CHICAGO, Ill. -- All week long, the talk surrounding Saturday’s Class 7A quarterfinal matchup between Lake Zurich and Simeon was whether the Bears could slow down the Wolverines' high-octane offense. After all, Simeon entered the game averaging 51.3 points per game and had not scored less than 42 in a game all season.
But the Lake Zurich defense answered the call and, coupled with a power running game, led the Bears to a 17-14 upset victory over top-seeded Simeon (11-1) at Gately Stadium.
“We’re really peaking right now,” Lake Zurich senior linebacker J.J. Raffelson said.
While the Bears' defense did their job above and beyond, Simeon struggled to stop the Lake Zurich offense. The Bears' three-headed attack, featuring Jacob Brinlee, John Mularz and Tim Sayre, rushed for over 250 yards and kept the Wolverines' offense on the sidelines for much of the game.
“We came in trying to bound the ball in order to keep their offense off the field as much as possible,” Mularz said.
Lake Zurich kicker Scott Walding converted a 24-yard field goal on the final play of the third quarter to give his team a 17-0 lead.
Simeon finally found some offense as Robert Gregory connected on touchdowns of 30 and 33 yards to receiver Darius Scott within a matter of minutes. Gregory, who finished the game with 131 passing yards, did not have a chance to complete the comeback as the Bears converted on two third downs in the final three minutes to run out the clock.
Lake Zurich (11-1) advances to the Class 7A semifinals for the second straight season, and for seniors like Raffelson, this is their final opportunity to reach the same heights they saw the varsity Bears reach when they were freshman.
“We really admire all the guys that won the state title game,” Raffelson said of the 2006 Lake Zurich team that won the state title. “This is our goal, to make it state and win state.”
Lake Zurich will play either Carmel or St. Rita for the chance to head down state.
Player of the game: Mularz with 110 yards rushing
Stat of the game: 38 -- Yards Simeon gained in the first half
It was over when: Mularz converted a third down with 1:45 left in the game
Quote of the night: “The game plan was the run down the clock as much as possible and keep their offense off the field.” -- Mularz