peterson caught a 19-yard pass from Cristian Castro (14-of-23 passing, 285 yards), before Bulgarelli bulled his way into the end zone from the 1 to put Wauconda up 26-13 at intermission.
Wauconda sophomore Vince Bennett (14 carries, 141 yards) scored on runs of 66 and 38 yards in the second half, while Bulgarelli and Javerius McGuinn hooked up on a 28-yard scoring pass.
Round Lake got rushing TDs from Dominick Tovar (2 yards) and Brown (19 yards) in the second half. Brown finished with 109 rushing yards on 7 carries.
The night proved extra special too for Blecha, who coached under Mills at Wauconda before getting the Round Lake job last spring.
"It was a fun game," Blecha said. "I enjoyed my four years coaching there. I learned a lot from Coach Mills, Just looking across the field and seeing him, that's what high school football is all about. Just a bunch of people that enjoy the game, playing. Entertaining game, high-scoring game, back and forth, close for a while. If you don't enjoy being out here, I don't know what else to say."