Elk Grove secures 1st playoff berth since 2013
It's been a long climb back, but Elk Grove is officially headed back to the state playoffs.
The Grenadiers, which hasn't qualified for the state playoffs since 2013, earned their way back Friday with a resounding 41-21 win over host Rolling Meadows.
It was the first win for Elk Grove (6-1, 2-1) over the Mustangs since 2012.
Elk Grove coach Miles Osei, who took over a struggling Elk Grove program back in 2017, has slowly rebuilt the program back into a state qualifier.
"I am excited for these kids," Osei said. "This why we coach the way we coach. The kids believe in what we are doing. We love this team. It is awesome."
Elk Grove quarterback Mitch Janczak, who has been a starter for the last three seasons, knows what it has been like to be on the bottom and now back on top.
"It feels great," Janczak said. "I have been through the worst. Now we get to change something here. It is a great feeling to come into someone else's home and trying to do something we haven't done. Make the playoffs."
Janczak had a huge part in the win Friday.
The senior rushed for three touchdowns and had 73 yards on 16 carries. He was also 7-of-11 passing for 110 yards.
The Grens piled up 285 yards on the ground behind an offensive line of Ramiro Valdivia, Miley Milovich, Christian Tuiaana, Mo Burt and Toni Brautigam.
"We were just coming off faster, lower and harder," Brautigam said. "They couldn't handle it sometime. I would love to say the O-line is doing it all. But the backfield is where it is at. They're good and quick and they communicate.
Beside Janczak's rushing, the Grens backfield piled up plenty of yards individually.
Dylan Berkowitz had 94 yards on 9 carries and scored on an 18-yard touchdown run. Jacob Elsner had 85 yards on 11 carries and scored on a two-yard run and Sebastian Halilovic had 25 yards rushing and tallied on a seven-yard run.
The Elk Grove defense also set the tone with three early interceptions. Owen Davenport had a pick and Lucas Rogers came up with a pair of interceptions. That enabled the Grens to score on their first five possessions as they built a 34-0 lead with 5:04 left in the first half.
"Those were nice," said Rogers, who was playing his first game after fracturing his foot in the preseason.
"It was my first game back, so it feels real good. We knew what they were running. We watched a lot of film and prepared hard."
Rolling Meadows (4-3, 1-2) tried to battle back, but it was just too big of a deficit for the Mustangs.
Evans Grace (27-of-43, 268 yards) threw a pair of touchdown passes of 24 yards to Ben Petermann (5 catches, 62 yards) and six yards to Stephen Schiele (9 catches, 65 yards). Jimmy Cox had 8 receptions for 102 yards and Zak Allain had a 12-yard touchdown run for the Mustangs.
"They just beat us in all phases," Rolling Meadows coach Sam Baker said. "You can't turn the football over and we have to get some stops on defense."