Erkman's big plays help Lake Zurich rout Larkin
In the pregame mix, the Lake Zurich sound system blasted out the classic 80s song 'Electric Avenue'.
It was apropos, because there was definitely electricity in the air Friday night at Mel Eide Field.
Before a packed house in a charged atmosphere, the Bears scored 31 first half points en route to a 48-6 Class 7A playoff win over Larkin.
It was a highlight-reel night for LZ senior Tyler Erkman. He scored on a 78-yard punt return and a 79-yard touchdown reception, and his late first half interception from his defensive back position led to a Danny Vuckovic 30-yard field goal.
Vuckovic made a big contribution to the Bears cause. He had another field goal in the second half, a 31-yarder, kicked 6 extra points, and kept Larkin pinned in its own end of the field all evening with 8 kickoffs booted into the end zone for touchbacks.
"We were just looking to have a good first game in the playoffs, make a statement, and overall just get better for next week," said Vuckovic. "Great performance tonight, and we work hard week in and week out to get to this point."
Larkin put together a couple of nice drives, including one it scored on in the second quarter, but couldn't keep pace with Lake Zurich.
"Watching film, we knew they (Lake Zurich) ran the ball well and did some sound things," said Larkin coach Grant Dietz. "They're where we want to be, and we're taking baby steps to get there.
"Last year we got shut out in the playoffs, this year we get a playoff touchdown. Our guys have fight, we're going to keep playing until the clock reaches triple zeros. Let the dust settle where it may, we're just going to keep fighting."
Cal Grabowski scored two rushing touchdowns for LZ in the first half, from 4 and 13 yards out, while Erkman caught his long TD grab on a pass from QB Ashton Gondeck, and added his lightning-fast punt return score by outracing the Royals defense down the right sideline.
"He (Erkman) is the best player in our conference right now," said Vuckovic.
Larkin countered with a scoring drive of its own in the second quarter. The highlights were a 31-yard pass from Jaheim Vincent to Timothy Scott, and a 10-yard TD run by Jalen Miller.
Lake Zurich found the end zone twice more in the second half, with rushes by Gondeck (5 yards) and Chris Pirrone (7 yards). On defense, Lucas Lappin and Tyler Burkley had interceptions.
Pirrone finished the game with 117 yards rushing.
"Our goal is to keep improving on everything we can," added Vuckovic. "Study film, just get better in every phase of the game."