Stevenson stays red hot with lopsided win over Libertyville
Host Stevenson and Libertyville entered Friday night's North Suburban Conference football game in Lincolnshire with overall records of 5-3 and conference marks of 4-2.
Even-steven at ... Stevenson.
After nearly 19 minutes of action in spring-like conditions, neither team had scored.
Stevenson senior linebacker Ryan Loch then came up big to bust the stalemate, returning an interception 20 yards for a touchdown to unleash 43 unanswered points in the Patriots' 43-8 rout.
It was Loch's first pick in high school and first since the seventh grade.
"I faked a blitz, saw the QB look at me, and then I made a play," Loch said. "The ball didn't even feel real in my hands. As I ran toward the end zone, it felt like I was in a dream."
Stevenson junior lineman Ethan Aghakhan picked off a pass nearly 2 minutes later, this one setting up senior wideout Ben Snider's 10-yard TD run on a reverse to make it 13-0 at 2:52 of the second quarter.
The Pats (6-3, 5-2 in the NSC), who clinched a playoff berth Friday night, led 14-0 at the break and then broke the rivalry game wide open with a 29-point third quarter on their Senior Night.
Stevenson senior quarterback Matt Projansky (18-of-24 passing, 281 yards, 3 TDs, INT) tossed TD passes of 5, 37 and 53 yards to Jake Federman, TJ Dent and Snider, respectively, in that imposing frame.
The hosts nearly recorded their fourth shutout in a row in their fifth consecutive victory and have outscored their last five foes by a combined 154-14.
Not a typo, folks.
"Five weeks ago, after our loss to Warren made us a 1-3 team, we had a talk with the guys in our weight room," said Stevenson coach Brent Becker, whose club lost 22-21 to visiting Libertyville in the regular-season finale last year.
"I told them, 'Let's go 1-0 every week the rest of the way and become the best 6-3 team in the state.'"
His gridders did just that.
Other scores in the third quarter included a 1-yard TD run by Stevenson senior running back Zachary Goldman and a safety via a sack from senior defensive back Gyeongwu Kim; Loch had provided QB pressure on the play, too.
Aghakhan added a sack 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage for Pats defensive coordinator Brian Burja's scary-good crew 10 days before Halloween.
Snider finished with 3 receptions for 98 yards, and Dent snared 2 for 49 yards.
Libertyville (5-4, 4-3), which is still playoff-eligible, got on the board when backup QB Rocco LaVista rushed for a 6-yard TD with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter. He then threw a strike to senior Hans Bruckner for a 2-point conversion.
Wildcats junior Hayden Koonce came down with an INT in the second quarter, and classmate Charlie Clark recorded a pair of first-half sacks.