Libertyville outlasts Lake Zurich

By Bill McLean
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/10/2021 11:14 PM

Leg cramps galore -- suffered by host Libertyville's football players and Lake Zurich's Bears -- halted play throughout stretches of the second half in a North Suburban Conference opener Friday night.

So did penalties.


But Libertyville stood tall afterward, thanks to running back Tommy Latka's churning legs and pair of touchdowns. The shifty, speedy senior finished with 143 yards on 9 carries and caught 3 passes from senior quarterback Connor Dickson for 63 more yards in the Wildcats' 28-19 victory.

Libertyville improved to 3-0 and 1-0 in the NSC in its home opener; LZ slipped to 1-2, 0-1.

Latka's scoring trips covered 19 and 55 yards. Dickson (5-of-11, 98 yards passing) ran for 2 TDs as well, bookending the night's scoring with a 5-yarder in the first quarter and 1-yarder with 2:37 left in the fourth quarter.

But the most impactful play of the warm night was authored by a defensive player. Wildcats senior defensive end Sam Pinsel returned an interception, on a screen pass, 65 yards to the LZ 5 with 5:20 left in the first quarter. The pick set the stage for Dickson's first TD.

Pinsel was coming off a 4-sack night in a 35-13 defeat of Evanston in Week 2.

Call him "Mr. Disruptor."

The hosts went up 14-0 on a Bears squad that lost 23-0 to St. Charles North in Week 2. Coach Ron Planz's boys then tallied 16 unanswered points in a span that bridged the second and third quarters. LZ senior quarterback Jarred Meyers (8-of-15, 62 yards) snapped the drought via a 3-yard TD run in the second quarter, and junior Danny Vuckovic connected for a field goal from 41 yards as time expired in the first half.

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Coach Mike Jones' Libertyville crew led 14-9 at the break.

Bears junior Cal Grabowski (14 rushes, 68 yards) scooted 4 yards for a TD at 6:39 of the third frame before Vuckovic's extra point gave the visitors a 16-14 advantage.

Vuckovic would add a 35-yard FG midway through the final quarter.

Senior running back Ben Cooper paced LZ's rushing attack by gaining 96 yards on 15 carries.

Libertyville's winning drive began at its 21. Dickson's 37-yard completion to Latka, on a screen toss, highlighted the journey.

Wildcats senior Dylan Holmes scored two 2-pointers, one after Dickson's first TD and the other after Latka's breathless 55-yard sprint.

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