Prospect holds off Hersey to win Mid-Suburban East title

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS — Prospect’s Frank Covey wasn’t sure that he wanted to play quarterback anymore. A converted wide receiver, Covey, who is a junior, was having difficulty with the speed of the game and the college recruiters all were looking at him as a wide receiver.

Covey has changed his mind about staying at quarterback and the recruiters may want to take another look as well. Covey threw for 167 yards and touchdown while rushing for 78 yards and another score as Prospect held off Hersey, 24-23, Friday before an overflow crowd of 4,000 in Arlington Heights.

“I didn’t embrace the quarterback role at first,” Covey said. “The last couple of weeks the coaches have said that they need me to play quarterback. The game has slowed down and I am finding my guys.”

Prospect coach Dan DeBoeuf said that he has seen tremendous improvement in Covey’s game.

“He is a real special athlete,” DeBoeuf said. “When he is on our team we have a shot. I thought he did some real nice things throwing the ball tonight, which he did last week, too. So if he continues to show that growth week to week we’ll be in pretty good shape.”

The win assured Prospect (7-1, 4-0) its second consecutive outright Mid-Suburban East title.

“We just wanted to have fun tonight,” DeBoeuf said. “We wanted the kids to enjoy the moment. What a great high school football atmosphere. I think both teams probably had an absolute blast playing the game tonight.”

Hersey (7-1, 3-1) capitalized after the Huskies smelled out a fake punt and took over on their own 35. Five plays later Hersey scored on a trick play of its own as Josh Bontje threw a quarterback comeback pass to Jimmy Makuh to make it 7-0 early in the first quarter.

Prospect dominated play in the first half from there.

With an offensive line of Clayton Kamp, Sam Tsagalis, Sean Mitchell, Drew Heiss and Ola Sulaimon controlling the action, Prospect was able to score 21 unanswered points in the second quarter.

Bradley Vierneisel scored on a 4-yard run to cap a 10-play, 61-yard drive that tied the game at 7-7.

Covey took advantage of the play of his offensive line to have a part in the Knights’ next two scores.

Covey broke away for a 20-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7. He then connected with a wide-open Vierneisel on 35-yard touchdown pass as the Knights opened up a 21-7 lead at the half.

Prospect’s defense, led by Jack Olson, Richard Sepulveda, Giovani Paredes, Ben Sahakian, Nicholas Grassano and Ethan Rossi bottled up the Huskies in the half.

“We just try do our job,” Olson said. “We try for three and out and we were able to do that a lot tonight.”

Makuh, who along with the Hersey offense struggled in the first half, finally found their stride in the second half. Makuh hit Dylan Carquist on a 41-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter to make it 21-14.

Hersey was driving when Bontje collided with an official while running with the ball. It popped loose and was recovered by Prospect. That led to a 46-yard field goal by Sahakian with 45 seconds left in the third quarter that increased the lead to 24-14.

In the fourth quarter, Makuh (18-of-31, 223 yards) drove the Huskies on a 14-play scoring drive. He scored on a 1-yard run with 4:23 left to close to 24-21.

The defense stopped Prospect on its next possession, forcing a punt from the Knight 18. But the snap sailed over Sahakian’s head and out of the back of the end zone for a safety, making it 24-23.

Hersey got the ball back at its own 23 following the free kick by Prospect. Makuh again drove the Huskies downfield. But on 4th-and-14 at the Prospect 30, Makuh’s pass to Breyden Smith took Smith out of bounds for an incomplete pass to seal the win for Prospect.

“I just told them, I wish I could be mad at them,” Hersey coach Joe Pardun said. “But you can’t. They way they battled, stayed composed and competed was pretty impressive.”