St. Francis can't hang with Lake Forest
St. Francis showed glimmers of positive moments in Friday's season opener.
Playing in their first August game in two years, and in front of a sell-out home crowd, the Spartans picked a bad time -- and opponent -- to pile up a number of unrecoverable mistakes.
And Lake Forest, a Class 6A school, took advantage of nearly every miscue by the Spartans.
Led by a strong rushing attack, Lake Forest capitalized on two turnovers to reel off 14 points in the third quarter to record a 41-21 win at Kuhn Stadium.
"We got beat by a better football teams, for there's no doubt," St. Francis coach Bob McMillen said. "We got to have better play from all of our positions."
The Spartans (0-1) suffered their first defeat of the calendar year after winning all six of their games in the shortened spring season. The Scouts (1-0) scored 20 unanswered points in a five-minute segment in the second half to break open a close game. In total, Lake Forest scored 34 points in a span of just over 12 minutes.
The Scouts managed to wear out the smaller Class 4A Spartans, mainly by dominating the line of scrimmage after halftime.
St. Francis sophomore quarterback Alessio Milivojevic, in his first career start following the graduation of three-year starter Tommy Rittenhouse, showed some resolve against Lake Forest's stout defense. He overcame a rough start to complete 15 of 30 passes for 198 yards, with one touchdown and an interception.
Freshman wide receiver Ian Willis made a big statement with nine receptions for 124 yards, including an 18-yard TD catch in the third.
"We knew he was an exciting kid when he came here," McMillen said. "The sky is the limit for Ian."
Blake Lawson added a 30-yard touchdown off a screen pass from reserve quarterback Carson Vandello in the fourth to cut the deficit to 27-14.
But Lake Forest senior Jahari Scott took the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, then added another long kickoff return for a second touchdown late in the fourth.
"We learned we have to hydrate better because we had a lot of guys go down," Lawson said. "It also will take time to adjust to a new quarterback for us because we lost a big one, but we will get better."
With both teams introducing a new starting quarterback, the first two quarters was full of incompletions, penalties and a missed field goal by each team.
The Spartans suffered a big blow, when senior running back Terreon Roundy left the game with a lower body injury following the first play from scrimmage. Roundy ripped off a highlight-reel 24-yard run but did not return.
The Spartans' offense struggled for the first 16-plus minutes, with the Scouts recording two sacks and blocking a punt for a touchdown. Milivojevic started getting into a groove late in the first half when the Spartans went to shorter dropbacks an passes, which helped him build some confidence while keeping the Scouts' aggressiveline at bay. Milivojevic nearly led the Spartans to a second-quarter touchdown. But his pass from the 5-yard line went incomplete to end the half scoreless for the Spartans.