Wauconda rebounds with blowout win in 1st round

The Wauconda football team hadn't lost consecutive games since 2019, and made sure it wouldn't happen again Friday.

They bounced back from a loss a week ago to Grayslake North by trouncing Schurz 56-6, with big plays from a slew of players, advancing to the second round of the playoffs where they will face Niles Notre Dame.

"I think this week shows who we really are," senior linebacker Nikolas Smith said.

The defense had something to prove after giving up 31 points a week ago. Smith, Connor Coty and Ryan Frisch led the charge causing havoc in the backfield throughout the first half. Schurz went into the half with negative-26 yards of offense.

Smith suited up for his second game after a four-week absence with a dislocated elbow and had a bulky brace around his arm, but it didn't slow him down. He had a sack and multiple tackles for a loss.

"It feels great to be out there," Smith said. "I love playing football."

Wauconda coach Chris Prostka said it was a big difference having Smith in the lineup.

"He was the leader of our defense before he went down," Prostka said. "Anytime you get a senior linebacker back after an injury you are happy he gets to play again."

The Bulldogs blitzed the linebackers constantly, but it was defensive linemen Frisch helping get points on the board. He deflected a pass that led to an interception and a 17-yard return for a touchdown by Conlan Rath. Frisch also blocked a punt. A few plays later Connor Vanselow punched it in from two yards out.

Vanselow led the rushing attack with 82 yards on nine carries. Chase Groelle helped lead Wauconda through the air catching two touchdowns and finished with 46 yards receiving. Both scoring passes came from Logan Olsen.

Smith, Cole Porten and Christopher Cendejaz also scored for Wauconda. Monjae Ball had the lone touchdown for Schurz.

"This week we were definitely firing on all cylinders," Groelle said. "We expected to do that so it is good we came out how we did."

Coach Prostka showed some good sportsmanship in the second quarter when the announcer said it was third down when it was really second. A play later, Schurz brought the punt team in despite it being third down. Prostka called a timeout, giving Schurz time to realize it was third down and run another play.

"There seemed to be a lot of confusion and I just called a timeout to get everybody organized," Prostka said. "I felt that was the right thing to do."

Wauconda will look to carry the good vibes into next week.

"I love playing with this team," Smith said. "I think we are building something special."

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