Football disappoints against rivals, previously beaten opponents

John Adkisson & Ethan Spalding, co-sports editors

Midway through the regular season, the GBS varsity football team has an overall record of 3-3. According to head coach Mike Noll, the season has been defined by a series of inadequate performances in the fourth quarter.

“I’d say there’s a certain amount of frustration because we’re used to winning close games in the fourth quarter,” Noll said. “We’re not at all comfortable with where we are […] and yet we realize we’re doing the best we can, [and] that’s all we can do.”

According to Noll, this achilles heel has been apparent since week one, when a fourth quarter collapse cost the Titans a victory at Prospect High School in a 55-41 shootout.

The Titans’ game two weeks later against Glenbrook North was more of the same. Despite having not lost a game against the Spartans since 2003, the Titans failed to capitalize on offensive opportunities, costing themselves over 50 yards on penalties. The Titans resorted to a Hail Mary on their last drive, which proved unsuccessful.

In their most recent game, the Titans played New Trier, who last year they shutout 27-0 in the playoffs.  Despite taking a 21-17 lead heading into the third quarter, the Titans fell 31-21, marking their first loss to the Trevians since 2006. According to Noll, weak defense in the second half proven to be fatal for the Titans.

Noll attributes much of his team’s failure to injuries that have forced to put inadequate players in the starting lineup.

“We only had so much depth going in [to the season] and we’ve stretched it too thin,” Noll said. “We’ve put some guys out there that are not ready physically to play varsity football. We’re putting out some guys that aren’t ready yet, and 8A football is very unforgiving.”

The offense as a whole has been decimated by injuries since before week one, when they lost starting tailback Grant Paterakos to a broken ankle. According to Noll, their inability to run, along with the talent of receivers senior Ose Ilenikhena and junior Cody Carroll, has made passing the ball more necessary.

“Our passing game has been a strength,” Noll said. “The problem is that we’re not physical enough on offense to be balanced, so the typical run-pass balance that we have isn’t there.”

Despite the talent in the aerial attack, Noll is wary of passing the ball as much as he has so far this year. He believes their lack of balance has caused a multitude of problems for the offense.

“When you throw the ball all the time, [more] defenders can rush at the quarterback,” Noll said. “Balance helps everyone get their job done. Our inability to rush the ball has hurt a little bit.” With more defenders rushing the quarterback, the offensive line’s role has become magnified. Though they started the year poorly, quarterback Max Cohen believes they are getting better as a unit.

“Even though [the offensive line] didn’t start off too hot at the beginning of the season they’re getting a lot better and a lot more comfortable with playing in the games,” Cohen said. “They’re not nervous at all [any more] and they’re just doing a lot better over all.”

With this improvement, the Titans need to win the next two games to secure their spot in the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) 8A playoffs. These games are against Waukegan on Oct. 6 and Niles West on Oct. 12. According to Noll, this is all they can hope for after a season plagued by inconsistencies on both sides of the ball. However, Noll promises that everything will be left on the field

“I can promise we’re going to play hard,” Noll said. “We control our own destiny, and we can make the playoffs, [which] would be a great achievement for this team.”

The Titans homecoming game against Waukegan will take place tomorrow at 1:30 in John Davis Stadium.