Focused Lake Zurich clinches share of NSC title

Lake Zurich's homecoming theme this year is "Under the Sea."

But its football team proved Friday night that it can be overwhelming on terra firma.

The Bears beat visiting Mundelein 42-7 - after leading 42-0 at the half, thanks to 222 yards rushing - and clinched at least a share of the North Suburban Conference title.

"What impressed me most about my team tonight was our focus," LZ coach Ron Planz said after his club won its sixth straight game and improved to 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the NSC.

"It would have been easy for us to be distracted, with homecoming festivities and the threat of rain (it sprinkled intermittently Friday night) that could have been a neutralizing factor, but that never happened."

Three Bears - senior wideout Tyler Erkman, junior running back Chris Pirrone and senior running back Cal Grabowski - each scored a pair of touchdowns in the first half.

Erkman got his via a 24-yard TD run and a 51-yard punt return for a TD: Pirrone rushed for TDs covering 5 and 31 yards; and Grabowski (the surname screams "football") entered an end zone after trips of 4 and 28 yards.

And recent Northern Illinois University commit Danny Vuckovic went 7-for-7 on extra points.

"Show everybody what Lake Zurich football is all about - that was our goal tonight, basically," said Pirrone, who finished with 137 yards rushing on 12 carries, every inch of that output coming in the first 24 minutes.

Lake Zurich football?

"Greatness and relentlessness," Pirrone answered.

Erkman had never returned a varsity punt for a TD before Friday. Earlier this season, versus Zion-Benton, his punt return for 6 points was nullified because of a penalty.

"It felt good tonight," Erkman said. "Kept my head up, made one cut."

The breathless return came less than 2 minutes after he'd opened the scoring - the 24-yard TD scamper - on the fifth play of the night.

Mundelein's Mustangs (3-5, 2-4) scored on their first possession of the second half, getting a 44-yard TD run from senior Antonio Ortega after LZ's first-half outburst had triggered a running clock.

LZ junior defensive back Bodie McCall picked off a pass with 15 ticks left in the fourth quarter.

Bears senior quarterback Ashton Gondeck threw only one pass Friday night. The 5-yard toss landed in the hands of sophomore wideout Jackson Piggott early in the second quarter.

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