Varsity football snaps four game skid with 50-0 win over Niles West

Homecoming win keeps team’s playoff hopes alive


Matt Murray

The team shut out Niles West for the second straight season, beating them 52-0 in last year’s matchup

In desperate need of a victory, the varsity football team trounced the winless Niles West Wolves 50-0 in their homecoming game on Oct. 4.

After scoring just 36 points in their first five games of the season, the Trevians’ offense exploded for 50 in the first half against the Wolves, matching their season point total after a 23-yard touchdown catch by senior wide receiver PJ Sitzer to open the second quarter.

“We worked hard in practice all week, so I was expecting a pretty big win. Obviously, going up 50-0 before halftime is never something anyone can predict, but we’ll definitely take it,” said senior cornerback James Hemmer.

The team’s drastic uptick in offensive production was sparked by the position change of junior Tyler Hardin.
Hardin spent the first month of the season as a wide receiver, but was switched to quarterback by the offensive staff due to his capabilities as both a runner and passer.

After seeing limited playing time in a 16-7 loss at Glenbrook South, Hardin was given the start against Niles West, running for nearly 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

His abilities as a runner also opened up running lanes for junior running back Brody Roth, who scored an electrifying 55-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.

“In weeks two through five, we were struggling to score points, and [against Niles West] we didn’t struggle to score points, so that was a welcomed change in our offensive production,” said head coach Brian Doll.
“I think Tyler gave us the opportunity to open things up differently and forced the defense to have to defend more of the run game.”

Despite Hardin supplanting him as the starter against the Wolves, sophomore quarterback Nevan Cremascoli played outstanding in relief.

Cremascoli was on the throwing end of the aforementioned Sitzer touchdown and connected with junior wide receiver Avery Chatterton on a 43-yard touchdown as well.

With the athletic Hardin and pocket-passing Cremascoli at their disposal, Doll and the offensive staff have chosen to split playing time between the two, looking to keep their opponents off-balance.

“We’re in a situation where [Hardin and Cremascoli] both have strengths and areas where they can get better, so my job, along with the other offensive coaches, is how to negotiate their playing time without being too obvious about [our strategy],” said Doll.

However, while the offense stole the show with their outstanding performance, the Trevians’ defense and special teams played a dominant, mistake-free game as well.

Hemmer led the team with seven tackles as part of a defensive unit that shut down the Wolves’ offense, and the special teams’ efforts were highlighted by an array of touchbacks and lengthy punt returns from senior kicker Ryan Novosel and senior return specialist Drew Robinson respectively.

Robinson even scored a two-point conversion on a fake extra point attempt following Roth’s touchdown run.

“We started working on [the fake extra point] in practice that week and thought it would work in the game, and it ended up working out for us,” said Robinson.

Although the coaching decisions and flawless execution of the game plan played a major role in the victory, the growing trust and cohesion between the players proved to be the secret ingredient in the team’s recipe for success, particularly for Hardin in his new role as quarterback.

“I think our greatest improvement for this team is how we have molded together throughout the season. We all have built great relationships with each other, which makes playing on the field easier when you know you can trust the guy next to you,” said Hardin.

The newfound chemistry between the players will be critical as the season comes to a close. The team’s winless September put them on the brink of elimination, meaning that their playoffs began with their victory over Niles West.

“The team has played a really tough schedule and they’ve gotten through it, so they showed some resiliency by getting a win [against Niles West],” said Doll. “I do like the feeling that I’m getting from them about wanting to finish the season with three more wins and the focus they have on that.”

With their 31-7 victory over Evanston on Oct. 11, the team now needs just two wins to make the playoffs, but they will need victories over conference rivals Glenbrook North and Maine South in order to qualify.

However, with their newfound success in all three phases of the game, the team’s confidence in their abilities has grown immensely, and it could be enough to propel them to a seventeenth straight playoff berth.

“In order to make the playoffs, we’ll have to win out, which is a tall task because of how competitive our conference is; but I think we’re really starting to play at a high level and I’m really looking forward to these upcoming games,” said Hemmer.