The Leyden defense held Bartlett to 125 total yards in Friday’s Class 8A playoff opener in Northlake, but the Hawks did them one better.
Bartlett’s defense allowed the Eagles inside the 16-yard line on just one drive — which stalled at the 2 and resulted in a missed field goal — and its offense mounted two impressive scoring marches as the 10th-seeded Hawks edged No. 7 Leyden 14-0.
“Coach says one of the hardest things to do is get a shutout in the playoffs, but we showed we could do it,” Bartlett defensive end Chris Kantzavelos said.
Bartlett (7-3) advances to play the winner of today’s 1:45 p.m. game between No. 15 Evanston (5-4) and No. 2 Loyola Academy (8-1).
Leyden (7-3) gained 205 total yards, but the Eagles were unable to convert their drives into points, largely due to penalties. They were whistled for 12 infractions for 105 yards.
“I felt we moved the ball, got some first downs and some positive yardage, but we shot ourselves in the foot more times with penalties,” Leyden coach Tom Cerasani said. “I think we had more penalties in this game than we had the entire season. The effort was there. Give Bartlett credit; they’re a good, tough football team.”
Kantzavelos, a 6-foot-4, 255-pound senior, was playing tight end in the second quarter when he was on the receiving end of a vicious hit from a Leyden defensive back, who was flagged for a personal foul. It was one of four personal fouls called against Leyden.
The Bartlett coaching staff argued the Leyden player should have been ejected, but the officials saw it differently. Thus, emotion coursed through the Hawks when they returned to the field after a three-minute injury delay. Determined tailback Aaron Everson ran for a pair of tough, 6-yard gains, the second of which drew another personal foul against Leyden.
With the ball on the Eagles’ 26-yard line, Everson burst through the middle, shook off a tackler who had hold of his jersey by the fingertips and raced to the end zone. Steve Hrbacek’s extra point staked the Hawks to a 7-0 lead with 3:10 left in the first half.
“I was furious, crazy,” Everson said of his mindset after Kantzavelos went down. “I was so mad I couldn’t breathe. I just wanted to score, and I did. Soon.” Everson rushed 29 times for 111 yards.
Bartlett tried to capitalize on its emotional roll with an onside kick, but the Eagles recovered at the 50 and soon threatened. A 29-yard pass from quarterback Mike Smith to tight end Javier Rhoades keyed a 9-play drive that petered out at the 2-yard line. Mark Wach’s 20-yard field goal attempt was subsequently denied by the right upright.
“They were in the red zone two times and we stopped them,” Bartlett inside linebacker Kevin Kirchhoff said. “That’s pretty good.”
Kantzavelos returned in the second half and made a tackle for loss on the first play of the series, a three-and-out.
Bartlett then embarked on a mammoth drive. The Hawks moved 80 yards in 19 plays on a march that took 11:05 off the clock and bridged the fourth quarter. They picked up 7 first downs, highlighted by Everson’s 3-yard run on fourth-and-1 at the Leyden 15.
The Eagles stopped Everson twice from the 1-yard line, but quarterback Kyle Garcia broke through for the touchdown and a 14-0 lead via a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-goal with 10:12 left in the game.
“That’s typical Bartlett offense right there,” said Kantzavelos, who caught the only pass of the drive for 9 yards to set up first-and-goal. “We’re going to run it down your throat. Stop us if you can. If not, we’re going to keep doing what we do.”
Leyden’s chances of making a comeback diminished on its ensuing drive when Smith was knocked out of the game with a concussion on a quarterback keeper. He was taken off the field on a stretcher for precautionary reasons and taken to the hospital by ambulance.
After the teams traded fumbles, Leyden got the ball back with 4:05 to play and picked up 2 first downs to midfield. But that drive ended on downs when junior linebacker Chris Janssen tackled receiver Andrew Garcia short of the first-down marker with 1:10 left.
The playoff victory was Bartlett’s first in two years. The Hawks were upset in the first round last season by Lyons after holding a 25-point halftime lead.
“This feels great after what happened last year,” Kirchhoff said. “This feels amazing.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.