MAPLE PARK – Kaneland quarterback Drew David could tell something wasn’t right when his team stepped out onto the field before his team’s 25-24 win over Chicago Brooks Saturday.
The junior has already been around his fair share of winning during his short career, leading the Knights to a 12-1 record and a run to the Class 5A semifinals after taking over the job last season. The team that took the field Saturday just didn’t quite seem the same.
It wasn’t overconfidence that bothered David about his team, even though the Knights had beaten Brooks 44-0 last season. It was something different, and possibly more troublesome.
“When we came onto the field, we didn’t have that edge that we usually have, and that’s what caused it to be a dogfight,” David said. “You could tell people were focused coming into the game, but people just didn’t seem as excited to be out there, playing football. You’ve got to want to play football, or it’s not going to be fun.”
David’s premonitions proved to be correct.
The Knights weren’t on top of their game, and they found themselves trailing 17-6 at the end of the first half.
“It definitely got a little alarming,” David said. “Everyone was freaking out a little bit.”
In the end, Kaneland was able to pull out the victory behind three straight touchdowns to end the game. Behind heroics from David and receiver Zack Martinelli, who connected for two of the touchdowns, the Knights were able to secure the victory.
But David knows the Knights shouldn’t have needed the heroics.
“Thank God we did just enough to get a ‘W,’ ” David said. “We knew we played almost as bad as we could have. We knew if we were going to turn it around, we would have to play a pretty good half.”
The Knights allowed 326 rushing yards to a Brooks team that was loaded with transfers, making them a much different team.
The win gave Kaneland flashbacks of last season’s 49-38 win over DeKalb. The Knights went into the game as heavy favorites, but they trailed, 31-14, in the third quarter. David led the Knights to a 49-38 win with 210 second-half passing yards.
Sloppy play aside, the Knights proved that they’re a tough team to put away on Saturday.
“It’s nice to get a win and be able to learn from your mistakes,” Kaneland head coach Tom Fedderly said. “We have been there before, a lot of these kids have experienced that, we just didn’t want it to be our first game.”
It’s difficult to quantify what the Knights learned from their rough performance. After all, David thinks an injection of enthusiasm could go a long way.
Fedderly thinks the only way to tell what his team learned is to wait and see.
“We’ll see [today],” Fedderly said. “We were pretty sloppy with what we were doing in terms of tackling, we just needed to get back to fundamentals.”
David, though, was confident that whatever ailed the Knights on Saturday won’t be a problem when they head to Huntley today.
“We watched the film this week, and we watched it for awhile,” David said. “We realized what it was going to take to win games this year. We realized that we can’t come out and play like that this week, because if we play like that, we’re not going to win.”