Class 5A IHSA playoffs: From 0-4 to quarterfinals, Nazareth blanks Glenbard South

Roadrunners record 41-0 victory

Glenbard South's Cam Williams (8) waits for the game to start before a Class 5A second round game against Nazareth on Nov. 4, 2023 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park.

LA GRANGE PARK – Nazareth’s success in the playoffs is no secret.

The Roadrunners and coach Tim Racki have a formula that includes stacking the schedule with the most difficult opponents they can find early in the season. That formula has provided Nazareth with another chance to make a statement in the Class 5A playoffs this season.

Quarterback Logan Malachuk threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third TD as the Roadrunners dominated Glenbard South 41-0 in the second round Nov. 4.

The Roadrunners started the season with an 0-4 record. That experience allowed Nazareth (6-5) to learn from its early season failures rather than dwell on them.

“This is the hardest schedule we’ve ever had since I’ve been here,” Racki said. “For these kids to fight through and increase confidence even though the season started how it did, it’s a testament to not only the culture here, but to these kids. It’s continued to be a focus on what we’re doing.

“They never pointed fingers and continued to believe. We kept hearing about the demise of Nazareth football and that can get to a kid. Well, it didn’t get to these kids, but instead made them more resilient.”

Nazareth’s victory set up a date at Carmel (10-1) in the Class 5A quarterfinals. The teams will play at 2 p.m. Saturday in Mundelein.

Only once in the previous five seasons have the Roadrunners not played for the state championship. They lost 28-17 to eventual state champion Fenwick in the 5A quarterfinals in 2021.

“I think we all know what this team is about and we all trust each other,” said Malachuk, whose 35-yard keeper on a read option gave Nazareth a 14-0 lead late the first half. “We respect our opponent and that was a great team [Glenbard South]. But it’s not so much about what they have, but we know what we have. We know that with this group of guys, we can beat anyone. Those losses allowed us to build character and it just made us closer as a team.”

After Malachuk’s touchdown run, the Roadrunners forced a quick three-and-out. The senior signal-caller then found Jake Cestone for a 17-yard touchdown to open up a 21-0 halftime lead.

Lesroy Tittle, Charles Calhoun, Anthony Donato and Trenton Walker also scored touchdowns for the Roadrunners. Walker finished with game-highs in catches (nine) and receiving yards (111).

Glenbard South (9-2) struggled to find an offensive rhythm and had a couple of crucial turnovers in Nazareth territory. Trailing 21-0, quarterback Michael Champagne kept the ball for a 41-yard run to set the Raiders up at the Nazareth 8-yard line, but they fumbled on the next play.

“The score is one thing, a significant margin, but today I feel like it was about the little things for us,” Glenbard South wide receiver and Notre Dame commit Cam Williams said. “When you play some of the teams we played in the regular season, you can get away with that, but in the playoffs against a team like [Nazareth], it’ll come back to bite you.”

Nazareth held Williams to 45 yards receiving on two receptions, both of which came in the first half. The Roadrunners defense sacked Champagne six times.

“I think we came in with a really good defensive game plan and executed it,” said Nazareth linebacker Jaden Fauske, who had an interception to end a Glenbard South drive in the second half. “I think we believe that if we get into the playoffs, we can win it all.

“There’s a winning culture here at Nazareth and there’s an expectation to win every time you take the field, but especially this time of the year.”

Nazareth's Jake Cestone (top) celebrates with teammates while held aloft by lineman Cullen Craig after making a touchdown catch during a Class 5A second round game against Glenbard South on Nov. 4, 2023 at Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park.