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JACOBSON: Spartans 'speechless' after finally finishing

Erica Sycamore's Ben Niemann makes a tackle during Sycamore's playoff game against Nazareth on Saturday November 9, 2013.
Erica Sycamore's Ben Niemann makes a tackle during Sycamore's playoff game against Nazareth on Saturday November 9, 2013.

LA GRANGE PARK – Brett Weaver couldn't come up with the words.

"Speechless man, I'm speechless," Weaver said.

Michael Stinnett couldn't describe it.

"It was the best feeling I've had," Stinnett said. "I don't even know, I'm speechless."

Even Sycamore coach Joe Ryan was having trouble.

"I'm a little lost for words," Ryan said.

But how exactly is anybody supposed to perfectly express how they're feeling after a 33-28 Sycamore victory over Nazareth in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs wiped away the memory of last season's heart-breaking second-round loss.

Just more than a year ago, Sycamore was speechless for vastly different reasons. They left Montini's stadium stunned, not believing they had just let the three-time defending state champions off the hook once again in a 24-22 loss.

The game stuck with this group of players for 12 months. Anybody could mention "31 seconds" and the others would know exactly what they were referring to.

But this time around Sycamore finished.

There would be no Montini flashbacks and no lost fourth-quarter leads.

And the final blow came from the senior safeties, Stinnett and Ben Niemann, who combined to deliver a hard-enough hit to knock the ball out of a Nazareth receiver on fourth down.

"He's gotta drop that ball," Stinnett said. "We have to finish and we did it."

The senior class has never hesitated in saying they wanted to make history. Saturday they continued to do so. The Spartans' 11th win tied a single-season school record and also gave them the most wins (25) over a three-year period in school history. They became only the second team under Ryan to advance to the quarterfinals, matching the 2009 team.

And yet they're not finished.

Unlike last year, Stinnett, Weaver and Ryan don't have an entire offseason to try and explain their second-round game. According to team rules, they have less than 24 hours before their attention turns to Lincoln-Way West, next week's opponent.

And that's exactly how they want it.

It's another chance to do something that Sycamore has never done before. Another chance to 'climb the mountain' as Ryan told his team afterwards.

Another chance to, once again, finish.

Ross Jacobson is the sports editor of the Daily Chronicle. He can be reached via e-mail at or follow him on Twitter @RossJacobson.

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