Scouts Earn Playoff Bid With Win Over Stevenson

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Bobby Winebrenner

LINCOLNSHIRE, Il. — On Friday night Lake Forest football fans witnessed the biggest win for the program in recent memory. With playoff implications on the line and a five year losing streak to the Patriots, the Scouts silenced the home fans and left Stevenson High School with a 26-23 win.

The Patriots looked strong to start the game as they broke out to a 9-0 lead. Two long drives resulted in a field goal and a five yard touchdown pass from Cole Okmin to Ryan McElhinny.

With 3:04 left in the half, Carter Hiam nailed a 25 yard field goal to get the Scouts on the board, cutting the Patriot lead to 9-3. Minutes later, Okmin connected with McElhinny once again for a 59 yard touchdown pass pushing the Stevenson lead to 16-3.

Needing to tighten the score up, Kai Kroger hit a 39 yard field goal for the Scouts to make the score 16-6 as time expired in the first half. Stevenson went into the locker room with a ten point lead and things looking bright.

With 6:40 left in the third quarter, Lake Forest’s punt block team earned a huge momentum booster as they blocked Stevenson’s punt and took over in the red zone. Tommy Hanson would then connect with Breck Nowik on a six yard touchdown pass to make the score 16-13.

The excellent special teams play continued as the Scouts forced a fumble on the Patriots’ punt return which led to a short field for the visitors. A few plays later, sophomore Mac Uihlein reached the end zone with a one yard rushing touchdown to give Lake Forest a 20-16 lead after three quarters of play.

The thrilling game continued in the 4th quarter as backup quarterback Justin Hiller rushed for a 16 yard touchdown to take back the lead for the Patriots 23-20. Hiller was in the game because Okmin was injured earlier in the game after Uihlein delivered a big hit to the senior quarterback.

With five minutes left, junior tight end Jai Williams caught a 12 yard touchdown pass which deflected off Lake Forest receiver Ryan Cekay. A huge forced fumble gave the Scouts another short field leading to the touchdown which made the score 26-23 in favor of the visitors.

Coach Spagnoli’s defense stepped up down the stretch and kept the Patriots off the scoreboard which gave Lake Forest their first win over the Patriots since 2011 and first win at Stevenson since pre-2000.

With playoff hopes seeming dim, Lake Forest stepped up to the occasion on Friday night and kept the eight year playoff streak alive. The win proved a lot about the Scouts and showed the grit and pride that Coach Spagnoli’s teams have been trademarked for. Uihlein had this to say after Friday’s contest: “Obviously we’re really happy with the great team win against Stevenson but we have to shake it and move onto the next game. Come Saturday, we’ll be ready for the matchup and just like last week, we’re super excited.”

On Saturday night, the Illinois High School Association announced the pairings for the 2018 playoffs. The Scouts will see highly touted Phillips Academy on Saturday October 27th at 1:00 PM at Gately Stadium in south Chicago. Lake Forest earned the #13 seed with a 5-4 record while Phillips secured the #4 seed with a 7-2 record.