Streamwood runs past Larkin
The Sabres won their "playoff" game.
For Streamwood, the season-ending matchup with Upstate Eight rival Larkin was their postseason and the Sabres made the most of it with a 30-19 win at Millennium Field.
The Sabres weren't looking to trick anybody on offense. With its backfield tandem of Michael Estrada and Isaac Martinez running behind an undersized but effective offensive line, the Sabres simply ran it down the Royals' throats, and the visitors had no answer.
The Royals, at 5-4, must wait it out to see whether they have enough playoff points to qualify for a postseason berth.
Recovering a pair of onside kicks, Streamwood simply kept the ball away from Larkin for most of the first half while building a 19-0 lead.
"We had a plan that we executed and worked defensively," said Streamwood coach Keith McMaster. "And offensively, if you keep the ball in your hands it makes defense easier."
When a couple of Streamwood turnovers allowed Larkin's offense to stay on the field, the Royals nearly pulled off a late comeback for the second week in a row. The Royals scored 3 times in the third quarter to get within 22-19, but Larkin just couldn't stop Estrada and Martinez. The pair spearheaded a final drive that used up all but 2:49 of the fourth quarter and ended with Martinez scoring on a 4-yard run. Estrada added the 2-point conversion to make it 30-19.
Larkin managed to drive to the Streamwood 9-yard line but was stopped on downs and the Sabres ran out the clock.
Estrada racked up 204 yards on the ground and 3 touchdowns from Streamwood (3-6, 3-6). Martinez added 127 yards as the Sabres totaled 360 rushing yards, although they did not attempt a pass.
"The best O-line in the state of Illinois, I promise you," Estrada said. "We're undersized but we fight like lions; the heart of a lion. I have 1,000 yards on the season, and I couldn't have done it without the greatness of my O-line."
Dontrell Maxie and Jamarion Stubbs led the Royals' comeback. Stubbs scored on nifty runs of 44 and 21 yards, eluding tacklers and, on the second run, tiptoeing down the sideline. Maxie also ran for a score.
Maxie threw for 164 yards, with 161 of those by Stubbs on 6 catches. Stubbs returned the favor, connecting on a throwback to Maxie during the Royals' final drive.
"We were ready but not ready enough, and the ball didn't bounce our way on those onside kicks," said Larkins coach Grant Dietz.
"And when you give a team that controls the ball and just smashes you in the mouth those opportunities, it puts you in a rough position to bounce back. We made a run at it and just couldn't get stops. We didn't have any kind of medicine for [Estrada and Martinez] tonight."
While the Royals were short-handed, with fewer than 30 players in uniform, the Sabres welcomed back several players who had missed time.
"It's fun to have a full roster again," McMaster said. "It's not how you start the season, it's how you finish it and they finished it with 2 wins to complete the season."