Barrington mounts another playoff comeback
Barrington had been through this before, quite recently as a matter of fact.
A week ago, the Broncos matched up against Naperville Central in the second round of the Class 8A playoffs. They twice overcame 14-point deficits against the Redhawks and survived and advanced with a 28-21 win.
Back on their home turf Saturday night, No. 3 Barrington was jolted early.
On No. 6 Maine South's first play from scrimmage, gritty quarterback Constantine Coines connected with Evan Agosto on a 58-yard touchdown pass to give the Hawks the quick lead.
The Broncos answered back later in the first quarter when QB Nick Peipert and explosive wideout Will Nazha hooked up on a 77-yard TD reception, but Barrington still found itself down 26-14 at halftime.
Not to worry.
"I just want to give all the glory to God," Nazha said after the Broncos rallied for another big playoff win, 42-40.
"We totally trust our brotherhood. We went into halftime obviously down a little bit. But we were totally telling ourselves, 'We're good. We're going to come out on top. We've just got to believe in ourselves.'
And that's what we did tonight. I'm so happy we came out on top. I love all my brothers," he said.
With Nazha scoring on another big play (83 yards) in the third quarter and teammate Matt Marusich catching a 10-yard touchdown pass in the third and a 54-yarder in the fourth quarter, Barrington is headed to the semifinals for the first time since 1998.
That was head coach Joe Sanchez's third year on the sidelines, and he was still the defensive coordinator.
The Broncos (11-0) meet No. 2 Lincoln-Way East in the 8A semis.
"It's a great night for our community and I'm just really honored to be a part of it," Sanchez said.
"Unbelievable," he said. That's pretty much the one word that just keeps entering into my heart. Unbelievable resilience, unbelievable belief. Everybody on our sidelines, coaches, players, every single support person, to be able to do what we did here against such a great program like theirs, a ton of respect for (Maine South coach) Dave (Inserra) and everything they've done over the years.
"When you're down 26-14, we knew we hadn't played our best football. We talked at halftime, just about, 'Hey, forget the scoreboard. Just play for each other. Just play for each other and believe and for the next 24 minutes just put those two things in your heart and everything will take care of itself.' The boys did."
Last season, Barrington went 4-5 and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
"It's surreal," Marusich said. "Not even getting to the playoffs last year and now to get this far, I don't even feel like this is actually happening right now. It's a dream come true. Our coaching staff has figured us out as individuals and we started clicking on all cylinders.
"We got good experience last year and the coaches definitely put this all together."
The Hawks made two big pushes after Barrington tried putting the game away. Michael Dellumo's 73-yard touchdown catch cut the Broncos' lead to 36-33 midway through the fourth quarter and Justin Turner's 39-yard TD reception made it 42-40 with 55 seconds left.
Close, but not quite enough for Maine South (10-2).
"Credit to them," Inserra said. "They called a nice game and hit some big plays we didn't have answers for.
"But we never backed down," he said. "We kept coming. We had the lead, obviously we should have jumped on it more. But when we didn't, we didn't back down."
"Great game overall. Two explosive teams, we knew it was going to be high scoring because they've scored like that all year and so have we."