Mundelein plays keep away, defeats Grayslake North
The Mundelein football team found that the easiest way to keep Grayslake North off the scoreboard was to keep the ball away from their offense.
The Knights were held to 11 first-half plays while the Mustangs had 36 on their way to 42-17 victory to begin the season 2-0.
"I would sit down to watch film and then two seconds later we had a pick," quarterback Danny McNelly said about being on the field so much. "It's nice to be able to capitalize on those picks and capitalize on those drives and make things happen for our team."
Last season, the Knights used a prolific passing attack to lead them to an 11-2 overall record. On Friday night, Mundelein's secondary was up to the task with interceptions from Trey Thompson, Vinny Rogalski and Finn O'Malley. Thompson ran his interception back for a touchdown.
"I saw the tight end coming off, I was in my back pedal and I saw the quarterback ready to throw it," Thompson said. "So, I broke on the ball."
The offense had no trouble capitalizing on the defense's success. After contributing to three touchdowns a week ago, McNelly finished with three rushing touchdowns, while throwing another to Wyatt Soudan.
Julian Rivas also had a touchdown on the ground, while Kristian Garcia made a field goal for the Mustangs' only second-half points. Garcia also helped shift the momentum Mundelein's way on the kickoff after the Mustangs' first touchdown. He floated the ball near the sideline on the 30-yard line where a teammate was able to scoop it up for a recovery.
"He is really skilled," Mundelein coach Vince De Francesco said of Garcia. "He can do a variety of things with the football. We like this kick because it limits returns and is a great opportunity for turnovers. But he also has the ability to put the ball in the end zone."
Prior to the kickoff recovery, it looked like the game could have been close.
Mundelein's first drive fizzled out after a holding penalty, and Grayslake North moved the ball 54 yards to take a 7-0 lead, after Mitchell Hughes found Chris Filas for a 42-yard touchdown reception.
The Knights did not get in the end zone again until Dominique Pulliam scored on a 3-yard run in the fourth quarter.
A year ago, North defeated Mundelein 17-14. De Francesco said Friday's victory was about proving they were a better team than they were last fall.
"Last year, we had a really rough game against Grayslake North," De Francesco said. "Tonight, our kids wanted to demonstrate that we feel our program is a playoff level program. We told our team this week if we want to be a playoff team, we have to beat a playoff team."