Lake Zurich ends season with feel-good win over Stevenson
Nothing much was happening.
It was 0-0 at halftime.
But Lake Zurich football coach Ron Planz was having a blast.
"It was the most fun I've had all season," Planz said. "I remember running back to the field from halftime and feeling like, 'Wow, this is awesome.' "
Planz felt even better after Friday's game since his Bears got a 6-0 North Suburban Conference victory over rival Stevenson.
There may not have been much scoring or many big plays, but Planz and his players enjoyed one of their most well-played games of the season.
"You had two teams that maybe aren't having the seasons they would hope for, but this game was a slugfest, just back and forth, back and forth, and you're in a rivalry situation and everyone just put it all on the field. Both teams. It was fun to be a part of because you could tell that the kids were playing as hard as they could.
"Both teams were getting like 9 and a half yards every time and then there would be a punt or a turnover, it was just back and forth, an old school football game. When the score is 6-0, you know it's an evenly-matched game. It was fun."
Lake Zurich finally put the first, and what turned out to be the only, points of the game on the board when star linebacker Bryan Sanborn scored on a 2-yard carry.
Sanborn, who will be playing at Wisconsin next year, also played running back to fill in for missing star Jack Dwyer, who missed his second straight game with a leg injury.
"We forced a Stevenson fumble and returned the ball all the way to the 5-yard line," Planz said. "And then Bryan got in the end zone on a 2-yard run. He's such an important pat of our defense that we had to pick and choose when to use him on offense. But he was all about trying to do whatever he could to help us win."
Not surprisingly, in a game that was a defensive struggle, Lake Zurich's lone score against Stevenson by Bryan Sanborn was set up by a defensive play.
With Stevenson on offense, Tyler Erkman of Lake Zurich jarred the ball loose and teammate Nick Alvey recovered the ball and ran 65 yards to set the Bears up at the 5-yard line.
"The interesting thing about Tyler is that he had been playing JV this year," Lake Zurich coach Ron Planz said. "Our normal cornerback got sent home for contact tracing and so we brought up Tyler and he ended up making a big play."
Sanborn also was playing a new position. He starts at linebacker and plays some tight end for the Bears. But with star running back Jack Dwyer out for the second straight game, Planz was looking for a jolt in the backfield.
"Bryan is arguably our best player and a power-five recruit," Planz said. "This was our last game and I didn't want to have any regrets. We didn't want to think we 'coulda, woulda, shoulda.' This was our last game, our state championship game. We were going to leave everything out there. So we thought we should try Bryan at running back with Jack out. We didn't have much time to practice, but he did great with it."
Sanborn had about 10 carries for 50 yards.
Lighting up the scoreboard was never a problem for Wauconda this season.
The Bulldogs, averaging 36.5 points per game, again put up plenty of points in Friday's season finale against Grant in a 38-6 victory.
"And we were really balanced again," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said. "That's what we strive to do. We had 194 yards passing and 178 yard rushing. You can't get much more balanced than that."
The Bulldogs got another big game from senior quarterback Nick Bulgarelli. He threw for 4 touchdowns to finish with 15 touchdowns on the season.
Against Grant, Bulgarelli had 2 touchdown passes to Javerius McGuinn.
Meanwhile, Vince Bennett rushed for 147 yards and also caught a touchdown from Bulgarelli.
It was Senior Night at Wauconda and that was a longtime coming for half of Wauconda's senior class.
Of the 16 seniors on the team, eight of them made the varsity as sophomores.
Over the last three years, they helped the Bulldogs to 14 wins, including a 5-1 mark this season.
"If you sit down and look at all the games, and all the wins, it was a really good class," Wauconda coach Dave Mills said of the seniors.
Matt Leazer, Javerius McGuinn, JJ Jacobo, Nick Bulgarelli, Dylan Hess, Griffin Lyons, Riley Kirk and Tyler Storz are the seniors who were on varsity as sophomores.
It wasn't the result that Mundelein wanted, but it was definitely the effort.
Mundelein lost its season finale to Zion-Benton on Friday, 25-21.
"But we played a great game and we played extremely hard," Mundelein coach Vince DeFrancesco said. "It was one of those games where you walk off the field and you just have so many emotions.
"It's been an emotional season anyway, and then we had a two-day pause this week because of COVID protocols and it was the last game of the season for our seniors who have been through so much. I thought we played really hard. You look at maybe five plays in the second half and if even one of them had gone our way, I think we would have won that game."
Mundelein began the game up 7-0 and was up 21-13 at halftime on the strength of 2 touchdown passes by quarterback Brock Paluch.
But Zion-Benton dominated the time of possession in the second half and made a comeback.
"We had a couple of goal-line stands and that was good, but then they put together a really long drive," DeFrancesco said. "I bet they had the ball 18 of the 24 minutes in the second half."
Zion-Benton scored to take the lead with about two minutes left in the game and essentially sealed the win when Mundelein threw an interception on its next possession.
"It was a really good game and I thought we played well," DeFrancesco said. "It was an emotional season but it was good, too. I thought our seniors helped to lay a really good foundation and raised the bar for our program."