Thriving in the face of adversity
By Erik Jacobsen firstname.lastname@example.org September 23, 2012 5:02PM
Running back Jake Scalise is one of the top returners back in the fold for Huntley as it looks to improve on last year's 6-4 finish. | File~Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 23, 2012 7:01PM
Adversity can come in many different forms, and how a team responds to it can say a lot.
Local teams faced all kinds of challenges over the weekend, and several of those squads showed some impressive character while overcoming the obstacles in their way.
In the case of Huntley, the adversity it faced was a gritty Dundee-Crown team determined to spoil homecoming for the Red Raiders.
The Chargers scored on their first two possessions of the second half to grab a 28-21 lead Friday, but Huntley had an immediate answer. On the first play from scrimmage following Dundee-Crown’s go-ahead touchdown, Jake Scalise took off on a 68-yard touchdown run to even the score.
Quarterback Kam Sallee booted a 29-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter to put the Red Raiders ahead 31-28, but they weren’t out of the woods yet.
Sallee’s fumble at Huntley’s 43-yard line with 5:46 left gave the Chargers a short field, but the Red Raiders defense forced a punt four plays later. A holding penalty on the ensuing Huntley possession preceded a bad punt that gave Dundee-Crown the ball back at Huntley’s 35-yard line with 2:00 left, but once again the Red Raiders defense held firm.
The exciting contest featured two well-coached teams on the rise, but in the end the two big defensive stops plus Scalise’s touchdown earlier in the second half loomed large for Huntley as it claimed its third straight victory to improve to 3-2.
“You’ve got to find ways to win close ball games,” Huntley coach John Hart said. “It’s so much of a cliche, but you’ve got to find ways to finish. Our defense has really been finishing for us as of late.”
South Elgin improved its record to 3-2 in similar fashion by holding off Metea Valley 28-21. The Mustangs tied the score early in the fourth quarter, but the Storm answered with a three-play touchdown drive to regain the lead, and its defense did the rest by coming up with three big stops down the stretch.
While the Storm and Red Raiders were able to handle in-game adversity, Streamwood overcame adversity that stemmed from three straight losses coming into Week 5.
The Sabres entered their Upstate Eight River clash against Larkin having been outscored 116-7 during their previous three games. The difficult stretch could be enough to break a team’s will, but Streamwood showed some resolve by blanking the Royals 27-0.
A year ago at this time the Sabres were 5-0, but a more difficult schedule in 2012 has taken its toll and Streamwood is just 2-3 at the moment. But judging by the win against Larkin, don’t count out the Sabres in their quest to return to the playoffs.
At Elgin High, it seems like the Maroons have already endured more than a season’s worth of adversity through the first five weeks of the campaign.
Prior to Saturday’s game against St. Charles East, junior running back Jaylen Clemons was dismissed from the team because of a school-related issue. His absence didn’t help matters in a 58-14 loss to the Saints.
Credit the 21 Maroons who were in uniform Saturday for continuing to compete despite odds that are growing increasingly more difficult for an Elgin program that has fallen on hard times only two years after reaching the playoffs.
The odds won’t be quite as long when Elgin brings its 13-game losing streak on the road this Friday to play East Aurora, which has lost 35 straight games dating to 2008.
The Maroons and Tomcats offer proof that there is more to handling adversity than simply winning and losing. When times are tough, staying committed to a team and continuing to work toward a common goal of improvement mean a lot.
But as Streamwood can attest following its bounce-back win against Larkin, a victory sure is a nice change of pace.