PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- Another undefeated regular season is in the books for No. 1 Maine South, as the Hawks downed visiting Glenbrook South 45-21 on Friday night at Wilson Field in Park Ridge for their third 9-0 finish in the past four years.
While that's plenty impressive, it doesn’t compare to the Hawks’ current 55-game Central Suburban League South winning streak, which now includes 11 consecutive conference titles.
"That's a lot of teams, obviously," said Maine South head coach Dave Inserra. "That's 11 teams. There's been some good consistency amongst the coaching staff and I've got to give them some credit. Every week, we've shown up, done our jobs and it doesn't matter who is playing -- these kids buy in and they believe, no matter what, that they can win. That confidence has gone a long way."
Maine South (9-0, 5-0) rushed out to an early 10-0 first-quarter lead on the strength of quarterback Matt Alviti's legs. Though the junior is one of the state's most dangerous passing threats, Alviti carried the ball 12 times in the first half, totaling 110 yards and a pair of touchdowns; he would finish with 167 yards on 22 carries and three rushing TDs.
"He runs like that in practice and I got him a bit last week and told him to save some of it for the game. And wow, he can run," said Inserra. "They knew what we could do passing-wise, so we had to take advantage of what they were giving us, and they were giving us the run."
Glenbrook South (7-2, 4-1) would cut the Hawks' lead to 17-7 in the second quarter, thanks to a 14-yard touchdown pass from Mac Zabriskie (6-15, 119 yards, 2 TDs, 2 INTs) to Sully Stadler, but Alviti responded with a touchdown pass of his own on the ensuing possession. Alviti connected with senior tight end Tyler Fahey, who ran over Titan defenders and crossed the goal line 42 yards later; Maine South would take a 24-7 lead into halftime.
Things then became interesting as Glenbrook South scored on each of its first two second-half possessions. First, Zabriskie found Billy Pappas on a 36-yard strike down the middle of the field and then head coach Mike Noll brought out his bag of tricks. GBS ran a reverse-pass that yielded a 35-yard touchdown from Stadler to a wide-open Pappas, and suddenly Maine South's lead shrunk to 24-21 with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter.
The quick scores served as a wake-up call for the Hawks, however, as Alviti answered right back with his final rushing touchdown of the night, a 33-yard sprint through the heart of the GBS defense. Maine South then added a pair of rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter as seniors Luke Lenti and Paul Preston (153 yards, 16 carries) scored on runs of 6 and 80 yards respectively.
"They ran two great plays -- one of them was on them and one was on us," Inserra said. "We gave up those scores and then our offense came back with some quick scores and that helped get our swagger back."
Maine South converted three Glenbrook South turnovers into 14 points during the contest, something Noll admits his team could not afford against a team like the Hawks.
"You've got to have zero turnovers in a game like this if you want to be competitive and take it all the way to the end," said Noll. "We know what it's like to play at a very elite level and they're the No. 1 team in the state for a reason."
Now both the Hawks' and Titans' postseason fate rests in the hands of the IHSA as the state will release its Class 8A playoff pairings tomorrow night. In the meantime, the Hawks plan to enjoy their accomplishment.
"This was a nice way to end the [regular season]," Preston said. "We come out every week wanting to play like the [Maine South] teams before us. We don't want to let them down and we definitely don't want to let ourselves down."
Player of the game: Maine South Sr. QB Matt Alviti: 22 carries, 167 yards, 3 TDs & 11-17 passing, 166-yards, TD / Glenbrook South Sr. WB Billy Pappas: 11 carries, 63 yards, 2 catches, 76 yards, 2 TDs.
Stat of the game: Maine South has not lost to a CSL-South opponent in 11 years. The Hawks have won 55 straight conference games and 11 consecutive CSL South titles.
It was over when: The Hawks scored 21 unanswered points in the final 13:26, capped off by an 80-yard touchdown run from Paul Preston with 1:55 remaining.
Quote of the night: "They have great personnel. They have a great program, they're well-coached and they have a football culture. These guys are at a whole different level." -- Glenbrook South head coach Mike Noll on how Maine South has managed to collect 11 years worth of CSL South victories and championships.