Defense shines for Vernon Hills in win over Deerfield

By Rusty Silber
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 4/3/2021 8:19 PM

Vernon Hills's football team was nearly back to full strength on Saturday, after not playing its Week 1 game due to COVID-19 protocols and then coming up with an impressive victory on the road at Highland Park last week.

It really showed on defense Saturday afternoon as Vernon Hills shut down Deerfield on four trips to the red zone in the first half and allowed just two field goals.


Vernon Hills (2-0) went on to defeat visiting Deerfield 19-6 in a Central Suburban League North game.

"We brought a lot of players back on defense against a well-coached team," Vernon Hills coach Bill Bellecomo said. "They don't make many mistakes and our boys played pretty well. We let (Deerfield) come at us and we withstood them to 6 points. That was a really strong defense."

Ball State recruit Jackson Wiegold led a Cougars' team defense that had 4 sacks and held the Warriors to just 38 yards on the ground.

"We do have a great defensive line," Wiegold said. "To be honest, Deerfield hasn't seen a team that can put the pressure on that we can. We do a great job getting to the quarterback. Throughout the year, we take pride in our defense. Multiple times, there were multiple guys coming right at the quarterback and making him throw the ball away faster. Just hats off to the defense."

All Deerfield (2-1) accomplished was Sherwood Hudson field goals from 36 and 19 yards in the second quarter.

Northern Illinois-bound running back Ryan Mann took over from the start, scoring on a 4-yard touchdown run in the opening quarter for a 7-0 advantage with 2:36 left and the Cougars held a 7-6 lead at halftime.

Vernon Hills quarterback Ben Halley connected with Kamrin Martin on a 12-yard touchdown pass on fourth down late in the third quarter for a 13-6 lead.

Then, Mann (30 carries, 213 yards) broke free for his biggest run of the day for 33 yards in the final quarter, followed up by Wiegold who scored on a 2-yard run for the other score.

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"It's a good win against a Top 10 team (Class 6A)," Mann said. "It's exciting and you have to do what you have to do. You just have to keep feeding me and I'll keep going. The line was making some good blocks for me."

Vernon Hills relied on some of the unexpected players who stepped in in the second half with Martin's touchdown catch and a fumble recovery by Max Accettura.

"It really was our role players that stepped up," Bellecomo said. "Martin made that great catch in the end zone. That was huge and we really needed that and then we were able to get a fumble and recover it. Just an awesome effort all together."

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