Hersey completes another perfect MSL season vs. Elk Grove
After producing a couple of sacks and forcing his third fumble of the season just prior to the end of the first half on Friday night, Hersey senior Ethan Sather was already looking ahead.
"We have a lot more to do," said the Huskies defensive end. "We're 9-0 but obviously the goal is to win a (Class 7A state) championship."
Sather and the Huskies (9-0, 5-0) won a second straight undefeated championship in the Mid-Suburban League on Friday with a 63-14 triumph over visiting Elk Grove (3-6, 2-3), making it 18 straight regular-season wins under second-year coach Tom Nelson.
It took the Huskies less than four minutes to grab a 22-0 lead, getting a 58-yard touchdown run by Nasir Mckenzie on the game's first play from scrimmage, a safety with 9:27 left, a 16-yard TD run by Mckenzie with 9:05 left and sophomore Brandon Jenkins' 36-yard interception return (he had 2 interceptions) with 8:07.
The second TD was set up by Reese Settersten's 46-yard return of the Elk Grove kick following the safety.
Chuck Meister, Logan Farrell, Thomas Mulder and Georgie Naegele were all in on sacks during that early 22-point run.
"We came out playing fast, physical and strong," Sather added. "The d-line did great, the linebackers were great and the corners did great. The all-around defense was amazing tonight."
The Huskies also had an all-around performance on offense as they operated behind a front five of junior Sal Marabotti, senior Andrew Pignataro, senior Gus Dammann, senior Pavle Jovanovic and senior Will Nolan.
"It was great," said Nolan, an Iowa recruit. "The coaches just put together a great plan and we work so hard during the week. We played against our scout team opponent which a lot of times is better than our opponents in the game. So we come out here and just try to do our best. It doesn't matter who we play."
In addition to 3 touchdown runs by Mckenzie who rushed for 103 yards in one half of play, Meister (22 yards), Carson Grove (11 yards) and QB Colton Gumino (5 yards) also ran for TDs. Gumino's score was followed by Sebastian Debecki's 24-yard interception return with 1:33 left in the half to give the Huskies a 55-7 advantage.
Settersen also caught a 48-yard pass to set up Grove's TD while Farrell caught back-to-back passes (28 and 25 yards) that led to Gumino's TD run.
Under the holds of Owen Joseph, who quarterbacked the Huskies in the second half, Debecki booted the first two extra points and Daniel Duray the other five.
"I'm just super proud of our kids and the program," Nelson said. This is one step in the right direction. Credit the kids for making the plays and doing their jobs. We've got to control our own destiny. We have to make practices tough and control game situations.
"We knew that and now we are excited for the second season. I think we are a deep team and have a lot of talent. When the kids get the opportunity, it's nice to see all of them make the plays when they come their way."
Peter Spillson got his chance to make plays in the second half and the Hersey senior rushed for 26 yards, including a 1-yard TD run in the second half.
Elk Grove's points came from junior Danny Pasterski's 7-yard pass to classmate Dylan Berkowitz with 2:55 left in the first half and AJ Djuma's 2-yard run with 1:33 left in the game. The extra-points kicks were converted by Matt Martorano (6 catches for 19 yards) and Maan Patel.
"The kids played hard all season," said first-year Grens coach Dan O'Donnell. "I love this group. For these seniors to go through this change with a whole new coaching staff, it's not easy. They easily could have given up. But they continued to fight hard."
"They played hard for us, they bought in and I'm so thankful for everything they've done and I am excited for the foundation they've laid for the program moving forward."
The Huskies will now move forward to the postseason.
"We still have a whole new season," Sather said. "We're going for a championship now and will try to win it all."
"It's time to strap up the pads now and go," Nolan added. "We're just ready to head into next week and the week after. And hopefully week 14."