GRAYSLAKE – When Dundee-Crown fell behind by 13 points by the end of the first quarter during its nonconference game against Grayslake North on Friday night, there was a sense of deja vu that began to creep in.
That's because the Chargers allowed 38 points or more in seven of their nine games last season, and 28 or more in eight contests.
But instead of letting history repeat itself, Dundee-Crown (1-0) rallied to stun the host Knights, 30-25, and immediately matched its win total from 2017.
Trailing 13-0 early in the second quarter, the Chargers wasted little time turning the tables. First, senior running back Ricky Ibarra (24 carries, 181 yards) found the end zone on a 3-yard run, the first of three touchdowns for him on the night. Then, teammate Kareem Dunner, a junior, scored on the ground from 6 yards out with four minutes left in the opening half, tying the game.
In total, D-C ran the ball 39 times for 240 yards, and its offensive line wore the Knights (0-1) down with several time-consuming drives.
"Our O-line was dominant out there when they needed to be," Ibarra said. "They deserve as much credit as anyone for this victory. We just kept pounding the ball and getting great push off the snap up front."
After allowing the Knights to score TDs on their first two drives, the Chargers forced them to punt on all three of their second-quarter drives. That included a blocked punt by Damarion Butler at the Grayslake North 27-yard line with 1:39 left in the first half.
Then came a 48-yard field goal by junior Christian Alamillo 55 seconds later. It gave the Chargers a three-point lead going into halftime.
"That was the key turning point for us, emotionally," D-C coach Mike Steinhaus said. "Christian had a 52-yarder in practice. That kick really got us fired up headed into the half, and gave our guys a huge shot in the arm full of confidence."
The Knights needed only four plays to take the lead back in the third quarter, thanks to a 58-yard TD pass from Austin Martineau to Tony Hines II, making it 19-13 North. That would be the last time the Chargers trailed.
Two plays later, Ibarra found a hole in the line, then blew through the Knights' secondary for a 58-yard score of his own. Then, midway through the fourth quarter, senior defensive tackle Nikolas Karavidas (who also plays offensive tackle) recovered a fumble at the North 8-yard line on a bad snap, during a bizarre 3rd-and-47 play after several penalties. That set up Ibarra's third TD run of the evening, which gave D-C the late double-digit cushion it needed.
"I just tried to keep the guys pumped up out there, and wanted to make a big play," Karavidas said. "I happened to get to the quarterback quickly on that specific play, and when the ball rolled loose, I recovered it. That seemed to take the wind out of (North) for good. Just a huge win for us."
Star of the Game
Dundee-Crown, sr., RB/DB
Ibarra carried 24 times for 181 yards and scored three touchdowns, including a 58-yard run in the third quarter.
Dundee-Crown 0 16 7 7 --- 30
Grayslake North 13 0 6 6 --- 25
GN-Johnson 23 run (Cannon kick), 8:20
GN-Lovitsch 46 pass from Martineau (kick failed), 3:05
DC-Ibarra 3 run (kick blocked), 10:34
DC-Dunner 6 run (Alamillo kick), 4:38
DC-Alamillo 48 FG, 0:44
GN-Hines II 58 pass from Martineau (kick failed), 10:13
DC-Ibarra 58 run (Alamillo kick), 9:29
DC-Ibarra 1 run (Alamillo kick), 6:00
GN-Martineau 2 run (run failed), 2:55