It’s been a problem for the Libertyville Wildcats going all the way back to the start of the season.
New head coach Mike Jones and his staff chose to live with the issue, but finally, after a tough loss at Lake Forest last week, Jones and the Cats decided they couldn’t any longer.
This week against Lake Zurich, they solved the problem with an old solution.
“We went back to our old headsets,” Jones said. “We had been using cell phones and hand signals — any way we could communicate. Now we finally got something that worked.”
After the Wildcats’ stunning performance at Lake Zurich on Friday night, Libertyville likely will never switch up the technology again.
A sensational defensive performance that featured 5 turnovers and 3 quarterback sacks led to a hard-fought 3-0 win over the host Bears in a key North Suburban Lake Division contest.
“We had problems with the new headsets we got and went back to the old ones and they worked with no problem,” Jones said with a smile. “We sent the old ones back to Nebraska. I think we will keep these.”
From the opening kickoff until a Joey Salata interception with a minute remaining, the Wildcats defense was stingy, hard-hitting and a turnover-forcing machine.
On the opening kickoff, Libertyville’s Logan Reiff hit Lake Zurich standout running back Connor Schrader, forcing a fumble that Reiff ultimately recovered. It also was the only play of the night for Schrader, who rushed for over 200 yards in a win over Zion-Benton last week.
“Guys get hurt and other guys have to step up,” said Lake Zurich coach Dave Proffitt. “Even with the injuries, we had a number of opportunities to win this game tonight.”
Each time Lake Zurich began to move the ball, a turnover stalled the Bears’ drive. Libertyville (5-2, 3-2) forced a total of 7 fumbles and recovered five.
Yet Lake Zurich still had one final chance on what turned out to be the game’s final drive.
Senior Jake Stauner kept the game alive for Lake Zurich (5-2, 3-1) on a key 11-yard run with 1:41 to play. Stauner was not as fortunate on the next play, as his pass into the end zone intended for Steven Walcott was intercepted by senior Joey Salata to seal the win for Libertyville.
“Our coaches challenged us to be more physical and to work harder on the defensive line,” said Libertyville defensive end Joe Nield. “We knew our responsibilities; we stayed with our keys and just went out and pounded them.”
The only score of the contest came to start the fourth quarter, when Austin Williams booted a 23-yard field goal.
“Tonight was about missed opportunities,” Proffitt said. “When you drop 5 interceptions, and fumble the ball 5 times, it makes you ask why the score is only 3-0. The reason why it was is our defense played with a ton of heart and a ton of determination.”
Lake Zurich’s best opportunity to get into the end zone came just before the first half ended. A long run by Stauner (15 carries, 86 yards) set the Bears up inside the Libertyville 30 for only the second time all night. But a fumble and a sack by Nield ended the Lake Zurich threat.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.