Groark, Brigham find connection with QB Grace at Rolling Meadows

  • COURTESY OF DICK QUAGLIANOEthan Groark, left, Evan Grace and Michael Brigham have been the catalyst of the Rolling Meadows football team, which plays at St. Rita Friday night in the opening round of the Class 7A playoffs.

    COURTESY OF DICK QUAGLIANOEthan Groark, left, Evan Grace and Michael Brigham have been the catalyst of the Rolling Meadows football team, which plays at St. Rita Friday night in the opening round of the Class 7A playoffs.

 
By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 10/27/2021 1:32 PM

It wasn't just plug and play, but the connection at Rolling Meadows has been electric.

Wide receivers Ethan Groark and Michael Brigham have played football on the same youth team in Rolling Meadows, together since they were 5-years old. But after the spring season the pair, who were juniors at that time, needed a new quarterback for their senior season.

 

Junior Evan Grace has stepped into the starting role quite nicely.

Grace, who also lives in the Rolling Meadows area, opted to play youth football in Hoffman Estates. He then attended Rolling Meadows High School but was a year behind both Groark and Brigham.

When it was Grace's time this season, it became a perfect fit with Groark and Brigham.

"We worked so much in the summer," said Grace, who is 6-foot and 175 pounds. "We were throwing routes. It is pretty much automatic at this point. It pays off in games."

Groark said having Grace to throw to him has a made a difference.

"Over the summer, we have thrown routes every day," said Groark, who is 6-1, 180. "Mike and I have had played together. Evan and I have clicked. Just seeing the growth in him is pretty amazing."

Brigham said that connection has grown strong on and off the field.

"This connection has grown as the season has gone along," said the 5-10, 170-pound Brigham. "We have grown tighter."

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Rolling Meadows coach Sam Baker said his three players have terrific chemistry.

"The three of them, they have been having a great connection," Baker said. "The first two games, they started out on fire. They had a little lull after that. But they have picked things up the last couple of weeks. Somehow, some way, the three of them have had a nice connection all the way through."

Grace has started all 8 games for the Mustangs (they had a bye week after a forfeit by Niles West due to COVID). In those games he is 114-of-197 for 1,787 yards and 22 touchdowns with just 4 interceptions.

"It has been great working with Ethan and Michael," Grace said. "It will be tough when they leave. Hopefully that will be a long time from now."

Groark is coming off a huge game last week when Meadows upset Prospect to earn a spot in the state playoffs. He had 7 receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown, bringing his season total to 52 catches for 948 yards with 12 touchdowns.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"We have really picked it up this season," said Groark, who has 1,326 all-purpose yards, a rushing touchdown and 3 interceptions.

"With Evan, we have had growth. With us three and the whole team."

Brigham, who missed part of the spring season due to a concussion, has been coming on strong for the Mustangs. He has 35 catches for 613 yards and 8 touchdowns. He also has 165 rushing yards on 22 carries.

"All of our routes are clicking," Brigham said. "We are doing better as a team."

The Mustangs will need their very best when they travel Friday to 79th and Western in Chicago to take on the Mustangs from St. Rita. Expect the Mustangs from Rolling Meadows not to stay grounded.

"I'm pretty stubborn," Baker said. "If something is working, I am going to keep on calling it. That has done well for me over the years. You would have to feel pretty good if you have to throw to one of those two guys."

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