Prospect builds big lead, downs Wheeling

By Lou Nunez Jr.
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 3/22/2021 8:42 PM

Happiness, exhilaration, excitement, satisfaction, and pure joy may be a few of the adjectives to describe the return of high school football in the state of Illinois this weekend.

However, it can also be a needed respite from life's tougher times.


Take Wheeling coach Brian Hauck, for example. Last weekend, Hauck's 40-year old brother, T.R., passed away after a lengthy illness. On Saturday afternoon, Brian Hauck was commencing his fourth season at the helm of the Wildcats' program by taking his 22-member varsity squad into George Gattas Memorial Stadium to open up the season against host Prospect.

The Knights, considered by some a team that could capture the Mid-Suburban East title, lived up to that preseason billing as they earned a 37-14 victory in a game that was closer than the final scoreboard read.

The Knights (1-0, 1-0) used some key Wheeling mistakes to their advantage in building a 30-0 lead late in the third period. Those included a blocked punt, a pair each of drive-killing high snaps, fumbles, and interceptions.

"We were a little on our heels to start. We definitely weren't sharp and that's on me," Hauck said. "Those little mistakes hurt us because when we finally got going, we finally started to get the feel of how to play football in high school. I thought we competed well but we've got to go back to work."

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Prospect churned out 322 yards of total offense featuring a dual-pronged attack from its senior duo of quarterback Gary Moeller and running back Luke Zardzin. Moeller (201 yards combined passing and rushing) threw a pair of first-quarter TD tosses to Owen Walter (43 yards) and Frank Covey (28 yards) while Zardzin (11 carries, 105 yards) added a trio of TD runs (6, 11, and 5 yards) that set the tone for a team that last played in round two of the IHSA Class 7A playoffs in November, 2019.

"I felt like a sophomore again even though I've played in like 20 of these (games). It's been so long," Zardzin, the Northern Illinois preferred walk-on commit, said. "I'm really happy with how our team performed. I thought we really stuck together."

The Wildcats would find pay dirt on a pair of Solomon Hudson passes to Joe Mitroi, the first coming on the final play of the third quarter for 27 yards and the second from 18 yards out with 3:14 left to play.

Paul Ufir (19 carries, 63 yards) added a 2-point conversion to close out the scoring.

Hudson threw for 138 yards on 13-of-22 for the game.

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