Trevians edged by Schaumburg despite strong second half
This season’s switch from running back to quarterback has been an adjustment for New Trier senior football player Jack Nykaza.
“It’s a lot more responsibility. I have to knows the plays. I have to be able to tell everyone where to go,” Nykaza said. “I don’t have to follow anyone on any certain plays. I kind of make my own options. I can give the ball, I can look, I can let the ball go. It’s a lot more mentally demanding.”
New Trier quarterback Jack Nykaza (left) hands off to running back Josh Perlmutter during the Trevians' 22-17 loss to Schaumburg Friday in Northfield. (Photo by Nic Summers www.SportsStarPhotos.com)
Nykaza took on even more responsibility after Friday’s season opening 22-17 loss to Schaumburg Naughton Field in Northfield. Despite rushing for two touchdowns and passing for 135 yards, 115 of them in the second half, Nykaza felt he could have contributed more.
“I just want to start off by saying that was my fault. We should have won that game had I played to my best potential. However, I didn’t so here we are,” Nykaza said.
“We showed a lot of character and a lot of heart and my teammates did really well. Our defense did what they were supposed to. We should have scored more points but we didn’t and I’m going to put that on me. We are going to get better, we are going to improve, we’re going to watch the film and we are going to beat Warren (New Trier’s next opponent).”
The Trevians nearly pulled out the game in the final minute after a 55-yard pass from Nykaza to Will Fitzgerald gave them first-and-goal at the 7-yard line. After a 3-yard loss and a 15-yard penalty for offensive pass interference in the end zone, the Nyzaka’s fourth-and-goal pass from the 25 was knocked down by Cole Reyes, who earlier had two interceptions.
Nykaza scored on a 3-yard run in the third quarter and an 8-yard run with 9:42 left to put the Trevians ahead 17-16. Schaumburg quarterback Nick Anzelmo’s second TD run of the game, an 11-yarder with 1:34 left, put the Saxons back in front but Sam Scherer knocked down the two-point conversion pass at the goal line.
“We did some great things in all three phases of the game but just did not play consistently enough,” New Trier coach Dan Starkey said.
“I thought we had a great game plan offensively and it took us a while to get into a rhythm but I think in the second half, we did a lot of positive things. Defensively, we played well but just not well enough. We gave up some big plays at unfortunate times. We gave them some good field position.”
New Trier played catch-up most of the night. Schaumburg scored on a 76-yard pass play on the third offensive play of the game.
But at the end, the Trevians had the momentum, and felt like they could get the winning score. On second-and-4 from the New Trier 38, Nykaza found Fitzgerald wide open near the left sideline at around the Schaumburg 35. At first, it looked as though he might go all the way before being tackled by the Saxons’ secondary.
New Trier's Sam Coffey (49) blocks Loyola's 22-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter of Friday's game. (Photo by Nic Summers www.SportsStarPhotos.com)
“(Fitzgerald) was wide open. I had no other option but to throw him the ball,” Nykaza said. “We had a couple of plays where we almost got it in but we didn’t. Those are the plays we’re going to have to make to be a top team.”
The Trevians trailing 10-0 in the second quarter when they became rejuvenated after linebacker Sam Coffey blocked a 22-yard field-goal attempt. New Trier marched the ball downfield for a 27-yard field goal by Grant Amick on the last play of the first half.
“I just went after it and I got it. It was a lot of momentum and it just helped us out. (But) at the end, we need to close,” Coffey said. “We have to fix some things, a few mistakes that we’ll take care of at practice. It’s a disappointing loss. They’re a good team.”
Before Coffey’s block, the Trevians had just 65 yards of offense, but they went 75 yards to close to 10-3, beginning with a 52-yard end around run by Devin Boehm.
Although he’s a receiver, Boehm also had a 10-yard end run on the drive and carried the ball six times for a team-best 108 yards. He only caught one pass for six yards.
After New Trier fell behind 16-3 in the third quarter, Christian Carr took the ensuing kickoff 33 yards and Boehm opened with a 33-yard run to the Schaumburg 22. Nykaza scored six plays later.
“Rushing for more than 100 yards. I didn’t expect that, especially as a receiver. I did a lot more rushing than receiving but any way I could help the team,” Boehm said. “It’s a tough loss. We played really well. I thought we had a lot of chances to pull out the win but there’s some good stuff to build off of.”
Nykaza finished 7-for-17 for 135 yards and two interceptions, using a combined five receivers no more than twice each, and also rushed for 52 yards. He said he improved as the game progressed after he assessed his play at halftime, didn’t lock into one receiver and made smarter reads and decisions.
The rest was pure heart. On New Trier’s go-ahead drive, Nykaza found receiver Eric Benjamin on back-to-back plays, a 16-yard completion on a roll out and a 28-yarder on fourth-and-11 as a defender tried to sack Nykaza by pulling on the front of his jersey. Nykaza scored two plays later after a fake to Daniel Olaniyan, who rushed eight times for 27 yards, all in the second half.
“(Nykaza is) an elusive guy. He’s going to have a great year, I think, in the run game and I know our passing game’s going to continue to get better every game,” Starkey said. “We saw some flashes of what we can do tonight but I think we’re just going to continue to get better and better each week offensively.”
The Trevians played pretty solid defense but gave up some big plays, especially on third down. New Trier also had nine penalties for 70 yards, including three holding calls.
Scherer, Jack O’Malley, Chris Hall, Matt Quinlan, Michael Welch and Nick Hedge combined for five tackles for loss. Hall also broke up two passes and Josh Perlmutter, Quinlan and Coffey one each.
Schaumburg’s long opening TD from Anzelmo to Mike Mallett came on third-and-6. On the winning drive, the Saxons converted a third-and-10 with a 26-yard pass from Anzelmo to Mallett, their first connection since the early score. After back-to-back penalties resulted in a first-and-goal from the 20 with 2:06 to play, Mallett had an 9-yard catch to the 11 followed by Anzelmo’s run. On the drive prior to Coffey’s block, the Saxons converted a third-and-16 and two fourth-and-1s.
Anzelmo (13 for 27, 194 yards) completed his first five attempts and six of his first seven but had seven incompletions in a row before three straight completions for a combined 68 yards on the winning drive.
“Schaumburg’s got some great looking kids,” Starkey said. “They made some nice plays and our kids battled so a lot of positives to build from. We just have to make more plays down the road.”
Nykaza also tried to put the loss in perspective.
“Maine South lost their first two games last season and to Schaumburg, too, (in Week 1) and they ended up winning state. We’ve got nothing to lose now,” Nykaza said.