Turnovers, line play lead GBS past New Trier
Strickland scores twice as Titans win third straight;Tilson hurt
Glenbrook South senior running back/safety John Strickland was flagged for a pass interference late in the third quarter after laying a bone-crushing hit on a New Trier receiver a split-second before the ball arrived.
When he was on offense carrying the ball for the Titans his knack for hitting the opponent did not relent.
Strickland ran for 113 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns to lead Glenbrook South past New Trier 42-7 Friday night in Northfield.
"I like to run away from people," said Strickland, who also caught four passes for 73 yards. "But I know when it’s in a situation of me getting tackled, I just put my head down and make sure I let them know I’m going to get them before they get me."
After Titans’ junior running back Billy Pappas took a short pass from senior quarterback Matt Jenkins (6-of-10 passing, 131 yards, 1 TD) 31-yards for the game’s first score with 4 minutes, 30 seconds left in the first quarter, the tough Glenbrook South defense forced a Trevians’ punt on the ensuing drive.
Glenbrook South (3-2, 1-0 in CSL South) took over on its own 39. The Titans drove 30 yards before being faced with a 4th-and-1 at the New Trier 31.
Strickland busted through a hole created by junior center Scott Spalek and junior left guard Mike Demos, broke through a couple arm tackles attempts and ran 31 yards for a score. The touchdown led to a 14-0 GBS advantage with 11:33 left in the first half.
"They really got it done tonight," said Strickland of his offensive line. "All night they told me, ‘run behind me, I’m going to block for you no matter what.’ No matter if they break a limb, it’s all for each other. That’s just the way we came out tonight."
On the next New Trier (3-2, 0-1) drive, senior receiver Charlie Tilson dislocated his right shoulder and missed the rest of the game.
On New Trier’s next possession, it looked as if they would be forced to punt again from its own 43-yard line on 4th-and-four, but junior Jack Nykaza (15 carries, 73 rushing yards) completed a pass to Chris Kennedy for 10 yards and a first down on a fake punt.
Unfortunately for the Trevians, on the next play the Titans defense forced the first of four New Trier turnovers after GBS senior cornerback Mike Barth caused a fumble that was recovered by senior linebacker John Heles at the Titans 47-yard line with 3:20 left in before the intermission.
"Tonight was a really great effort out of everyone," said Heles, who also had an interception and a sack. "We all stayed really disciplined out there and everyone just played their hardest. We just wanted to beat them – bad."
Faced with a 3rd-and-23, Strickland lined up wide against one-on-one coverage and Jenkins completed a 28-yard pass on a fly pattern for a first down at the Trevians’ nine-yard line. Two plays later, senior running back Kyle Kwasniewski (91 yards, 15 carries) scored on a six-yard pitch to the right with 39.2 seconds left in the half.
Heles came up with an interception on the subsequent New Trier drive before Glenbrook South took a 21-0 lead into the break.
"Our defense has gotten so much better each week," Titans coach Mike Noll said. "We’re really proud of those guys. Our coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball has done a great job. We’ve come a long way."
Trevian junior linebacker Jack O’Malley sacked Jenkins for a loss of 15-yards to halt the Titans opening drive of the second half, and pumped some life into the standing-room-only homecoming crowd.
New Trier took over after a punt at its own 29-yard line and drove 41 yards. Strickland’s pass interference set up a Josh Perlmutter (38 yards, 4 carries) 15-yard touchdown run up the middle with 2:58 left in the third quarter.
However, Strickland returned the ensuing kickoff 57 yards to the New Trier 38. Four plays into the drive, Kwasniewski took a pass in the flat for 27-yards to the three-yard line. Strickland scored from one-yard out on a run up the middle on the first play of the fourth quarter to give the Titans a 28-7 advantage.
"I knew this was the biggest game of the season," Strickland said. "I basically just had to get it done for my teammates. We’ve been working every practice, staying extra hours in the classroom, training in the weight room, just getting it all done. Our coaches never let up on us and we got it done tonight."
The third quarter was a microcosm of the game for New Trier coach Dan Starkey.
"We did some good things offensively at times, we just couldn’t sustain anything," Starkey said. "Our biggest problem was we gave them a short field to work with. Any time you give a good football team a short field, they’ll put points on the board.
"We really did a good job coming out to start the second half. We got a big stop, drove down, got some points on the board, then lost some momentum with the kickoff return. So to me, it really came down to blocking and tackling. They were better than us in those two key areas."
Both teams traded punts and then Glenbrook South junior corner back Sean Christ came up with an interception at the Trevians’ 46-yard line with 4:55 left in the game. New Trier’s Alex Murray then scored on a one-yard run with 1:41 left for a 35-7 advantage.
Glenbrook South junior defensive end Gus Shipp scooped up a botched handoff in the New Trier backfield on its next drive and ran it into the end zone for a 42-7 lead.
"We said tonight that the key is line play," Noll said. "We thought we matched up well on both sides of the line of scrimmage and I thought we won the line on both sides. I’m very proud of our linemen."
Glenbrook South has won three straight and has outscored its opponents 136-14 after dropping its first two games of the season.