Complete effort carries Prospect into second round
To a casual onlooker it would be tough to determine which performed better, the Prospect offense or defense.
The Knights performed well on each side of the ball in their first round playoff win in Class 7A over Shepard 35-7 Friday night in Mount Prospect.
Prospect advances to the second round and will play either Buffalo Grove or Lincoln-Way West, who play Saturday night.
Friday night, there were two standouts for the Knights (8-2).
"We knew that this game would come down to the basics like running and tackling," said Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf. "We had to be tough up front with our blocking. On defense we knew they had athletes so we had to swarm to the ball. I was happy with our mindset as team. We had a little chip on our shoulder after what happened last week (a loss to Rolling Meadows)."
Knights running back Matthew Raitano scored 4 touchdowns in the first half, rushing 14 times for 122 yards, against the Astros.
On the defensive side of the ball Benjamin Sahakian was part of the Knights' wrecking crew with 6 tackles, including 2 sacks. Sahakian also converted all 5 extra-point kicks.
"We knew they had athletes who were quick and good," said Sahakian. "We swarmed to them and executed when they got the ball. Without our other defenders, I could not have had the game that I did."
The Knights shut down Astros (5-5) quarterback Kendrick Washington.
Washington, who moved to quarterback after an 0-4 start for Shepard and led them to five straight wins, had minutes 8 yards in the first half in 7 attempts. He threw 1 pass that was intercepted by Jack Olson.
Washington did finish with 71 yards in 18 rushing attempts, including an 11-yard touchdown run with 5:51 left in the game.
For the game Shepard finished with 101 yards.
Prospect's offensive line of Ola Sulaimon, Chance Rolfe, Sam Tsagalis, Clayton Kamp, and Sean Mitchell sparkled.
"We thought we could exploit their middle defense," said Raitano. "We showed after last week's loss we had to come together and just show improvement."
Quarterback Bradley Vierneisel, subbing for the injured Frank Covey, played well enough in leading the Knights to 265 yards of offense.
Prospect went 59 yards in 7 plays to score on its first possession on Raitano's 21-yard run for a 7-0 lead. Olson's interception led to Raitano's 1-yard run with 1:50 left in the quarter and a 14-0 lead. Raitano scampered in from the 18 with 8:17 left in the first half for a 21-0 lead.
Completions of 21 and 24 yards by Vierneisel (5-for-11, 71 yards) keyed a drive that saw Raitano score from the 4-yard line, giving Prospect a 28-0 halftime lead.
Junior running back Gavin Flanagan finished the Knights' scoring on a 40-yard run with 8:40 left in the third quarter.
"We've been good this year on defense because we love each other as brothers," said Sahakian. "We go out and enjoy every single snap we play on defense. We have great relationships. It's a great culture that we have developed."
"We're excited to be able to have another week together and enjoy this," said DeBoeuf. "We played a pretty clean game tonight. We came out and had two good games after our two losses."