Antioch dumps Grayslake Central
It's been awhile since the Antioch football team has had to fight for its playoff life.
The Sequoits entered the season having won every league title in the history of the Northern Lake County Conference. Six straight. And they were a combined 33-1 in league games over that period.
The playoffs were becoming almost ho-hum routine at Antioch.
But losses in three of their first five games this season put a sense of urgency on Friday's game against visiting Grayslake Central that the Sequoits aren't used to.
"After that third loss, things kind of flipped and we knew what we needed to do," Antioch running back Aiden Lennon said. "Obviously, we knew that if we lose one more time, nothing (a playoff berth) is guaranteed and it's do or die."
The Sequoits are certainly "doing." They are, in fact, alive and well after Friday's 28-14 Northern Lake County Conference victory over visiting Grayslake Central, which happens to be in the midst of its best season in years.
Antioch (4-3) used a diverse running attack, with multiple touches to six backs, to pound the ball all over the field and all over the Grayslake Central (4-3) defense. The Sequoits rolled up 217 rushing yards and scored three of their four touchdowns on running plays, a testament to the growth of an offensive line that features almost all new faces.
"We have a lot of new guys on the line and it was a lot of work for them in the summertime but they're doing a great job and we obviously couldn't run like we do without them," Antioch running back Andy Bowles said.
Bowles opened the scoring when he finished off the first drive of the game with a 1-yard touchdown run. He tallied 85 rushing yards on the game.
Nick Day (9 yards) and Lennon (6 yards) also ran in touchdowns for Antioch.
Grayslake Central answered the Bowles score on the very next possession with a 52-yard touchdown pass from Darryl Overstreet to Kaiden Miller. The Rams struck again two minutes later on a 64-yard run by Luca Maravola.
That put Grayslake Central up 14-7 at the end of the first quarter.
The Rams, who entered the game at 5-1 and have been enjoying one of their best seasons in recent memory just two years after going 1-8, seemed to be playing with that kind of confidence at the start.
"Our success this year goes back to our off-season work and the bond that we created as a team," said Grayslake Central quarterback Darryl Overstreet, who passed for 139 yards. "We've really stepped it up but tonight it was just us not executing the way we know we can."
The Rams were held scoreless through the final three quarters. Meanwhile, Antioch scored three more times in the second quarter to pull ahead for good.
Jordan DeVaughn caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Quade Moll, Nick Day scored on a 9-yard run and Lennon scored on a 6-yard run.
Antioch coach Brian Glashagel wasn't surprised his players rose to the occasion.
Although there are three losses on the ledger, he says that his team has gained a grit and a toughness from a high level of competition that can't be taught. The combined record of the three teams (Waukesha Catholic, Morris and Wauconda) Antioch has lost to is 19-1.
"We're still a playoff team," Glashagel said. "There's no doubt about that. We feel pretty good still. And Grayslake Central is having a really good year. But I think we wore them down. We kept them off the field by grinding our offense. We kept their offense off the field."